Mein Sitara ~ Episodes 6 & 7 Review

Mein Sitara -Cover

Jharna and Farhad might be the “it” couple of the silver screen, the blessed two who have it all, but that’s all on the outside. On the inside, at home, when its just the two of them, they are no different than any of us ordinary folks, or perhaps a bit more worse off, given the pressures and temptations that come as a part and parcel of being a celebrity. Whether it is the particular context of their profession or the nature of their personal and professional partnership, it has proved almost impossible for them to draw boundaries keeping the public and the private separate. This overlapping of spheres had lead to many repercussions but never had there been any with as much import and as far reaching an impact as when Jharna decreed that Suraiya became Sitara.

That her dreams would come true like this was something that Suraiya had never thought possible, even her wildest dreams were more realistic than what she felt when Jharna dropped this bombshell on her. But little did she know that this was only the begining. It was not just the hard work and effort that such an endeavor entailed, but also the fact that she now found herself smack dab in the middle of the war games being played by Jharna and Farhad.

Jharna had never thought the little scared girl she had raised out of sheer kindness would one day turn out to be such a handy pawn. For her part, Suraiya is so completely beholden and so in awe of her baji that the thought of being used has never once entered her head. But now that the game has begun, Suraiya is perhaps begining to enjoy this a little bit more everyday. Now, with the initial nerves are settled, the rush of approval is heady, the rush of her talent being appreciated headier, and the rush of being viewed as a rival the headiest. A glamorous star like Naseem Dilruba being threatened by her? Farhad Sethi approving a shot of hers? Jharna needing and depending on her? Who would’ve thought this then? From Suraiya to Sitara it’s a been quite the journey, but the best is yet to come. Whose purpose the future serves is yet to be determined.

While Sitara counts down days to her future stardom, Naseem, the start of the present is none to happy at this unexpected challenge that has popped out of nowhere. Just when she thought she had Farhad all wrapped up around her finger, Jharna played her move. Now it is back to square one. Actually, maybe square minus one, since she has also lost the loyalty of someone close to her, Jamal. They’d been together for a while and she had taken him for granted, but there was only so much he was willing to take without getting anything substantial in return. If she didn’t need him he would go to someone who would. And so to Sitara he is now looking. After all, as a newcomer she would need guidance, wouldn’t she? She has her baji for now, but for how long? Don’t children move out of their parents’ shadows? Everybody grows up, so why shouldn’t he be the one to help Sitara cross that bridge when she comes to that point? Naseem’s time has just about gone, it will be Sitara’s time tomorrow and why shouldn’t Jamal be there standing by her side when that happens?

The film industry is not a place for the faint of heart. Nothing is handed over for free and everything comes with its own asking price. Jharna had made her choice when she chose Farhad over all the others who were pursuing her the because he was the best of the lot. He was young, he could be molded in to the kind of partner she was looking for and he seemed appropriately besotted with her. So what if he was from TV, so what if he had strange class based notions, about not working with people from questionable backgrounds or from a lower socio-economic strata, all those middle class biases could be changed. The film world was nothing like the TV industry, here there was a secularity all its own kind.

When we first met her Jharna seemed to have it all. As we’ve gotten to know her, however, we see all is not as perfect as it once seemed. She has more than her fair share of insecurities and she is not above manipulations and games. But what makes her so very likeable and real is that we see reflected in her bits and pieces of ourselves. The same vulnerabilities, the same ambitions, the same frailties, and the same strengths. Steel sheathed in silk, is perhaps the best way to describe her.

Farhad, her husband, is another beautifully written character. Again, in him we meet a man very familiar. Unlike the cry babies or the brutes we tend to get on our screens these days, Farhad is refreshingly normal. He is by no means perfect, makes more than his fair share of mistakes and is unashamedly self-centered, but then there is nothing wrong with having ambition. He has never lied to anybody that making films is his passion, that this may not be align well with what Jharna wants of him is not his problem.

For a serial set in the past, Mein Sitara is a refreshingly modern story. Faiza Iftikhar merits a huge round of applause for giving us a familiar story in a completely new context. And it is the context that makes this one such an engaging watch. Beautifully woven within the narrative are bits and pieces of history. Stray comments here and there offer valuable insights into the socio-cultural mindset of the time and make for a fascinating comparison with the social setup today.

