Love – an emotion with manifold manifestations. Love – an emotion which evokes myriads of responses. Love – an emotion as cruel as can be. Love – an emotion where the afflicted oscillate between extremes – from scaling the heights of ecstasy to plumbing the depths of despair. Love – an emotion which on the one hand can lighten up an entire universe, but on the other give rise to a silence so dark that it can engulf the soul. Love – one emotion but so many ways of describing it, explaining it, defining it.Truly love is a many splendored thing, and who would know this truism better than the afflicted inhabitants of the purani haveli in Sannata.
With Naseeban’s track coming to a somewhat awkward end, this latest episode opened up yet another window to the past. It had been intimated before that Shauki had been driven to his present day condition because of a love that had not played out to its natural ending. That he had not been able to complete his journey left him desolate and despondent. Redemption now lies in completing the journey, and it would appear that Pari is the one who can walk that walk with him. Before he moves forward though, we are offered a look back to understand what led to this present day state of affairs. Enter his elderly taaya and his teenage bride.
Could there be a pair as unlikely as the old taaya, Rashid Mehmood, and his bride, Mehar Bano? Just the visual is enough to convey the atrocity perpetrated on this mere teenager in the name of marriage. Add to that scenes which saw her trying to flee her “husband” and it is easy to understand why Shouki would feel protective and develop feelings for her. Don’t know about you all, but I had goosebumps as I watched her coming down the stairs, dreading what awaited her in the bedroom. Similarly her expressions in the final scene where she pleaded with Shauki were spot on. Rashid Mehmood and Adnan Shah Tipu are seasoned actors who have spoilt us with their fabulous performances through the years, but it is Mehar Bano who surprises here with her powerful performance – girl, you rocked it! Now this track has me really intrigued and I look forward to seeing how it unfolds. Just hope it doesn’t get wrapped up as abruptly as Naseeban’s track did.
Saji Gul and Kashif Nisar have done really well in handling the intricate transitioning between three temporal zones: the past, the near past and the present. It is the present from where we began, with Ruqqaiya narrating the story of all that had happened to the residents of this haveli. It was through her eyes we saw Husna eloping, returning home in disgrace, giving birth to Pari and then dying shortly thereafter. It was through Ruqqaiya that we hear the story of how Pari grew up as a spoilt child who grew up to be a very troubled teenager. Her obsession with Ruqqiaya so strong that she wanted to get married alongside her Ruqqaiya Api. Too late in the day Ruqqaiya realizes how much damage her love has done to this young girl. The moment when Pari walked in wearing Husna’s wedding outfit, and continued on to with her qabool hai alongside her aapi was a very disturbing scene, one that does not augur well for Ruqqaiya and Azam’s marital life.
While this wedding was a union of two people who were marrying each other with the blessings of those around them, it also served as a reminder of an earlier wedding, one which had not culminated as happily – Husna’s. Her elopement was an unfortunate event that changed the lives of everybody who loved her. The scene where in a rare moment of weakness, Apa Bi lets it slip as to how much she envied Salma. While everybody around her saw her as a curmudgeon, her ill-temper and harshness was no more than a cloak to shield her vulnerabilities. Unlike Salma, who could be weak and lean on her and Naseeban for support, Apa Bi had no choice but to plod on. No wonder her eyes had gone rusty… when did she ever have the luxury of time, to indulge herself and cry over her situation? Someone had to man up and take care of everybody, and she did just that. Samina Ahmed is brilliant, we all know that, but every so often there come moments when one is once again compelled to stand up and applaud her – much respect!
Along with Samina, Seemi Raheal and Nadia Afghan were the other standouts. Sajal is growing as a performer and doing justice to the multifaceted Pari. My only complaint with her is her tendency to put on way too much make up and do too much with her hair. She is young and beautiful, why the over-reliance on add-ons? And on makeup, whoever was incharge of Nasreen Qureshi’s atrocious wig and chalky makeup needs to be fired. And its not just her wig, Murshid Sahab’s beard too seems like its seen better days. Back to the actors, while the main cast is doing an overall great job, I really wish we could be spared Amer Wajid’s scenes. Another girl, the actress playing Najma’s daughter, too sticks out like a sore thumb.
Apart from the story-tellers and performers, Rashid Abbas’ cinematography is an important aspect of the overall Sannata experience. The faded colors of the past, the brighter colors of the near past, and the darkness of the present all make for a stunning visual experience, providing clear demarcation between the three temporal zones.
While all this is great, I cannot help but end my review on an extremely annoyed note, as in two thumbs down to the sound people. Not sure who’s in charge, but could someone please lower the volume of the background music ASAP. Why do we need the now irritating music in every scene? The qawwali is nice, as is the OST, as is the alaap, and I see the attempt to give each character/scene/setting its own signature sound, but all this needs to be handled aesthetically, in a way that does not involve blasting viewers’ ears. It was almost impossible to hear any of the dargah dialogues with the loud music, and then when there were no dialogues the volume was turned on even higher. I appreciate that the lyrics go well with the onscreen narrative, but I don’t get the need for the overkill. Why over tell the story – either use dialogues or music. When the text is doing a fabulous job on its own why do we need to be hit over the head with the subtext? Why are they competing with each other?
Written by SZ~