Bin Roye ~ Episodes 1-3 Review

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The bare bones sketch of Farhat Ishtiaq’s popular Bin Roye Ansoo disgusted me when I first heard about it from a friend; when I read the novel, however, there was something about the way Farhat had captured Saba’s internal world that I could not help but be drawn to this young girl’s story. Skipping over everybody who was anybody in the story and not caring about anything else that happened, I only read Saba’s parts, not putting the novel down till I had finished it. And this – imbuing life into paper and pen sketches, shading them in with grey tones, and layering them with complex and complicated emotions – is the power of Farhat’s writing. Combine this with the effortless ease with which the writer plays with time and you have on your hands a very engaging read.

Recently I have read many describe Bin Roye as a simple love story but I would beg to differ on that. As a novel, this one might’ve started off on a lighthearted tone but over time the story takes on very dark overtones, a swirling vortex of emotions that very nearly destroys a once happy, carefree girl, the shadows of which continue to chase Saba till the very end- and it is in arc that the real power of the story resides. Bin Roye is the story of a young girl’s dangerous obsession, nothing simple or frothy about it.

The problem lies in the fact that what works on paper does not always translate quite as fluently on to the screen. In the case of Bin Roye specifically, that I could whizz through the written text, focusing only on Saba’s parts, is not as easily accomplished while watching. On screen, the fact that all other characters are mere cutouts, serving no other purpose than to propel Saba’s story, cannot be overlooked quite as easily. Nor can we ignore that compelling as Saba’s story is, we have no real clue about Saba as a person in her own right – who is this girl when she is not busy obsessing over Irtiza, her much older cousin? And then there are related questions: What does it say about a supposedly happily integrated family where not one person could discern the disturbing direction of Saba’s thoughts? This obsession did not develop overnight nor did it happen in a vacuum … how come nobody picked up on it? What does this say about our desi setup where girls grow up thinking of shaadi as the only real issue worth worrying about in life?

Add to these theoretical issues, MD and their penchant for romance and glamour, lead actors who do not meet the requirement of the story, directors and revolving doors and musical chairs, confusion about whether this was to be a film with dramatic undertones or a drama with filmy overtones, and it is easy to see why this much anticipated project turned into something very hard to take seriously. If the film version wasn’t enough, we now get the serial – and it is not much better the second time around.

Much like the film version, Mahira Khan (and her stunning wardrobe -two thumbs up Feeha Jamshed) is the main reason to watch Bin Roye redux. She is fabulous despite the fact that she is miscast as Saba in her tweens and her character has lost much in its transition from the textual to the visual medium. Humayun Saeed looks the part and tries to make an effort but there is only so much he can do with his flatlined character. Armeena Rana Khan is beautiful but seems as bewildered as us viewers – who is this ultra placid Saman? Lack of chemistry between Irtiza and Saman makes their track all the more difficult to digest. Supporting characters all go through the motions, complete with happy faces, impeccable wardrobes and on point hair and makeup, without making much of an impression.

Farhat Ishtiaq’s once complex story has been simplified to the point where all that is left are the beautiful people and their lovely clothes and the glitzy sets. Farhan Alam’s cinematography makes everyone and everything look beautiful, but despite all the patented MD bells and whistles, Bin Roye lacks warmth and soul, appearing plastic and sterile. What does make its presence felt, much more so in the serial than in the film, is the ick factor – young Saba’s uncomfortably close interactions with her much older cousin, Irtiza. Chalo even if Saba is naive surely Irtiza should’ve known better?

In terms of technical stuff the narrative is bumpy and pace fluctuates. There are times when we get stuck on everybody greeting everybody at Eid namaz, but then Saman’s parents’ die and she is in Pakistan just like that. Editing is choppy at best; the opening sequence, transition from the present to the past, was very clunkily done and its hard to believe this is Tanveer’s work. Patching of songs in to the narrative is another weak area. And on songs, what the heck was going on in that Sarmad Khoosat directed song Tere Bina Jeena? Bangles, gypsy fortuneteller (straight from Shehr-e Zaat), marionettes, fire crackers, fire eaters, qawwals…. talk about orientalizing the Orient for the Orients!