Jharna’s point about Sitara being too thin and needing to put on more weight, because audiences like their heroines filled out, was interesting and rings true when one looks at heroines of the past. Similarly Farhad’s continued references to the socio-economic backgrounds of his actresses, Naseem and Suraiya, point to the difference that existed between film and TV at the time, where TV people were relatively more white collared as compared to more awami background of those associated with films. These and other similar insights make this one a great watch.

Director Seema Taher continues to maintain her grip over the narrative pace of the story and she gets great performances out of her actors. Aisha Gul is excellent as Jharna and plays this very layered character so very elegantly. Meera is fabulous as Naseem, Mikaal, minus his stick-on sideburns, is very good as Farhad and it is refreshing to see him really sink his teeth into this character. Hasan Ahmed is effective as Jamal.

Saba Qamar is the star attraction for many, but she is not as effective here, at least not at this stage where she is transitioning from Suraiya to Sitara. There are many places where she slips up and seems to forget she is playing a naive girl. The scenes where she was talking to Jamal belied Suraiya’s age and experience. Similarly when she was dancing, initially nervously then with confidence, the change in demeanor and expertise was a bit too pat. That said, her scene with Meera was fantastic.

My one peeve here has to do with the picturization of the song sequences. The choreographer, if there was any, needed to do more than simply make the women go round and round in circles. Also, I dont get why all the songs had to be shot indoors, and that too in the same room. Surely an outdoor sequence, or at least a change of rooms or two wouldn’t have hurt? The way it stands now, the novelty of songs and dances is getting old really fast. This complain aside, Mein Sitara continues to be a great watch.

Looking forward to the next installment!

Written by SZ~

My overview of Mein Sitara written for The Friday Times

Marriage among stars

26 replies

  1. SZ, what a lovely review. I enjoyed your analysis of the characters and found myself nodding along.

    The difference between TV folk and film folk you’ve mentioned was very interesting. May be it’s because most people in TV those days would’ve come from radio, and you had to be quite well-read? You’re right, Faiza has done a wonderful job of splattering the dialogues with such references that gives you food for thought about that era.

    I was thinking how little we knew about Jharna’s past – what was her background? How did she get into films? What was her struggle like? Once you attain success does it matter (in the film world) what you were and how you struggled? I’ve not heard Jharna mention her life before being successful or her struggles. Her cool and calculative mind is something she’s built up over many years of fending for herself.

    Both Jharna and Naseem have their insecurities. Whether you are new, getting to the top or established, can heroines never be free of these fears? While we haven’t had insights into heroes in the play so far, I am sure they must harbour them too… The film industry does have a dark side to its bright side…

    And I liked how you’ve analysed Sitara. That’s what set me thinking how much of a Jharna will she turn out to be. How soon before all this fame, stardom and power gets to her head? As you pointed out, this industry is not for simple folk. No, it’s not a place for Suraiyya, it’s for Sitara, the one who, with every new day, is learning that much more about people around her, their fears, their weaknesses… How soon she’ll start using this new found realisations, will be interesting to watch. In a way, she has only now opened her eyes and ears to what’s going on around her. Suraiyya didn’t need to do that, Suraiyya was happy singing, dancing, talking to her baji, engrossed in the latest film songs and dances. Sitara is a different cup of tea. Sitara needs to survive, not just survive, succeed in this industry. Suraiyya was a free bird, Sitara is weighted down by expectations and ambition from day one. Suraiyya could afford to live in her dream world, Sitara needs to be practical, aware, determined to succeed, focussed…

    Acting wise, Meera is so good as Naseem, Aisha Gul has been having a fantastic run as Jharna. But so far Saba is still not convincing. She is too polished, she does not have that rawness, as you say may be when Sitara becomes a full-fledged star, Saba will be in her element? As of now, she is “acting” rather than becoming that character, except in one or two scenes.

    Truly enjoyable experience so far…SZ, please keep us company with your analyses as often as you possibly can 🙂


    • @VZ: So glad to read your comment and gladder yet to know that I am not alone in reading the story this way .. where we are not standing in judgement of Jharna or Farhad or Sitara or Naseem, rather enjoying their very real human characteristics.

