Five episodes in Mein Sitara continues be the best watch on TV right now.
Quite a bit of water has passed under the bridge since we last met the colorful characters who populate the world of Mein Sitara – a world where fact and fiction are flipsides of the same coin. No longer is Suraiya the scared little girl abandoned by her parents, and neither is Farhad Sethi the newcomer looking to make his mark as a film director – both have grown.
Suraiya is today an excitable but a confident tween, someone still as enamored by the world of makebelieve as she had always been. Farhad is an well known director, presumably with many hits under his belt, someone who is now a celebrity in his own right. There is no love lost between Farhad and Suraiya; she is scared and intimidated by him and he sees her as a pesky servant given way too much attention. Ordinarily they would have nothing to do with each other, both are mindful to keep out of each other’s way, but thanks to Jharna, a benefactor to both of them, their tracks are just about ready to meet. And fireworks are sure to fly!
Jharna is the linchpin, the character who has held the story together so far. Aisha Gul is absolutely fantastic as the aging superstar. Jharna doesn’t have to tell us how great she once was or how beloved, its all apparent in her carriage. The dignity and grace with which this woman carries herself, even at the hardest of times, speaks volume of her inner strength.
Soft as silk she might, but she is nobody’s fool. She allowed herself to be swept away when she was ready to settle down, chose the man she wanted to build her family with, and then once she had children she gradually phased out her professional obligations to make way for the personal ones. At no time, however, did she allow herself to be so out of the loop that she didn’t know what was happening on the outside. She might’ve pretended to turn a deaf ear and told and all ‘n sundry about Farhad’s great love for her, but deep down she knows her husband pretty well. Hence first the insistence to cast Nasim Dilruba and now Suraiya. This woman knows exactly what’s happening.
Farhad, on the other hand, too knows the status quo. He protested, with lame excuses, when Nasim was foisted on him, and now he’s doing same with Suraiya. No matter how much he may protest, however, and no matter how much Nasim Dilruba may tell him otherwise, Farhad and Jharna’s relationship is for the keeps, at for now. And its not because they love each other so much.
In a story so retro there is so much that is so very modern. Marriages are depicted in a very fresh and real way here. Both are professionals, both ambitious, variously defined, and both have very strong egos. They’ve known the marriage is floundering, but there is something still that keeps them together. She is very maternal towards him – whether her affection would be classified as love or as looking out for a favored protege is something time will tell. But given how public their lives are Jharna will not allow her life to become a spectacle. If and when it comes to that point it will be interesting to see what that ultimate stresser will be.
Unlike the weak spined drama men that abound on our TV screens these days, Farhad’s character is an interesting blend of weaknesses and strength. Like most people in the business he loves getting his ego massaged, but shrewdly enough he knows how to keep a hold on his impulses and not let himself be swayed. Nasim Dilruba is learning – her charms got her till a certain point, but beyond that its all Jharna’s territory.
Nasim might like to think, for now, that she has Farhad all wrapped up around her little finger, but she’s mistaken. Jamal and Farhad ar not the same men. Farhad is lot smarter and actually has a brain – one that tells him to always keep self-preservation as his highest priority. Same goes for Nasim’s equation with Jharna. Both husband and wife did not get to to the position they are at by being fools. At the end of the it is all about me, myself and I for the two. Enter Suraiya.
So far Suraiya has seen the benevolent, motherly side of Jharna, but I have a feeling all that just changed. Now Jharna has a new project on her hands – to show Nasim and Farhad that Jharna is not to be taken for granted. Jharna was and continues to be a force to be reckoned with. Now if in the middle of this clash of egos little Suraiya gets trampled on then so be it … but I have a sneaking suspicion that Suraiya might just end up having the last laugh here.
So far Faiza Iftikhar has a very strong grip on the story and her characters. The inner and outer worlds of these shining superstars is very nicely intertwined and we get to see and understand not only the workings of the film industry but also get an in depth behind the scenes look at all that goes on behind the closed doors. Overall Seema Taher has done a great job with the narration and has managed to capture the ambiance of that era very well. That said, however, I don’t get why the otherwise nicely paced narrative has being slowed down so much visually.
Selections of songs and the dances are fun, but they go on forever. Perhaps an editor could be spared to do this rather than being asked to blank out out the backs of Meera’s deep necked blouses. Also, the dances do not match up to the tempo of the songs being shown, In the latest episode, for instance, Meera’s dance to the very peppy Naheed Akhtar song was terribly out of sync (check out the marked difference in pace in the video of the original picturization). Last week too Meera’s dance was badly out of sync. If we are going to be asked to sit through many more of these song and dance sequences, then someone please edit sharply. As it stands now, the overall pace of the episode is being dragged down by these interminable dance sequences.
In terms of acting this has been an Aisha Gul show so far. She is brilliant. Mikaal Zulfiqar is doing well as Farhad. Meera is fun to watch for her filminess, and she is perfectly cast for that reason, but she looks too old to be playing this particular character. Her breathy essaying of the one particular scene was so bad, and then to see Mikaal aka Farhad geting all worked up at the ‘intensity’ of it all was simply hilarious. Saba Qamar looks very pretty but she is yet to make an impression as Suraiya. Hopefully as she gets more to bite into we will be able to forget the Sabas we’ve seen in all the gazillion dramas in the recent past.
So yes, am still very much on the bandwagon, warts ‘n all. What about you all?
Written by SZ~