Mere Humdum, Mere Dost
gar mujhe is ka yaqeen ho mere humdum, mere dost
gar mujhe is ka yaqeen ho ke tere dil ki thakan
teri aankhon ki udasi, tere seene ki jalan
meri diljoee mere pyar se mit jaye gi
gar mera harf-e tassali woh dava ho jis se
ji uthe phir tera ujra hua be noor dimagh
teri peshani se dhul jaein yeh tazleel ke daagh
teri beemar jawani ko shifa ho jaey
gar mujhe is ka yaqeen ho, mere humdum, mere dost!
Faiz Ahmed Faiz~
Drawing inspiration from Faiz’s nazm by the same name Farhat Ishtiaq, Shahzad Kashmiri and MD Productions’ Mere Humdum Mere Dost has recently started airing from Urdu 1. The story begins in Nawab Shah where we are introduced to Umme Aiman, a young girl whose mother, Zainab, has recently passed away after a brief illness. Not only does Aiman have to deal with the trauma of a parent’s death but also face up to the harsh reality that with her mother gone she has no choice but go live with her estranged father Taufeeq Kamal. Aiman, who has grown up seeing her homely mother waste away after a husband who rejected her because she was an unparh, jaahil, ma’mooli shakal-o sooarat ki aurat, is initially resistant to this idea. Eventually her defenses are worn down and she agrees to go live with her father in Karachi.
In Karachi, we meet Taufeeq Kamal, who is now married to the sophisticated Almas and they have an eighteen year old son Sahir, who is going to Turkey for further studies. Taufeeq is a stern man, one who does not like his decision questioned and has no time of day for his pampered son. Almas on the other hand is an indulgent mother and tries her best to soften the impact of her husband’s dictatorial tendencies. The news of Zainab’s death reaches Taufeeq when he is about ready to take off for Turkey, so he asks his friend and business partner Haider Masood to bring Aiman to Karachi and keep her with him till they return.
Like mother like daughter ….
For Aiman, who grew up watching and internalizing her distraught mother’s insecurity and sense of rejection, Haider Masood’s showing up at her doorstep in Nawab Shah is a signal that just like her mother before her, she too has been deemed unworthy by her father. Why else would he send an emissary in his place? From here the story picks up and we see a very patient Haider, and his lovely phupho Bibi trying their best to make Aiman comfortable and draw her out of her shell. Haider is astute enough to see through her reserve and sense her lack of confidence, and we get a couple of lovely scenes where we get a sense of the very scared but not dumb Aiman. This girl has brains and hopefully she’ll learn to use them before the final episode!
Woven alongside these two tracks, Haider’s and Taufeeq’s, we also have Manzoor and Sajeela in Turkey. Almas’ sister Sajeela had initially met Manzoor when they were students but socio-economic differences and her father’s disapproval had kept them apart. Now we meet them as a married couple with quite a history behind them. Theirs is not a happy household – arguments over when to start a family, her financial support of his family, their turbulent pasts – all are causes for everyday quarrels. Things come to head though when an enraged Sajeela discovers that her beloved hubby was hiding a second wife in Pakistan. At the end of the fifth episode Sajeela demands that Mazhar divorce his other wife if they are to continue living together.
On paper Farhat has an interesting story. Her characters have nuance and they are not painted in black and white, no sinners and saints here – they all have a past. These characters are not mere cardboard cutouts who came alive the day the serial began, there is a rhyme and reason for their behaviors. Like we saw in Humsafar and Mata-e Jaan, here too Farhat plays with time, the flashbacks are nicely integrated into the script and the different tracks are connected well with an air of mystery around them. Most importantly this is not a story about an Allah miyan ki gaaye and our hero is as charming and as sophisticated as they come- Adnan Siddiqui is perfectly cast as Haider Masood. Shamim Hilali is her usual elegant self as Bibi and ZQ makes Almas a likeable character. I have not seen Siyaah so don’t know much about Hareem Farooq, but I like her Sajeela.
So far so good. Now, here is where I took so long to get on board with this one. Yes, Mere Humdum Mere Dost has all the bells and whistles of an MD serial and that’s a huge plus point, BUT this is also where the problem lies. The first episode and a half seemed like a dragged out version of the begining of Humsafar, and while Nazli Nasr is good she is no Saba Faisal. The pool scene in the third episode (?) again gave off a very Humsafar-esqu vibe. Aiman’s bedroom in Nawab Shah looked very much like Romaisa’s bedroom in her khala’s house and Hasan Noman was an unwelcome reminder of a serial I would very much like to delete from my memory. Alas easier said than done! How can we ever get over that fiasco as long as Aiman looks like a not so very distant cousin of our beloved Romaissa. Although to give her credit I have to say Sanam Jung is marginally better here. Shahzad Kashmiri seems to know how to get more than one expression from his heroine. Here’s to hoping that Aiman continues to gain strength as compared to the flat-lined Romaissa. Junaid Khan’s Mazhar is a sad reminder of a serial I really enjoyed, Mata-e Jaan. Unlike then, however, when Junaid Khan was convincing as the abusive Adam, here his Mazhar is absolutely charmless and not one bit convincing.
Mata-e Jaan had its share of faults, but Mehreen Jabbar’s fluency in telling a multi-track story was never in question. The flashbacks, the non-linear timeline all were handled with such ease that it seemed effortless. Here, in sharp contrast, the various tracks do not gel quite as smoothly. Granted, the Mazhar-Sajeela track is important to the storyline, but at this point it seems to have taken over as the main narrative. It would make this serial much sharper and pacier if some of their scenes were trimmed. So far Mere Humdum Mere Dost is moving at a very lethargic pace. Not helping matters is the over loud jarring background score. I really wish they could tone it down. Again, to make a comparison, Humsafar, Mata-e Jaan, Durr-e Shehwar, Shehr-e Zaat, all were such a delight to watch because of their aesthetic sensibility.
On a lighter note, and totally off-track, I have to thank our recent batch of serials for teaching me how to distinguish between the various kinds of ameer loag: If a family is to be shown as very rich (read wadera or gangster rich) then they have butlers serving meals, if they are merely rich (read industrialist or businessman rich) then they must have an indoor pool, and if they are ‘aam qisam ke chaltey phirtey rich then they have a fancy house and maids serve them chai outside on the lush green lawn. Anything less than that, sorry guys you don’t deserve to be called rich!
Digressions aside, Mere Humdum Mere Dost is a pleasant enough watch, not a must-see as yet in my book. The pace has picked up appreciably since the past couple of episodes, and Shahzad Kashmiri has delivered as far as the visual and emotional appeal is concerned, but I do wish the editing was crisper, scenes shorter and all tracks given equal screen time. Because its Farhat Ishtiaq and Adnan Siddiqui I am inclined to keep my fingers crossed and tune in for a few more weeks before I make a final call. How about you all? How many watching? Whats the verdict so far?
Written by SZ~
Mere Humdum Mere Dost OST