Shaukat is neither an Ashar nor a Wali and Hoor Shumail is no Khirad. They, along with Hero and Fatima bi, are very ordinary people leading very mundane lives. The darzi, the beauty parlor wali, the burqa clad muhalley bhar ki khabar rakhney wali aapa, the golden range huey balon wala larka who fancies himself as the second coming of Shah Rukh Khan… these are characters we are all very familiar with, we’ve all seen them, interacted with them and if pressed can possibly even share an anecdote or two about them. How often, though, have thought about their daily lives or wondered about their stories?
But why, you might ask, should we think about them? We live in very different world, our lives run on different tracks, our day-to-day concerns are very unlike theirs – why should we be interested in a what a darzi or a parlor wali baji thinks or does? Ladies Tailor shows us otherwise.
Written by Sameena Nazir and directed by Tariq Siddiqui, Ladies Tailor is the story of a darzi and his chamak challo of a client. These are two very different people, he comes across as stodgy and boring and she is a live wire. Intertwined with their track are the stories of Fatima bi and Hero. Fatima bi is the quintessential neighborhood gossip and Hero is someone who comes across as a typical wastrel, someone not interested in studies but very interested in neighborhood girls.
As events unfold the first impression we have of these characters gets gradually revised and by the time the story ends we see them in a very different light. Shaukat has hidden depths; he is not perfect and is judgmental but there is self-evaluation and a learning curve. Hoor Shumail starts off like a floozy, the typical buri aurat, but we get to know her and see beyond the obvious. Sharply contrasted against the tight-fitting kameez loving Hoor Shumail is the modestly covered Fatima bi. She may want us to believe she is a kindhearted benevolent person but the joy she derives out of maligning people tells us otherwise, she is societal hypocrisy personified. And Hero is not as shallow as he might seem.
Though she writes about a particular strata of society, the observations and implications of Ladies Tailor are universally applicable. Being rich or poor doesn’t stop people from rushing to judgement based on appearance or a first impression, nor does socio-economic status come in the way of gossiping about others’ misfortunes. What I particularly like about Sameena’s writing is her ability to write simply about very complicated issues, without turning her story into a sermon. Here too woven in deftly is a very strong comment about the prevailing political scenario. Hungamas, strikes, gun firing, random business closings have no place in civilized societies but in places like Karachi unfortunately such happenings are now a part of daily life. Also sadly commonplace is the increasing frustration of the youth, Hero’s character brings to fore many of today’s hot button issues.
Well-written as it was Ladies Tailor wouldn’t have worked as well if it hadn’t been cast and enacted well. Kaif Ghaznavi is absolutely fabulous as Hoor Shumail and her singing abilities are beautifully showcased as well. She is the heart and soul of this telefilm. Nazrul Islam is a very talented theater actor and he was perfect fit for Shaukat. I must say, though, at times I felt a disconnect with this character; the acting and dialogue delivery seemed theatrical, as in it looked calculated and there was a disconnect between the actor and his camera and he seemed to be addressing an audience sitting beyond the camera. But when with Kaif, these issues seemed to disappear and they were very good together. Haris Khan was generally good as Hero, but he too appeared plagued by the same issues as Nazrul Islam. I had waited to see Bakhtawar Mazhar on TV and I wasn’t disappointed. She was great as Fatima and I hope we get to see more of this talented actress.
To maintain viewer interest in an hour+ story with only four characters and two/three settings is no mean feat but director Tariq Siddiqui does well here. The places where I found my attention wandering was during Shaukat’s scenes, either by himself or with Hero. The styling of the characters (loved Kaif’s clothes), the set design was good and the background music was well-chosen, though a bit loud at places.
All in all with pros and cons taken into consideration I enjoyed watching Ladies Tailor, something hat ke from the same old. Did any of you guys watch? Kaisi lagi?
Written by SZ~
Ladies Tailor ~ Telefilm ~ TVOne