[Good] stories alone do not a drama make….
Six weeks in, faint fault lines have turned into fissures so deep that I am not sure if Sarmad Sehbai’s still engaging story can hold Laa together for me for the next 15 or so weeks. By now it is pretty obvious that the producers, director Farooq Rind, and the editors have a very dim view of theirs viewers’ intelligence. Not only are the scenes disjointed but pretty much any and every moment which so much as hints at dramatic tension/subtext is overplayed to the hilt. If, by any remote chance, you don’t get the point via the actors’ way-over-the-top performances then the handy dandy once-interesting-but-now-migraine-inducing OST and the over-loud background score are liberally employed to hammer the point home, and if all these issues did not do you in then there are bloopers galore. I had not been able to watch Laa properly baith ke for the past three weeks, and after watching these last three episodes together all I can do is wonder … is the same producer who brought us serials like Shehr-e Zaat (I mention this one in particular because it falls roughly in the same genre), and is this the same director who gave us Sanjha? At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I ask again: Why o why is the story not being allowed to play itself out … why this need to over-tell it?
With this rant out of the way, let me get to the reason I am still watching this – the story. Three episodes ago Daniyal had made his initial rendezvous with Naimat Khan, and their the brief meeting had left him drowning in questions with no easy answers in sight. Three weeks later, Daniyal, though over the initial shock, is still struggling to come to terms with his unknown past, the pain of the present and the undetermined future. In this quest, to discover his identity, his path has once again crossed with the mysterious Laila and she in turn introduces him to her “friend” Dilawar.
Dilawar turns out to be the guy with the just right pedigree, and her parents see in him the perfect match for their daughter, Naina. What they don’t realize that hasb nasb is not the way to measure a man’s character, other qualities are equally necessary if not more so. This is a lesson they will gradually learn as the story unfolds. For his part, Dilawar the feudal is as cliched as they come. With his roving eye and decadent lifestyle this man agreed to the match only for the jaidad that will become his after marriage. As he finds out, however, marriage was not the only requirement he had to fulfill, his mother expects him to also step in his father’s shoes and oversee the affairs of the family’s ancestral dargah. Yes, his mother is a shrewd one.
The Naina we see now is a far cry from the one we met in the first couple of episodes. This one is a more subdued Naina, and she agreed to the marriage only to please her parents. She says she’s madly in love with Daniyal and he claims to reciprocate her feelings as well. This intense love that seems to have sprung up miraculously between the two, has transformed Naina in many ways, and she now aspires to lead a simpler lifestyle . All these overnight changes are attributed to the taveez that the pir in Lahore had given her.
Even as I write this quick synopsis I see the potential for a riveting serial, but sadly all we are given is a badly translated narrative. There are so many scenes that could’ve made so much more sense had they been handled properly. Apart from my biggest issue, how and when did Naina and Daniyal fall so madly in ishq, I had many other what-the-heck moments as well. In the 6th episode Laila takes Daniyal to the orphanage, and while his subsequent outburst makes sense on paper, onscreen this moment came out nowhere, and Mikaal’s OTT theatrics and the poorly placed loud OST taan did not help matters any. Later, the scene with the hotel manager was also ridiculous. Did Daniyal not know how much the room cost? Did he think he was staying there for free? How old is he, five? The subsequent phone call to his father was equally lame. So much for his angst about not being their “real” son… jab paisey ki zaroorat pari tab all his issues were conveniently set aside. And, in the previous episode we saw a poorly edited scene of Daniyal running all the way from Nawab Shah to Karachi to confront Naina.
I get that there is dramatic license and that’s why in Humsafar, for instance, Khirad never texting/messaging Ashar to tell him about her pregnancy was never really questioned and accepted at face value, but this is precisely the point where Laa fails and big time at that. It is up to the creative team, including director and his actors, to narrate the story in a way that we viewers have no time to question the hows and whys, so engrossed should we be in the drama playing out on screen. Sadly this is not the case here at all. Farooq Rind is no Sarmad Khoosat and Mikaal Zulfiqar and Sadia Khan are no Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan, and so every loophole every WTH moment gets magnified that much more.
I had started watching this one with lot of expectations, but as I look back and read my earlier reviews I see the problems were evident from day one and rather than getting better, as I had hoped, this serial is going steadily downhill, and watching three back to back episodes did not help matters. Amidst this mess the people who stand out are the DOP, and four actors. Seemi Raheal, fabulous, Naeem Tahir, making his character relatable, Sabreen Hisbani, her experience standing her in good stead here, and Khalid Malik, who after quite a few insipid roles, Mere Humrahi for one, is relishing this opportunity to play a meatier character.
At this point I am watching this one for the story alone, here’s to hoping that we see some improvement in its presentation in the weeks to come. Aap ka kya khayal hai? Thumbs up or thumbs down?
Written by SZ~