Based on the celebrated humorist Shaukat Thanvi’s novella by the same name, Pagli opened its account on HUM TV tonight. Adapted for TV by Khurram Abbas, directed by Ali Masud and produced by MD Productions, this new serial stars Hina Mani as Gul Rukh, Noor Hasan as Dr. Khalid, Mahmood Aslam as Hakim sahab, Asim Azhar as Najam, Sajida Syed as Dr. Abid’s mother Hina Altaf as Zubi, and Saba Faisal plays Dr, Khalid’s phupo, Zubi’s mom.
The story kicks off with Dr Khalid newly arrived from the US with an advanced degree in psychiatry, travelling to Karachi by train to reunite with family eagerly awaiting his return. It is on the train that he runs in to Gul Rukh, a complete stranger who by the end has somehow ended up as a guest at his house offering muft mashwaras on everything and nothing to everyone and anyone.
Be it Khalid’s mode of practice or Zubi’s interest in poetry, Gul Rukh has a jawab for everything and har koi in ke aage lajawab. Look beyond Gul Rukh’s nonstop bakbak, however, and there emerge questions: Who is she? Why was she travelling alone? Why did she finagle herself an invite to Khalid’s house? What’s up with the constant talk about psychiatrists not being of any use in Pakistan? And why the hints that her visit might not be quite as temporary as she makes it out to be?
Well, some answers will come as the story progresses, some are already being hinted at, Hakeem sahab’s complaint at the Lahore police station for one, and the most pertinent answers have already been happily leaked by HUM’s over eager PR department. I so wish I had not read the spoilers that have been plastered all over social media since the past couple of weeks (Read at your own risk here, here and here). Why o why the need to reveal such a crucial plot twist? As things stand now, my interest has been considerably dampened because I already know what is next in store. Why do channels/production companies/actors do this? How and why do they then expect audiences to tune in?
Setting that major peeve aside for the moment and evaluating the episode on its own merit, I thought it made for a different kind of an interesting opening. Mind you though there is required a suspension of belief because this is not a story to go looking for reality, also unavoidable are the reminders of Geet from Jab We Met. That said, Hira is believable as the know-it-all Gul Rukh and she and Noor have a good equation here. Gul Rukh and Dr. Khalid are characters rife with possibilities and I am looking forward to their evolution.
Apart from these two, other characters fell into easily labeled boxes and here I am disappinted with the unimaginative adaptation. Hina Altaf plays the probematically stereotyped mashriqi larki with nothing better to do than to sigh and read poetry as she waits for her knight in shining armor. Saba Faisal is the done to death typical widowed mother looking to secure her beti’s future by marrying her off to the son of their benefactor, and Sajid Syed, cute curls ‘n all, is the quintesential mother anxious to get her foreign quailfied beta married to his bachpan ki mangetar. We didn’t see much of Mahmud Aslam and Asim Azhar, but what little we did see, did not impress much.
In terms of writing, this was a dialogue heavy episode and the servants’ scene was way too long and unfunny, but overall I thought the lines, particularly Gul Rukh’s lines were witty and had the necessary sparkle. The direction looked good and the narrative was well-paced. My big complain has to do with the overloud constant background music. Could someone please lower the volume and reconsider the need for music in every single frame. Thank you.
Shaukat Thanvi’s Pagli is potential waiting to be explored and exploded but whether this adaptation can do it justice is a whole other question. Going by HUM TV’s previous record with stories dealing with mental health issues I am not holding my breath but am happy to be surprised. Lets see …
What about you all? Did you guys check out the first episode? Kaisi lagi yeh pehli qist?
Written by SZ~