Mein Sitara ~ Episodes 3-5 Review

Mein Sitara -CoverFive 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~

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82 replies

  1. Fab review, SZ, as always. Jharna is a ‘woman of substance’ and Farhad, a good man with massive ME, is caught between 3 ladies. Outcome should be interesting, hopefully and not another Preet!

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    • Thank you, @TSBindra – much appreciated 🙂
      Im not quite sure if Fahad is a “good man” per se but I am enjoying the fact that all these characters, men and women have a lot of ambition and verve …very real and much more nuanced than the good vs bad binay so easily created in our typical drama series.
      Uff! indeed! I too have ny fingers and toes crossed that this one is not made to go the Preet way – what a disappointment that was!

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  2. SZ, enjoyed reading your take. Will leave detailed comments soon, but first a couple of things that are not clear to me.

    Which era are we in? When the narrative started it was 1969. Then there were two leaps of 4 and 7 years, so now we are in 1980 or thereabouts? This means we are already in Zia era. So they’ve actually skipped the whole of the 70s? But that was the interesting period! Then again, the song they were filming on Meera this week was mid-70s. The style of clothes the characters are wearing still screams late 60s/early 70s. Certainly not 1980, when Nazia Hasan and co ruled the music and the film industry was already in quite a bit of trouble…

    So I am confused which time we are in. I do wish they weren’t so specific about the years, it would’ve avoided the confusion.

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    • Hi…story starts in 1969 and after 7 years it,s late 70,s…yes I have tried to cover up zia era too..punjabi films,gandasa culture and if someone rememeber that for a short period we have also enjoyed combine productions with srilanka,nepal and bangladesh etc .. 🙂 I actually written whole 3 episodes about pashto film industry as well but that part is no more in project due some valid reasons.

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      • Faiza ji many thanks. What confused me was the fact that there were two leaps 4 and 7, total 11 years. So I felt we skipped an interesting decade 🙂

        Thank you for a very refreshing drama! A lot of things have really come together here, to me the most interesting thing is how well you’ve written out the characters and their motivations without being judgemental. Looking forward to more…

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      • @Faiza Iftikhar: Hello! Thank you for helping us out here .. its always great to hear from you and so much better to get he facts straight from you rather than trying to come up with our own theories 😀

        Haha! Yes, do remember those joint productions .. also a lot of movies were done with Turkey and all the blonde haired girls we saw then … looking forward to more!

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    • @VZ: I agree … As we had discussed, on the first ep thread, I think, this is more like based in a era which is a composite of the mid ’60s – mid 70’s decade… the fact that they started off with a specific date was a mistake on their part … I am going by the songs to ground the serial. this week’s song was a super duper hit, and is from a film Muhabbat Zindagi Hai which released in 1975…and this was a period when filmi music was everywhere, much like how Bollywood music is now and this was the Sheila and Munni of its time.

      Will look forward to your take 🙂

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  3. Missed your reviews and as always love them.. Your writing brings joy to me…you write that beautifully!

    I am so very much enjoying this.. And like you said Ayesha Gul has just own her character but she is literally star of show until now. Her scenes with Surraiya bring different kind of grace and humbleness and with Farhad she has so much different to offer.. I know obviously cant compare but with both characters Ayesha Gul comes amazingly awesome.. I so loved Jharna’s twinkling eyes when Surraiya was all getup in Vajanti Mala type and said dance karke dikhaon… Bouy her expressions said it all.. Like she won some lottery and then you go what she said in next week promo… Fireworks !!!!

    Last scene between Farhad and Jharna was too good.. I like how they talk and understand each other like mature people.. Not like baat shuru hone se pehle one person leaves the room and other keeps fumming and scene ends.. Bus phir drama chalta hie rehta he.. Even with Naseem too.. Its cut and out .. Talking about her Meera brings total filminess . But have to say her film shot where she says those dialogues..she did it great.. I too like Farhad was jumping ( well not literally 😂) but it was hilarious to see when he was saying everyone should clap.. Hahah like seriously…

    And ok whats with Surraiya singing songs and ending with HaaaAaa… Its totally rubbish… Ek tou i am finding very hard to like SQ in her character upar se this.. May be i try more harder to get off my preconceived notions regarding her.. But actually me it looks like pure acting and not a naturally done character..

    Jamal applying nail polish to becoming star… Wow man.. Surely there must be some true stories like this behind the scenes in real life too.. Who knows..

    anyone watching Dilagi??

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    • Rehmat, nice comment yaar! So agree with you about Saba. I am trying really hard to be fair to her lol.

      I am enjoying Meera’s acting so far, she has a start quality. But Aisha Gul has just beaten everyone in her performance, top class.

      You all settled in? Hope family back home are all OK?

      Not watching Dillagi, there were just too many things that didn’t gel. Are you watching it? How are you finding it? 🙂

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        • @VZ and Rehmat: Spot on about Meera’s star and starry quality .. it works well here but I remember watching her in some other TV serial and I cannot even begin to tell you how much that breathy dialogue delivery of hers got to me! That said, I do think that different style of dialog delivery etc ios what sets a TV star apart from a film star and is perhaps one of the huge reasons why I am yet to be persuaded by a Pakistani film from this revival phase. Manto was an exception, but that was an exceptional kind of a film as well..

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      • @VZ: hai na about Saba.. Surraiya me filhal to maza nhn.. Hopefully Sitara do remaining wonders 😉

        Yes all settled and back to routine finally.. Family back home are fine too AH.. Thank you for asking 🙂

        Dilagi is sooo ajeeb but i am watching it to test my patience.. I dont agree with most of things but want to see how far they can make this a bonga serial… :p

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      • We are watching Dilagi, and yes yes I agree with all the criticisms about it but I must confess I am finding it a guilty pleasure.

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    • @Rehmat. I started watching it; I like the lead actors. However, I am disappointed with how Anmol’s character has turned out. And I am very uncomfortable with the thug/stalker male lead. So lost interest. May check in again to see if something catches my interest once more.

      Recommendations on any other decent shows to watch would be welcome.
      I loved the first episode of Udaari. Thanks for letting us know about it @SZ. Looking forward to your review.

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      • @JR: Anmol’s character is not natural at all.. I find it very difficult to see such characteristics around any strong women i know… Having said that here i am watched all 6 episodes to see how and why ppl are loving it so much lol.. But after yesterday episode.. Its enough for me.. From now on it will be Saas Bahu mega..

        Decent shows.. Hmm . Haye in the new lot of dramas there is nothing decent to watch unfortunately 😦 but from older ones i have just started to watch Mastana Mahi..and i am quite liking it..:)

        Reg:Udari.. Yes i saw first episode..have some reservations on that.. Will discuss on SZ’s review in detail 🙂

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    • @Rehmat: Aww! Thank you – you are too kind and yes, boss! will try my best to not disappear 😀

      Re: Jamal painting Nasim’s toes .. that was a beautiful scene indeed and actually a beautifully handled scene that established immediately that Nasim was from the traditional “bazar-e husn” area where the system used to be completely opposite .. where women were valued so much more than men, .. not because of any misguided notions of feminism or some such but because they were the major income earners (being tawaifs and gaaney-walis) and the men who were in the system were treated as free loaders because there was nothing for them to do in that way of life .. so they would be treated like assistants or servants and talked to with derision as well … If a tawaif had a daughter it was a cause of great celebration vs when a son was born it was the complete opposite .. If you remember Sanjha, Imran Aslam’s character, Waheed Murad, was the son of a tawaif and how casually he was treated by the other women around … the world of a kotha is a fascinating one!

