LOVED IT! LOVED IT! LOVED IT!!!
Aap yaqeen karen na karen magar I am quite convinced that somebody up there was listening to my naala-o faryaad the other night. Right after I signed off here, I stumbled upon a write up about an upcoming telefilm. I was not familiar with the writer or the director, but the fact that it featured two of my all time faves, Nimra and Sarmad, was reason for me to go looking for links and give this one a shot. No more than ten minutes, I told myself, after all it was already past 2 am. Well … the rest as the say is history. Succeeding where big budgeted, mega-hyped, glitzy serials had failed miserably, Tamasha Meray Agay grabbed my attention from the very first frame. I was absolutely riveted and did not move a muscle till the final credits were done rolling. Written by Sameena Nazir and directed by Tariq Siddiqui, this one has been produced by What If…Productions and was aired on TV ONE a week or so ago. If you are as fed up as I am of the run of the mill pyar/mangni/shaadi,/talaaq/doosri shaadi/bechari bewa, type gharelu stories then this one is for you. Starring Nimra Bucha, Sarmad Khoosat, Salim Mairaj, Nazr Ul Hassan, Hammad Siddiq and Kashaf Meer, this is one of those exquisitely narrated, increasingly rare out-of-the-box telefilms that should not be missed.
Resisting the temptation to tell it all here and now, I will say that though the bare bones plot is not exactly novel, it is director Tariq Siddiqui’s sensitive execution of Sameena Nazir’s eloquently written script that sets Tamasha Meray Agay apart from the rest of the stuff out there. After what seems like a really long time I have come across a telefilm with so many layers of meanings. The deeper you delve into this deceptively simple tale the more it lends itself to a closer analysis, making it really difficult to then do justice to this textured story in a mere few sentences. Simply put, it could be said that this one is about a has-been actress who mentors an unemployed young man. But as you go along further this also the story of a misunderstood mother who sacrifices her everything to ensure a better life for her only daughter. Even as the woman’s story is placed front and center, this is just as much the story of her lover, Dinu, who hovers around his beloved much like a moth does around a flame. He exists solely for her, whether she returns his affections is of no consequence to him. Such is the intensity of his love that it is only after he is assured of his beloved’s eternal peace does he allow himself the luxury of death Adding grit to this very nuanced story are the omnipotent duniya and duniya walley. We meet Malik Sahab, a manipulative, ruthless exploiter, and the two footpath-iyas whose sole purpose in life is to judge others. These three offer a pithy commentary on the hypocrisy and double standards prevalent in our society. Written in the style of great short story writers of yore, refusing to give in to the crazy demands of commercialism, Tamasha Mere Agay is a labor of love. And it shows.
Unlike an episodic serial, where the writer has the luxury of time: to set up the context, introduce the characters and then after the preliminary sketch is ready, to color in the various shades of text and the subtext, here, given the tight time frame, we jump right into the story. It is to the writer and director’s credit that they navigate through a very complex story with such finesse that the viewer is never lost between the kaun kahan kab kyun. The fluency with which the narrative transitions between the past and present is applause worthy. The DOP Majid Mumtaz does an excellent job framing the scenes and ensuring that each and every flicker of expression is captured and conveyed to the audience. The various get-ups are very well done and the attention to detail is applause worthy. The scene where Nimra breaks down upon reading her daughter’s harsh letter is heart-wrenching. The fact that she is dressed as a man at that point, mustache and all, adds that extra layer of meaning, one which is not lost on the audience. On the whole, this has a very theatrical, rough around the edges, kind of a look and feel, and I for one appreciated the setting and pacing of this story.
All this is well and good, but none of this would’ve worked half as well if the actors had failed to rise up to their challenging characters. Salim Mairaj is fantastic as Malik Sahab. This is apparently Nazar Ul Hassan’s first foray into TV from theater, and he handles the transition pretty well. There are shaky spots in the way he handles Dinu, but overall he is convincing. I don’t need to tell you about Sarmad, just that he takes to his character like a fish takes to water. From the very first scene to the last one, he IS the unemployed Adul Raheem, who decides to become an actor and goes on to learn the craft under the tutelage of his mentor. I loved the sequence where he does his first acting exercise, and from thereon we see him gradually losing his inhibitions and gaining in confidence, to the point where he ventures out dressed in drag. The dance sequence was beautifully done as well. His humor is the perfect foil for Nimra’s darker, intense character.
And yes, Nimra. WOW! How fantabulous is she here!?! I loved her in Daam, Sabz Pari Laal Kabootar, Ghar Aur Ghata, but here she is in a completely different league. Anywhere else in the world an actress of her caliber and beauty would have her pick of roles, but afsos here she keeps getting cast as the homely bechari (anyone remember Mera Yaqeen? Sorry Sarmad!). I don’t want to give away her character, but will tell you that she is absolutely stunning here. If for no other reason, watch this one for Nimra and her pairing with Sarmad. They are so so good together! Us ke baad if you don’t enjoy it feel free to come back and throw anday tamatar at me for recommending this one.
One complaint that I always have has to do with music and the way it is used in our TV dramas. In this case, I am thrilled to say that for once the background score was aesthetically applied and somebody had actually thought about what music pieces to put where. The lyrics of the two qawwalis, Amir Khusro and Rumi, were aptly chosen to convey the sense of Dinu’s spiritual journey without actually talking about it. Similarly Bulley Shah’s kalaam was appropriately used and the lyrics matched Sarmad’s dance movements onscreen. And yes, while on that, kudos to the editor for his work in the opening sequence. The various cuts were judiciously applied to visually convey the sense of movement and drama of Noor Jahan’s classic track from Umrao Jan.
Finally, a huge thank you to TV One and Seema Taher Khan for going against the tide and backing such merit worthy projects – Much Appreciated!
Written by SZ~
Tamasha Meray Agay ~
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