All in all, where I could just about sit through a 2+ hour movie because of Mahira, I don’t think I have it in me to follow the serial for however many weeks this one is stretched. I will, however, keep a lookout for Saba’s breakdown scene and see if it gets better treatment this time around. Rest, I think I will pass. Your thoughts?

Written by SZ~

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32 replies

  1. I just thank God that I didn’t watch the movie and it’s not possible for me to sanely each the serial too . I have read the novel and Saba is no where what we are seeing on the screen. Bin Roye is a marshmallow fluff , pretty and overly sweet …. what’s wrong with MD ? They have become posh version of star tv ….
    Lovely review as usual .

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    • 100% agree with you on this @Sheema!
      As to what’s wrong with MD, you remember that song sab se bara rupiaya .. bas that’s what’s going on .. all abt the money honey..

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  2. SZ, I haven’t watched the movie or the drama, but I enjoyed reading your take on it, especially the questions you have raised.

    This drama seems to have accumulated all my pet peeves in one place – cousin marriages, a heroine who has one-dimensional (forget careers, they don’t even have hobbies these days), supporting cast (in most cases, we can include the male lead here) who serve as glossy wallpaper but add nothing to the story, the list goes on. But who cares, I can already see the winners of next year’s Hum awards.

    SZ, you mentioned how far we’ve regressed (over on the Dil Banjara thread). Ab toh these kinds of “guilty pleasure” dramas have become our staple diet. Easily replicated, easily consumed fast food plays. We’ve become so addicted that we are ready to lap up anything that’s served.

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    • @VZ: just watch the first ep and the horrible song- bas that should do it as you will get the two in one maza of movie and the serial. Dekhna zaroor. I am eagerly looking fwd to your thoughts.. skip banjara this week and check the first ep of this one.
      Spot on! All Hum awards for this one🏆- no questions abt it at all! 😂

      And girl, with that fast food analogy you’ve read my mind- scary!!! I wrote it in last night then thought I was digressing so deleted it out! So glad you brought it up and so precisely worded– this is what I was trying to write in my long winded response to Rehmat on the last thread – thank you for this insight! 🙏🏼

      Re: the mindless heroine: uff Saba is in a class all her own.. and what’s really bothering me now is the general description on social media of Saba as a simple sweet girl ?!?

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      • Oh, dear! SZ, I took your advice and watched it. I can see why it worked as a film – ultra glossy sets, beautiful Mahira just lights up the scenes (loved her look in that first scene – she looked so striking, would’ve looked even better on the big screen), foreign locales, naach-gaana, polished (looks wise) supporting cast… Very reminiscent of Karan Johar or Yash Chopra movies. I can see why it would’ve made a nice day out with family and friends.

        But while I can imagine all this working in a film setup, I’m not sure it fits in a drama, because it feels very light on content and looks like it’s being covered up with the stuff I mentioned above. It’s not my cup of tea – the characters and story haven’t impressed me at all. There is an artificiality in the whole setup, everything is just so perfect as if anything imperfect has been neatly brushed under the carpet. I don’t know how to put it, the characters are not drawing me into their world. In fact, I doubt their world actually exists, it’s as if they are there because the director has put them there, otherwise they’d be elsewhere. Sorry, I’m not making any sense.

        That whole chaand raat stuff ranged from eyebrow-raise-worthy to downright lol-able. What wasn’t there in that fairytale market? Ab what to say, puts any Disney sequence to shame! Looks like Mr Khoosat too made an appearance. (Aur toh aur, hubby walked in just when the song was going on and there was no end to his teasing.)

        May be this will be watched because it’s good escapism for one hour a week? Chalo Mahira’s clothes, makeup, foreign locales may be good enough reasons for this to qualify as time pass entertainment these days, but I found it very boring. All fluff, no substance. And no logic yaar.

