O Rungreza ~ Episodes 5 -7 Review

Its been a while since I reviewed O Rungreza, three weeks to be precise. A lot has happened in the interim and I have plenty to say, but before we get to all that allow me to begin with a standing ovation for Saji Gul. It is an absolute pleasure to watch such fabulously etched characters and the way their stories are knitted together – brilliant writing!

But it’s not just the writing. O Rungreza is a magnificent showcase for director Kashif Nisar’s directorial ability and narrative skills. His control over this story is so complete that at no point does the pace lag nor does it ever feel rushed.  Then the actors – Nauman, Irsa, Sajal Bilal, Sana – all are fabulous, doing complete justice to their richly nuanced characters. Each one is perfectly cast and doing so well it is hard to pick one over the other. All have their moments and then shine they do ever so brightly. With aesthetics, editing, camerawork, lighting, sound, everything in perfect sync, O Rungreza is one of those rare serials that are a complete package – dil aur dimagh donon ka hi pait bhar jata hai dekh kar.

In all his years of controlling Mammo –  criticizing, abusing, ridiculing, making her feel unworthy and unwanted – not once had Khayyam thought that the tables would ever get turned on him. Never could he have imagined in a million years that one day he would be sitting in front of Mammo, crying his eyes out on account of being rejected. He who had broken Mammo’s heart a million times was today reduced to bawling over his hurt ego. Over the years, Mammo had spoiled him, so eager to please was she, that not once did Khayyam ever had to reconsider his harsh words to her. But that was Mammo.

Sonya Jahan is many things to many people, but she is definitely not a Mammo. First it was Sassi, and now Sonya. Both women unafraid to hold up the mirror to him. And Mr. Romantic Poet did not like what he was being forcibly shown – the face of a hypocrite and a bully with double standards. Sonya walked out on him, probably the first time this man has met his match, an equal woman unafraid to look him in the eye and call him out.

And so Khayyam goes grovelling back. Again another novel experience. But even when thwarted this man does not learn; rather than reflecting and looking inward he chooses to see his problems as others’ faults – in this case his daughter’s. All of a sudden Sassi’s marriage is his most urgent concern. Caring fathers do not be fooled by his about turn, its all about me, myself and I in Khayyam’s case.

For now round one has gone to Sonya. But will the alpha male that is Khayyam allow a woman to lead him by the nose? That he may not have neither choice nor control is a whole other deal and something that Khayyam still cannot see clearly. I am so looking forward to seeing how this man gets what is certain to come his way. And also looking forward to seeing how the equation develops  between Sonya and Mammo.

But before all this happened there was Sassi and her showdown with her father. In a series of brilliantly executed scenes first Khayyam got his comeuppance in public, with his daughter’s dance performance, and then the more private screaming match where Khayyam was shocked by what his daughter had to say to him. The little girl who used to idolize her father was nowhere to be found; in her stead was a determined woman who refused to allow a man to treat her the way Khayyam had treated her that night.

Sassi might be Khayyam’s daughter but she is also her mother’s daughter. And she has very carefully picked and chosen what she’s  learnt from both her parents. Now onwards Sassi is on her own trip. Where she is going and when does she get there  is something yet to be determined, but the first step has definitely been taken. Sassi is a girl on the verge of womanhood, as yet unsure of her power. Looking the havoc she’s already caused, I shudder to think of those who are unfortunate to cross paths with her.

Speaking of new beginnings, Wajih’s entry into an already complicated scenario has certainly stirred the pot. Khayyam’s insecurities have surfaced, Sonya seem less than thrilled to have her past come up like this and Sassi, who has already used Wajih’s name once, is unlikely to stop now. Also,, Tipu’s name has been dropped in the conversation between Khayyam and Mammo and I wonder if he is another child of theirs, as has been hinted in earlier episodes.

