Jointly presented by Momina Duraid’s MD Productions and Center for Communications Pakistan, Sammi made its debut this Sunday on HUM TV. Revolving around themes of patriarchy, feudalism, blood feuds, familial honor, all of which in turn give rise to deplorable customs like vani, Sammi has been penned by the veteran PTV era writer Noor ul Huda Shah and directed by Saife Hasan of Sang-e Mar Mar fame.
Sammi opens on a very cheerful note in a gaily decorated house where wedding are preparations in full swing – women practicing dance moves, local singers serenading guests with traditional songs, a typically stressed bride’s mother looking over preparations, men of the household not ready yet, – and Sammi, the shy young bride-to-be, happily surrounded by her friends. All in all just what is to be expected in any shaadi wala ghar. This upbeat mood, though, is very quickly dampened and by the time the episode ends Sammi’s life has changed forever.
As an opening episode this was an effective introduction and the narrative flowed smoothly. Writer Noor ul Huda Shah’s name needs no introduction to those who’ve watched PTV classics like Jangal, Ajaib Khana (a personal fave), Marvi, and the more recent Ishq Gumshuda on HUM TV; she has written extensively about the status women in a feudal system and so is on familiar ground here. I am excited to see her return to her writing roots. Director Saife Hasan is fresh off the super success of Sang-e Mar Mar and expectations are high.
The cast boasts some of the best actors in the business with the seniors Irfan Khoosat and Simi Raheal leading the pack. Names like Rehan Sheikh, Adnan Siddiqui, Sania Saeed, Nadia Afgan, Madiha Rizvi, Saman Ansari ensure we will get to see some stellar acting here. This serial also marks the return of Mawra Hocane to TV as she plays the titular character of Sammi. Newcomer Ahad Raza Mir and singer Bilal Khan round up the cast.
With all these ingredients and MD Productions’ aesthetic sensibilities firmly in place, showcased from the very first frame, I had expected a little more story telling, a bit more complexity in the first episode, but that was not the case here.
In recent times we have seen several serials dealing with the question of women and the outdated but still prevailing perception of them as mindless, voiceless, useless pieces of property, important only as a commodity to be bought and sold at will. HUM TV’s own Sang-e Mar Mar deals with similar issues and the newly started Pinjra on APlus also purports to be on the same issue. I know there are bound to be differences as the story progresses, but for now I walked away with a been there done that feeling.
Everything that unfolded here we already knew thanks to the promos and the OST and all the publicity surrounding this project. Also, all the events seemed too pat too straightforward, the villains clearly identified from the get go and Sammi easily designated as the victim, till the point she empowers herself.
Alongside the vani track, foundation for the inter-related theme, necessity of family planning for maternal health care, has also been laid out with Salima, Saman Ansari’s character, who plays Adnan Siddiqui’s wife. While I absolutely concur and support the need for educational stories it would have been great if everything hadn’t been oversimplified and laid out so easily, a little been of narrative complexity and subtext would’ve gone a long way in keeping viewers interested. I realize this is only the first episode so will follow along in the hopes of the story finding its feet.
While I was disappointed with the story itself, it is always such a pleasure to see Irfan sahab and Simi ji on screen. They are absolute delights! Rehan Sheikh is always great to watch and Madiha Rizvi was fun dolled up chaudhrayen, am looking forward to seeing how their characters plays out. Saman Ansari is playing a beleaguered, over burdened bahu, biwi and maa here and it will be good to see this woman on the road to empowerment. Adnan Siddiqui seems to be playing the textbook bad guy and I can hope there is something of interest in his character other than the fancy getup.
As Sammi, I enjoyed Mawra in this episode. She is not only lovely but also has an appropriately innocent air about her. I thought she expressed the required range of emotions very well, which is great because in order to care for her fate, it is vital to believe in the actor essaying the character, and Mawra, I think, fits the bill well.
Given the tepid opening I am not sold as yet, but with Sania Saeed, Nadia Afgan, Ahad and Bilal still to make their appearance I will hang in there and keep my fingers crossed.
Written by SZ~