Sultanat-e Dil ~ Episode 1 Review

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Sultanat-e Dil, the latest offering from AnB Productions, is written by Myra Sajid, directed by Syed Ali Raza Osama and boasts a long lineup of stars, included among them Asma Abbas, Fazila Kazi, Mazhar Ali, Seemi Pasha, Sami Khan, Sara Khan, Alizey Rasul. The first episode, which aired last Thursday on Geo, also featured a guest appearance by Abdullah Ejaz.

The promos were well-made enough for me to give this one a dekho, magar ab that I have dekho-ed, I sincerely wish I could un-dekho. I don’t know what you all thought, but I could’ve done without this incomprehensible mishmash of formula + a liberal dose of all kinds “inspirations” drawn from various local, Turkish and Star Plus serials and but of course Bollywood (hint, think Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham). And as if all that is not enough, then we got everything times two, as in everything magnified that much more.

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few weeks ago I had bemoaned the lack of originality in our drama serials: “[T]he recent spate of dramas, bar a few exceptions, all seem like a cut paste of each other – old wine in not-so-new bottles. Not only do we have formulas at work, but if a particular twist works for one hit serial, then tau bas! Rest assured we will see at least five hundred if not more rip offs featuring a similar if not the exact same spin. It is no longer about telling an honest story about the human condition. No, now its all about thrills and which serials offers the most – the race for TRPs is on. The story and its writer are dead, long live the ratings.”

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Sultanat-e Dil is exactly what I was describing then. Having moved on from the feuding two sisters our producers 10877515_10153442129233662_503408887_nand channels are now hung up on the two wives formula. So, but of course, by the end of a very happening first episode we have the stage set for a do biwiyan ek shohar scenario. Wajdan Shah’s older brother Farhan Shah dies in a car crash leaving behind a pregnant widow. No points for guessing that the dictatorial mother now wants the younger son to marry her widow bahu, hence ensuring the waris and the milkiyat stays in the family. And ji bilkul, sahi samjhe, bechara chota bhai is not so chota and neither quite a bechara, since he already has a pouting girlfriend waiting in the wings.

10867001_10153442129903662_1297355257_nThrown into the mix, adding spice to a ghisa pitta formula, we also have an evil cousin, a khandaani dushmani saga, and the girl friend’s abba too has an axe to grind here. Wajdan’s and Farhan’s mother is not just any old amma, she is begum nawab. Oh, and these guys are no mere jageedars, no, no, that’s old school. Now we talk big, as in owners of riyasats, centuries old at that. As begum nawab puts it: Yeh mulk sarsaTh saal purani hai, mager yeh riyasat teen sau saal purani hai! 

Its not just the same-old same-old that got to me though, it was what was done to same-old same-old that 10251978_1572879242927555_5568929364559960939_nleft me gobsmacked. First off, where exactly is this riyasat? To me it seemed like a curious mixture of Marwari, Thari, Lukhnawi, Gujrati cultures and languages. I get that there is cinematic license but aisa bhi kiya?!

In the first episode alone we had the amma wearing ghararas with jewelry the designs which defy description, the evil cousin speaking some version of marwari (I’m assuming), a dandiya-fied version of the Rajasthani gair dance, two brothers wearing either sherwanis or three piece suits (even at home at lunch?), Fazila Qazi wearing sarees, the bhabhi, Rania, wearing shaadi type kaam wala joras day n night, the bera/bodyguard/butler 1981808_1572878039594342_848708852076876245_nwearing a turban, the kind I have only seen on band baja walas, and the body guards wearing ajraks kuch ajeeb hi haal tha. The weird architectural detailing of the exterior of the nawabs‘ residence – a version of the jharoka clashing with white lions and the ornate details of heavily carved wooden door competing with the border of blue tiles framing the doorway- seemed to sum up the owners’ identity crisis quite succinctly.

From the amma to the betas to the bahu, sab kuch ajeeb. If the mom and bahu changed clothes every minute they were awake, then the 10859296_10153442129323662_1420754902_nolder son wore the same, orange/gold brocade mind you, sherwani through most of the first episode. Not once did anybody, neither amma nor biwi, suggest to him ke bhaiya kaprey badal lo.