      I enjoyed reading your elaboration on the differences between Suraiya and Sitara and youve put it down so beautifully. If only Saba had read this and followed it to a tee.. I think she does try to do it but the facade slips more often than not and her portrayal comes off looking unconvincing …

      Haina! I too love Meera in this and watching her made me wish that the entertainment industry had spent time using her productively rather than making her the butt of their jokes and ridiculing her .. it takes a brave actor to take on such a role and shes not just met the challenge but aced it.

      Re: the difference in film vs TV, its a bit more than merely being well-read, it has more to do with middle class morality as espoused by the man on the street.. When the film industry first began in the subcontinent there was no way a “good” middle class girl would’ve been sen acting in films (there are always exceptions but Im speaking in generalities)..the trend gradually changed but not enough to be mainstreamed, at least not till much much later. TV on the other hand was a newer field, not everybody had a tv, it was an elite thing and as you say most of the initial ppl came to TV from radio so it was the women from their families who first started appearing in Tv dramas .. I remember growing up there was this huge taboo of “girls from good families” not going on TV .. films tau were not even on the horizon at the time. People like Waheed Murad, who went for Karachi to Lahore and became a mainstream hero had a lot to do with changing the image of the film industry in the eyes of the general public, but girls in films were still a no no. Its much later, when ppl like Atiqa Odho, Samina Peerzada, came into films that people’s perceptions began to change, but unfortunately by that time the Zia years had done their damage and film industry had gone into decline. So I found it interesting that Farhad had these similar kind of takes on girls from dubious backgrounds, ironic if you consider that their background never was an issue when he started flirting with Naseem and when later it will happen with Sitara (as per the promos).

      And yes, we’d discussed Jharna’s background in the previous thread, that we know nothing about her and that perhaps enables us to see her as the benevolent soft person she came off as … but who knows what all she had to do in her initial years .. after all one does not become a superstar by merely being nice .

      Aww! I try, VZ, I do, honestly, But it is admittedly getting harder, with managing the blog and its attendant details…I’m trying to figure out what to do and how to do it…


      • @SZ-@VZ: how i so love reading your discussions and your thoughts on episode…they gave so much more insight so thank yous 🙂

        I like how FI have thrown hints here and there.. And that too in simple way that even me who doesn’t have any such knowledge on past films can get it easily and enjoy it too.. And its indeed quite interesting to see Jharna and her insecurities.. Very relatable.. I loved how she said abhi kacha chor he… Knows her husband well enough .. She also knows how and what goes in Film Industry.. May be kind like been there done that.. So she is playing her cards wisely enough.. With Surraiya she has done Ek teer se Shikar..but in admist of all this Surraiya will actually have pay real price.. Ahsaano ka bojh or the ultimate fame.. What will bring her down.. Will be interesting to see.

        Meera is doing really great… All her intense scenes were too good, i personally liked the one with Jamal.. Ayesha gul hands down have owned Jharna.. MZ has also not disappointed.. Its again SQ that i have issues with. I dont understand why being naive you have to act like silly… Instead she was far more better acting as Sitara.. Hopefully this Surriya gets done n dusted soon..

        @SZ i so agree with you on choreography.. Same latkas and jhatkas…


      • @VZ @SZ TV vs film : Very interesting discussion! @SZ I was thinking along the same lines, but your discussion also got me thinking about Jharna and her social standing.
        Although Jharna had been part of the film industry, she was a vocalist, and not an actress. She was from East Pakistan/ Bengal where, unlike West Pakistan, singing / sangeet was embedded in culture and tradition.
        Another thing to consider in this equation was the involvement of state. Radio and then later television were run by the state and dictated a culture the state endorsed. Film on the other hand was a free-er medium financed by private investors – perhaps one of the reasons we see the marked difference between TV & film, and the respective artists.


  2. Hey, SZ. How are you? This is a wonderful review, as usual 🙂 Loved reading your take on all the characters; I feel all these characters are becoming more complex with each episode and it’s such fun to try and understand them, see their weaknesses but also their strengths, their good sides but also their dark sides, specially so in the case of Jharna.

