Express Telefilms ~ A Review

1392098_645970688767992_1282078060_n

Psychiatrists, psychologists, mental illness, disorders, depression, delusions, professional intervention, therapy, counselling – these are not terms we expect to hear in our everyday dramas, socialized as we are to the more commonly used concepts of pagalpan, daurey, jadoo tona, asebsaaya, jin, taveez, mazaar and pirs. Of the recent dramas that I can remember, very few have touched on the topic of mental health and that too only peripherally, and if I may say so, rather crudely. I still shudder when I think back to the gross mishandling of this very important issue in a recently concluded serial.

I was pleasantly surprised, therefore, when I came across this new series of Express telefilms, all of which revolve around the issue of mental health. Presented by different creative teams, these films differ in that each has a distinctive look and feel, showcasing the particular story telling styles and aesthetic sensibilities of the various writer-director-producer combinations. In terms of writing there is nothing unique about any of the stories. The protagonists we meet are not one a kind, nor are the situations they find themselves in extraordinary, but it is the story tellers’ approach that turns these everyday stories into something definitely not run of the mill.

In Tum, Meena, who claims to hear voices that portend future events, is not simply labelled as aseebzada by her family and left to her own devices. On the contrary, her concerned brother seeks professional help and convinces the rest of the family there is nothing otherworldly about her condition, all Meena needs is proper medication and counselling. In Darr, an otherwise pleasant woman beats her young son for no apparent rhyme or reason, but rather than maligning her as an abusive parent, professional intervention uncovers deeply embedded painful memories of past events. Breaking News is the story of an elderly gentleman who is caught shoplifting; as events unfold we are skillfully led into the very bleak world of a lonely man. Doosri Dulhan introduces us to a young bride who is fully convinced that she is already married, a claim vehemently rejected by her ultra conservative and controlling father. Pehli Jummerat details the story of a girl who feels marginalized in the family after her younger brother gets married. 

HB

Connecting these otherwise disparate stories is Dr Jahan Ara, psychiatrist extraordinaire. Beautifully played by Hina Bayat, Dr, Jahan Ara embodies all qualities one would want in someone in whom one confides their deepest and darkest fears. She is patient, compassionate, and most importantly withholds judgement. And herein lies the key to what compelled me to sit and watch – there was no rebuke or censure – nobody was right or wrong, no guilt trips, no finger pointing, no nothing, only a genuine desire to help. All protagonists are afforded so much dignity that not once, in any of the stories, do any of them come across as becharey. An important point highlighted here is that in cases such as these it is not just the patient who needs to be treated, more often than not the people around are equally in need of help. Hence in almost every story we see Dr. Jahan Ara holding counselling sessions with family members as well.

Though there is a clear agenda here, to increase awareness, the educational aspect is handled so well that there is none of the preachiness or moralizing we have come to expect from issue-based dramas. Kudos to all the creative teams who have contributed to this special project headed by Iqbal Ansari. Among the directors we see well-known names like Marina Khan, Ahson Talish and Shahid Shafaat, and writers include names like Mohammed Ahmed, Amina Khalid and Mustafa Hashmi. Of the actors, it was fabulous to see Talat Husain back after a hiatus. Samina Ahmed and Shamim Hilali were effective as the troubled mothers trying their best to deal with very difficult situations, Hina Bayat was elegantly understated in a completely different avatar, Salma Hasan gave a career best performance, Maheen Rizvi was very good as the abused wife, and ZQ impressed with the intensity she brought to her character.

While there is a lot to be appreciated here, like any other project this one too is by no means problem free. The background score is seriously loud in some films. The acting of some actors leaves a lot to be desired, and there is the inevitable resort to stereotypes in a couple of stories. And yes, happy endings are not the norm, nor are they guaranteed as it might seem from here. Nonetheless I applaud the sincere effort to draw attention to a very serious matter. Of all the films, I found Amina Khalid and Ahson Talish’ Darr and Mohammed Ahmed and Marina Khan’s Tum to be the most engaging and well made. 

Even as this is all good and Express Entertainment deserves praise for backing a worthy cause, I am very disappointed in how they have handled publicity for this project. Like it was with Talkhiyan, the only reason I know about these telefilms is because of a heads up by a friend. I fail to understand why Express is stingy in matters of publicizing their own projects. Their FB page is filled with nothing but glossy pictures promoting their Indian content. I have no problems with them doing this, but surely it doesn’t cost them anything extra to post a picture or two publicizing their own homegrown projects as well. How are we expected to know if nobody spreads the word? What is the point of putting out good stuff if nobody out there is watching ?!?