Whether it was at the rasam, or solving work problems, or trying 10872615_10153442130318662_1232464137_nto get his brother’s love life sorted out, this poor guy was in one outfit – no wonder he opted to die early on …

Much like his older bhai, the younger one too seemed to live in his formal wear – sherwani on a date! And the malaise seemed to have spread to the staff as well. The manager did not seem like he had just been at the scene of a fire, rather, given his chamkila grey suit and maroon tie, it seemed like he had just strolled in from a shaadi, and that too his own.

On the issue of magnification, where other serials had one butler for the uber rich, now we get two attendants flanking Her Highness. Mind you, it’s not just twice the waitstaff but we also got two vases, right next to each other on the sideboard … why just live with one when you could have two?  And why not go ahead and have place settings put out for non-existing guests as well… who knows kab kaun aa jaye?

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It may seem like nitpicking but my point is why so much OTT-ness? Surely spending money on unbelievably tasteless clothes and jewellery and nonsensically lavish sets does not a mega serial make? How does shooting a janaza scene ( with a plastic sheet over the charpai?!)in patently fake rain serve the purpose of the narrative? Rather than choreographing dances why not spend time on getting the context of the story right? Why not fix what seemed like huge bloopers?

10492373_1572881416260671_8702277556870286050_nWajdan was very much in evidence at the party, he was shown dancing and he told his bhabhi and brother he was late because he’d gone to see a girl. Why then did he later apologize to his brother for missing the rasam and hand bhabhi the bouquet of flowers? And if he had already met with Anushay, why did he go meet her again? And on Anushay, she has to get the genius of the year award, what with brilliant dialogues like: bhai ko miss kar rahey ho? Main janti hoon yeh bohot bara hadsa hai magar hadsat zindagi ka hissa hote hain!?! Seriously?!?

There will be many who enjoyed this opening installment, but for me this was an absolute no go. For those who thought Bashar Momin was filmi, then check out how much more filmi this gets. The only positive thing I can say here is that at least this one is brightly lit unlike Ali Raza Osama’s10859566_10153442129548662_1909840743_n earlier one. As for the overall direction, look and feel I leave you to judge for yourself. I find myself patently unqualified to comment.

Given that this is written by Myra Sajid, whose Numm many of us had enjoyed despite its issues, the story might have some meat to it, but from what I saw today this one is a no-go for me. If I need filmi I would much rather watch a three hour masala Bollywood film rather than suffering through 24+ weeks of a wannabe, with a formulaic story, zabardasti ke nach ganey, ear-splitting background music, garish sets, way 10884470_10153442130948662_1456731233_ntoo many close ups, overdressed ladies, mediocre female leads, and a sherwani clad c. 1960s ka filmi hero. No, thank you.

Magar, don’t go by what I say, check this out for yourselves. In recent times serials I like are nowhere to be found on the TRP charts so perhaps my disliking this one is a good omen for the makers. Who knows, might even win a Lux or two next year… dekhtey hain ...

Written by SZ~

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20 replies

  1. Salaams SZ, saw the first episode and cannot watch it anymore. However, if you haven’t seen Bashar Momin, please do. Usama’s direction in some scenes falls flat but in some scenes Usama gives brilliant direction. Zanjabeeel Shah’s writing is also very unique in BM. Many people have hated the fact that BM shows a dominant husband relationship in which the wife goes through so much abuse but that is not true. The marriage brings healing in the character of BM. Such a relationship’s portrayal was a very unique aspect we don’t see in other dramas. Faysal Qureshi is mindblowing as Bashar Momin. Definitely a must watch.

    • @Aisha: Wasalaam. No, I haven’t watched BM and to be honest I don’t think I can. Just the first episode was enough to put me off the entire serial.There is no doubt that Faysal Q is a great actor, but BM is just not my cup of tea 🙂

    • BM was not shown a dominant husband only, he was extremely to the point of being sick abusive. The healing was not in marriage but in a weirdly in some words that his wife said to media. I am glad we do not see that in dramas every day. Being cruel and abusive can never be justified and should never be. That gives the idea that if husband is abusive then one day he will become the Prince Charming, and the wife must keep trying. In real life this does not happen 99% of the time.