    Jharna Begum is kind and benevolent and maternal even but this tough side of hers which means she’s not above manipulating others to keep what is hers makes her so exciting a character. I did think as the show would progress she would be relegated into the background but thank God that didn’t happen! Coz this has been my favourite character and actor from the start. She’s a force to be reckoned with, isn’t she, a star but still so much of an every woman. Kudos to Aisha Gul for playing her so wonderfully well.

    As for Farhad, I love Mikaal’s portrayal of him! Such a narcissist and I do wonder if the actor isn’t drawing from his own well of feelings to lend this nuanced character much of what it in method acting lol. You know that scene when he drunkenly sings odes to Naseem Dilruba’s eyes and that too in front of his wife? That was so comical! This man has no idea what to say and what not to say to Jharna. He just talks to her as if she were his associate, not realizing that above all that she’s his wife and would react accordingly. Poor man just treats her sometimes as he would his assistant director (who is another amazing character in the show I think. The way he was swaying to and fro during Surayya’s dance was so funny).

    I never knew I was going to say it but wow, Meera is amazing! I am unable to see the line where Meera the person ends and Naseem the character begins (or maybe it’s convenient to confuse them). Still, what with her own experiences in the film industry, I wonder how much of herself Meera brings to this character. And such a singular character it is too, with the (faux?) seductive voice, her mannerisms, the jealous keena-toz stare, the way she touches Farhad here and there in the course of a conversation (and why does he never tell her to stop, isn’t it uncomfortable and distracting!). She is unstable now and I wonder what would happen when she goes into decline as she inevitably would. I can almost imagine her committing a murder or two or suicide when she loses her stardom, and her marbles.

    Jamal is another character who’s story I am keen to watch unfold on the screen. He might just be the one to reach to the very top and stay there. It looks to me as if he would’ve been the first one to take advantage of Surayya had she been all on her own in the industry. He might still try. He’s pretty amoral and extremely selfish to boot, not to say a coward (or most probably just a calculating man who knows when to play a coward.) I wonder whether Surayya will fall in love with him and then he’ll exploit her. But wait, the promos already show that Farhad is going to be the one falling in ‘love’ with Surayya and she would reciprocate probably. And when that happens the term betrayal would take on a new meaning.

    And now Sitara, who ostensibly is the titular character of this show (I love your interpretation of the title, I hadn’t read it like that at all) who formerly used to go by the name of Surayya.

    “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
    By any other name would smell as sweet.”

    But this seems untrue in this show at least, for as soon as Surayya became Sitara, there opened up a divide between her former self and the new person/star she has started becoming – and she has just started.
    (On a side note, I did think it was a bit thoughtlessly cruel of Jharna when she so smoothly switched to calling her Sitara; it was as if Surraya had never existed.)

    But Sitara is not the girl Jharna so charitably sheltered in her house and she isn’t the girl Farhad so ruthlessly insulted. Surayya might be a pawn for Jharna, but Sitara will be a threat. As of now Surayya is a tool used by Jharna to neutralize the threat to her position in Farhad’s life but when she would be Sitara – the woman Farhad would develop romantic feelings for – who would Jharna use against her then as antidote? This name changing business, though fairly common in show biz, will still I think really affect how people will perceive Surayya/Sitara and also how she perceives herself. As for Saba Qamar’s portrayal of her..I’m undecided about it. Sometimes I am okay with SQ, sometimes I’m not. I miss the little Surayya though, and wish she would’ve grown up magically to play Sitara as well.

    Sorry sorry. My comment is too, too long and rambling. I haven’t commented here in ages and all of it is gushing out in this thread lol.

    But this other thing came to my mind. Don’t you think Jharna’s fears of Farhad straying are unfounded here? Because the guy is not having an affair. Naseem Dilruba herself calls him “thanda insan” which makes me think he is so self involved and so in love with himself first, and second with making films, that it probably hasn’t even occurred to him to have an affair with any of his actresses (would be so painful to share his attention between himself and others lol) And this would make it all the more ironic when he falls for none other than Surayya/Sitara.

