Aur bhi gham hain zamane mein muhabbat ke siva
Rahatein aur bhi hain vasl ki rahat ke siva
Had Faiz Ahmed Faiz met the characters that populate the world of Mera Naam Yousuf Hai he would’ve definitely re-thought his classic lines and penned them thus
Koi bhi ghum nahin zamane mein muhabbat ke siva
Rahatein aur nahin hain vasl ki rahat ke siva
I have no clue where such people live, how they make ends meet in the real world, and most importantly how they manage to have perfect hair and makeup 24/7, but hats off to Mehreen Jabbar, her gifted DOP Qasim Ali, the uber talented cast and crew, and excellent sound design that has me sitting through long wordy scenes and a story that is crawling at a snail’s pace.
Since the past three weeks we’ve been witness to the ongoing battle of words between maulvi Noor Muhammad and his wife Afia, and while the winner is yet to emerge – it’s taken them twenty five years to come to this point so don’t think there’ll be a resolution anytime soon – it is clear that while maulvi sahab is a scary sight to behold, bulging eyes and all, it is really the easy-on-the-eyes-Afia begum, the smooth operator, that everyone should be wary of. She may appear as soft as silk but underneath that sweet exterior is a woman with a very strong clear cut agenda. Hina Bayat is really killing it here as Afia. Every line, every word, every gesture, every smile, pretty much everything this woman says or does is laden with meaning. Forget about Yousuf and Zulekha and their insipid love story, for me, so far, Afia is the true hero of this serial.
Here, I have to hand it to Khalil ur Rehman for penning fabulous lines. Maulvi sahab and Afia begum’s scenes, the conversation between maulvi sahab and his sister, Bushra’s entry and the way Noor sahab’s second marriage becomes predicated on Imran and Zulekha’s shaadi, Madiha’s walking in to Zulekha’s house posing as her long lost BFF, the multiple choice question sequence from last week, Zulekha and her sister’s heart-to-hearts, and Hamza’s scared reaction to Zulekha’s response – all scenes are great fun to watch.
The problem, however, is that in as much as the dialogues are snappy and flow beautifully, taken as a whole, the scenes, though each one great on its own merit, sound very wordy, tend to go on forever, and do not help the overall story move forward. Hence, even though its now been four weeks we are still pretty much at the same point we were in episode 2 – Yousuf in love and Zulekha not. The two new additions, Madiha and Bushra, add their distinct flavor but cannot compensate for the lack of a strong story. Mansha Pasha was very fun as Zulekha’s long lost bachpan ki dost.
Four weeks in though I’m yet to be sold on the story, there is much to be applauded here, and allow me to begin with a huge shout out to the people in charge of sound. Yes!! This is how you do sound right! The opening scene, when Zulekha wakes up and we hear the radio playing in the background, was brilliantly done. And not just that scene, throughout these four episodes the sound design has been outstanding. People in charge of Diyar-e Dil’s over loud background score should watch this serial and learn how to do things right.
In terms of acting, Hina Bayat is the pick of the lot. It is good to see Imran Abbas giving a mature performance here, Maya Ali too is turning in a very restrained performance as Zulekha. I like Mizna Waqas as Zulekha’s sister, and missed Mahrukh today. Waseem Abbas has his moments here and there but mostly seems to be operating on autopilot, hopefully that’ll change after the hair dye does its job. Mansha Pasha is great as Madiha, as is the actor playing her brother.
Four weeks in, though still a passenger on this MJ driven rail gari I can see myself watching out for the next station… wahan utarti hoon ke nahin yeh tau waqt hi bataye ga …
Written by SZ~