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      • So true! I didnt think of it like that but it sure made me laugh..
        What I find interesting is how this TV artist is struggling to break into big screen.. there was a distinction back then.. unlike today when all the artists seem to be in the same pot.. kia tv kia cinema..

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    • @Rehmat @ SZ re breathy dialogues : and MZ ‘s reaction – that was hillarious! How does he direct anything to start off with – framing from the comfort of his own chair and when he comes to the camera bechara camera bhi panah mangta nazar ata hai!
      Waiset u remember heroines with their chronic asthmatic conditions.. especially in god forbid any rona dhona scene… lol

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  4. this serial is Complete Based on mid 60, and its wonderful, these type of drama is good for Pakistani Drama Industry, unique and amazing story will grow our Industry , our Director need to Improve more

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    • @Ameer Hamza: Thank you for joining in and sharing your thoughts – welcome aboard! I hope we will continue hearing from you as the serial progresses.

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  5. “The joy you find here you borrow/You cannot keep it long it seems”

    So goes the lyrics of one of my favourite songs: Tony Bennett’s “Boulevard of broken dreams”. It feels so apt for those in the film industry. Insecurity reigns supreme here, whether it’s actors, technicians. The uncertainty of a film’s outcome means no one can have the assurance to sit smugly, those who do, do so at their own peril. One misstep, one flop is enough to bring people down.

    Insecurity also on the domestic side. The spate of divorces happening in Bollywood recently shows that even decade-long marriages fall apart, seemingly much-in-love couples end up embroiled in affairs. In short, this is not a place to take it easy or remain assured of anything: success, marriage, status…

    Poor Jharna, she is caught between the devil and the deep sea isn’t she? She’s just about managed to get rid of Bela, then her new find Naseem is also bent on making forays into Farhad’s life. In trying to get rid of Naseem by introducing Suraiyya, I don’t think she’ll get her much-needed security. That’s the way the die rolls here… There’s just no peace. No wonder many stars leave the industry after getting married and settle abroad…

    Continuing to enjoy the juxtaposition of the individual story with the bigger events of the day. The reference to Dhaka was telling, didn’t realise that Jharna was from there… Again, Jharna being completely isolated from her family is yet another familiar story for many stars…

    That said, I have some questions. The story is completely focussed on Jharna’s family, but surely we could’ve had a counterpoint, someone else in the industry who is friends with Jharna-Farhad. They seem to be completely alone. Also, I would’ve liked more references to the big events of the day. Surely they can’t be not talking/worrying about the political developments?

    I do see how they are stressing on Farhad’s drinking habits, it’s definitely going to be one of the reasons for his downfall I feel. And they tried to show, both directly and subtly, that Suraiyya is not educated. This might come back to bite her.

    Your review is spot-on SZ , especially about the use of songs. In episode 4, when Jharna was singing, they had to drown it with a completely different tune in the background – uff. And that sitar is here to stay I guess. At least I am glad that Jharna has moved on from satin nighties to sarees.

    Aisha Gul continues to be top class. Mikaal is not bad, he emotes the same way in almost every play and that puts me off a bit. Saba Qamar, is a not quite for me so far. There should be a rawness in Suraiyya, but in SQ there is a sophistication, which is a dampener. I like Meera in this role, though age-wise she seems like Jharna’s contemporary, I like her take on Naseem. May be it’s because we don’t see her often on TV? Don’t know…

    All in all it’s definitely hatke and interesting. Let’s hope they maintain the quality till the end.

    Your point about using the songs/movie references to fix the era is sensible.

    Thanks for writing up the review SZ, really missed your take and discussions with friends here 🙂

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    • @VZ: i love how you deeply analyze different aspects of episode.. Specially how you started your comment and came towards the main point..

      Totally agree with you.. Nothing is assured ever but in this specific area.. One have to really walk on uncertainties and doubts always.. Portrayal is very much real.. We hear it happens but seeing how it happens makes this interesting watch.. The way Surraiya shows love for Jharna .. I doubt she will ditch jharna.. But promos and even ost i think do show Farhad developing feelings for Sitara..really looking forward to this..

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      • Thanks Rehmat 🙂

        Yes, Suraiyya will be in a difficult position and I wonder how she’ll tackle it if Farhad falls for her and she too starts to love him. Remember Suraiyya’s parents took away all the cash and jewellery from Jharna’s home? Well, Suraiyya might end up taking something even more precious that belongs to Jharna…

        This is season 1, so 60s-70s. Wonder how many seasons there will be…

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        • @VZ: There are 2 seasons as per Faiza I. The second season goes into the downfall of the film industry and the rise of TV and the introduction of private channels. Also included in these was a track of regional cinema and the rise of Pushtu films but as Faiza mentioned above that had to taken out because of propriety concerns ..

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          • Shame that these important parts had to be taken out, it would’ve made the narrative so much richer… I wish she writes a book out of this story, including all the bits that were left out…

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    • @VZ: Thank you for always being so gracious and never scolding me for my absence – I honestly do try my best and you all are so so fab and generous and warm ke much as I think about it I will probably not stop writing, at least not in the immediate future …

      Agree with you all about Saba Q and he Suraiya .. though she is nowhere near near 40’s (@JR being rough!) more likely very early thirties I do think more than her looks its the fact that shes so mechanical in her acting that really impacts the way she comes across on screen .. technically almost every media insider I have talked to, says that she is the most accomplished actor in her lot …

      Re: Not showing extended family, I agree its the one point that always gets me in the dramas that there is never an extended social circle, but recently I was told by someone that often times even if these characters are written in the script they get cut down because: a) none of the good, solid actors want to play peripheral parts and b) even if they agree producers are not willing to spend money on hiring too many more ppl who may not have a direct impact on the story .. all together hiring extra ppl adds to he overall cost of production in terms of salary and overheads .. one writer complained that they’d been asked to re-write their story, this time minus without mother father siblings friends… ab aagey aap khud hi soch lo …

      I enjoyed reading your take on Farhad and Jharna’s marriage.. but as i was reading your comment it occurred to me as to how much of their story we are taking as a given .. were I to play devil’s advocate I would ask why arent we holding Farhad to a higher moral standard … Yes women throw themselves at him but then where are his morals and ethics? Also Jharna has never openly confronted him and/or threatened to leave him …why? Why is she taking the onus of keeping a marriage alive only on herself? We talk about other drama women and ask why they are stuck in marriages with cheating husbands . and I would ask the same question here.. Jharna is financially independent, she doesnt need her husband to support her and from what we’ve seen of her shes more than capable of living on her own with three children.. why then does she put up with a philandering husband? I dont think this is a case of simplistic love , is her ego involved in here, whereby she cannot fail, as in Jharna the superstar cannot fail?

      Another interesting point to consider: We’re seeing Jharna at a point in her life where she is past her prime .. what about when she was younger? We’ve seen her flirting with Farhad when they wre dating etc, but we have no clue abt how she led her life before him.. did she play similar games as Nasim and the others girls are playing now? Was she involved with other heroes – married or unmarried? What made her settle for a nobody like a Farhad Sethi? Was it because she thought a younger, lesser known man would be more easily moldable as the superstar’s spouse? Has his subsequent success surprised her and is she now insecure and concerned abt the centrality of her position in his life?

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      • SZ, what’s this yaar, we all are juggling lots of stuff all the time, so timing of posts is never an issue. Please don’t think of giving it up! Because you do such a thorough job of every review and the reply to every comment, it’s so satisfying to read, so it’s always worth the wait. And the rest of the friends here make it worth the while! Friends say yaad aaya, where’s FA? Missing her take, how she joins us soon…

        OK, coming to your point about Farhad’s responsibility towards the marriage, his morals and ethics. Yes of course it is his responsibility too, but given his personality and the industry he’s in, there’s hardly any chance of him stepping up to the plate. Jharna knows this well.