    Okay, SZ and friends, if you reach the end of this, know that I’m grateful for all your time. You are all so kind for bearing with me! *hugs* 😀


    • @Nashra: oh dear you know your comments are such a treat to read.. And longer the better.. So keep commenting amazingly 🙂 i loved how you differentiate what is Surraiya to Jharna and what will Sitara become to J… How interesting will that be to watch.. I really hope Sitara let down FS because Nauman Ijaz’s character is yet to come and i hope he has something significant to play in regards with Sitara… LOL @ Naseem Dilruba committing murder or suicide on loosing stardom.. Waqai the way she was getting frustrated it was like almost she will do that 😂


      • @Rehmat: Hi! How are you? Thank you for being you 😀

        Re Naseem: It was fascinating to watch her lose it over things like number of lines, scenes and dance sequences and that too, coz of a newbie who has zero fans presently. Or maybe ND’s spidey senses went into an overdrive soon as she saw Sitara and she knows S has got what it takes to make it in this industry more than she does. And did you see how Sitara ‘acted’ all innocent with Jamal.. “i know how to respect my seniors”. All of her years and years worth of watching films is going to pay off by helping her navigate the waters here.

        Yes! Nauman Ijaz I saw in the poster and I’m wondering what part he will play. I hope he complicates the equation and makes it unpredictable and interesting. I like that they did not introduce all the characters all at once and have wild cards up their sleeves for the right time. Heyy, what if he is Jharna’s old flame, huh?? Lol sorry, having wild ideas here but since we do not know really know what her pre-Farhad life was like – except that she probably was from Dhaka and is not in contact with her family anymore – we are allowed to guess, aren’t we? 😛


    • @Nashra: Hey! Good to read your take – interesting and insightful as always 🙂
      Re: Naseem and why she behaves around Farhad the way she does. it again goes back to how she’s been trained since childhood to behave around a man and for the man in question it really doesn’t even register with him .. Sorry, I’m repeating this but again, its so interesting to see how much well we have been trained – thanks to the pervasiveness of media – to read things through a particularly inflected social lens .. back to Farhad, given the context of his profession, such gestures do not mean much .. these gestures cannot be read the same way we would read similar behavior in a typical everyday family .. For these guys these gestures are pretty much mechanical .. the more interesting thing here, for me at least, is to see how the same moment is being read differently by Farhad and Naseem … hence their different responses. Add in to the mix Jharna and you get three reads of the same scene: Naseem flirts, Farhad focuses on the performance and Jharna reads her into it her insecurities … all working together to create the perfect scenario for an outsider to walk in and play all this up to work in her favor …


  3. @SZ and friends. Enjoying all the comments and your terrific review SZ.
    @Nashra…I came out of a tunnel of work and sat down to relax with a cup of tea and read your entire post! Thank you! It was a pleasant and welcome change from undergrad.papers 🙂
    Great comments from everyone.

    For me, AG has carried the show thus far. I like this smart woman. She doesn’t hesitate to assert herself. I think in an earlier thread we talked about Jharna’s past. That we keep coming back to it only illustrates how much depth this character has. From her expression in one scene, I felt that she has a past hurt from Farhad, which is why she wants Sitara to be her jasoos. I thought she was straightforward and upfront asking Sitara to do her jasoosi. She didn’t play tricks nor was she malicious about it. Beshuk, there’s a storm on the horizon.

    I can’t figure out why ND is so insecure about Sitara. Even before she (Sitara) came on the set she’s been on a rampage. There seems to be no real competition, they are in completely different places in their careers and personal lives as well. I think the obvious age issue is too simplistic, no? Is it because she’s a protege of Jharna? Does she want all of Farhad’s attention?

    Like @Nashra, I would like to know Jamaal’s story. I also feel thus far his characterization has been rather weak. I mean he’s been there lurking in the shadows, making snide remarks to Sitara, wowing us by painting toe nails and all but… @SZ are you predicting he and Sitara might find a love interest?

    I am beginning to appreciate MZ’s portrayal of FS. I think there’s a subtle finesse with which he’s essaying this character. I like it. It must be tough though when AG steals the show every week. But these characters are very interesting. I am enjoying them. I only hope Sitara will grow into SQ soon; yaar, there’s something missing there. But FI has created a really interesting character in Suraiya/Sitara.

    Alrightey then…until soon.
    Have to catch up with MM.


