Like the opening episode, I watched this second installment in one go as well, no power naps no paani breaks in between. That I sat through something where I had very little interest in what happens next is a tribute to Mehreen Jabbar’s narrative skills and a testament to her very talented cast and crew’s abilities to keep viewers glued. Yes, in and of themselves Khalil-ur Rehman’s scripts are unquestionably beautifully written; his characters are generally interesting (though repetitive), I applaud the subversiveness we see in his writings, like the ease with which he plays with language, enjoy his dry sense of humor and appreciate the flow of his scripts, but go beyond the lines to the story itself and there is nothing. I don’t know about you all, but frankly, my dears, I am just plain bored with dramas that have nothing else going for them besides ‘ishq, pyar, muhabbat, and but of course the all important shaadi!
To begin with the track I like the most so far, I thoroughly enjoyed the gamesmanship between maulvi sahab and Afia begum, neither of them ready to cede an inch to the other. Unlike the dari sehmi women in other serials here we get a role reversal in the says-it-like-it-is Afia, who is quite unafraid of standing up to her husband and giving it back better than she gets it. Waseem Abbas and Hina Bayat have some of the best lines in this episode and they do them complete justice. The scene at the dinner table was fabulously executed and the give ‘n take about khana khate waqt baat nahin karni chahiye was hilarious. It is in brilliant scenes like this that Khalil sahab’s writing really shines.
Another role reversal I enjoyed was where Wajeeh Ahmed was oiling Yousuf’s hair. Typically an activity reserved for mothers ‘n daughters, here we had the father and son bonding over a hair massage. While I am not on board with such an unquestioning, wholehearted parental endorsement of a son’s purported love affair, I liked how the father, conscious of the strained relationship between his son and his second wife, was shown making an effort to get his son to confide in him. In that same scene it was a nice touch to see Mahrukh and her mother in the background, giving it that sense of relatability – just another typical Sunday afternoon in a middle class desi household. And speaking of Mahrukh, I love the little firecracker – she is so much fun to watch!
Its not just his entire khandan, but even Yousuf’s best friend seems to find this most non-happening love story of all times very interesting, hence his constant push for details. I am quite convinced that had all these people not pried we would have been dealing with the world’s shortest love story, but nope. They all asked and becharey Yousuf ne itna socha aur zehen par itna zor diya ke us ko Zulekha ke khwab aaney lagey and bukhar ho gaya. Enter Madiha with her suji ka halwas and thande paani ki pattis.
Had Taji, the poor guy known ke his own sister was also mareez-e muhabbat he wouldn’t have pushed hid BFF Yousuf so hard, but khair, ab tau ho gayi ghalti. Going by what we saw today madam Madiha doesn’t seem the kind to give up very easily, so I’m guessing we will see a lot more of her in the coming episodes. Loved Madiha’s intro shot through the glass doors – very nice!
On the one hand we have Madiha as Zulekha’s rival for Yousuf’s affections and on the other we have not one but two rivals – Ali Hamza and Imran Mughees. Ab yeh alag baat hai ke bechare Hamza bhai tau is a total non starter in this race to win Zulekha’s hand. The scene in the train with his mother was funny and his character is yet another subversive twist from the writer’s pen. Such a seedha saadha mard he is! His literal understanding of Zulekha’s marney maarney wali baatein is hilarious. Imran comes across a slightly better prospect, but Zulekha is not enamored of both so un ka bhi qissa khatam.
Much like Yousuf’s BFF, Hajra, Zulekha’s younger sister too keeps giving her chaabi, reminding her of her oft-voiced desire to marry after falling in love. The preview for the next episode indicates that Hajra’s constant talk of love marriages and finding a Yousuf to her Zulekha does manage to strike a chord. Ab dekhtey hain hamarey hero heroine ka teesra takra kab aur kaise hota hai…
All in all this was a beautifully executed episode. The direction is absolutely top notch and bears the MJ stamp that we know and love. Actors like Hina Bayat, Behroze Sabzwari, Wasim Abbas are seasoned actors and they all have brought something different to the table here. Noor Muhamad sahab’s bark is worse than his bite and Afia’s silken soft demeanor hides a steely spine and a determined mind. Maya Ali and Imran Abbas’ performance that have me pleasantly surprised, full marks to Mehreen for getting them to think about their characters and emote accordingly. Mansha Pasha made her entry today as the lovestruck, chalti purzi Madiha – kaafi mauqa shanas hain yeh baji! The new faces, or at least I haven’t seen them before, Mizna Waqas, Ali Sheikh, Azam Khan, Taqi Ahmad, Marium Waqas, have all made their presence felt and add a very welcome freshness to the overall look of the serial.
And on the issue of look, kudos to Qasim Ali for adding texture and depth to the onscreen narrative. The second train station sequence was equally well captured, more so because this time around it was a girl trying to make her way through a busy compartment. Also lovely were the interior shots, Zulekha and Hamza in the corridor, the dining table scene, the two sisters laughing and planning their next move over a shared apple, the play of light and shadow over Yousuf’s sleeping figure when he was dreaming, and Mansha’s introduction, all were very well done.
And finally a big shout out to the editors and the sound techs. The scenes were short and editing crisp; loved the use of filmi songs and ghazals, much like a radio playing somewhere in the background, the sound wafting in and out, adding to the overall ambiance instead of taking away from the scene as is usually the case.
Overall this was an solid second episode; acting, directing, cinematography, the well written sharp lines everything works really well together – the only thing missing is a story that can keep viewers engaged for the next 20 or so weeks. There are only so many love stories we can watch with the same pyar pyar pyar aur phir maar maar maar formula, I so wish we had seen something more experimental from Khalil ur Rehman’s pen’s this time around, magar I guess we’ll have to wait for that to happen. So yeah, I am on board this rail gari for now but don’t know for how long…
Written by SZ~
Mera Naam Yousuf Hai ~ Episode 2