        Coming to Jharna: yes, who knows what her past was like, as you’ve pointed out, she didn’t hesitate to use Suraiyya to suit her needs, so she knows how to protect her territory. In this industry, where the path to progression is not clear cut, any successful survivor would’ve definitely learnt some hard lessons along the way…

        As to why she is holding on to the marriage: yes, I go for the ego angle too, remember she chose him, left her family for him? And how there’s a need in her to prove detractors wrong? I would attribute it to that.

        But I still can’t stop feeling for her, she’s fighting a losing battle for all I can see. And from the promos it looks like she’ll tell Suraiyya why she’s doing this “favour” on her… How Suraiyya will change over the years, whether she will be another Jharna, is something that will be interesting to watch.

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        • @VZ aap ne yaad kia hum hazir 🙂 been too busy lately but hopefully a slightly lighter spell for me work-wise after this recent lot of deadlines.. Cant believe I missed such a party! 80 comments! Loving the discussion!

          :clap: – or how Fahrad would say sub clapping karein!!.. lol .. Clintons and Bachans being a ”brand” is very interesting point. Although fictional, I was also thinking of the Good Wife.. which brings me back to @SZ’s point and raises a question that why even in this day and age, marriage or a mere facade of a marriage needed to prove one’s grounding or credibility.. be it in politics or even media industry..?

          I also think when it comes to Jharna, she is past her prime.. we know she doesn’t have much family around her.. Remember Kuku from Pehchan? she was perceived as a strong and independent woman but she had her own set fears – fear of being left alone/ loneliness… Jharna must also be suffering from similar fears and complex..

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      • SZ, I realised I didn’t think enough before answering your question about why Jharna is putting up with Farhad and his philandering ways. Let me try and present my thoughts properly.

        The latest US elections made me think about Hillary Clinton and then about Bill Clinton, then I was reminded of his famous Monica Lewinsky episode. Now, Hillary is a lawyer. She lives in a first world country. Why didn’t she leave Bill? I feel the answer is that in “power marriages” such as these, both parties lose out when the marriage breaks down. Definitely 2>1 in such cases.

        For example, Hillary may have already harboured plans to get into politics in her own right after Bill’s tenure ended. I am not saying she couldn’t have made it if she was divorced and single, but being together definitely makes it easier (for example presenting a “family” image to convince the political Right side, the conservatives). She had more advantages and more to gain if she stuck with him.

        There’s also the rumours about Amitabh Bachchan and his affairs when he was younger. According to one (completely unconfirmed of course) story, when his affair with co-star Rekha emerged, Jaya Bachchan is reported to have called Rekha over and told her, in no uncertain terms, to leave, as Amitabh would never leave the marriage. OK, serious raincoat moment here because no one knows the truth, but still the story illustrates how far women in these power marriages will go to protect the relationship because of all that’s at stake.

        Coming to Jharna-Farhad. She is past her prime, but he is at the top of his career. Together, they present power and a force to reckon with. Her inputs, connections, instincts, his abilities – take even one ingredient away and the whole thing drops flat. So it’s in both their interests to keep the marriage going. An intelligent woman like Jharna knows that. They are a “brand” and it makes sense to her to keep the brand alive and strong.

        What does everyone think?

        The fact that I was thinking about this at 5 am upholds your mountain/molehill theory lol. And the fact that we’ve been going through such a dry spell to find and discuss something interesting/meaningful in our recent spate of plays… 🙂

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        • @VZ: Haha! And Im up at almost 2 am trying to put up a review for Udaari, been at it for the past three four hours but brain doesnt want to put together coherent ideas 😦 Needless to say that will happen tomorrow now – I tried!

          But yes, coming to Mein Sitara – absolutely – I totally agree with you and thats precisely what I was trying to say in my review by calling it a very “modern” and “fresh” take on marriages .. and yes your examples work very well. But at the same point it is also abt her ego … she is not going to let go of something she has put so much time in, or rather invested so much in .. again Bill and Hillary example is very apt here.. but there are differences in their cases if one looks deeper and sees that Hillary started a whoe new career after Bill’s was over and for her career she needed the facade of marriage so she stays with him and he gets respect and legitimacy which in turns protects his political legacy .. so the marriage works for them in two different ways, not sure if the Clintons can be called a brand .. but if we dont dig a mountain then its a great example 🙂

          I like the Silsila example (that’s what I see their affair as – and yes it was confirmed albeit obliquely .. watch SRK in conversation with Yash Chopra and listen to him asking abt the Silsila casting and the BTS details…

          (Should we start a Bollywood blog, btw? I’ve been itching to discuss some really interesting movies I’ve watched recently!)…

          And now you’ve made me think of another aspect in terms of marriages, extra marital affairs etc in our desi set up: It never ceases to amaze me how easily and brazenly men get away with affairs in Bollywood, their wives celebrated as good wives… and so carries on the facade of happy long lasting marriages … going back to the notion of “epic traditions” brought up by JR in the 2nd ep thread .. morality and purity is all a woman’s burden to bear … Rama put Sita through the trial by fire whereas not once did she turn around and ask him abt his fidelity while she was held captive in Lanka .. #justsaying

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          • SZ, re: Bollywood blog: your by-line does say “desi take on what’s on desi screens”, so write away! I haven’t watched any Bollywood recently, the last I watched (on TV) was Vidya Balan’s Bobby Jasoos, set in the city of Hyderabad…

            Now go get some sleep, while I watch the SRK interview of Yash Chopra 🙂

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          • I enjoyed the video you posted, both Shah Rukh Khan and Yash Chopra have a good sense of humour. It’s interesting how, even so many years after Bachchan’s affair with Rekha, people still tiptoe around the issue…

            Re: Jharna, yes of course ego is there, for many artists, ego is a big part of their psyche and the entertainment industry plays a big part in fanning that ego too.

            Acha, when they show characters from Bengal, is a flower on the hair and saree a compulsory part of the costume? Remember Zaibunissa in Goya? Now Jharna.

            Back to the film industry: it’s interesting what stars have to do to gain acceptability among masses: in Bollywood, Yusuf Khan became Dilip Kumar, Mumtaz became Madhubala etc, whereas Jharna became Shabnam in Pakistan…

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          • @SZ Re Bollywood : def bring it on! Would love to discuss some of the stuff I recently watched.. & Talking of Bollywood anyone watched Kapoor & Sons?

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            • Haha! It was thought which lasted as long as it took me to pen it … I can barely keep up with TV stuff .. but that said, do get tempted every so often .. dekho who knows, one day!

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    • @VZ yes I thought Dhaka reference was interesting and intelligently done.. Reminded me of Shabnam & Roona laila in particular.. 🙂

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  6. @SZ. Have missed you SZ. Watching dramas is not the same without you (and friends here); not half as much fun in fact.

    I join everyone here in saying how much I am enjoying AG’s portrayal of Jharna. She gives the character a quiet strength and assurance. I love how she expresses herself with/to her husband. The green-eyed demon is beginning to raise its head though. Having strongly recommended Nasim Dilruba, she doesn’t like her (ND’s) dominance in her husband’s professional realm and consequently her influence in his choices.

    Farhad finally comes out and voices something we discussed some weeks ago – Jharna becoming full-time housewife. While it did seem initially that was her choice, she was (albeit reluctantly) doing some singing. This last episode she asserts her right as co-producer to cast someone in a subordinate role. However we don’t really see her working as a producer. The children are away in Mari, right? So there’s a gap there in the role of housewife/mother. But if she’s co-producer we don’t really see her engaging in that role. Even if we don’t see her showing up at the office regularly, we could see some people coming to the house to engage with her a producer. I do like that she is confident and savvy about the business.

