Dil Banjara, penned by Faiza Iftikhar, directed by Siraj Ul Haque and co-produced by Momina Duraid Productions and Nauman Masood’s Naughty Forty Productions, opened its account on Hum TV on Friday. Set in scenic Nepal and featuring a fresh combination of leads – Sanam Saeed, Adnan Malik and Mira Sethi – along with a seasoned ensemble cast, there seemed to be much to look forward to here and the attractive promos promised something alag and hatke.
The first episode introduced us to Nida, Sikki and Shama. Nida is a college student who yearns to be free, much like the pigeons in her house she too sees herself as caged and wishes to grow wings and fly away to explore the vivid colors of that world which lies beyond her drab middle-class household. Having grown up in a joint family, with a gentle, physically handicapped father, a mentally challenged mother, a stern, ultra conservative tayi, an envious cousin, and an irritating phuppo who also doubles as her mother-in-law-to-be, Nida has her hands full; her biggest challenge, though, is to continue her studies in the face of strong opposition from her aunt and uncle. For now, her dreams of travel remain just that – dreams.
Other than sharing her love of travel and poetry, there is no ostensible similarity to be found between Nida and Sikander, or Sikki as he is known. A photographer by profession, Sikki is careless, live-in-the-moment kind of a guy. Having lost his parents at an early age, he has been brought up by Mehtab, a family friend and a single parent to Shama, Sikki’s friend and confidant. Though Mehtab loves him like a son, she is now getting irritated by his casual attitude towards life and would like nothing better than to see him adopt a more responsible approach towards life, and for her this can only happen one way – through marriage, and that too preferably to her daughter.
Though Shama is Sikki’s best friend, she is less than enthused about his penchant for travel. Nonetheless she plays along and makes a show of caring because it suits her purpose, keeping him close. She imagines herself in love with him, a feeling fully endorsed by her mother, even though the guy in question has never actually said anything to that effect. He likes her and humors her, sure, but whether his words mean what Shama reads into them is highly questionable. For now, Shama and Mehtab have bought into Sikki’s vague promise of marriage in the foreseeable future, that he’s not mentioned Shama by name is an oversight that is sure to come back to haunt the pair.
And on being haunted, just one look of Nida and Sikki is a goner. What happens next between Nida, Sikki, and Shama and how their families react to the changes in their lives is something to look forward to in the episodes to come.
As far as first episodes go, this was a very average opening, verbosity, repetition, and long scenes being a big contributing factor. At times I found myself tuning out and had to go back and make sure I hadn’t missed anything of consequence. I had been looking forward to seeing Sanam Saeed back on TV after her uni-dimensional Roohi in Diyar-e Dil, but I was less than impressed. One scene in particular, where she was describing her dreams to her friend was performed so theatrically, complete with dramatic flourishes, and seemed very out of place in a TV serial. Mira Sethi, on the other hand, left more of an impression as Shama.
Of the three leads, Adnan Malik made most of his screen time and looked very comfortable in his character as the everyday Sikki, much more so than he ever did as the angry Khelu in Sadqay Tumhare. To say that Hina Bayat is versatile as an actress is akin to stating the obvious, and here again she makes her mark as Nida’s mentally challenged mother. That said, I am not taken by the idea that a handicap be used as a comic device; I sincerely hope this is something that is handled with a lot more sensitivity in future episodes.
In terms of personal peeves, once again we got the easy resort to visual stereotyping. Nida is from a conservative middle class family so she dresses up in full sleeved shalwar kameez with her dupatta pinned firmly pinned on, whereas Shama is the liberal who wears western clothing all the time. Interestingly though, even as these two are as alike as chalk and cheese they are remarkably similar in terms of their makeup and hair, both fully taiyar to attend a shaadi at a moment’s notice. I have no idea which father drops off his daughter alone outside a college or anywhere in Karachi at fajar, but irregardless, Nida was made up to the nines even at that early an hour. And it was not just the leading ladies, even the exterior of Nida’s house was made up to the gills with a patently fake facade, complete with colored cutouts and flying curtains, add to that the fountain, the pigeons, the bowl filled to the brim with rose petals and jasmine flowers, aur tau aur... even a moonbow?!? Are these the reality based dramas we are known for producing??
Basically the first episode was not persuasive enough for me to buy into Dil Banjara quite as yet. What about you all? How many watched? What did you think? Looking forward to reading your thoughts!
Written by SZ~