    • @JR: I had to praise you on your brilliant questions to SS.. Too good… And this brilliance shows in your comments too 🙂 ND is too self centered and she knows somewhere that Sitara has got more appeal than herself.. So i think thats what has triggered her badly. I think You are right about age issue being too simplistic..


      • @Rehmat. Thanks for your kind words. Actually I am a big Sania S. fan and feel she will address them with honesty and intellectual depth.
        My first favorite work of SS is “Hum pe jo guzarti hai” written by Anwar Maqsoon (another person whose work I love) and a telefilm, which @SZ reminded me was “Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki.”
        If you (or anyone else) can recommend any others (of SS) I would be very happy! I have seen many, but I’m sure there are some jewels tucked away that I’ve missed.

        Actually I had a suggestion for @SZ’s next Question/Answer feature. How about Faiza Ifthikhar while we are watching “Mein Sitara?” Considering that there’s more than one season, we will have time. All in favor…


        • Sorry, I hit the post key without reading over…it’s Anwar Maqsood. Embarrassed to have misspelled someone whose work I respect so much.


          • @JR: Haha! Dont you ever read my comments?? actually more than that my posts!! I Try as much as possible I always end up with typos :/ Latest example, Umair Jaswal posted a screen shot of MM reviews and was kind enough to include mine .. and guess what there was a typo there too!!! #Besti’NHow!


    • Thank you @JR!

      Love your comment and your reading of Jharna. I, too, like that she’s unapologetic about using Surayya. Just cannot abide the holier-than-thou, saintly women that are on the screens all the time. Jharna is such a refreshing change.

      As for Jamal, there’s also this other thing that I find interesting, the fact that he lives with Naseem. Now that is really odd. I mean even in that day and age I cannot imagine the Pakistani society and media or even the film industry itself to overlook such a ‘scandalous’ arrangement of affairs. Or maybe I don’t know about it and cases like this did happen. Can anyone quote a real life example?


      • @Nashra. Yes! I was thinking about it but was afraid I might offend sensibilities if I mentioned it. I think the writer/director can get away with it because it’s a ‘period’ piece, and more importantly it’s about those ‘filmy’ folk. 🙂 I doubt you would see this in a current, this-time-and-place drama, no?

        I’ve heard it said that the very rich and the very poor pretty much make their own rules. That’s why they are called ‘middle class values.’ I hear issues of class expressed quite openly on Pakistani dramas, which is what I like actually.

        Of course, I don’t know about any real examples but I suspect they happened then in both classes (both ends of the socio-economic spectrum). No one cares about the lower end for it to be expressed the way it is about other classes. But at the upper end, in the filmy duniya, I guess the press were a whole different breed then. They looked the other way and didn’t publish these kinds of stories. It happened in Bollywood and I remember reading about Rock Hudson, a male Hollywood lead with a larger-than-life romantic image (maybe ’50s?). Imagine if he lived today. His every move would be photographed, published in tabloids, and minute-by-minute would be on TV tabloid-gossip shows as well. And last, but certainly not least, he would not be a male lead today with the kind of success he had then. There are many openly gay actors who are terrific actors but never get the kind of Brad Pitt/Harrison Ford kind of roles. Eg., Rupert Everett. Of course RE is a British actor so that’s another set of rules from the mainstream Hollywood. (As an aside, one of my favorite period films is “An Ideal Husband” starring RE. On Netflix. Highly recommended if you like clever, witty, period pieces). But I digress.

        Closer to home, in Bollywood, when I went through my old-film kick, I remember reading about Meena Kumari and Kamal Amrohi. If you see the Indian film Pakeezah you will notice a difference in Meena Kumari’s age in the film in some scenes. Apparently after they split work was halted and then resumed many years later. DISCLAIMER: Just what I’ve read my friends, not claiming any first-hand knowledge.

        I should stop now before I get myself into some real trouble.
        JR Over and out!