    Speaking about her singing (unaccompanied) in earlier episodes; she sings off key. I wish they could have a voice-over or something, especially since her singing is significant. Farhad falls in love with her in part because of her singing and it appears she is a legend in that area.

    Several have mentioned SQ. I am not that impressed with the casting of this character at this point. Clearly she looks in her 40s playing a girl in her, is it teens? Her early scenes(in Episode 5) with the other domestic help was really from the Film and Television School for Over-Acting, (er…the one Kajol went to, and a host of Bollywood actresses). There is a difference between child-like and childish. Either way, I am not impressed as yet. I hope this characterization (by the director and the actor) will get better.

    @SZ, ditto on the long song/dance sequences.
    @ Rehmat. Wow! That scene where Jamal was painting her toe nails was exceptional. Tell me, would this be the writer or the director’s idea?

    As SZ mentioned in our earlier discussion, this period setting reflects the changes vis a vis the pre-/post-Zia era. Now that the Dhaka link to Jharna’s story has emerged, I would like to see if the political situation is reflected in the narrative. Did that lead to (or have a significant part in) the eventual decline in productions? If so, then it seems it would make sense to portray such a significant impact on the film industry and would be very interesting to see how the actors/directors etc., responded to it.

    Another scene that stood out for me has to do with Suraiya. After Jharna tells her she can get her into show biz, she looks into the mirror and says “Main Sitara?” I think it says a lot about the character. She doesn’t say “Main KalAkAr?” So she is enamored with the glitz and celebrity rather than the art. It reminds me of many of the dance/music reality shows where participants say they want to be a “star” and be “famous,” rather than they want to be a singer/musician/dancer etc. It reflects the infatuation with fame and celebrity rather than the art and the development and performance of it. I am curious to see how FI develops this character.

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    • @JR: Missed you guys too! I try my best to keep up with it all but alas!

      You make such an excellent point about Main Sitara vs the Main Adakara (the Urdu-ized version) but again isn’t that most people want when they think of being in films, specially for someone like her for whom films were offered a fantastic and fantastical escape from the dreary existence of her everyday life … I too would love to see how Suraiya responds to the harsh reality of the effort involved with being an actress, but I have a sneaking suspicion we wont get into that much of a nitty gritty narrative , the fact that we are getting even this much is a lot. But these are interesting questions for people like us to contemplate.

      Re: the larger political context making its way in to the narrative: I very doubt it .. we’ve already gone past the 1971 divide with a barely discernable reference and no mention of the backlash that happened against so many of the Bengali artists working in Lahore at the time. Mind you this was time when Runa Laila was at her peak and along with Shabnam – the original Jharna from Dacca- Nadeem was also from the then East Pakistan. Runa Laila left Pakistan soon after (mid – late 70’s I think) and and later tried her hand in Bollywood. Shabnam finished out her film career in Pakistan and then moved to Bangladesh. Her husband music composer Robin Ghosh is the man behind so many of Pakistan’s beautiful filmi songs .. his pyar bharey do sharmeele nain (Chahat 1974) is a perennial favorite. The song features Shabnam and Rehman (another Bengali hero of Pakistan who moved to Bangladesh after the mid 70’s)

      By mid ’70’s the film industry had moved completely to Lahore and there was not much happening in Karachi .. 1977 saw the entry of Zia on the political scene and if we are already in the late ’70’s then I dont expect any further obvious inferences .. Much as we would like to see all the socio-political references I don’t think contemporary Pakistani society is ready and open to deal with a past that is remarkably different from the constructed narratives that are have been written and widely disseminated through school textbooks as facts.I don’t want to go into lecture mode and digress, but just a look at how even the little we are being shown is being handled with kid gloves is an eye-opener… the disclaimer at the end of every episode that apple juice was used in drinking scenes, the way Meera’s blouse back was covered in that scene where she as dancing, the manner in which the dances have been handled, the way farhad’s extra marital affairs are being handled … all point to an extreme cautiousness about showing that period… were this a serial about the current day there would have never been a disclaimer, extra marital affairs are a dime a dozen on TV, but because this belongs to a period we know of as being very different there is a lot more consciousness ..

      When i had asked the question about “epic traditions” vs “invented traditions” (Mein Sitara – ep 2 thread) I was thinking more in terms of history and the writing and remembering of history and the difference it makes as to how we understand our yesterdays todays and tomorrows .. now when it comes to Pakistan this is a huge problem because there was a whole new narrative that had to be written post ’47, to not only legitimize the new state but also create a whole new history because older history was no longer “ours” – it was now “indian” history.. and then, after every political upheaval a new version was constructed, almost like a habit … and so for me personally, this serial is a fascinating watch in terms of understanding how the past is being remembered today, at this point in history, what we want to remember and what we want to forget ..
      Hope this comment makes some sense – at least thora sa!

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      • SZ, JR – what interesting discussions this is throwing up na?

        History is always a difficult one to look in the eye and make peace with. I read this BBC article many moons ago about history textbooks getting rewritten in Afghanistan: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-18579315 and the same is true for Germany, Hungary etc. Given how recent the events we are talking about are (1971 war) and how the region hasn’t come to terms with so many contentious issues, it’s not surprising that the makers are treading carefully. But I would’ve loved to see, for example, Jharna reading a newspaper from that era, showing the headlines of the day.

        Allow me to digress a bit. The idea of history and who tells it and how we remember it is something I find fascinating. One of my favourite Star Trek Voyager episodes is about the re-telling of history: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Living_Witness

        One of my native British friends keeps telling me that Britain’s past makes quite uncomfortable reading lol. There are many such instances from Australia (and its treatment of its native people), slavery, apartheid, the list goes on… Fascinating, how, by placing the story in a particular era, Faiza has opened up all these questions about history and its context, for us to talk about.

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        • The thing with British history is that the British are almost quite comfortable in facing their history, from the slave trade, colonization and Ireland. Just recently there were British representatives that the 100th anniversary of the Easter Risings in Ireland. The original rising in 1916 in Ireland were brutally put down by the British. However I say almost because what the British are not so comfortable and governments have not been keen to discuss is the 100 years of British involvement in the Middle East starting from the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Probably because while everyone has almost kissed and made up over Ireland, the Middle East history is very relevant to events happening right now. (but lets not get into the Middle East – too depressing for this blog)

          An interesting comparison is Germany and Japan after world war 2. Germany was forced to face up to the atrocities it carried during the war, German people were forced to walk through concentration camps and see the starved skeletons of the living dead, textbooks even today never let the Germans forget. Japan did not goo through the same process. Even though its atrocities in the Far East were just as bad as Germany’s (starvation, torture and human experimentation by Japanese doctors). I suppose as Japan is an island Japanese people couldn’t be dragged to see what their soldiers did. Yet as soon as China fell to communism and with Korea and Vietnam going the same way, Japan was needed as a bulwark against communism in the far east. To get the Japanese people on side the the wartime record of the Japanese was underplayed, textbooks were not as clear on what happened as compared to Germany. Even today Japanese politicians visit shrines dedicated to world war two leaders some of whom were designated war criminals in the late 1940s. Can you imagine a German leader doing that?

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          • NKhan, really enjoyed reading your responses. I didn’t know about the Japanese involvement being downplayed – I guess I’ve never paid attention. But your explanation makes sense.

            Thanks to you and SZ about the background to the Humsafar song. The lines “adaavatein thi…”onwards were sung in QB’s version.

