Ten weeks ago Mein Sitara had started off as something different. In the weeks that followed, the story gathered steam with the vibrant socio-political landscape of ’60’s and ’70s providing a rich backdrop against which we saw some very colorful characters take shape. In the past two weeks, however, this fast moving story seems to have hit a roadblock – much like Jharna and Farhad’s stalled relationship Mein Sitara too needs a dhaka to get going again.
To get to the story, Suraiya is now Sitara – to the Tee. She who had had a hard time coming to terms with the unexpected turn of events is now not only comfortable with her newfound status but has also started acquiring an attitude and an entourage befitting her newfound status as the female lead in a Fahad Sethi film. Pappu, her makeup man, is the perfect massage for an ego that is now making its presence felt. For too long, she had been the little girl standing at the doorstep looking on wistfully at the party inside. Today she is the party.
Her parents’ visit was as painful and as uncomfortable could be, but it many ways it also provided answers to what previously had been a question mark in her head. Any romanticizing, about them, that she might have indulged in as a child was firmly put to rest with their visit. Along with bringing closure this was also the moment that the door was firmly closed on her past as Suraiya. Going forward this would be read as only Sitara’s story.
Moving on is never easy nor does it come without a cost. Sitara’s newfound comfort with this chapter of her life is the cause of quite a few discomforts in her benefactor baji’s life. Though Jharna is from the industry and fully aware of the truth that invariably lies behind the lurid gossip nonetheless she continues to fall prey to the jealousy monster every single time. Had she been an outsider married to a filmi insider, her ongoing insecurities would’ve been easier to understand. But here, rather than being proactive and doing something concrete, taking an active part in the filmmaking process for instance, we find her continually reactive. This is the third time that we’ve been down the same road with Jharna. The same suspicions, the same accusations, the same reiteration of all that she’s done for him, and the inevitable demand that he change his heroine. I don’t know about Farhad and you all but I sure am exhausted by her daily jhig jhig.
Jharna’s passive aggressive attitude towards Sitara makes for an interesting text. While she remains as solicitous as ever, the subtle and not so subtle ways she keeps reminding the younger girl, and her husband for that matter, of Sitara’s “reality” are very similar to the way she deals with Farhad as well. Time and again we’ve heard the story of how Farhad’s fame and name is all courtesy Jharna. That Farhad might’ve done something for her in return, provided her the stability and family she so craved, is almost always left out whenever Jharna reminds him of all her ehsans.
Likewise, while Jharna initially went out of her way to provide for the left behind Suraiya, done with no ulterior motive in mind at the time, one cannot help but wonder how much an ego booster this star struck child’s unvarnished, unabashed and unquestioning adoration must’ve been for a fading star like Jharna. So much of what we’ve heard in the past couple of episodes has pointed to Jharna’s inner turmoil. The one person whose loyalty she thought she could always count on was now letting her down in the most painful way possible.
Bu then is Sitara at fault here? Doesn’t every child have a right to grow up and live their own life? Is she the one coming in the way of Jharna and Farhad’s “happy marriage”? What about Jharna’s role in making her relationships work? What of Farhad? Ruptures happen because of preexisting fissures … and marriages are not immune to this phenomenon, outsiders can break a marriage only where there are issues already brewing between couples.
What I do continue to enjoy here is Faiza’s etching out of some very complex characters, all of whom react in a very real manner to their changing circumstances. Neither saints nor sinners, just human.
While all this human drama is engaging and interesting, what is causing viewer fatigue is the repetition and reiteration. This is the third time we’ve seen Jharna behave like an insecure wife. I can only wonder as to how long each of these films take to complete and how much they cost! Imagine changing heroines twice in the course of a film!?! The scenes between Jharna and Farhad, and Naseem and Jharna had a sense of deja vu about them, as did the scenes between Jamal and Naseem. When the serial had begun there was an element of visual narration, but now with every passing episode, scenes seem stretched out, Jamal and Naseem convo went on forever, and are very heavy on dialogue.
Furthermore, even by the roughest estimations we’ve covered a span of around ten years in this serial, then pray tell why the same set still? I don’t know about you all but what was once an attraction, watching the song shootings, now seem like dragged out scenes. Watching the same settings, the same gol chakars, the same director and crew setup – sorry, I’m officially bored. The fact of what they’re doing has already been established, then where is the purpose in showing the same things over and over again. Also, the filmi songs which were initially an attraction are now a cause of puzzlement. Why is Farhad still filming songs from the mid-late 60’s when we are now in the mid-late ’70’s? Similarly, the styling and overall ambience – time seems to have truly stood still for Mein Sitara.
Overall, while I’m still interested in the story and vested in the characters, the visual storytelling is no longer as engaging at it potentially could be, with long winded repetitious scenes it is hard to stay focused, no matter how good a job the actors do – Aisha Gul and Meera continue to be the pick among actors and Adnan Shah Tipu is pitching in with a stellar performance as Pappu – or how well-written the story. The preview for next week holds out the promise of some dhamaka so here’s to hoping that Mein Sitara can brush off the overall air of lethargy and get back to being the fast paced drama it had started off as…
Written by SZ~