Have any of you had a chance to watch any of these? Looking forward to your thoughts!

 

Written by SZ~

Advertisements

33 replies

  1. @SZ Hey I was wondering what you thought of these and here we have it!

    I watched Pehli Jimerat & Doosri Dulhan. Haven’t really had the time to catch the rest.. or maybe i didnt go back because i wasn’t completely wowed over..

    These telefims caught my attention because of Hina.. Usually her projects are of a certain standard and she almost never fails to impress.

    As much as I enjoyed the subject, and everything else you have mentioned, its the shrink’s assistant that put me off. Not just because of her acting but her approach. Something I couldn’t get my head around. Sometimes it felt like as if they were deceiving the patient and I didn’t agree with that approach, and it kinda prevented me from coming back. Perhaps I wanted to see a better doctor-pateint bond, than the assistant-patient bond..

    Will def catch up with Tum and Darr now that u say they are the better ones..

    One thing I must mention here.. what did wow me was the beyond amazing picture quality.. Thanks Express Channel for that.. I hope all others channel hear this and start uploading such brilliant quality HD videos! The whole experience is soooo much better!

    As for Express Tv advertising, ab kia kahian.. its a shame! I don’t follow their fb page so I wouldn’t know, but if thats what they r doing I find it rather incomprehensible!! Perhaps they need to visit our dr Jahan Ara.. someone along the line must a have a screw or two loose lolol.. i mean how can they not provide support to their own projects???.. is this because the foreign projects cost more to buy and dubb? surely their own productions, their mehnat & the pride that goes counts for alot more.. no?

    Did u watch this other one by express channel – bait-lehm? i have my issues with that one, but it was cirtainly one of those not-run-of-the-mill ones…

    Like

    • Hey @FA, seems like we have somewhat similar tastes in the kinds of things we are willing to sit and watch 🙂 Good to know I wasnt the only one who gave these a shot!

      I agree with you that Doosri Dulhan was not wow worthy, The actors, the stereotyped character of the father, and the mediocre acting, and man! that bgs was loud! So yeah wasnt bowled over with that one. Pehli Jummerat was better in the sense that I really enjoyed ZQ and Samina Ahmed in that, and the story was done well, without showing too much of the bhabhi nand jhagra, and I liked how the mother kept trying to maintain the equilibrium of the household without really siding with either the daughter or the daughter-in-law. That said, yes I too was weirded out when they besmirched her ex-lovers’s name for the cause of the greater good.. wasn’t onboard with that at all! Breaking news was better than the first two and Darr and Tum were the best of the lot. Tum in particular goes a lot deeper into Meena’s issues and also shows the repercussions of going off meds too soon. Darr had an interesting twist, which showed how the past impacts the present which then in turn starts shaping future behavior. So yes, I’m with you in that there are problems, but I think what really got me on board, as in what got me to spend way too much time watching and writing about these telefims, was the sincerity of the effort, the overall concept and how radical a departure this was from what we are shown …. do you remember Kadoorat – now that was ugh ugh ugh!!!

      I just wish more people see these, issues and all, because these are such an effective counter to the bakwas shown on all the jinn bhoot waley morning shows, where instead of educating the awaam all they do is confirm belief in jinnat ka saaya, daurey, taveez, dum, and what not…

      Re: Express…. yaar, those of us who were here during Talkhiyan time will def remember how they pretty much disowned their own project.. I seriously have no clue why they do that ..

      Re: the film quality: Absolutely! That’s is one of the best things about their projects, that they are such a visual treat. When I was watching Tum, the print was so clear hat I could almost smell the kababs and patties they were eating! Cannot even begin to tell you how much I missed home in that instant!

      Haven’t seen both the movies you’ve mentioned but will def check them out.. Thanks for the heads up!

      Like

      • @SZ just watched Tum after reading ur review.. and now I can say im actually wowed! … what a difference it makes to have a balanced story line and seasoned actors! I didnt realize until after reading ur review that these were actually directed and written by different ppl..once again what a difference!