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      • @SZ – @VZ: Simply amazing… SZ, i never knew this historic background of film industry.. Really enjoyed (dont know whether its right word to use) reading it.. Sadly enough i dont know much about our original past but history really interests and fascinates me.. Only if people tell me about it.. But cant do research on my own.. (Yes i am poor in that :/ )

        Your comment made so much sense that i already it twice.not that it was hard to understand but Because i so wanted to read again 🙂

        @VZ: we recently had to give Life In UK test where we have to go through UK history and maan it was so interesting.. How it all started and now where they are..

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        • Rehmat, I feel that at least in the UK, they try to have a fair view of the past (at least try to). There was a programme on BBC by Andrew Marr about British history and that was quite a fair assessment of the past. It is available in book form (“A History of Modern Britain “).

          In many parts of the world, the governments and also the public don’t want to know an objective re-telling of history. They prefer a sugar-coated version, with the uncomfortable bits left out or changed to suit their belief. Sad isn’t it?

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          • @VZ: its indeed sad …. And yes totally agree with you that they were fair enough in telling their past.. Ahaan.. I have watched very few programes on UK history but as you said they dont sound completely biased towards their past.. Even the book i read was not that very huge and long but jo baatein achi/buri jo thein they tried to cover that..

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      • @ SZ and all. SZ thanks for that wealth of information. Fascinating! Thanks for the music video. I loved it.
        So this Jharna is based on a real-life Jharna?

        Your knowledge of the history of the industry is amazing. You should write a book. I should mention that I started watching dramas because I reviewed a book (Cultural Anthropology) on Bollywood Serials. So I spent a summer (and a few months before) getting familiar with the lay of TV-serial-land. I realized then that Muslims were invisible in this public space. I found some old shows on Doordarshan, that were pretty well done actually. By the time I got to India for the summer, there was a show called Qubool Hai that just started. Then I discovered ZGH and found DRNRs! 🙂 Anyways, if you want the title (some bedtime reading!) let me know, I’ll send it to you – might give you some inspiration.

        Yes, I (mis)understood your question to mean ‘traditions’ because I had mentioned the ‘epics.’
        We have more than our share of re-writing of history. And I’m not talking the early British /missionary versions. I am talking about contemporary scholarship for which there is consensus. The movement is often referred to as the Saffronization of History. It has been an ongoing enterprise for a while. When scholars such as Romila Thappar (Historian) (I salute her courage) have protested, she has received death threats at home and so on. I am not sure if you have been following the JNU situation; student protesters charged with sedition. The student leader, Kanhaiya Kumar’s speech went global (See Huffington Post) and his lines “Hum India se azaadi nahin, India mein azaadi chahatein hain” have already been made into a song.

        A scholar, Dr. Kalburgi (from my own home district) was murdered for expressing his views. The list goes on. Scholars are receiving backlash for things they post on FB/Twitter.

        Did you read Pervez Hoodbhoy’s report after he lectured in India?

        Of course there is legitimate concern about the early colonial versions of history, and knowledge production, and we know how E. Said changed the way we study it. But if you want to read some alternative views on how post-colonialist/post-modernist views are taken and used by the conservative right in India you should read Meera Nanda’s “Prophets Facing Backwards.”

        I should apologize for my comment on SQ. I really thought she is between 42-44. Sorry if I offended any SQ fans. maaph kar do!

        Alright, I’ll stop now.
        JR over and out.

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        • We have only watched the first three episodes and so far have loved them. Found the references to apple juice being used amusing because my first thought was ‘well obviously’ you can’t have actors drinking the real stuff when they are actually working, I mean some scenes probably require retakes. In the west real alcohol is never used again because its not practical regardless of if the actor/actress drinks. But I am sitting in the U.K. and so the disclaimer was for some Pakistani sensibilities.

          South Asian history is problematic because everyone many want to see it through their own political or religious perspective and some people get hugely offended to the point of death threats. The situation in India is changing and becoming less tolerant. Historians such as Romila Thapar who write a secular history are increasingly seen as ‘apologists for the Muslim invaders’ by the Hindu-Right in India. Without getting too much into details (and possibly offending people – see you have to be careful in South Asia) in Pakistan post 1947 it has all been about justifying partition or the two nation theory. I once had to write an essay on the 1857 rebellion and read books by both Indian and Pakistani historians. The particular Pakistani book I read referred to the rebels as Indo-Pak forces. Indo-Pak forces in 1857?? The history of 1971 is also difficult. As I said we have only seen the first three episodes, but if Jharna has relatives in Dhaka, how does she feel? She now needs a visa to visit them (did Pakistan establish diplomatic relations with Bangladesh straightaway?). How do her relatives feel about her staying in Pakistan? Was there resentment against Bengali artists in the early 1970s? I think someone mentioned that there was? But to even acknowledge this in a drama would be difficult because it would mean confronting the accepted official Pakistani history of the events of 1971. I once got chatting to my (Pakistani) friend’s Bengali bhabi at a wedding and she said to me in passing that her in-laws had no idea what happened to her family in 1971. I said it was not because they didn’t care its because this history was never told from the Bengali perspective. Plus in this instance her husband and his siblings grew up in the U.K. and probably were not that clued up on Pakistani history.

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          • @NKhan: First off, I’d meant to say this on the last thread, but it is good to have you back 🙂 Missed you after Ded ended …

            Re: Apple Juice, actually, even for the Pakistani context this is a new thing .. there have been many serials with drinking, but I don;t remember any such disclaimers .. if others do, please feel free to chime in 🙂 As to why this has been done is something which hte producers are best qualified to answer and I dont know Seema so can’t ask her, but will def ask if I ever happen to talk to her ..

            Re: problems of writing history and the frequency with which historians being targeted is indeed a matter of concern .. and we’ve been discussing some of these issues above .. I have posted links to two articles above, both of which talk about the official project of writing histories for India and Pakistan ..

            And its not just a problem of writing history or doing academic discussions.. just read the kinds of comments that are posted under even film and tv articles discussing India or Pakistan in the other country … its mad! I must say all readers here have been fabulous in keeping jingoism aside and ensuring that this remains an open inclusive space.

            Re: Bangladesh and the popular “amnesia” in Pakistan and among Pakistanis regarding that period.. I dont know if you’ ve read Kamila Shamsie’s Kartography, one of my fave books as far as writings abt Karachi is concerned, but in this she has a character who is from what was originally East Pakistan and how her past never gets talked about in her social circle after the ’71 war happens .. Do check it out if you haven’t….

            And last random tidbits for those interested:

            Woh humsafar tha .. the HUMsafar OST was originally penned by Sabir Zafar as an ode to the former East Pakistan after the fall of Dacca …

            Tarq-e-taaluqaat pe…
            At our parting of ways,
            Roya na tu, na main
            Neither you cried nor I,
            Lekin yeh kya ke chain se soya na tu, na main
            But then, what’s this that neither you nor I slept peacefully

            Woh humsafar tha….
            He was my companion (fellow traveler)…..
            Woh humsafar tha….
            He was my companion …
            Woh humsafar thaa magar us sey humnawai na thi…
            He was my companion but with him I didn’t have like mindedness (harmony)
            Woh humsafar thaa magar us sey humnawai na thi…
            He was my companion but with him I didn’t have like mindedness (harmony)

            Kay dhoop chaaon ka…..
            With the (hot) sunshine and shade
            Kay dhoop chaaon ka aalam raha
            With the (hot) sunshine and shade was world was filled
            Judai na thi…
            There was no separation

            Woh humsafar tha….
            He was my companion …
            Woh humsafar tha….
            He was my companion …