      • @Nashra & @JR: tsk tsk what one track minds you girls have 😉

        No but seriously, I think we are reading this with our present day mentality where relationships are read in a very black or white, either or manner when there is actually a whole range of relationships that can and do exist between men and women. On the last thread I think I had mentioned the kotha culture where Naseem comes from, where relationships bw/ men and women operate in a very diff sphere and their hierarchy within that zone is very diff as well … so in that scenario there would be no possibility of a sexual relationship b/w Naseem and Jamal, more likely the relationship is that of sycophancy .. where they are both very aware of their places in the social scheme of things and Jamal looks to Naseem as his ticket into big time and she leans on him like a support system, not as support from an equal but as support from someone familiar, someone with whom she can be herself and talk uninhibitedly without the needs to put on social airs and graces and perform polite niceties…
        Think of him as a part of her entourage.. we are probably reading this relationship as a sexual one because they seem intimate on acct of him being in her bedroom painting her nails .. but re-visit that scene and see what he’s doing .. he’s touching her feet, cleaning them as it were and that visual alone is enough to define his place in her life …

        When Jamal approaches Sitara, then too both are clear its nothing more than business … there is never is nor will there ever be any “love” involved in that transaction .. him coming over to her side will just signal the arrival of a new star on the scene- a common enough occurrence in celebrity lives that once they are on the wane their entourage abandons them and the same secretaries and managers will be found milling around the newest star on the block. Also, in this particular case, it will also signal Jamal abandoning his “girl from the hood” as it were.. and this will happen because Naseem was rude to him, belittled him when she was the apple of Farhad’s eyes .. this personal affront can never be forgotten by Jamal … again, I would refer you back to the lotha culture to read and understand better how these relationships work .. Mirza Ruswa’s classic, Umrao Jaan (also translated in English) gives a fascinating insight into all this .. there is a lot more that can be read but this one is a great first read .
        This is the link for a great translation:


        • Also, Geo had televised this serial a few years back and it was a great, if very detailed, interpretation .. and of course Muzaffar Ali’s Rekha starrer is a classic


          • @SZ I was thinking of Umrao Jan when we were discussing Kotha culture. Is the drama with Imran Abbas?
            There was a Pakistani film version too with Rani and Shahid. I have never actually watched that version.. I remember it was on TV when we were young and weren’t allowed to watch it 😦 Later my poor mum was appalled when she found out that it was part of our syllabus in A-levels lol

            Another movie that comes to mind is Bol. It also lends an insight into the kotha culture and the importance of daughter/girl vs son (also daughter in a kotha vs our stereotypical society).. though it was set was in a different context..


          • Hi SZ, on the subject of the exact nature of the relationship between Naseem and Jamal, I assumed it included an intimate relationship as well. I am just thinking why wouldn’t it? This is not disparaging Naseem’s background and others from the same background. Its already been mentioned that the rich elite and the poor are not always hindered by middle class values and morals and its on this basis I make this assumption and not because of Naseem’s bazaari background. Until recently those in the film industry all over the world have been shielded by a compliant press against scandals and the leaking of affairs.

            Rock Hudson has been mentioned, everyone in the industry and media knew Rock Hudson was gay, a journalist was about to break the story. Rock’s manager Henry Wilson found out and made a deal with the newspaper and in return let the newspaper out one of his ‘lesser stars’ Tab Hunter. Wilson then also arranged for Hudson to marry his secretary. For years Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracey were in a long-term relationship which the public never knew as the Catholic Tracey did not want to divorce his wife. The list goes on.

            More recently in Bollywood a few years back there was the scandal with Shakti Kapoor and the issue of ‘casting couch’ When Kapoor was exposed by an undercover sting, there were a handful of articles in India indicating that this sort of thing did happen but after a few months the issue went quiet and Shakti Kapoor went overseas for a years to rehabilitate himself. I have my suspicions how the image of Pakistani actors today is ‘controlled’ when I look at some of the publicity.

            Getting back to Mein Sitara, would it be naive for us to think that there were no such going on’s in the Pakistani film industry? I don’t want to sound like a moralist and make the assumption that the filmi industry is immoral where no respectable girl would enter, I think SZ has already commented on how this attitude has changed both in India and Pakistan.

            Lets reverse the genders. If you had an established male star and he had a young female aspiring actress at his beck and call, doing his bidding how would we judge that relationship? Would we not think what the male star is getting in return? I am trying to put this delicately as possible but why do we assume that a woman cannot have the same….(oh dear I trying to think of appropriate wording)…..requirements.

            We come from a culture where its accepted that men have certain intimate requirements but no woman is expected to have the same feelings….while men can in some situations freely express this..women can’t.