        It was nice to see a well balanced, realistic doctor-patient relationship.. and dealing with real issues.. it was nice to see that this character was now strong-enough to survive by herself.. unlike Pehli jumerat, where I felt ZQ was partly- deceived..not an great psychiatric treatment i say! And def two thumbs up for not relying on Khirad’s bff for doing all the dirty work! I found her character to be rather creepy.. mrs james bond cum doctor assistant was so not real! will have to check out darr.. really hope thats more like tum and not the other two..

        oh the patties – thanks for bringing that up.. i was thinking agar patties mention ki tou soche gi nadeedi!! lol but honestly that scene was the patties scene for me!!! kebabs i can manage here but them patties u just cant get em here.. hai – home sweet home!!!!

        having said that the same ghar issue had me cracking up.. i mean i saw this same ghar 4 times in 4 different dramas this week… i mean really…???

        re movies: rok lo aaj ki raat ko is a serial, not a telefilm but if u r into enjoying sights & sounds of our northern areas, then watching that on full hd is pretty enchanting!

        re kadoorat: uff!! woh kia tha?? i mean mental health of meena is one thing magar yahan to awe ka awa hi bigra wa tha!!! Have to admit SS acting was super.. but the story was totally mad!! think a few more ppl need to consult our dr jahan aara seeing kadoorat’s shrink was totally useless! lol

        Having said that, we have sannata too, dealing with some mental issues.. so i guess its a growing trend!!??

        Like

  2. @Sz While we r on the Express Channel, did u watch their rok lo aaj ki raat ko?.. maybe story-wise nothing too wow.. but the super-amazing resolution and the beautiful Gilgit baltistan surrondings combo had me fully engrossed.. too beautiful!

    Like

    • Oh a PS: That assistant just cracks me up because every time I see her I am reminded of Humsafar. Teen saal ho gaye but I still call her Afsheen 🙂 Yes, everything is off about apni Khirad ki bff!

      Like

      • funny you mention Afsheen. I was watching part of Pyare Afzal and she’s in there and of course I went oh Khirad ki friend aa gaaye LOL!

        Like

        • @Annie: LOL! just as FK will akways be Ashar and MK Khirad and so on, yeh bhi hamesha Afsheen hi rahegi 🙂 Btw, does anybody know her real name?

          Like

  3. thanks SZ for highlighting these! I was searching for Tum but couldn’t find it on YT so glad you did and I’ll def. catch it later. I started watching Breaking News but then got interrupted. It looked well put together and it was good to see Talat Hussain and Laila Wasti after a long time – I’m going to finish it soon 🙂
    Looking forward to these – didn’t realize it was a set of issue based series like you said no publicity on any FB pages except Tum and Breaking News being mentioned on some of the drama pages with no links.

    Like

  4. SZ: Thanks for the recommendations. I watched Tum Meena. Normally in our culture such subjects are considered taboos and are swept under the carpet and therefore for a starter, it was a very good attempt. However I did not find Hina Bayat up to par. I admire her a lot but to me she came across as very detached. This could be because such a delicate subject was being addressed in a very short period of time. The lady playing Meena’s character was so believable. I wish HUM had not missed a very good opportunity of introducing professional help for Kasaf with all her complexity in ZGH. This serial was watched by a vast number of people and it would have helped spreading the word that there is no shame in seeking professional help.

    Like

    • @Nargis: Hi! Thanks for reading and watching these on my recommendation …
      Tum was my fave of the whole lot as well, and yes the acting was really good, except that I thought the girl playing the sister was pretty bad. Re: HB’s detachment, you got your answer directly from her 🙂

      Absolutely agree about ZGH, for that matter even in Kankar I kept waiting till the last ep to see if somebody somewhere would bring it up .. but alas!!

      Like

  5. As aLways – thank you SZ for taking out the time to watch, review and critique our efforts! When Mr. IqbaL Ansari asked me to do this project I couldn’t say no – it was something I had done for many many years through my shows Ujlhan Suljhan and Geo Hina kay Saath and miss sorely today. These are issues that remain so misunderstood and hence, unresolved in so many lives around us and unfortunately if they are ever addressed on Tv, the handling only reinforces the misconceptions. For me it has been a pleasure working on these telefilms but aLso a bit difficult as weLL to maintain the feel and attitude of my character as each writer and director visualises and interprets it differently. Hence u may find Dr. Jahanara more or less involved or detached from one to the next. But years of Uljlhan Suljhan is helping me find my way 🙂
    I only wish Express wouLd take ownership of its own products – and may I add, good products!! Like Talkhiyan, these telefilms aLso deserve due promotion that they are not getting. Another misfortune that befell this project was that it was meant to run as a weekly series but Lack of timing (and unfortunateLy, planning) has damaged its continuity with random films being shown at intervals that have no relevance to the series. Dr. Jahanara’s character was aLso meant to evolve as it progressed but now even I am not certain which way it wiLL go 😦
    But hope persists and the potential is there – so wish us well that we may continue to deliver to your expectations! You guys are a fabulous, honest and valuable audience!!

    Like

    • Hey Hina! Its so lovely to hear from you in person! And its lovely to see such a meaningful project on our screens & as I mentioned earlier, it was u that convinced me to take a plunge in the first place.