And Mammo. I love how she never says much but lets her face and body do the talking for her. Every unflattering word that Sassi said about her hit her like a body blow. Every time Khayyam accuses her of yet another wrongdoing she shrinks within herself that much more. him asking her for her permission to remarry was one of the hardest scenes to watch. It is only in her interactions with Qasim and Kareeman that Mammo seems to come alive, but even then barely.

Qasim’s is another character that is fabulously nuanced. His hopeless longing, his despair, the love that he wears on his sleeve, the puppy dog eyes that follow Sassi everywhere she goes, all are layers that add so much texture to the overall narrative. Where will his desperation and depression lead him? Will he eventually harden up or will he remain a pushover? I am very intrigued by him and cannot wait to see more of this boy’s journey into manhood.

In terms of visual storytelling  I love how we see so many of the happenings through the characters’ eyes, through their reactions to all thats happening around them. Sassi smashed the pictures but we saw it from Kareeman’s reactions. Mammo flinched when Sassi argued with her father and used her mother as an illustration of who she was not, and we saw Sassi’s dancing through the eyes of her shocked family. The fire in Qasim’s shop was signalled by a crackling lightbulb- this is all innovative stuff done very well by Kashif Nisar. Similarly in Saji’s writing, the subversion, pinpointing of patriachal hypocrisy and double standards, all are so wellknitted into dialogues that they dont stand out like lectures and sermons. So wish other directors and writers would follow suit.

Yes, I am hooked and how!

What about you all? Are you all enjoying this one as much as I am? Its been a while… looking forward to your take on this serial so far!

Written by SZ~

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34 replies

  1. SZ – when review is written like this, it is more enjoyable than the drama itself.

    I was thinking to ignore this drama – O Rangreza because I usually don’t like when Hero or main kirdaar is not treating his wife well.

    In USA or UK, is man (like Khayyam) legally allowed second marriage even if he has obtained permission of his wife to do so.

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    • In most countries in the world, a person can only be legally married to one spouse at a time. Because second (third, fourth) wives have no legal rights, many clerics in the US and the UK try to discourage Muslim men from marrying more than once, even where the first wife consents to her husband’s second marriage.

      But there is no law against a person being in multiple informal relationships. So, many men in these countries do marry more than once, but only the first marriage is legal. The other wives are wives only in the religious/social sense and have no other legal relationship with their husbands.

      As you can imagine, the potential for coercion and abuse is much higher in places like the US and the UK, because the law offers these non-legal wives so little protection. It’s not unusual for second wives to be recent immigrants who speak little English and aren’t aware that their marriages are not valid. When they threaten to leave the relationship, they’re often faced with threats of deportation or being separated from their children, etc.

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  2. Excellent review, SZ! You captured much of what makes O Rungreza tick. In particular, I’m really enjoying how the characters are written here. Everyone, even a supporting character like Kariman bua, is so well-rounded! Major props to Saji Gul for his work here.

    I also really love the director has framed various sequences. In this episode, for example, we see Qasim admitting that he can’t cry because men aren’t allowed to cry, and then later, Khayyam breaks down and cries in Mammo’s arms. Now that’s how you use a single line of dialogue to build an entire episode.

    I found Khayyam’s manipulation of Mammo cruel but also riveting. Here’s a woman who is so starved for love and affection that she will do almost anything in exchange for a few soft words from her husband. He knows this and he uses it against her so she’ll let him have what he wants. Do men like this never realize their own selfishness? On the other hand, Noman Ijaz’s performance is so nuanced that you actually feel a bit for Khayyam when he tells Mammo that she’s certainly worthy of his love, but that circumstances have prevented that from happening.

    I’m fascinated by Mammo and the way Irsa Ghazal is playing her. But I’m convinced she’s not as much of a pushover as Khayyam thinks she is. There’s a fantastic shot at the end of that scene when Mammo pulls her hand away from his, as if to say that she’s done with his charade. I think she’s a realist and we’ll eventually see her do something pragmatic but unexpected. Fingers crossed.

    Unexpected (for me) Omair Rana appearance! Yay! But wow, Wajih is not a nice man at all.