        I can see that there’s a big market for these dramas and films – a sort of desi version of Disney and M&B romance. Kosher as well (“family-oriented”, “family-friendly”). I feel so uncomfortable with this whole idea of making everything all about romance/shaadi. But hey, this formula has been working for the Johars and Chopras for so many years, so why bother changing? It’s a sure shot box office winner, and with this 2-in-1 idea of movie+ drama from the same cast+crew, there are even more ways to keep the coffers filling up. At the end, it’s all about that isn’t it? 😦

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  3. I can’t decide whether to watch this drama or not. The only plus point I can think of in this drama is Mahira Khan who is said to choose her scripts carefully.

    I am fed up with these hyped up showcase dramas from HUM TV that are all style over substance. I mentioned the ‘soft focus’ camera work in a comment on the Dil Banjara blog. I saw two minutes of this drama and it seems to have bucket loads of soft focus and a nice clean environment. The other thing is Hum TV seems to be going with the 30 plus episodes model, seriously unless a drama is seriously brilliant I can’t commit to 30 episodes of watching rich pretty people having a bit of trouble in paradise!

    The scene I saw as where Humayun Saeed and Mahira Khan were in a colourful market place looking at bangles, the scene almost looked like a fairy tale.

    Also I am not a fan of Humayun Saeed. I just think he is too stiff and I really didn’t like his acting in Dil Lagi.

    But thank you SZ for the review. Its always good to get your sane view on these dramas instead of the hype. From what you say it will all come down to how deeply they explore Saba’s character. Do we have any idea how many episodes this drama has.

    Oh yes VZ I also predict that this drama will win most of the awards for next year’s Hum Awards.

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    • @NKhan: For this one I would say watch at your own peril.. I know I’m done with it.. might check in occasionally for academic interest.
      That scene you mention is from that song that I was complaining abt- it’s beyond bizzare!
      Yes, all channels are milking it with the 30+ ep model, intact even 40+ now.. but dekh lo people are still watching, not like anybody’s rejected the long winded story telling .. fans of popular stars keep hanging to them, which in turn provides high ratings which in turn means more dramas with similar lengths.
      Re: the run time of this one, who knows and who cares .. it doesn’t matter anymore what they tell you now, it’s what ends up airing is that matters ..
      And don’t expect any real depth in Saba’s character .. remember this is Hum TV.

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  4. Dear All,
    Do check out Dukh Sukh starting Sat on Urdu1. This is a new tele series where each episode is a complete story. The series is directed by Sakina Samo and and features stories written by a number of writers. This Saturday’s episode is written by our very own BeeGul and stars Ahsan Khan and Resham.

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          • @VZ: you are an absolute sweetheart for checking in on me – truly appreciate your thoughtfulness and concern 😘 After being hit with migraines and every kind of viral infection known to mankind I am much better now and am in the process of catching up on stuff airing these days on TV and tbh I’m kinda lost as to what to write … I keep reading glowing reviews of various serials but when I sit down to watch I find myself doing 500 things other than focusing on what’s playing out on the screen in front of me. No matter how they spin it at the heart of it all our drama producers are still stubbornly clinging on to the pyar and shaadi stories and after four years of writing and pushing for change I am seriously wondering if I should be writing.. . Is there any point?
            What are you watching these days? Anything diff or hatke? I’m catching up on SeMM and am yet to watch dukh sukh ..

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            • Dear SZ, I’m glad to hear you are getting better.

              I’m only watching SeMM these days. I’m reading more than watching TV. And I’m working hard on my Urdu writing/reading, you’ll be proud.

              Oh I know what else I watched recently, please don’t laugh – it was Sarmad’s cooking show that aired during Ramzan – talk about being late to the party lol. It was a lot of fun, each episode is under 20 minutes so it suits me these days. I’ve watched 3 episodes so far (with guests Sania Saeed, Mikaal and Mahira).

              Re: your writing, I understand where you’re coming from. And you can’t write just to fill the pages – it can’t be forced. Do you want to write about books may be? Just a thought.