            Adaavatein theen..Taghaaful thaa, Ranjishein theen Magar..
            There was animosity, Indifference and anguish but,
            Adaavatein theen..Taghaaful thaa, Ranjishein theen Magar..
            There was animosity, Indifference and anguish but,
            Bicharne walay main sab kuch thaa
            The one who I was parted with had everything (but)
            Bewafai na thi…
            He didn’t have unfaithfullness
            Bicharne walay main sab kuch thaa
            The one who I was parted with had everything (but)
            Bewafai na thi…
            He didn’t have unfaithfullness

            Kay dhoop chaaon ka…..
            With the (hot) sunshine and shade
            Kay dhoop chaaon ka aalam raha
            With the (hot) sunshine and shade was world was filled

            Judai na thi…
            There was no separation

            Woh humsafar tha….
            He was my companion …
            Woh humsafar tha….
            He was my companion …

            Kaajal daaro
            Put kohl
            kurkura surma Saha na jaaye
            The graininess of the kohl is tough to bear
            Jin Nain mein pee bassay
            In the eyes that hold my beloved
            Dooja kon samaaye
            Who else can be beheld

            Bicharte waqt un ankhon mein thi hamari ghazal
            At the time of parting his eyes had my song
            Bicharte waqt un ankhon mein thi hamari ghazal
            At the time of parting his eyes had my song
            Ghazal bhi wo jo kisi ko kabhi sunai na thi
            And it was the song that I had never sung aloud
            Ghazal bhi wo jo kisi ko kabhi sunai na thi
            And it was the song that I had never sung aloud

            Kay dhoop chaaon ka…..
            With the (hot) sunshine and shade
            Kay dhoop chaaon ka aalam raha
            With the (hot) sunshine and shade was world was filled
            Judai na thi…
            There was no separation

            Woh humsafar tha….
            He was my companion …
            Woh humsafar tha….
            He was my companion

            Also, Faiz’s Hum ke thehrey ajnabi was written in 1974, after Faiz returned from the new state of Bangladesh ..

            Hum ke Thehre ajanabii itane madaaraato.n ke baad
            Phir bane.nge aashnaa kitanii mulaaqaato.n ke baad

            Kab nazar me.n aayegii bedaaG sabze kii bahaar
            Khuun ke dhabbe dhule.nge kitanii barasaato.n ke baad

            Dil to chaahaa par shikast-e-dil ne mohalat hii na dii
            Kuchh gile-shikave bhii kar lete munaajaato.n ke baad

            The bahut bedard lamhe.n Khatm-e-dard-e-ishq ke
            Thii.n bahut bemahar subahe.n meharabaa.N raato.n ke baad

            Un se jo kahane gaye the “Faiz” jaa.N sadaqaa kiye
            Anakahii hii rah ga_ii vo bat sab baato.n ke baad

            Translation

            We stand estranged, after so many hospitalities
            How many meetings will it take for us to get acquainted again

            When will we behold unblemished bloom of green fields
            How many rains will it take to wash away the blood stains

            The moments of severance abounded in mercilessness
            Unforgiving mornings followed nights of kindness

            Though I wished, the breach of heart did not allow it
            To share grievances, after the formalities

            That what Faiz went to say, offering his life
            Remained unsaid, buried in all things that have passed

            Bas .. I promise I’m done now .. no more history lessons 🙂

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            • Thanks for the Faiz’s poem. You know you read this stuff with a heavy heart once you know their true context (sigh).

              I always preferred Abida Parveen’s version of Woh Humsafar Tha, rather then the current Quratulain Balouch’s popular version. Obviously unfair to compare A.P. with QB, but A.P’s version she sings it in the correct context where yes its a love song but also has a political message, whereas the QB version is purely a love song. For example I notice QB’s version does not often contain the following verse or if it does its not in the OST (I may wrong on this).,

              Suna hai ghair ki mehfil main tum na jaoge..
              kaho to aaj sajaa loon gharib-khanay ko..

              Adaavatein theen..Taghaaful thaa, Ranjishein theen Magar..
              Adaavatein theen..Taghaaful thaa, Ranjishein theen Magar..
              Bicharne walay main sab kuch thaa
              Bewafai na thi

              My interpretation of this is that its a reference to the fact that Bangladesh chose to become independent rather then become part of India. Hence the reference that “Bicharne walay main sab kuch thaa Bewafai na thi” Yes the reference to not joining India may be slightly jingoistic but I just love the feeling it is trying to convey here, that you had the option of a different suitor but you chose not to betray me and chose you own separate path.

              Hey I could go on about South Asian history forever, so best not to get me started.

              You talked of perhaps discussing some recent Bollywood stuff. Have you seen Gangs of Wasseypur?

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            • Thanks for this SZ. Have ordered Kamila Shamsie’s book on Amazon today. Any other book recommendations (on any topic) always welcome!

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          • @SZ. Thanks for contextualizing “Woh Humsafar tha” for us. I agree with @NKhan. The context gives it a whole different layer of meaning.

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        • @JR: Jharna is the real name of Shabnam, Pakistan’s no 1 film actress in the 70’s the video I posted above, Pyar bhare do sharmile nain, features her .. you can youtube tons of Shabnam songs.. she and Nadeem (often sees as a dad in recent dramas . he’s currently playing Sania Saeed’s husband in Aitraz) .. but as far as our fictional Jharna is concerned, she is a composite of various actresses Indian and Pakistani … its just that her name and background, are similar to Shabnam’s.

          Re: the issue of re-writing history in the modern times here are two fab article refs from Pakistan and Indian perspectives, both .. Im sure you must’ve read/heard of these already, if not they are great reads:

          Neeladri Bhattacharya, “The problem,” in Seminar
          Ayesha Jalal: “Conjuring Pakistan: History as Official Imagining

          Yes, have been following the JNU situation with keen interest .. and thanks for the Meera Nanda ref . will look it up .. if its an article, can you send it to me? thanks!

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          • Hi SZ and all. I have a pdf of Meera Nanda’s response to her critics (and they were many, considering she addressed a whole turn in scholarship). If you like I can send you that. “Prophets Facing Backwards” is a book.

            I want to go back to something we discussed earlier, about the political situation and the film industry’s response to it.

            Were there any films from that time period that reflect the political situation and its affect on the industry?
            Perhaps there were subtle forms of protest that emerged in the stories or characters?

            I remember reading an article by S.B. Abbas where s/he (?) discussed political protest using Sufiana-Kalaam traditions in Qawalli. SBA mentioned particularly the Zia state policy becoming oppressive. According to SBA, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan used a Bulleh Shah-like critique of Zia administration (and theocracies) by performing poetry in Pakistan as well as in the West. This period coincided with Peter Gabriel’s World Music project, when Nusrat sahab and the Sabri brothers performed outside Pakistan. SBA interviewed NFAK and Abida Parveen for that research.

            I was wondering if there were similar, perhaps even subtle, protests in the realm of film.

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            • I know it’s not the film era we are looking at but in 1952 there was this Pakistani movie called Qaidi, I have never actually seen the movie. Years and years ago I saw an interview of Noor Jehan on British tv, she sang song Mujse Pehli Se Mohabbat, this was a poem by Faiz.

              Around 1952 Faiz had been imprisoned by the Ayub Khan military regime. Ayub Khan had also introduced ‘Basic Democracies’ to Pakistan. This is where voters would vote for a group of people who would then go on and elect the President. It was a form of indirect democracy that could be manipulated.

