Mera Naam Yousuf Hai, written by Khalil ur Rehman Qamar, directed by Mehreen Jabbar and produced by Sadia Jabbar, opened its account on a very strong note on APlus today.
The story begins with Yousuf leisurely sauntering in to the Rohri railway station only to see his intended train slowly chugging away from the platform. Running as hard as he can, he just about manages to grab hold of the handle bar of the last compartment and pulls himself aboard. What follows is as filmi as can be, but it is to Mehreen Jabbar’s credit that not even for a second did my mind wander. Birds flying off of the train, lackadaisical jharoo wala, hands being washed at the nalka, stray dogs, ladies waiting at the platform, men offering prayers – right from the get go every frame bore MJ’s signature.
If MJ is the very able captain of this ship, Qasim Ali Mureed is very much her co-captain in how he has captured and conveyed the ambiance, providing a stunning visual context for what promises to be a very colorful love story. Not only was the station sequence and the train bogey beautifully shot, but even Zulekha’s house was lovingly captured, and the attention to details was noteworthy.
In terms of the story, there are quite a few similarities, as in types of characters and plot points, between what we saw here and in the ongoing Sadqay Tumhare, but since this is only the first episode I am hoping that as the narrative progresses we will see a very different story emerge. For now, I thoroughly enjoyed the sharp writing and the strongly etched characters.
On characters, we have quite a few here, but it is to the writer, director and the actors’ credit for introducing these characters so efficiently and effectively. Yousuf, is a struggling singer, an idealist, a dreamer, and most importantly a romantic – pehli nazar mein pyar hogaya type. Zulekha, on the other hand, seems to be a more pragmatic girl. She has a close confidant in her younger sister. Her father, Noor Mohammed, appears to be dictatorial and a stern disciplinarian, but then you meet his wife, the deliciously conniving and underhanded Afia begum, and you get that bechare maulvi sahab tau waisey hi badnaam hain!
Contrasted against Zulekha’s parents are Yousuf’s parents. His father, Wajeeh Ahmed, is easy going and supportive of his only son’s ambitions to make it big as a singer, whereas his mother is more concerned about her son’s seeming lack of future prospects. Rounding off this family is the very sharp ten year old Mahrukh.
Like Sadqay, here too the hero has a vela BFF who listens with rapt attention as Yousuf pours his heart out. Interestingly enough, its her name, Zulekha, that seems to have captured his imagination more than the girl herself. Nonetheless, whether it is her name or her pretty face, by the end of the episode Yousuf is convinced he is in love with Zulekha; so much so that one day he follows her home, knocks on her door and informs her: Main aap ko bataney aya hoon mera naam Yousuf hai.
As a hook this was a very effective exit line and has me looking forward to more next week.
Despite the fact that I do not like the writer’s constant romanticizing of his heroes’ less than stellar behavior, I thoroughly enjoyed this first episode – and this has a lot to do with the way the story has been translated on to the screen. Even though both Maya and Imran have other projects on air, I found them a lot more believable here. Waseem Abbas seems to be doing the same character on repeat these days – here’s to hoping Noor sahab has a bit more nuance. Among others I enjoyed the two girls playing Zulekha and Yousuf’s sisters. Towering above all though was Hina Bayat as Afia. Of all the actors, I thought she was the one who did complete justice to Khalil sahab’s writing – relishing every word and delivering it just so.
In terms of technicalities, the producer Sadia Jabbar deserves a huge round of applause for standing by this project and not cutting corners, at least not obviously. Lighting was fabulous and so was the cinematography – the opening train station sequence in particular was beautifully captured. The editing was tight and the narrative was well paced. And yes! The sound design was excellent, specially in the first scene where the music was coordinated with the Yousuf and his headphones. Otherwise too I found the background music sparingly used and mercifully turned down – thank you so much for sparing my ears this time around. And finally, kudos to APlus for uploading the HD version of the episode right away – much appreciated!
All in all two thumbs up Team MNYH – great start!
Written by SZ~
Mera Naam Yousuf Hai ~ Episode 1