Dastaar-e Anaa ~ Episodes 1-13 ~ An Overview

Dastaar-e Anaa ~ Dastaar, roughly translated, refers to male headwear, typically a turban, and in the feudal context signifies the wearer’s elevated societal status. Anaa is loosely defined as ego or pride. Put together the powerful imagery invoked by dastaar-e anaa, and you have Zaibnunissa Begum pegged to a T. Here is a matriarch who revels in her position as the head of a riyasat situated somewhere up in northern Pakistan. She who took over the affairs of the state after her husband’s accident is today a someone who wears her over inflated ego like a shining badge of honor. Nothing or nobody dare challenge her wishes and desires. Rights or wrongs do not a difference make, all are justified in the name of keeping alive hamare khandan ki izzat and riwayat.

If for no other reason Dastaar-e Anaa is a must-watch for Uzma Gilani’s brilliant take on Zaibunnisa. It is impossible to take your eyes off her, she is that good. Abid Ali as the tortured Muzaffar Khan is reason number two. He does not have a line of dialogue but watch him speak with his body language. Together these two are pure gold. TV does not get better than this. And if you need still another reason to tune in, then watch out for Kashif Mahmood as Waleed Khan. It took me a while to get around to watching this, but once I did I could not stop. I binge-watched all 13 episodes in one go, till 4 am last night.

Penned by M. Ameen Sadiq, directed by Mohsin Talat and executive produced by Seema Tahir for TV One, Dastaar-e Anaa is a story of revenge and retribution. Zaibunnisa is a woman who does not take kindly to those who dare challege her, even if it is her beloved only son, Hashim. Punishing Hashim for his perceived misdeeds, however, would mean causing pain to herself and risking the continuation of khandani legacy, hence she calls upon her nephew ,Waleed, and hatches a convoluted scheme to bring Hashim around to her way of thinking. Unfortunately, like all best laid plans of men and mice this one too does not work the way she intended.

Fast forward a couple of decades or so and characters have changed. Instead of Hashim and Riffat and Waleed we now see Mahnoor, Adeel and Abid take center stage. Though time has moved on and the past is as if a long forgotten story, for those living in the riyasat not much has changed. Zaibunissa is still the master pupetteer, pulling strings and controlling lives while Waleed ontinues chomping at the bit. But…

Though it all looks the same, there are undercurrents of change. Riffat is back on the scene and Mahnoor is no longer as isolated as she once was – with Adeel by her side she has started dreaming of a life beyond the her gilded cage. That Zaibunissa is going to go down is a given, but how and when is the question waiting for an answer. I also like how Zaibunissa is not just a cardboard baddie, there is an unsaid story in her past, hints of a radically different relationship between her andI  her husband. I hope this angle will be expanded upon as the story progresses. I want to know more. Did I tell you already how much I am loving Uzma ji and Abid sahab here? I did? Okay then let me tell you it again. They are fantabulous!

As a basic plot it may well sound like yet another story, but I am enjoying the way it has been narrated by the writer and director. Even as there is the predictable stuff there is well-maintained suspense and intrigue that kept me watching late into the night. The direction is very well done and the DOP has done a fabulous job with the locations, not just for the visual appeal but actually incorporating them into the narrative. I loved how they have managed to capture familiar sites in a new way, making them looks different and fresh. My one peeve with this serial is with the over loud background score. Guys, we get that this is a thrilling suspenseful story and do not need constant loud musical reminders to this end.

The acting, particularly by the seniors, is amazing. Among others, Kashif Mehmood is excellent, he is, as he puts it, the game-changer. Faisal Rehman is always good. Ayesha Gul is excellent as Riffat, more so now as her character has come into its own.

As for the younger lot, Saniya Shamshad is good as Mahnoor. She has a vulnerable, fragile air about her and that makes her a perfect fit for this character. I just wish that they had gone easy with the dark makeup and opted for better lighting, because these combined give her a hard look. Salman Saeed has improved since I last saw him a couple of years ago, but I wish he had tried to get more into his character of someone from a humble background, now he looks too well-groomed. Same goes for the actresses playing his sister and mother. I don’t get this urge among the recent lot of actors to look perfectly made up no matter what their characters. Arsalan Faisal still has a ways to go as an actor but fits well into his character. Shamoon Abbasi, Sami Sani and Shahzad Ali Khan bring their experience to the fore making their characters stand out. Kudos to Team Dastaar-e Anaa, Seema Tahir and TV One for going against prevailing trends and trying to do something different.

All in all, I would highly recommend Dastaar-e Anaa as great weekend watch. If you haven’t already, do check it out and let me now what you think – will be looking forward to hearing from you all.

Written by SZ~

Dastaar-e Anaa ~ OST

5 replies

    • Please do! The scenes with Uzma Gilani and Abid Ali are brilliant. Watch out for that moment when Zaibunissa hears the news about her son on the phone – check out hers and her husband’s reactions – brill brill brill!! Oh and you will love the outdoors .. and the Nathiagali Muree and other northern area locales .. beautiful!


  1. @SZ. Great review SZ. Like you, once I started watching, I was drawn in. Wow! powerhouse acting by UG and AA. Also enjoying seeing AG after Mein Sitara. Good performance and convincing as Riffat. You’re right, the story is predictable in places but still a good watch.

    A couple of weak links for me, especially since I enjoy the visual frames. The “haveli” is rather dilapidated. You can see the cracks in the floor and rugs etc. If the story had to do with a dying empire it would work, but in the face of the kind of power depicted , eg., moving police commissioners with a phone call and Zaibunissa claiming to have increased the land holdings from 9K acres in Khan Sr.’s time to 21K in her reign. About episode 7 they begin to show a new indoor set, with fabulous woodwork, that clearly doesn’t seem in line with the haveli. Anyways…nitpicking. I am glad to see a good drama that holds my interest.

    Mahnoor’s costumes are wild. Something out of a Disney production of a western fairy tale. And uff! that red lipstick, big hair, and heavy makeup (particularly glaring in the outdoor scenes) is a bit much.

    Since Firaaq I’ve been waiting to see UG again and she does not disappoint. And I want to say I am officially an AG fan; her Riffat is very elegantly done; no overacting whatsoever.

    I’m on board!


    • @Anastasia: Hello! Welcome aboard 🙂 Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. Glad you enjoyed reading it – I had a lot of fun watching and so writing about this was a pleasure.
      Yes, please do check it out and come back to share your thoughts.
      And ab yahan aa hi gayi hain tau stay in touch. We have quite a few new threads .. check them out maybe one of them is a drama you’re also following?


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