    I’m guessing Tipu is Mammo and Khayyam’s son, and that he’s estranged from his parents? Khayyam made a comment in an earlier episode that she’d failed at raising a good son, so there was no reason to think she could raise a good daughter. I wonder if the prodigal will return at some point.

    Can’t wait to see what happens next!

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    • Thanks RK for explaining the situation in detail.

      After reading your comments, I saw the episode. When Hero asks his wife for permission for second marriage, I was wondering k ye suave villain hai ya crooked villain.

      After the episode was over, I was going through the comments below the episode by viewers (YouTube).

      You will be sad to know that one viewer in Norway is in more miserable position than Khayyam’ wife in drama. Her condition is almost same as you have described above.

      This viewer has used name as sabaabraful and after reading her plight, one feels like crying.

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    • @RK: Oh, i completely agree! Mammo is not who we think she is and I think she will come alive, but only when she is ready for it . at this point I think she’s exhausted from the burden of dealing with a man like a khayyam day in day out .. can you even imagine how tiring it must be to deal with a man with an ego as inflated as Khayyam’s? Methinks she will stand up and fight when it comes to her children .. Sassi has worshipped her father but it is her mother who will prove to be her anchor and savior when it comes time. Mammo, to me, is like an onion, you have to peel away layer after layer to get the essence of what she really is … and Irsa has nailed her to a Tee!

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  3. The story is picking up at a good pace. Haven’t watched last night’s yet and I tend to avoid the ‘next episode preview’, if I’m enjoying the show. If I can manage that somehow. Too many spoilers these days and it kills the fun of being surprised.
    But I’m pretty sure, I missed the Wajih character you mention. I heard Khayyam say something about a son, in the last episode I saw. Thought I misheard it at first but no sirree. So that is another interesting chapter that I am looking forward too.

    I like how this in the end, if you look at it, is really a ghar ghar ki story. At some level or another, if I may.
    In that it relates to the patriarchy prevalent in society. The setting may be not your typical portrayal seen on tv so far, of a colourful nature – Zara hat ke as you like to say – but at the core, we see the essence of human behaviour observed in all walks of life.
    Or most, let’s put it that way.

    That the creators have been able to weave it into such a unique way of storytelling is what has me hooked.
    But even then, there is always room for surprise and that is what sets this piece apart.

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    • Edit: Not ghar ghar ki story in the sense that everyone is facing these situations in their homes but the premise is that of a gahrelu kahani, in the end. One that is the main plot line for most dramas these days – loyal/soft spoken bholi biwi, flirting husband, the other woman et all.

      Have since posting last comment, caught up on the latest episode and have to marvel at the direction – no lingering on situations, seamlessly blended into the next scene (crisp editing, well done) and when portrayed through minimal dialogue, through the slightest of gesture, is again, what sets this serial apart.

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      • @Arisha Your explanation is interesting – loyal wife, flirting husband and the other woman.

        In other two dramas on air, Asif Allah and Teri Raza, not accurate description but I may say besotted husband, wife pining for pehla pyaar, ex boyfriend

        In this episode, I could not understand the scene where Kyayyam gives Sonia a set of papers and she throws up these papers up in the air.. what are these papers for

        @SZ looking forward to your comments on comments made by readers of your review 🙂

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      • @Arisha: Yes, thats the brilliance of writing and the presentation that a very familiar premise is being presented in a very novel and fresh way and as you say so very correctly that no wasted words or scenes – writing, directing, editing – all on point!

        I think we’ve talked abt this before on some other recent thread, about there being only 7 original stories in this world and the rest are permutations thereof, so when we ask for a hatke story we are basically only asking for a fresh re-imagining.. yahan tau typically scenes are like chappas from one drama to another, and the dialogues are so predictable that even I can complete the sentence before the character does so .. so within that context Im absolutely loving the way the same story is being told in a wholly new way. Ab lets all do a ba- jama’at dua that this one does not pull a Teri Raza on us 😉

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        • “I think we’ve talked abt this before on some other recent thread, about there being only 7 original stories in this world and the rest are permutations thereof, so when we ask for a hatke story we are basically only asking for a fresh re-imagining.”