      Thanks for sharing the info.. Its funny u mentioned that but I was thinking that myself that why is this project being telecasted in such a disjointed fashion? And that I would love to see our Dr JahanAara’s personality too.. but I guess that it would be difficult to build a character if its being portrayed by so many different writers.. I really do hope we get to see more insight into Jahanaaras character, and perhaps watching this as a miniserial rather that under a broad telefilm banner.

      I have one question: Is there a professional psychiatrist assisting with the narrative/project? I somehow felt this project lacked solid grounding in its subject and portrayal, and certain things can actually put ppl off seeking professional help, which would be so not what we want! My main issue is the lack of honesty and total disregard of confidentiality we have seen. Ok the confidentiality concept probably doesn’t exist in pakistan, but I firmly believe its crucial for psychiatric treatment.. no?

      Neverthless two thumbs up for being a part of such a positive project!

      @SZ & @anyone folllowing Numm, I was watching Ahson Talish’s Darr, and i was left wondering: whats with too much bathing?? .. totally reminded me of another rather out of place MJ young W bathing scene.. lol

      Like

      • @FA: Seriously! I was watching Darr and I was like yeh kiya? but on the other hand Darr was narrated so smoothly and the actors were all spot on, ke one can only wonder ke what went wrong where with Numm… 😦

        Like

        • @SZ deja vu! lol true abt smooth narration and acting.. the bachcha was super too! loved him!

          @Nargis Rashid @SZ so right abt kankar.. such a huge disappontment! i mean one thappar back doesnt settle everything does it? i read the story ages ago.. if im not wrong that went on to show the kids wanting to get married and kiran saying no ’cause she knew jisa baap waisa beta.. i need to go back and check it out again! waise that whole tabbar needed serious help! sab aik se barh ke aik the.. lol

          im not into this foreign dubbed stuff but after some serious recommendation i did watch Fatima Gul.. and have to admit the psychiatric treatment was spot on!

          btw ref breaking news just want to point out abt Kleptomania.. its a myth that it only occurs in older ppl.. i personally know 2 school-going kids children who suffer from this disorder.. As i mentioned before, its great to see such taboo subjects being brought up, but perhaps a more honest approach would be better.. But hey, team—- (dunno what to call this, team express telefilm) keep up the good work!

          Like

          • @Fa: agree about the issues and do think the various disorders/issues needed a bit more research than reading a couple of articles etc, but again as you said just look @Kankar …one thapar and all hisab was barabar,forget abt even mentioning, even in passing, that Sikander needed help. For that matter even for his dad, abusers don’t just reform by themselves ….so in comparison to this and even ZGH or our other fav Kadoorat, this represents a huge leap forward. And yes, as you said Sannata can also be counted as a trend setter in this regard, where there is an actual engagement with issues related to mental health. Lets hope that these dramas are a part of new trend, not just random outliers …

            Like

    • @Hina: Hey! Lovely to hear from you – been a while! How’ve you been? *hugs* 🙂

      Thank you for always taking the time to read and share your side of the story .. these little insights, as to to how much thought goes into each character you play, always adds so much more to viewing experience. Like @FA said, I too want to see some more of Jahan Ara’s story coming through as well, but I don’t quite think we will get to know more about her 😦

      That said, you have done a great job building up a specific persona for Dr Jahan Ara, the hair tied back with colorful scarves, her very consistent wardrobe choices and the same black bag, do convey a lot about her personality.

      Thank you also for clarifying that there were indeed other unrelated films thrown in to the mix .. when I was going through these films, I couldn’t figure out why Bee Gul’s film and a couple of others were being showed alongside these!

      Like

  6. I Watched Darr the other day . It was excellent .so glad they were encouraging people to look for a solution to psychological problem srather than just not dealing with the issues. I just wish psychological issues were that easy to deal with ..it takes a lot of time and patience and usually the symptoms can be controlled that is all. What I di like was the way the husband was actually trying to help resolve the issue instead of the typical role Men are given in Pakistani dramas

    Like

    • @Sadaf: Hey! Thanks for reading the post and coming back to share your thouhgts. I agree with your issues on Darr, but as you said only so much could’ve been shown in the limited time they had.

      Despite issues and all, I think this is such a huge step forward in terms of Pakistani dramas… now if only more of our mainstream dramas could incorporate some of these elements they would be doing such a huge public service. Did you watch any of the others?

      Like

  7. Thank you once again SZ for such a nice recommendation… Indeed a constructive way of showing mental issues, your review helped me to watch ‘tum’ first.. Where i loved the writing and acting of Salma Hassan, Shamim Hilali and Hina Bayat.. The brother and sisters were seriously pain..