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  5. hey SZ, good to see you in action. I was wondering if this blog will be active again 🙂 Love your review of BR. In all honesty, I was so very excited when this project was announced but it took so long to come on TV my enthusiasm has fizzled completely. After reading your review, I am even more sure I am not missing anything. I wish they had just stuck to the drama serial and kept Haissam on board. More than anything, I think it’s just a bad case of too many directors spoiling the drama.

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    • @DB: Hey! So fab to hear from you – seems like its been ages since we last spoke. Haha! Not just you, even I was seiously questioning the future of this blog 😉

      Re: Bin Roye … For me the problem is a lot more than just the directors’ walking in an out.. I would begin with laying the blame on the producers for being completely off the mark in their reading and understanding of the story and their misguided notion that they were gonna make a grand love story out of this… and everything else wrong follows from there… a director can only do so much when you have miscast actors, a screenplay going nowhere telling a nothing story, and most importantly a clear cut directive that this to be a romance for the ages…

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      • True that… waisay wasn’t Mann Mayal the grand love story of 2016? It turned out to be a complete horror story in the end. What’s going on, really? I’d love to see a good romantic drama but what we are being fed in the name of romance is so NOT romantic. LOL, does that even make sense?

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          • hey SZ. So glad to see you back in action again. I was wondering if things are alright on your end.

            RE Balu Mahi teaser, yaar, I don’t know. Everyone loves it and I don’t want to sound like a party pooper, but this is so not what I expected from a film directed by Haissam Hussain. I still have some hope that the film itself might be different (call me a hopeless idealistic) but the teaser still has me in shock. Haissam was never one of those directors who needed elaborate sets, decorated Mazaars/Dargahs, flashy costumes and even flashier locations to sell his work to the audience. His focus has always been on the story and his characters and the equation between them. This is what has made his work stand out. A whole Bin Roye-ish Chaand Raat look, Dargah/Mazar which we’ve seen a hundred million times in other dramas and films, and a decorated Hiran Minar – this is not Haissam. This isn’t his style at all. The whole teaser is a mish mash of things we’ve seen before only it’s packaged beautifully.

            Compared with Lar Gaiyyan teaser from Dobara Phir Se which had Mehreen Jabbar written all over it, this falls way way way short. (I can probably write pages on it but I’ll apply the brakes here. Reserving my comments on the performance of the cast till the trailer comes out.)

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  6. Typical drama just like everything else on television these days. And I beg to differ Mahira Khan is so unbearable to watch. I mean come on that’s not love that’s abnormality. From what angle is what they are showing normal. I mean come on when this girl was what like eight years old she was so abnormally obsessed with this older guy like a psychopath and under the impression that he has no life other than walking in circles around her. That’s why this culture is so extremely screwed up because they even on television make it a point to let girls know that they have nothing else to achieve in life other than picture marriage and children. And then that’s how so many of us End up with lives that fall apart and then parents can’t digest that either.

    I haven’t watch this movie. But I was told that Saba gives a bad wish to her sister. And the point of that scene was so people feel bad for Saba. I don’t understand how that’s possible. Because so far what I’ve seen of this drama I seriously cannot tolerate Saba’s character.

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    • @K Kay: Hey! Welcome, lovely to hear from you, thank you for sharing your take 🙂

      We may disagree on Mahira’s caliber as an actress, but I agree completely with your thoughts on Saba’s character and that’s precisely what we are questioning here as to the logic of this story and how this obsession goes undetected by her family over the years. And yes, TV producers should be a lot more aware of the messages that are being sent out when dark story is presented in the guise of a frothy romance aka a “simple love story”.