          Wasn’t me but I do would like to find more about this. Where do I look?

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  4. Love everyone’s comments and SZ’S review.
    Watching O Rangreza is like having a fantastic meal for the mind and soul. I find waiting for the next episode so hard, I wish I had not started watching this early so I could have just binge watched it in one go, when it was all out.
    The performances are so nuanced, so fine, that it is impossible to draw your eyes away. Mammo flinching away from the rejection that has been the leit-motif of her marriage, her disbelief as she listens to what she thinks is Khayyam’s apology for a lifetime of torture and the tiny hope dashed cruelly when the apology is actually a prelude to Khayyam seeking permission to remarry. And then justifying her permission to Kareeman. What a classic interpretation of the Stockholm syndrome. Irsa Ghazala is such a darling actress.
    What I find even more intriguing is Khayyam’s and also to a certain extent Sassi’s innocence about their own motives. I know innocence is not the word you would associate with Khayyam, but it is very few people who remain as ignorant and unmindful about the havoc they wreak. Khayyam is like an infant wanting instant gratification. He ‘wants’ and that seems to be reason enough for him to act. There really are no moral compunctions. And with a complaint wife who he knows he can play like a fine-tuned violin. Very similar is Sassi’s treatment of Qasim. They are both masters of words using them to get their way with Mammo and Qasim. They know how to manipulate these simple and lovelorn souls and get what they want. As they say “Monsters are created by people who do not resist them.”
    I am so looking forward to these two people’s journey to finding redemption.

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      • @AS: Hello. If you are just now starting this drama, then I would request you to go through the earlier threads .. I have written about the title and its connection to the story and you will also get a fuller picture of what all has transpired so far ..

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    • @Molly: Glad to have you on board for this one as well. You have picked up so nicely on Nauman Ijaz’s brilliant interpretation of Khayyam. And yes, Sassi is exactly the same, but with a difference, she has just recently started playing these games and she too likes the high she gets, but unlike Khayyam, for whom this has become so natural that its like breathing, dont even think abt it, where for Sassi its still something conscious .. hence there is still hope for her.. but dont know if she can be saved in time, and ab tau there is Wajih in the mix. I think Sonya will either use Sassi to get back at Khayyam or Sassi will herself get involved with Wajih to get back at her father ,… either way we are in for a heck of a ride.

      And speaking of Nauman I and how well he plays these kinds of characters, check him out in Khamoshi on Urdu 1 .. an older play that aired a while ago so makes for a good binge watch. I wont give out the spoiler but I will say watch for him … its something that would make for a great discussion in terms of how certain issues play out so very differently depending on who they affect – man or woman .. One of these days I should do a quick overview to get the convo started..

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  5. Should I be confused a bit about Sassi’s character in the play? Only because she started out as a loud and brash girl with total disregard for her mother, idolize get her father to the point we have witnessed. And in the latest turnaround, only because she was dismissed by him in a way, she claims she is now behaving brazenly to assist Mammo – fighting for her rights, something like that.

    Maybe it connects to what you said may follow, SZ. About getting back to each other’s for the wrongs all of them think they have been done. Perhaps, the answer lies there.
    I’m starting to find something that I can’t point at right away in the latest episode, I think related to the abrupt mention one a son in the mix. But I’ll wait and see.

    Hey, I warned you about Teri Raza, kind of. Tehehehe.
    Chalo, koi nahin.
    Iss taraf Tu huta hai iss tarah ke kamon Mai..

    Happy viewing everyone.

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    • With respect to Teri Raza, have people here seen use of Istakhara in real life..