  2. LOL, what a ridiculous drama! Although I have not seen it, I’m definitely steering clear from Sultanat-e-dil – all thanks to your wonderfully thorough review.
    It makes me feel a bit disappointed, actually. Here I am hoping that our dramas will bring new, fresh ideas, more meaningful stories and themes, more developed/complex characters… and here are the latest installment of dramas with elaborate costumes, OTT characters, superficial plots. -sighs-
    I need me a dose of Talkhiyan to remind me that their is some light at the end of the tunnel! LOL

    • @UM: Disappointed and disenchanted is exactly how I feel as well. I’m not sure what the drama gods are thinking by churning out such bakwas. It might earn them some money in the short run but in the long run they will be the ultimate losers. Audiences are not blind and crazy that they can’t see that they are being played for fools here. But then again, as I said in the post as well ….. we are not their targeted audience because we dont impact the TRPs. None of the serials that we have enjoyed here on DRNR have been on the TRP charts. Goya, which you are enjoying currently, has also been “rejected” by the masses if one reads what a major drama page is saying, and serials like Main Bushra, Mehram and others of their ilk are at the top of the ratings chart …. so forget about another Takhiyan coming our way anytime in the future …. it didnt even merit a mention in the LuX awards…

  3. Trust me this was one of those drama.. Jahan instead of getting angry you just laugh at the stupidity and such mixture of bollywood.. The loud no sorry LOUD bgmusic.. The heavy n antique jewellery, flat acting of heroines… And so much of showing things in un natural way… The janaza scene in rain.. Sorry not buying it.. Loookeed way artificial.. First scene me we saw Wajdan shah coming at Rasm. N saying tht he was with Anoushey ok got that then he chat with bhabhi n bhai n also played Daandiya…Next scene.. He is with Anoushey (again) at restaurant.. Right following scene.. Bhai bhabhi asks again where were you wajdaan.. Went to meet Anoushey… WTH… Is se hie aadha dimag ghoom gya.

    I so Agree with you SZ.. Tht instead of utilising money on some decent stuff.. They have literally wasted money on giving a riyaasat typle look.. But tht haven’t worked at all.. Utterly disappointed with this drama… Pain on eyes n brain.. Thats how i summarize this drama :/

    • @Rehmat: Hai na!!! So glad you all here feel the same way as well. After all the massive promotion n all I thought I was going bonkers disliking this drama so much … usually I can sit through two three episodes to judge a serial, but this one was in a class all by itself … :/

  4. Ok i wanted to watch this because of Numm’s writer… We blamed the director, actors, producers, channels etc for Numm going down the pan.. I wanted to give writer another chance here…
    So i tuned in.. And within swconds i was tuned out! I was watching but nothing was registering!! Im still in a state of shock!!! The SGF (sunglasses factor) was so high, it was totally off the radar. Ankhein aisi chundyai hain keh, I think ive done myself some permanent damage!! I need some time to recover!!!!!
    Btw who r we to blame here? Director, dop, producers, wardrobe etc but for me the most disappointing factor was the writer.. Comparing it to numm, this is a complete disaster!!!! The evidence/traces/dna of numms writer are nowhere to b found.. The setting is actually unsettling !! Where is this story set? Pakistan mein kon si aisi riyasat hai jahan gharare pehne jate hain.. Kis zamane mein rehte hein yeh characters.. Its a parellel universe for sure! unbelievable! Ooper se shahana dialogues… literally!
    Begums and farhads and jane farhads!!! .. And aqalbandi galore! ‘Harvard nahin gae aap ke liye’.. I rest my case!!! I think i need a break!
    Oh btw, jate jate i hope the actor in the funeral scene is ok.. I was getting seriously worried abt him! Barish, umbrella and kkkg chapa tou apni jagah disturbing tha hi, Plastic sheet… Really???!!!!.. It needed another warning sign.. Keep out of reach/sight of children!.. (and anybody who can use their brain or eyes for that matter! Lol)

    • @FA: This one was beyond the need for sunglasses.. yahan tau sunscreen ki bhi zaroorat thi!

