Numm is turning out to be quite the serial, one suffering from a serious bipolar disorder… oscillating between some really good moments and others so mediocre that one is left to wonder ke yeh kiya mazaaq hai. The story, the linchpin holding this fragmented serial together, seems to appear and disappear at will. At times it seems like there is actually progress but then in the very next instant you are back to square one, with the same idea being reiterated in different words for the thousandth time. In some scenes the director and his actors seem to be physically present but mentally absent, but then in the blink of an eye the director is back in full form and the actors are putting in a brilliant effort. In short, Numm continues to be a conundrum. Love it or hate it, Numm has manged to defy all mumkinaats as even after fourteen weeks we still don’t know how its going to play out at the end. Whether this unpredictability is enough to makeup for the serial’s other very serious shortcomings is open to discussion.
Turning to this specific episode, there was progress in that we saw a stronger Wali, one gradually gaining in confidence. Even though he is still unfailingly polite with his grandfather, Wali’s steely determination is no longer hidden. Its not just the mill workers, he has also put his foot down with regards to Mahjabeen. Now, more than the mill issue, which he let him get away with, Baray Sahab is more concerned with this turn of affairs. From his expression it was evident that this was one battle he had never anticipated. Barey Sahab might think he has checkmated Wali by conceding on the labor management issue, but his grandson’s invitation for yet another game shows that he may appear soft and gentle but Wali is also a chip off the old block; he knows his grandfather’s wily ways better than the Baray Sahab gives him credit for. Winning or losing minor battles are of no consequence to this pair, both of whom are now playing to win the greater war. Who blinks first, Wali or Baray Sahab?
Usman Peerzada was fabulous in this scene, and Fawad too had his brightest moment of the episode here. Beautifully written, nicely composed and shot, and well directed, this chess game was one of the few noteworthy scenes.
My other favorite scene was the one between Mahjabeen and Amtul. Their similarities and dissimilarities, have always intrigued me, and today’s exchange between the two badbakht women of the Bakht khandaan was a significant one. Finally Mahjabeen spoke. What we heard were not the words of a passive victim, rather these were the words of an exhausted woman, pushed beyond her limits in her efforts to cope with all that life had dealt her. Unlike Amtul who had the luxury of losing herself in her thoughts and seeking solace in a world filled with books, Mahjabeen had no choice but to deal with her harsh reality with open eyes. While Amtul was free to ponder on the larger meaning of life in Wasif Ali Wasif’s philosophy, Mahjabeen was forced to pick up the slack and raise another woman’s son. For the first time we heard her spell out her relationship with Wali. More than a son, husband, lover, friend, he was her fellow-prisoner, her saza ka saathi… it is this bond that binds them together – forever. Sania Saeed was absolutely magnificent here.
Another beautifully shot and directed scene was one where Wali covers his dead mother’s face, and is shown grieving in the shadows. His expression at her grave also spoke volumes… now if only we could have understood Fawad’s mumbling it would have made so much more sense, but alas…..
From the sublime to the ridiculous, all the scenes involving Neelam and her family seem to come from a very different place than the the scenes described above. Did the director just go away on a vacation and decide to never come back? Why the heck is Neelam still on a bed rest? Even though Wali visits her regularly, why do they need to have the all important Qasim conversation on the phone? What was the point of wasting time showing Neelam’s family and their lame conversations? Rather than reminding us time and again that Neelam and her khandaan were such poor actors, why not delve deeper into Wali’s troubled relationship with his mother. He acknowledges he should have tried harder to listen to her, but could never go past the years of embedded hurt and mistrust. I so wish that rather than endless annoying hospital scenes we had seen more of Wali and Amtul together. Another thing, where was Mahjabeen when Amtul died??
Apart from the Neelam and her khandaan fiasco and their scenes with Fawad, where he looked thoroughly fed up, the whole Qasim track too has been poorly handled. Mahjabeen and her son’s conversations are the same every week… did they just run out of new things to say? Why the heck did he run away when he saw Wali approaching? Hadn’t he said earlier that he was done being afraid of the Bakht khandaan? The much hyped Wali and Qasim confrontation had as much bang as a week-old deflated balloon? On a side note, a muft mashwara for Fawad Khan: Please learn to handle a gun properly before auditioning for the role of an action hero…
The episode ended with Mahjabeen thinking back to the moment when it all started going wrong. The lighting for this scene was beautifully handled … brightness gradually giving way to shadows, the grays blending in to the eventual darkness embracing Mahjabeen completely, blocking all light from coming in to her life…her faltering and falling in her brother’s presence sealed her fate. Though she had always worried about this eventuality, little did she know what was in store for her …. life was a lot more cruel than she could have ever imagined.
Taken as a whole this was another typical Numm episode. The bad parts outweighing the good ones. Not that anybody out there is reading this, but if they are then please cut out the long “thinking” part asap. All scenes involving Neelam also need to be re-assessed and edited with a pair of very sharp scissors. Also, somebody please give Mahjabeen and Qasim other topics to discuss… aur kuch nahin to mausam ke barey mein baat kar lein. Salima needs to do more than give Wali ghar ki report and get back to her cooking and feed Wali some more aaloo gosht … hamara bechara ghur sawaar is shrinking by the minute. On the plus side, the story progressed, it was good to actually see Wali actively working to bring about a change rather than talking about it in abstract terms. Also, the sound, apart from Fawad’s mumblings, seems to have become a lot better and the background music too seems less intrusive….. Are these improvements enough to compel viewers to overlook other flaws and follow this one to the bitter end?
Looking forward to your thoughts!
Written by SZ~
Numm ~ Episode 14