              Faiz wrote Mujse Pehli Se Mohabbat around this time. The poem itself is a love poem with two verses. The first verse is about personal love and the emotions felt by the person. The second verse is about love in the wider world and the effect it has. However read the poem again and it’s a critique of democracy. Like an unfaithful lover politicians break most of their promises to us, yet every five years they comeback, make new promises and expect us to renew our love. We, the electorate, like a love struck lover vote for the same unfaithful politicians again. And so Faiz wrote ‘Mujse Pehli Sr. Mohabbat na mang meri Mehboob’

              Getting back to Noor Jehan, she said how they used that poem in the film Qaidi but used it within the context of love but really it was a form of protest at Ayub Khan’s regime. She said they were concerned that the regime would see the song for what it was and perhaps ban the film but they didn’t. By the Noor Jehan’s rendition of the poem is great.

              I don’t know of any similar incidents during Zia’s regime but perhaps because the film industry had started to decline by the early 80s. Unless off course I missed some subtle message behind all those Punjabi movies starring Anjuman and ????? Ooohhhh I can’t remember his name, he was in Maula Jat.

              I did just come across something recently. There was a concert in the 1980s in Lahore during Zia’s regime. Faiz was in prison again and his writings were banned. Apparently the wearing of saris was banned as they were perceived as un-Pakistani and Indian. Now I can’t remember who, it was a famous classical singer Begum Akhtar perhaps. Anyway she came onto stage when it was her turn to sing. She wore a black sari and proceeded to sing Faiz’s poem ‘Hum be dekengi’ This song was a clear call for the overthrow of dictatorship and the rule of the righteous. The audience I read was overjoyed and knew exactly to whom the song was directed at and just went hysterical in support of the song.

              I article I read clearly said the wearing of saris was banned, perhaps it was only in public or something like that. My late mother in law was originally from India and she and her contemporaries always wore saris, so I am not sure how strict this alleged sari ban was during the the 1980s.

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            • @NKhan. Wow! Thanks so much. I got goosebumps visualizing this lady coming on stage in a sari singing Faiz’s poetry.

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    • @JR: such a thorough and eye to details comment you have wrote.. Wonderful!!
      Yaar i think that would be writer’s idea.. Where Faiza Iftikhar have written so much realistically during that era.. This would be too her creativity..

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  7. Hello dear friend I am back from Pakistan & Oh how much I missed you all and this blog, this is addictive…… It gave me a great pleasure & satisfaction to read everyone’s say on Mein Sitara….. @ SZ, Vz, Rehamat JR & all others what beautiful reviews “dil jhum jhum gaya”….. Aisha Gul so far is unbeatable how effortlesly she move between the characters be it a actress, wife ,mother or a women who know who is stepping in her safe haven…..Meera is great as a filmi lady but can anyone tell the director to use voice over for her & Saba Qamar enough sama kharashi & hire a choreographer for few dance steps…..
    Mikaal smoking hot in smoking cigar N drinking for all good n bad bods (hey na) Not impressed with Saba Qamar she all for over acting for young girl, there is no girlishness in her acting all made up expressions, enough of SQ’s, I remember she was good in ‘Bunty I love You” anyone remembers that serial…..Like everyone I am too waiting to see what unfold in coming episodes……Hope to watch some interesting turn overs….
    @ FI Allah kere zoor e qalam aur zayada…..So far great story…..

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    • @Shamim hasan: Welcome back :)Hope you’re feeling better.
      Agree with your take on the overall happenings ..
      Re: Saba Q: I dont know if you’ve seen her Sannata .. but I would recommend that .. I think you wil really enjoy the writing of that serial and the acting is generally good, bar few exceptions… Also Saba was vey good in Ullu Baraye Farokht Nahin .. I think its the fact that she does way too much work and I dont know how much variation and freshness one can bring to the various characters if one’s doing so much back to back work.

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    • @afia: Hey! Good to know that youre enjoying this one as well 🙂
      I have a feeling Jharna ji is not going to give up so easily .. the way she throws her very beloved Suraiya in to the mess was quite telling of how tough this seemingly soft woman was .. and I am liking the fact that they are all little dark on the inside .. Suraiya too will play her share of games, methinks …

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    • Its here 🙂 I think the blog has an issue with posting links.. Im looking into it …

      Re: the subject of history: haha!! You forget you are talking to a historian 😉 History, fact vs fiction, constructed narratives, myth making, mythologizing, and popular memory vs historical memory ..all are topics that I can engage with endlessly even if woken up in the middle of the night .. lets talk about this more when and if we ever meet 🙂 On a serious note, however, i think when people are living through such times and eras they dont even realize that somewhere along the line they too have consciously or unconsciously become a part of the process and I have a feeling that we are seeing some of that in process here ..
      I think for that we have to give ourselves a pat on the back. for making a mountain out of a barely there molehill 😜

      Thanks for sharing the links.. will read it and get back to you …

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      • Lol at mountain out of molehill…

        What I feel would have been nice to have are passing references to some elements like: what film magazines were popular at that time, what kind of restaurants would Jharna and co have gone to, their contemporaries and other production houses, recent hits, little things like that will make the narrative that much more authentic/interesting…

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        • @VZ: Not asking for much aren’t you 😉
          Actually after all the buildup I am looking forward to seeing what we get in Mor Mahal in terms of period (loosely defined) details…

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  8. I was not going to make any comment until we had watched episodes 4&5 but I just loved reading everyones comments and views and felt compelled to leave my own thoughts.

    Thank you SZ and everyone, I have loved reading everyones comments.

    I know Saba Qamar is good actress but I agree with some of the comments, I just can’t see her in the role of a late 1970s actress. For start physically she is (mashAllah) very slim but the actresses of those days had slightly more fuller figures and they had a presence. Maybe thats the different between film star and TV star, apart from the voice as SZ says. When Meera walked into the party you noticed the confidence and her presence, off course Surraiya is no way a star yet but I am imagining Saba Qamar walking into a filmi party with same confident manner and I can’t see it. I have not seen many of her dramas, just the film Aaina, Yaha Pyar Nahi and two episodes of Sangat (I can’t believe I watched 2 episodes of Sangat). But its much to early to pass judgement.

    By the way anyone notice Farhad’s dodgy stick-on sideburn extensions?, They looked a bit obvious.

    Regarding Bollywood marriages today falling apart. Perhaps its because the Bollywood wives are no longer willing to put up with their philandering husbands? With social media and smart phones its no longer that easy to cover up affairs or pretend it never happened.

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  9. Aargh! Lost my comment!!

    Anyways .. so there is no place above so posting here.

    Re: The Faiz Celebrations Concert: The singer was Iqbal Bano and here is a live recording of that iconic moment

    Re: Sarees: There was no hard fast ban rather an unsaid understanding . also this was a time of strict censorship on tv and so everybody on PTV had to cover their heads, and they were not allowed to show husbands and wives together on beds and there was also no western wear on tv, a begining of perhaps the era of marking women in western wear as the ‘buri aurat”

    Re: subtle critique in films, as @NKhan rightly pointed out films were on the decline, and those that were there had nothing subtle about them, critically or otherwise .. but yes, if you did have the patience to sift through a lot of the trashy double meaning film music made in those days there were gems like this .. a scathing critique on the rampant corruption in the state .. Also note her pink tshirt worn to bypass the censor regulation of no skin show …

    @VZ asked about the flower in the hair and sarees .. yes these and the updos were very much a marker of the time, perhaps not worn 24/7 like they do here, but def a theme .. check these out

    Shabnam (Jharna): Mere Huzoor 1977

    Zeba: Aurat Ek Paheli 1974

    Shamim Ara : Saiqa 1968

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  10. More than the sarees being banned it was the “skin show” that was frowned upon so sleeveless blouses became a huge no no .. but I do remember singers Fairda Khanum, Noor Jahan, Iqbal Bano all always wore a saree on tv, the only concession they made was to cover their arms so as to not show their “bare” arms … Noor Jahan did an entire season’s worth of weekly musical programs in the 80’s called Tarannum where she only wore sarees…
    In any case one has to tread very careful and to not talk in absolutes because nothing can really get banned when there is a whole country involved.. yes, publicly things may not be visible.. but that does not mean they disappeared .. I would really not want anybody to walk away with such an impression after reading our very casual discussion…

    P.S Will have to postpone Udaari until next week – sorry!