      Re: who to blame .. I would hold everyone responsible, but most of all the producers … I mean how much extra money does AnB have floating around that they can afford to flush it down the toilet like this … I’m sorry but really cant find anything positive here …

      In comparison to this, dont you think Khoobsurat, despite all its faults, got the nawabi vibe just right? None of this bizzare dressing up or the stupid dances and beras and body guards!

      Oh and you’re gonna love this … zara chashma laga kar parhna!!

      http://abentertainment.tv/Blog/an-epic-tale-of-triangular-love-inheritance-and-castle-politics-just-begun-sultanat-e-dil-episode-1/

      • @SZ ROFL @ chasma.. i used bifocals, tinted with high spf factor.. magar kuch faida nahin hua!!! lol epic is the the word!.. aisa numoona epic!.. thereafter shandar language aside, this review surely wasn’t talking about this drama!! ”castle” politics..??? love from the core of the heart? ‘Anushey also showed her deepest condolences with Wajdaan Shah..????!!!??
        ”The first episode of ‘Sultanat E Dil’ was a beautiful package of character’s introduction, dynamic change in story, remarkable direction and display of extravagant frames.”… dymnamic change in the story??? hold on! story hasn’t even started yet!!!???!! .. remarkable direction and extravagant frames?? I rest my case!
        Now the drama is set in a parellel universe, but the reviewer and these ppl (AnB) seem to be in another parellel world where they see everything with yet another kinda filter.. Maybe we need to get those glasses with those special filters!! (i can just about imagine our drama industry coming up with this breakthrough.. forget 3D glasses, thats old technology yaar! Maza tou abb aye ga with these 4D & 5D glasses which make you see through the eyes of the writer and producers in the parellel &, parellel ki parellel universe! .. completely new, unexplored dimensions!!!! lol
        As u can tell this drama is so not healthy for me.. lol I think i’ve lost the plot! lol

  5. Oh @sz btw excellent snapshots and spot on comparisons! The set and costume designer must b like a bull in a china shop (waise china shop kehte bhi afsos ho raha hai).. I mean harr zamane ka, harr culture se.. Jo bhi jahan bhi.. Aqal, ankhein sub band kar ke… A mishmash of bad taste Overload!!

    • @FA: I knew if I just wrote about it I would be blamed for negativity, nitpicking and finding fault just for the sake of doing so .. but ab after seeing these if someone still thinks Im being unnecessarily harsh then can’t help them :/

  6. Lovely review SZ. Honestly, I was so looking forward to this serial thinking that maybe, just maybe we will get something different this time around but it turns out to be the same bechari bewa getting married to her devar sob story. And just how many times is Sarah Khan going to play the role of bechari biwi in love with her husband who has two wives? Honestly, she will get typecast very soon, if she is not already!
    I am really appalled at the number of serials showing this tug of war between two wives – Doosri Biwi, Tum Mere He Rehna, Dil Nahin Manta, Firaq, Iqraar, and now this! Shukk kya popular ho gaya sab nay socha wohi formula apply kar kay aik blockbuster hum bhee bana laitay hein! (Though Shukk was no blockbuster!)

    • @DB yes there was AA.. and these days: add Mehram to your list too lol.. & I’m sure there are plenty more of these 2 biwi dramas on on other channels too..

    • @DB: More coming your way my friend! Nikah starting soon .. ab guess whats gonna happen there!
      And haan thanks but no thanks for getting me to check out Dil Nahin Manta – what the heck is that???? And Sarah Khan tau I’ve given up on …
      You gave up on Goya? Missed you there and your tassuraat on the party on hai guy Gohar 😉

      • Nahin yaar. Winter break started and it is SO HARD to watch a drama serial with the kids. I have watched only a part of Goya… hoping to catch up when the winter break ends…
        You know for all the mess that these dramas are, their OSTs are so good. 😦

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