If last week was mostly about Mannu ka result then the second episode tackled the grave question of Mannu ka khana: kyon nahin khaya, kab khaye gi, kis ke ghar khayegi, kaun khilaye ga, kaisey khilaye ga…
It took almost eighteen minutes and a scene heavily inspired by Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge to resolve this issue, and move on to more important matter of how Salahuddin’s proposal would be received by Manu’s conservative and more well-off family.
The second instalment introduced us to the third angle in Salahuddin and Manu’s love story. Enter Mikael and his family. In what was probably the best scene of the episode, believing they had come for her cousin, Manu puts on quite the show as she tries her utmost to sell Sara baji as the perfect biwi/bahu material. Unfortunately her chirpiness and good humor come to an abrupt end when Mikael informs her they’re not there for Sarah baji – it’s her rishta they’re seeking. And thus starts Manu bibi ki bhook hartal.
While there was a lot of talking that happened after, for me after that first scene and Gohar Rasheed’s entry, the rest of the episode was pretty much a washout. There were bright moments here and there – the scenes with Manu’s family, Mikael’s family’s scenes, Bia and Salahuddin’s fun interactions, the very nicely done scene between Salahuddin and his dad – but nothing that really stood out. As for the Manu and Salahuddin long-winded ‘romantic’ scenes, they failed to evoke any interest because I remain patently unmoved by this pair.
When we first met Manu, she had come off as an easily excitable, immature girl, but after this latest episode I am quite perturbed by this character. The ease with which she abuses her family’s trust, her manipulations, the deliberate attempts to seduce Salahuddin, all are in sharp contrast to the masoomiyat she displays around Mikael’s family or when pillow fighting with Sara baji. Having seen quite a few of Samira Fazal’s heroines I knew Manu would be no shrinking violet, but, still, there is something very unsavory about this supposedly teenage girl and her relationship with her tutor, which is neither likeable nor cutesy, and most definitely not romantic.
Salahuddin, on the other hand, does not share any of my concerns and was easily persuaded by Manu’s declaration of love. Gone with the wind was his pragmatism and his semblance of maturity. If he could easily dismiss whatever his sister said as ‘sasti romantic baatein’, why then did Manu’s lines work for him? Isn’t she the same age as his sister? Doesn’t she too watch the same ‘cable channels’ that Salahuddin deems have done Bia’s damagh kharab?
As the older, more mature person in the relationship, shouldn’t Salahuddin have been more firm and forceful in his stance? Shouldn’t he have excused himself from tutoring her the minute he realized she was fancying herself love with him? But nahin… nothing of that sort happened. Their love declared and reciprocated, Manu and Salahuddin’s love story has officially begun, and, as the precap promises, the stage is now set for the zalim samaj to make an entry.
Aesthetically speaking, this episode had all the patented MD bells and whistles. Detailing of various characters’ looks, the visually marked distinction between the social status of the two neighbors, and the lighting and camera movement, all worked together to make this an-easy-on-the-eyes watch.
Of the actors, the seniors are always a pleasure to watch. Among the younger lot, Gohar made his presence felt. Hamza and Aiman share great chemistry and their scenes together are fun. Hamza’s scenes with Maya, on the other hand come off as tedious and labored. As for Maya, she has the perky Manu down pat, but there is a disjunction between the masoom Manu and the more mature Manu. Had the differences between these two aspects been better addressed the character itself wouldn’t have come off looking as disjointed as it does at the moment.
All in all, two episodes in I am yet to be convinced. The story, so far, offers nothing new and the lead pair’s track is very off-putting. That said, the complete OST (posted below) holds out the promise of lot more still to come and many more characters yet to be introduced so I will see… see for how long I can watch in the hope that the serial can rise above its been-there-done-that start.
Written by SZ~
Mann Mayal ~ Complete OST