            In the bazaar the women have these relationships because thats their bread and butter but Naseem is in a different position where she can decide what she wants. Just because she is a woman why should we deny her that right? Jharna has made it all kosher, married her man and had a family.

            Naseem has her flaws, she is manipulative but, and maybe Faiza Iftikhar did not write the relationship of Naseem and Jamal in this way, but a part of me think ‘let her have her toyboy’


        • Lol! When I said that I had more in mind how their living arrangement was perceived by others, and less how things actually are between the two of them. Seeing as Naseem is a film star I assumed there would be curiousity about her life and I wondered what the tabloids would have to say about it. Also, going by the timeline of the show, we are well into the era of Zia regime. So this specific social and political context in which they two exist makes me question it. But maybe it was like @JR has mentioned, that the media of the time looked the other way and didn’t publish such stories. But I didn’t know relationships weren’t read in black and white at that time in Pakistan and that this is a more recent phenomenon.

          @SZ: Your idea of their relationship, that it’s a purely symbiotic one, makes a lot of sense. Naseem certainly doesn’t consider Jamal her equal but his outburst about being jealous etc when she ignores him and spends time with Farhad instead made it somewhat ambiguous.

          Re: the kotha culture. I’ve read bits and parts of Umrao Jaan Ada but can’t recall much of it now. I think Urdu literature has not ignored the topic of prostitutes and has talked much about their place at the fringes of society, literally so in Ghulam Abbas’s ‘Anandi’.
          Have you come across the book Taboo by Fouzia Saeed? It’s a very fascinating read on the kotha culture. In the book she says that the best of our musicians/singers as well as actresses hail from the red light districts – or they did before the age-old system slowly started to go into decline.

          Please continue reviewing this serial! Discussing it here makes it all the more interesting to watch it 🙂


  4. Links to the Geo serial

    I cant find the fourth part online .. but these parts do have enough of a flavor of the life and times of that periods, much more so than the film.


  5. @SZ. LOL!
    Thanks for the Umrao Jaan posts, I will check them out. Even Aishwarya Rai did one version. I will get the book; plane reading! I didn’t realize there was an English translation.
    Right now I am catching up on the MM videos you posted.


        • Watch the 1981 movie with Rekha with Asha Boshle’s beautiful rendition of the songs. Rekha lifts the songs ‘Dil Cheez Kya Hai’ and ‘in Aankhon Ki Masti’ with her very subtle facial expressions and eyes.

          For A level Urdu in the U.K. Umrao Jaan Ada in the original Urdu is required reading, and the 1981 is viewed by many students to assist them.

          Aishwariya’s Rai’s 2006 version, Arrrrrggg tuaba. I am being polite when I say she could have used more facial expressions.


  6. All these discussions are becoming more interesting then the serial itself. I would like to add about surriya’s parents, with their entry the serial will take a whole new 360 degree turn. The father has already been seem with his mouth watering on the pictures of his daughter turning into a starlet….Lets see how & where he is going to land, I have a feeling he might play in the hands of Naseem Dilruba (I might be wrong, just my assumptions).
    In those days it was customary that every actress carried a so called “maama ji”, ” maasi ji” “nani jan” and even “bhai ji”, “Kotha culture is amazing where daughters are consider as good lucks & sons were total “boojh” so they used to “dorey paao” on the other available prostitutes and become their door mates where they are feed & taken care of. When these kothe walis became famous actress these man move in with them for their living & waiting for a chance in the movies, Jamal is doing exactly the same….Waiting for Nauman Ejaz to open up his accounts, that will be thrilling if he turns out to that “aiyash wadera” who wanted to marry Jharna as she had mentioned to surryia in one of the episode…. Mien Sitra is becoming true enjoyable anecdote…… Aisha Gul is sweeping the show every week, Meera is close behind her and doing a fantastic job as ND, SQ for God sake come out of the acting mode & start becoming the character…. I agree with you SZ the songs can also be picturised out door like running around the trees the very trademark of our movies, director can take notes…. I had been a science student so my English is not as elaborate as all my other friends have, science students learn only that much English literature which helps them to write their papers & researches I really envy all your comments & usage of the phrases…..
    Waitind for the 8th episode to watch & read the review……


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