In concert with all of you I too rant about the same old same old dished out on a regular basis by our TV channels. And we are not wrong in our complaints. On any given day we can see at least 2-3 permutations of same gharelu saga – a bharmaar of bholi betis, buri behens, bechari biwis, bebas bahus, boorhi ammas. beemar baaps, and bewa bhabhis. Bilkul bheja fry is what I call these serials. That said, there are a few that even when working within these parameters manage to surprise, and pleasantly so at that. Gar Maan Reh Jaye serves as a prime example of this phenomenon.
Ji, there is nothing new per se here, magar jo purana hai woh kuch naya sa hai. It is in the fresh treatment of a ghissi piti story where intelligent producers and talented creatives – writer, director, DOP, technical crew and actors – come in to play. Hence we have teen betiyon ka majoor baap, jahez chahiye saas, do behenon ki rivalry and a talaq, but in a hatke manner. I watched the first episode on a whim, primarily ’cause of Hina Bayat, in a completely new avatar, and Nadeem. The rest of the cast included a few non-compelling names and some brand new ones. Basically I went in blind. Suitably intrigued by the first installment I stuck with this and remained happily on board. Even as I continued, conditioned as I have become by the beech key blues that our serials seem to suffer from, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. Every guzarta episode had me wondering: Is this the last good installment? Well, …
Take a bow Team Gar Maan Reh Jaaye! A huge round of applause for all you guys!
I’m not saying it is a perfect serial. No. The background score tends to get over loud a bit too frequently and there are times when I wish the narrative would pick up pace. OTT moments, actors who, I think, still have a long way to go, and the young ladies’ crazy-glued curls, perfectly backcombed hair and makeup, all drive me nuts, but then enter Khursheeda Begum and her freej ke thande paani ki pukaar, and her anokha ladla Ahsan and HELLO! Forgiven and forgotten are all irritations and annoyances and I am glued!
Kudos to Mona Haseeb for giving an age old story an innovative twist and equal credit to director Mohsin Talat for staying true to the story, allowing these characters to come into their own, and most importantly maintaining audience interest by keeping the suspense alive. I hold this is an oft-told story but such is the strength of writing that I have no clue where this is going. So far there have been quite a few unexpected twists, but they’ve been so well-knit that they seem to happen organically rather than being randomly thrown in just for the sake of adding masala.
Sixteen weeks in, Nisa is back at her father’s house, Ameen sahab has accepted Farrukh’s proposal and seemingly the nightmare of his eldest daughter’s shaadi and talaq seems to be behind the family. Aur tau aur Farrukh even has a friend’s rishta in mind for Asma. All in all it would seem like we are headed for and-they-lived-happily-ever-after ending. But wait! Dramey mein abhi bohot kuch hona baaqi hai mairey dost!
At the ended of the 16th episode we have apni aakhri saansein gintey huey Ameen bhai, a pareshan Farrukh, ghabrayee hui Nisa and Dania, and eloping in haste but repenting in leisure Asma and Ahsan. Smack dab in sab ke beech mein is the bilkul-not-a-bechari bewa Khursheeda Begum – she, mere dosto, is the real hero of the story.
I love how the whole saga starts with her being dil key hathon majboor. If only she hadn’t had her badtameez dil set on the thandey paani wala freej and thandi hawa dene wali masheen none of this would have happened. But dil tau hai dil, dil [ko ilzaam] kya keejeye, and as the story unfolds it is mind boggling to see the extent this lady is willing to go to fulfill her desires. Normally it would be very easy to hate a selfish, self-centered lady like her, but it is to the writer, director and actor’s credit that they have kept her grounded, quite real and relatable, and dare I say almost likeable?
From a few stray lines one gets the sense of a sad back story. She’s had an unhappy marriage, probably an abusive one. Later, alone after her husband’s death, she toiled day and night to raise her only son. Given the cultural expectations we have of a male child, is Khursheeda wrong to have expected to get some award, to say nothing of a reward, in the shape of a kamao beta and a khidmat guzar bahu with a jahez big enough to satisfy a lifetime’s worth of unfulfilled dreams and desires?
Though Khursheeda’s approach is all wrong but she has been handled with such sensitivity that I, for one, am really hard pressed to hate her. How can I? How can I not be impressed with the way she ran circles around the poor maulvi? Us ko aisa ghumaya ke woh bechara abhi tak ghoom raha hai! This lady is nobody’s fool! Then the way she cried after Nisa left – hai bechari! Itney waqt ke baad unko araam naseeb hua tha… ab kaun paka kar de ga woh gol garam rotiyan?!
If all this was not enough to melt my heart, we had to hear her heart wrenching cries as Nisa’s jahez ka samaan was being carted away. Had that scene gone on for a minute longer you would’ve seen me standing at street corners, collecting chanda to buy Khursheeda her thandey paani wala freej! All this to say that Hina Bayat is fantastic here. Before this I would’ve doubted her ability to pull off such a role, but after this I’m awed.
And if the mother is such a happening gal then how could her b for beta be far behind? I had not seen much of Bilal Qureshi before this, but this outing has been very impressive. Ahsan gives me the heebie jeebies. The menacing look in his eyes, his body language, controlled anger, ice-cold expressions, all come together just so. Its not about what he says its how he says it. So looking forward to seeing how this character fares in the serial.
Among others, I am disappointed in Nadeem sahab’s flatlined portrayal. Yes, Ameen sahab is no firecracker magar yahan tau aik aadh chingaari bhi nahin. Noor Hassan on the other hand is very impressive as the controlled Farrukh. I do hope though that there is more than one note to this character. Among the three girls, Manal Khan is the most natural in her character. I like Kiran Haq as Nisa, but her curls and makeup are an absolute no go. Sanam Chaudhry is in a lot of serial these days so I guess she must be pretty popular, but as far as her acting here goes she leaves a lot to be desired, similarly her hair and perfect makeup. Why, why must these ladies be so perfectly made up all the time is beyond my understanding. Kaash utna hi time acting ko bhi diya hota…
Finally, a shout out to the DOP, Luqman Khan. I don’t think Hyderabad has ever looked as picturesque as it looks here. Within the narrative there are many instances that catch the eye: the attention to facial expressions, shots of arches and the doorways, faqeer framed in the galis, Ahsan on the mundair, pigeons in the sehan, all add much to the overall ambiance. All in all, am still a happy camper; made it so far and hope to stay with this to the end. Maan rakh lena, please!
Written by SZ~