      If the marriage finally survives or not, in both the cases, how would it reflect on making use of Istakhara

      @SZ writer of O rangreza seems to be present on Twitter..would it make sense to invite her here and answer questions like one raised by Arisha above

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      • @AS: I cant presume to speak for anybody else but for me it is so much more interesting to not have the answers spoonfed .. its the precise reason why we ask for original scripts and berate channels for spoilers. Yes, I know the writer and could ask him (not her) for answers but then whats the point of the whole exercise? Also, there are never any wring or right readings … once a text (drama in this case) is in the public domain it is open to interpretation and analysis… who is to say who has the right answers…

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        • @SZ the way you analyse/ interpret and put your thoughts on paper, it is a treat to read them.

          Recently I started paying attention to writer’ name and noted Naila (TR), Saji (OR), Farhat (YKS).

          Some names are used for mostly girls, similarly some for mostly boys, few names may suit both – boy or girl

          Saji- is it mostly used for boys..

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    • @Arisha: This precise confusion and unsurety about characters and their motivations is the best part about a well written original script, IMHO. And thats what makes this forum so much fun because we are basically throwing darts in the dark trying to figure out the what why when .. lets see who gets what right 🙂

      Re: TR: LOL! We all knew it was a mess but there were some truly special moments . bas being sad abt that .. will miss those 😉

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      • Precisely.
        Wasn’t looking to get any spoonfed answers, only penning my observations and presenting further point of discussion from our own perspectives. Warna you are right, it spoils the surprise. Might as well, give the story beforehand. Sometimes, it’s hard to convey the tone in one’s writing, whether it was a literal question or a rhetorical one.

        Aray, darts per yaad aya, I wanted to contribute something else to the Piyari Bittu reviews too.
        Heading over.

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  6. I finally have caught up to this drama till episode 7 and I am just blown away by the amazing performances of the entire cast. I would like to mention especially Isra Ghazal, her performance in UBFN was brilliant. Her bitterness and helplessness as Api was outstanding. But as Mamo, it seems like she is that person through and through. She is outperforming Nouman Ijaz in their scenes together….her body language, even her eyes portray the injustice she feels, but she cannot imagine bringing it up. Her fear of her husband is ever domineering and to a certain extend Qasim is just like her. Which is another actor I haven’t seen in anything before, but has impressed. Sajal Ali is definitely the hero of the drama. NI is stellar as is expected. I like Sana’s performance too, she was the better actor in AAAI and she is doing full justice to her role in this serial.

    Saji Gul has always been able to show the most interesting equations between characters essential in bringing the story forward. Here all the relations are vital and super interesting, which is so unlike any other drama on air. I really hope we see more of his written drama’s. So underrated.

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    • @Seher: Piyari Bittu, also written by Saji Gul and starring Sania Saeed, has also started recently. The third ep airs today, Saturday. Do check on it of you can. I have reviewed the first two eps and am lovig it so far.

      This one, the latest ep was equally fab. Will look out for your comment on the review I have posted today 🙂

      Qasim is payed by Bilal Abbas, I thought you had seen DumPukht and Saanp Seerhi, no? He was in those as well.

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  7. Thank you for a great review, life gets busy but slowly but surely I am catching up with this. Saja Aly has totally wowed me with her acting , usually I don’t like seeing two plays with the same character in it and because I am also watching YKS I was kind of reluctant but she has done such a fabulous job in portraying Sassi that you do not even think for a minute hey is this Zubia?!? Nothing at all reminds me of Zubia , wow what a girl she has all the hypocrisies down and knows exactly what is going on in how her father treats her mother and how men look to other women yet are protective over their own sisters and daughters and what she says is so on point ,through Sassi the writer has conveyed all the hypocritical actions men like her father do in our culture and she has called him out clearly. However I don’t agree with how rude and disrespectful she is to her mother and to her father for that matter, you can also make your point in a not so brash and rude manner but that goes to show she is flawed. Treating your mother like that shows the disharmony that has occurred in her household growing up and most of it is her fathers fault in how he treats her mother and also her mother wife being so submissive but now it is coming back to bite him, no longer idolized now he is reaping the effects of a spoiled and outspoken Sassi. I am really excited to see how this turns out, such unique writing and so many things are left to our imagination and not spoonfed, excited to watch the next few😊

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