Sannata – silence… a cold, dark stillness that makes itself felt not only on the outside, but the kind that seeps deep within, touching the inner recesses of the soul as well – is the latest offering from Nauman Masood’s iDream Entertainment production house. Written by Saji Gul and directed by Kashif Nasir, Sannata boasts a strong lineup of actors, included among them: Samina Ahmed, Nadia Afgan, Saba Qamar, Adnan Shah Tipu, Saleem Mairaj, Nargis Rashid, Simi Raheal, Shabbir Jan, Sajal Ali, Danish Taimoor, Mehar Bano, and others.
Sannata is the story of the very complicated relationship between two cousins, Ruqqaiya and Pari. Born under adverse circumstances, and very nearly thrown out of the house at her birth, Pari has been brought up almost like a daughter by her first cousin, Ruqqaiya. Though at the time Ruqqaiya was barely more than a child herself, but watching her grandmother’s cruel rejection of an innocent newborn stirred something deep within her. While her own own mother and the trusted family help could only watch on helplessly, young Ruqqaiya somehow found the courage to defy Apa Bi’s orders and take on the care of her infant cousin, with no comprehension of the immense burden she had taken on her very young shoulders.
Like Ruqqaiya, I too was aghast at the way the stone-hearted Apa Bi treated the newborn, but when looking back we see a woman who has suffered tremendously. Though she comes across as cold and unfeeling to those around her, she is far from unaffected by the going-ons around her. The slight pursing of her lips, an unnoticeable stiffening of her back, the grudging granting of permission, allowing Ruqqaiya to raise Pari, all point to a once soft woman who has over time become hardened by life’s tribulations. Now a widow, Apa Bi lost her husband and only son all the same day when they went in pursuit of the runaway Husna, Apa Bi’s youngest daughter and Pari’s mother.
Growing up in the shadow of deep hatred on the one hand and over indulgent affection on the other is the young Pari. A sharp, sassy girl with a mind of her own, Pari is no victim. She gives it as good as she gets it. But underneath the sharp tongue and quick temper is a very lost child. Looking to find an anchor to shore herself in a very dark world, she latches on to Ruqqaiya and refuses to let her go. With time Ruqqaiya becomes the be all and end of all her very narrow world. Now that time has come for Ruqqaiya to get married, both girls finds themselves at a loss. Ruqqaiya knows once she leaves Pari will be left to Apa Bi’s whims. For Pari, the matter is more dire, the thought of a life without Ruqqaiya is unimaginable. This mental turmoil leads to Pari having epileptic seizures.
Caught between all these strong-willed women is Salma. A much gentler person, she is the one who keeps the family running, but is so meek and lost in her own pain-filled world that it is almost easy to forget that she is around. Taken for granted and often trampled over, she is dumped on by both her mother and her daughter. Naseeban, the family maid, is the other woman in the household, and she not only serves as the family’s connection to the outer world, but more often than not is also called upon to mediate tiffs and arguments between Apa Bi, Ruqqaiya and now that she’s grown up, Pari.
Given that the household is populated by largely uneducated, stay at home women, it is no surprise that they make perfect unsuspecting preys for the savvy swindlers in the family – enter Ashfaq & Co. While Ashfaq’s character was easy enough to read, but now thanks to handy-dandy spoilers on the Sannata FB page, I know for sure what Ashfaq is up to and how he fits in to the larger narrative. Same goes for Danish Taimoor and Tipu’s characters. Yes, the Sannata FB page has made a complete hash of the next few episodes as their spoilers give away a chunk of the story. How I wish ARY would curb this tendency of theirs asap!
That said, I have to say I enjoyed these first four episodes of Sannata. The story might not be entirely novel, but I am enjoying the way it is unfolding. Saba Qamar’s soliloquies are beautifully written, delivered, and shot, a much more innovative way of opening a window into the past. Saji Gul’s characters are beautifully textured; the web of relations is woven such that there are no clearly defined centers and peripheries. Each and every character is important in its own right and has its own story to tell. Just like he did with Ullu Baraye Farokht Nahin, here too Kashif Nisar tells the story very effectively, creating a world where these characters live and breathe. The DOP uses the fantastic Murree setting and the old haveli to add a much needed ambiance to the story. Among the scenes that really stood out in the past couple of episodes, were the ones with the bird-catcher, where he releases bird after bird as a fascinated Ruqqaiya watches in awe. Another scene, the trek to the dargah was beautifully captured.
On the dargah scene, while I loved the use of the classic Amir Khusro qawwali, and really enjoyed this Sahir Ail Bagga version on its own merit, I think it was more apt for a Coke Studio episode rather than for Sannata. For me, the modern fusion version did not jibe well with the overall classical feel of the story. In terms of acting, this is Samina Ahmed at her brilliant best and Nadia Afgan is fabulous as Salma, although the two together remind me of their joint outing in Dil Mohalley ki Haveli. Similarly watching Saba Qamar and Saleem Mairaj took me back to Ullu Baraye Farokht Nahin. I kept expecting Irsa Ghazal and Nauman Ejaz to pop out of some corner of the old haveli. Sajal Ali is effective as Husna/Pari and Nargis Rasheed is the perfect Naseeban. While these are all experienced actors and we expect them to perform well, I was really impressed by Arisha Razi’s performance and that of the child star playing the young Pari. Such a pleasure to see these young actors do so well. Kudos to Kashif Nisar for extracting such performances from these youngsters.
Overall, Sannata has started off on a strong note and here’s to hoping it maintains this momentum till the end.
Written by SZ~