    At some points i literally felt waqai koi asar he.. That what we call amazing direction. Liked the fact that meena was intelligent enough to read and guess the things.. And education really plays an important role in this to distinguish this from pagal pan.. Looking forward to see rest of telefilms now 🙂

    Like

    • @Rehmat: Glad you enjoyed tum 🙂 Great acting, writing and directing, all conveyed the message so well. LOl I too was not impressed with the siblings, but then perhaps it was just that the other actors were all so good ke they both stood out a lot more than they would’ve in any other drama … after Numm I think I have developed a whole new understanding of great vs good vs average vs bad acting 😉
      Hoping to hear more from you after you watch the others 🙂

      Like

  8. I thought Tum was excellent! Considering that we get cr@p like Kala jaado and other weirdo black magic stuff that this was such a relief to watch. I liked the fact that they showed Meena going into relapse and not taking her meds and the mother also going on and on about how it wasn’t necessary even after the Doc told her that her support was important. Well played by all the actors – our Talkhiyan ladies and Salma Hassan were FAB! Hina fits this role to a tee 🙂
    My only wish with the story was that they should have shown Meena getting better due to her father returning and guiding her thru it all vs. “mein tum se shaadi karu ga” being the catalyst. It would have shown the importance of a father in a family who shouldn’t be taken as just a money making machine. Anyways minor grievances aside, GREAT job Mohd. Ahmed sahab and Marina Khan for putting out such a quality product. What a shame that Express doesn’t give a hoot!

    Like

    • @Annie, Hai na! I loved it too. While the rest was all great and all, for me the best part came at the tail end, where HB/MK/MA talked about shaadi not being the be all and end all of a woman’s existence, stressed the importance of education and reiterated the fact that mental illness was not pagalpan….
      a very important message conveyed so beautifully .. wah!!

      Like

      • I agree SZ – I was glad that at the end they mentioned that Meena wasn’t getting better because of the “rishta” but because she wanted to. I just wish that the rishta hadn’t been the catalyst.

        I tried watching Pehli Jumerat but found it quite boring so left it, and it seemed similar to Tum with the whole ‘shaadi” not happening theme.
        Breaking News was good but could have been better. The whole kleptomania issue was not dealt with. I did enjoy the interaction between Talat H. and Hina B. – the scenes seemed very genuine – a hallmark of two good actors! On the other hand, what the heck has happened to Laila Wasti?? OMG she seemed so plastic-y and wooden!

        Like

  9. Love you alL for the time and effort you make to review and comment on our efforts! Your insights are spot on and your suggestions vaLuable 🙂 I was also concerned that as we are dealing with such delicate issues, we must have a professional on board for advice. I beLieve that a psychiatrist is being consulted for alL the scripts. Having dealt with such issues over the years, for my part, I do tweak the script in consultation with the director wherever possible. Must mention here with reference to Breaking News that we stated the causes of KLeptomania in the eLderly, not that it only occurs in older people. As for Tum, both Marina and myself felt that marriage / proposal should not be the catalyst for Meena getting better so we did rework the last scene to convey that 🙂
    P.s SZ – so thrilled you like my look 🙂 I wanted Jahanara to carry a certain look through the series as everything else keeps changing. Hence, the neat look without looking clinical 😉

    Like

    • thank you Hina for being so kind and specifically responding back to all of us after reading our comments. You are such a sweetheart for staying in touch with the “awaam” – Love you for that humbleness 😀

      Like

    • @hina khwaja bayat Thanx for getting back! Lovely to hear from you.. likw @annie said love u for ur humbleness and sataying in touch with the awam!..Especially appreciate ur dedication to any project you do.
      Ref: Tweaking the script.. Shadi not being the solution, and meena would be ok even without it, was def the core issue.. I was so glad it was highlighted!!.. so two thumbs up for u and Marina!
      Thats really good to hear that you have a professional on board too.. & sorry abt the kleptomenia issue.. I didn’t get that the first time around.. thanx for pointing it out though..
      Since this thread, been looking out in all the dramas where our dr. Jahanara would fit in and what would be her advice… u’ve def left a lasting effect here lol
      Looking forward to more of ur work and the next installment! 🙂

      Like

  10. @SZ et al. One thing I didn’t think was addressed in ‘Tum’ was Meena’s predictions. It seemed that in the end it was medication and marriage that worked for her, which in and of itself says something. I would have liked her oracular/prophetic utterances to have had sort of resolution. I don’t mean a science vs. religion vein but it got overlooked and the mystery could have been alluded to and left as such – a mystery.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s