      In the novel itself, Saba was way more complicated than she appears here.. and there was so much that she did wrong and the breakdown scene occurs at the height of her obsession (no that scene is not at rehabilitating Saba, she is at her worst there) .. but what happens later is a gradual realization of all that was wrong with what she was doing and with that comes a lot of shame and self hate .. I dont want to give away spoilers for those who’ve not read the story, but the point is that none of this complexity made it to the movie, and from the way it is going I dont think we will get much of that here either …

      And now that you are here, I hope we continue to hear more from you 🙂

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  7. Honestly Thanks for a great review and welcome back!!!
    I honestly am only watching for Mahira – The movie didnt really explain things well at all and I’ve never read the novel so the whole angle was really weird for me
    Cousi marriages are one thing, yes it happens a lot among households and especially back in Pakistan , that is not the problem if people do that My main peeve like you said is this unhealthy obsession, who acts like that?!? Also in all honestly if they live in the same house as you and your parents raise them you are more than likely seeing that person as a brother . I said this about the movie too, he obviously treats her like a little sister so why does he never say it coz that’s what people usually say instead of this weird relationship where you go bangle shopping with him😂😂😂 instead of your mother or friends!!!
    Honestly why is no one noticing- you are so on point!
    People talk about izzat and honor but even in our families over their
    No one goes alone with their older cousin who’s a boy maybe a group of cousins sure- I just don’t get it lol
    Anyways yes was very choppy and how is Saman so damn perfect, seriously at least Saba will have layers and depth to her personality and she will probably pull it off because of what she will go through but everyone else is picture perfect like you said!!
    Even Zeba crying over not having saman with her didn’t do it for me seemed so fake😂
    Anyways I will prob keep watching coz once I start that’s it and I really want to see if it is better at explaining the the change in relationships as that is killing me as how that happens and the movie didn’t do a great job at all!
    Why would you even do a movie and drama same people same story – honestly dumb!

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  8. Thanks for letting us know about the novel, SZ. Definitely so far we haven’t seen the depth and/or complexity of this character. For me, it was like the Alivda story. A childhood cousin romantic-love relationship and even in Alvida he married other cousins before they ultimately got together I think.
    None of these actors looked like the age they were portraying in these early episodes. I don’t know – something – a crew cut for HS and two pigtails for MK perhaps?

    In this last episode Irtiza was saying the same thing, with the same intense gaze to both Saba and Saman. I for one was confused. Then there were the parts where he said Saba was his “best friend.” If she was, she should have been the first to know about his romantic-love interest for his other cousin, no?
    Someone said these characters have no hobbies. Yaar, there was that “pottery wheel” scene. Or was I dozing and dreaming of Ghost?
    Haay Haay…off to find some PTV classics!

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  9. Stumbled upon your blog recently and boy, am I glad I did! Love your reviews!
    And agree with everything you’ve said about Bin Roye. Glitz and glamour are not what makes a drama worth watching.

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    • @HS: hey! Welcome! Apologies for the beyond late response 😱Hope you are still signed in to the comments and will read this. So glad you found us, it’s always great to hear from a new friend. Please feel free to jump in and join in any conversation thread and share your thoughts, we love reading new perspectives.
      As I wrote in my response to @VZ above, I’ve turned into a bit of a Debbie Downer these days so not ‘feeling’ the latest drama output these days, but will be back soon so please stay tuned 😊

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      • Hey! No worries, hope you’re feeling better now.

        I’ve been checking out your blog like a stalker EVERYDAY for a new review, man!! Don’t stop writing. The other sites have such glowing reviews for pathetic dramas; it’s hard to find a sane voice in all the clutter.

        Not watching Bin Roye ’cause well, as I said earlier it’s only glitz and glamour and shaadi. I mean enough love stories and shaadis bhai! Looking at the dramas nowadays it would seem that Pakistanis have nothing else to do but to fall in love, out of love and then in love again and shaadi! Like that’s the sole purpose of existence. Ugh!

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  10. Hello everyone.. although I m late but so so happy to read all the comments and enjoyed them. I am not going to comment on BR bcz i Didn’t watch the movie and not watching the drama as well. I love this novel aur yeh sb bardaasht as bahir ha. I am following sang e mur mur only and started khuda mera bi ha. Are you guys watching khuda mera bi ha on ary digital?

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