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  11. Alas while I used to look forward to watching Faiza Iftikhar dramas I no longer do.
    So this one too I’ll be overlooking.
    Her written play Khamoshiyan was directly lifted from Danielle Steel’s novel ‘Accident’ with minor adjustments here and there.
    I find myself avoiding her plays as I get caught up in trying to work out which English based literature her story has been lifted from this time.
    Quite sad state of affairs.

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    • @NR: hello, thank you for reading and commenting 🙂
      Whether you follow this one or not is your choice but to make a quick correction: Khamoshiyan was written by Samira Fazal and it states in the end credits that it was an adaptation.

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  12. Wao! What a discussion board here really really hats off to you all friends ek se berke ek literary is present here, I don’t swear but my god I am so enjoying this discussion…. Started from filmdom past n present to down fall of East Pakistan some emotional poetry, to Pak-Indian history( which I love to read about n listening to ppl who really know it vry well) came to ww2 where my father late Col.Dr of British army was the part of it( he was only 17 @ that). He served again after retirement in 1965 as a reserved doctor in LHR n KCHI CMHs n again in 1971… After the down fall on dec.16 my dad had a major heart attack on the 18 which he survived… He was chest full history buried in his heart of ww2 n 2 wars of Indo-Pak…
    I just got drifted away from the real discussion @SZ I & we all would like to get more knowledge of history via fiction..,we should ” rave” on different topic just beside the dramas & tv, do you all friends agree then let “rant” about it….
    @VZ agree with you it would have been nice if they should some magzs. restaurants, tea houses, specific plead prints so popular @ that time, production house etc. which would add the aroma of that time. As NKhan mentioned the actress @ that time were curved with fuller figure and is not both Meera n Suraiya are slim. Next episodes will be worth watching I am still exited about this serial, enjoying Jharna at large n waiting to see the duel between Meera n Surraiya and tession btwn Fahad n Jharna…
    Thanks SZ for sharing the oldie goldie songs and the poetry of Faiz Sahab were superb… My best verse from one of his ghazal is
    تو جو مل جاۓ تقدیر نگوں ہو جاۓ
    یوں نا تھا،میں نے فقط چاہا تھا یوں ہو جاۓ۔
    اور بھی دکھ ہیں زمانے میں محبت کے سوا
    راحتیں اور بھی ہیں وصل کی راحت کے سوا۔
    ان گنت صدیوں کے تاریک بہمانہ طلسم
    ریشم واطلس کمخواب بنواۓ ہوے۔
    جابجابکتے ہوۓ کوچہ وبازار میں جسم
    خاک میں لتھڑے ہوۓ خون میں نہایت ہوۓ۔
    لوٹ جاتی ہے ادھر کو بھی نظر کیا کجیۓ
    اب بھی دلکش ہے ترس حسن مگر کیا کجیۓ۔
    اور بھی دکھ ہیں زمانہ میں محبت کے سوا
    راحتیں اور بھی ہیں وصل کی راحت کے سوا۔

    ‏Tu ko mil jae tu taqdeer nigun ho jae

    ‏Youn na tha mein ne faqat cha ha tha youn ho jae

    ‏Aur bhi dukh hein zamane mein mahbat ke siwa
    ‏Rahatein aur bhi hein vasl ki rahat ke siwa

    ‏Unginat sadioun ke tareek bahima tilsim
    ‏Reham o attls o kamkab mein bunea waae huwe

    ‏Ja baja bikte huwe kuucha o bazar mein jism
    ‏Khak mein lithre huwa khun mein naha huwa

    ‏Loot jati he udher ko bhi nazar keya kiije
    ‏Ab bhi dil kash he tera husan magr keya kiije

    ‏Aur bhi dukh jein zame mein mahabt ke siwa…………….
    ‏It is revolutionary poem written about the injusticeness of the society
    ‏SZ I would request you to do the translation because you will defiantly do a better job then me thanks in anticipation

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    • And what??? I heard some saying about Bollywood, well it is a Desi stuff like Lollywood isn’t it , so why not talk about it… They have released some classics worth watching and talking hope majority will enjoy it…. I am going to read the books you recommended and JR too… OMG I totally forgot to eat my dinner and it 12 am already so addicting is this forum you forget to sleep and eat , how amazing is this…. Now I’ll go down stairs n see the sign on the kitchen wall saying “Mam doesn’t work here anymore so do your own stuff” hahaha aur ab ye sign mere munnh chiraega, kabhi apna hi hathon likha apne hathon mitana perta hey 😢😢😢….. I have made lot of mistakes in writing hope it is ignored, these smart phones are real smart…… Bye see ya..

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      • Oops! Sorry didnt mean to keep you up so late .. agli baar we’ll not talk on forever and you join in earlier in the convo so that we hear more from you throughout 🙂

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    • @Shamim Hasan: Apologies for hte delayed response – sorry!

      Here’s a transliteration and translation of the classic Faiz poem ..

      Mujhe Se Pehli Si Mohabbat

      Maine samjha tha ke tu hai to darakhshaan hai hayyaat
      Tera gham hai to sham-e-dahar ka jhagra kya hai
      Teri soorat se hai aalam mein baharon ko sabaat
      Teri aankhon ke siwa dunya mein rakha kya hai

      To jo mil jaye to taqdeer nigoon ho jaye
      Yun na tha maine faqat chaha tha yun ho jaye
      Aur bhi dukh hain zamane mein mohabbat ke siwa
      Rahatein aur bhi hain wasl ki raahat ke siwa

      Angeenat sadiyon ke taariq bahimanaa talism
      Resham-o-atlas-o-kamKhwaab mein bunwaye hue
      Jaa-ba-jaa biktey hue koochaa-o-bazaar mein jism
      Khaak mein litharey hue, khoon mein nehlaaye hue

      Jism nikaley hue amraaz ke tannuuron se
      Peep behti hui jaltey hue naasuuron se
      Laut jaati hai udhar ko bhi nazar kya ki jiye
      Ab bhi dilkash hai tera husn mager kya ki jiye

      Aur bhi dukh hain mohabbat ke dukh ke siwa
      Rahatein aur bhi hain wasl ki raahat ke siwa

      Mujhse pehli si mohabbat mere mehboob na maang

      Don’t Ask Me Now, Beloved

      Don’t ask me now, Beloved, for that love of other days
      When I thoughy since you were, life would always scintillate
      That love’s pain being mine, the world’s pain I could despise
      That your beauty lastingness to the spring would denote,
      That noyhing in the world was of worth but your eyes;
      Were you to be mine, fate would bow low before me.

      It was not so; it was only my wish that it were so;
      Other pains esist than those that love brings,
      Other joys than those of lover’s mingling.
      Dark fareful talisman, come down the centuries,
      Woven in silk and damask and cloth of gold;
      Bodies that everywhere in streets sold
      Covered with dust, all their wounds bleeding.

      Bodies that have passed through the furnace of ills
      With putrid ulcers which their humours spills.
      How can I but turn my eyes sometimes that way?
      Your beauty is still ravishing, what can I say?

      Other pains exist than those that love brings,
      Other joys than those of lovers’ mingling.
      Don’t ask me now, Beloved, for that love of other days.

      This translation and transliteration is not mine . I have taken it from here
      https://qausain.wordpress.com/2009/07/30/mujh-se-pehli-si-mohabbat/

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