That Sania Saeed is fabulous is not something you need me to tell you, but do allow me to tell you how utterly fantabulous she is in Piyari Bitto. Ziyada na dekhen, sirf the first 12 minutes … phir see if you can walk away – yes, she is just that good!
From the very first moment you lay eyes on this woman you want to hug her and hide her somewhere, away from the cruel world outside. She is visibly distraught, clearly lost and unable to remember anything, even her name. Watch out for when she’s eating by the entrance to the dargah and see her flinch when Salma touches her… now here is a story begging to be heard. What happened that turned a once vibrant woman into such blank a slate? What kind of trauma did she undergo that her mind shut down like so? Where is the woman who was Bitto’s loving phuphi and who is this empty shell that stands in her stead?
From the teasers I was expecting Piyari Bitto to be an intense story, but I had not expected it to deliver such an emotional gut punch. Sania Saeed is absolutely riveting as this as yet nameless woman. And it is not just Sania. Saji Gul’s story unfolds in a way that sucks you right into the narrative. I enjoyed Mazhar Moin’s narrative style, there is an authenticity to his storytelling that I find lacking in quite a few of our recent dramas. I liked the girl playing Salma, she and her mother were very real and looked like they actually lived the lives of their characters.
Skillfuly woven alongside the present is the story of the past. For a first episode I appreciated how we got so much of an insight into this woman’s life. Though we don’t know her name we know that somehow somewhere along the line she lost not just a name but also an entire family. Where is her sick but loving brother, where are the two bhabhis and most importantly, where is Bitto? How and when did she lose so much?
Much like we saw in the first episosde of O Rungreza, here too Saji gives a very subtle but indepth introduction to all his characters right from the get go. We meet Salma, a nurse, her shaadi is a problem for her financially strapped mother. From among the characters of the past there was the narcissistic Shakila (Atiqa Odho), her husband (Nayyar Ejaz), once a robust affectionate older brother but now a sick bed-ridden patient, and her daughter Bitto. There was also Rukhsana (Farah Shah) with her young son. And rounding off the family, Bitto’s widowed(?) phupho who loves colorful bangles and is the calm voice of reason in an otherwise chaotic household.
In terms of writing this opening chapter served as a great introduction to a story waiting to unfold. Acting wise, Sania owned the episode. Atiqa Odho has Shakila nailed to a Tee. I also liked the girl playing Salma and Saniya Shamshad as Bitto.The scene between her phupho and Bitto was particularly sweet and the only truly happy moment so far. Direction-wise Mazhar Moin impresses. I liked the framing of scenes, the story telling style, editing, cinematography and the authenticity of the sets and locations. I particularly appreciated how all characters looked and dressed in accordance to their parts. I also liked the sound design in places, birds chirping and the apt song playing on the radio.
While all this worked, what did not work was the constant music in the background – why?? Can we please turn that off? Also, did not care for the over loud screaming. All the chaos could’ve been shown just as effectively without the OTT shouting. And this is my biggest concern. I like Mazhar Moin’s plays but eventually end up leaving halfway because the register is always too loud. I don’t know if it can be fixed, but perhaps lower the volume of the shouting – its too much and too jarring.
Finally, because I watch on YouTube, I was very disappointed by the 480p video quality. Could Express please load videos in HD? It is unfair and unjust to watch a well-made play in a less than perfect print. Another complaint: Why does Express cut off videos before final credits? It’s bad enough that previews start showing up in the last minute or so, completely blocking the picture, but to then have it cut off abruptly is super annoying. Please fix. Thank you.
These few peeves aside, I thought the first episode delivered big time and I for one am definitely looking forward to the next episode.
Aap logon ne dekha? Kaisa laga? Looking forward to reading what you have to say!
Written by SZ~
Piyari Bittu ~ Episode 1