Mujhay Jeenay Do ~ Episode 1 Review

Written by Shahid Nizami, directed by Angeline Malik and co-produced by Angelic Films and Center for Communications Pakistan, Mujhay Jeenay Do is a new serial that addresses the issue of child marriages prevalent in smaller towns and villages. The first episode aired past Monday on Urdu 1 and I must say that of the recent lot of issue-based serials this one had the most effective begining, writing, direction and acting coming together just so.

From the barrage of promos and pre-publicity it was no secret that this was about child marriages. The first shot of Saira, happily playing with her chooris and her dulhan doll, was almost expected. I braced myself for the inevitable heartbreak that seemed sure to follow but kudos to the writer and director for the superb framing of their story. I loved how this colorful sweet peek into an innocent child’s world led us very organically into the darker larger story of women systematically stripped off their rights to live their lives.

Malik Shahbaz’s daughter wanted Saira’s guriya for her gudda so her indulgent father makes this rishta possible by paying Saira’s brother, Murad. Clearly what the Maliks want the Maliks get. Saira’s father refuses to attend the wedding because he considers himself too much of a siyana to play along with these childish games. But as per the precap he may be not have been willing to attend the inanimate guriyas’ shaadi, but will have no problem attending his own real live guriya’s shaadi with a much older man.

Leading off of this main track are other related stories which touch on other women-related issues.  Yasmin and Shaheena are orphaned sisters. Yasmeen, the older of the two, is a village health worker married to Iftikhar who works in the city. Shaheena is a stay at home mom, with a small daughter and a boy on the way. She is married to Mamdu, a farmer strugling with making ends meet but easy with heaping abuse on his pregnant wife.

Mamdu is friends with Murad, who not only enjoys easy money for himself but also advises his friend to pressurize his wife to ask for her share of her father’s property. When things don’t pan out the way Mamdu expects he lets loose with his words and blows. Domestic violence is the bane of Shaheena’s life, but she puts up with Mamdu for the sake of her child(ren).

Lack of proper prenatal care and information about reproductive health is another big issue addressed here. Bushra, Saira’s older sister, is married to Naseeb, a relatively well-off hotel owner. Naseeb and Bushra are happily married, but even with a caring husband and financial resources she is not allowed access to proper medical care. Despite being told to not rely on local midwives, the men in Bushra’s family choose to ignore Yasmin’s warnings and the result is tragic – Naseeb is left with his wife’s memories and a brand new baby boy.

While for Bushra it was her first baby, her brother Murad’s wife is expecting her third child. Khairi has no complications for now, but that her two young sons are already working touches on these villagers’ lack of interest in education. Financial stresses make the short term benefits seem so much more important. Conversely even as they are strapped economically they see no correlation between the number of children and the shortage of money.

For a first episode this was a good introduction to the characters, their contexts and their web of relationships. Even though this is yet another NGO -sponsored project – CCP also sponsored Sammi – Shahid Nizami’s script looks and reads like a proper drama rather than a string of issues tied together with long-winded preachy monologues. Even in this first episode the characters felt authentic and their issues real and relatable.

Speaking of characters being real, who can be more real than Nadia Jamil and how fabulous is it to have her back on TV!?! She was fabulous as Yasmin, as real as only she can be. I so so wish other actresses would take at least half a leaf out of her book and realize that there is more to acting than looking glamorous. This is also Mehreen Raheal’s comeback and I enjoyed watching her tackle a character with a lot more meat than her usual fare. I am not quite onboard with the bronzer and the shiny lipstick but I liked her as Shaheena. The accent was well-done and I am glad she did not go down the melodramatic route with her character. Mehreen and Sarmad make a good pair – sadly don’t think we’ll get to see any warm moments between Shaheen and Mamdu.

Ali Tahir I liked as Mamdu’s BFF, Murad. His wife, Khairi, is played by Farah Tufail, who was generally okay but her 24/7 perfect hair and makeup made it impossible for me to buy into her character. Gohar Rasheed was another one who was not quite convincing either. I felt he was trying too hard and all those closeups of every reaction did not help his case either. And, this is her first serial and she is acting with stalwarts, but I have to say Eman Sher was the pick of the whole lot. She is so very confident and so very natural in front of the camera. Loved her as Saira!

Angeline Malik has started this serial off on a very strong note. Her direction is on point and I liked her use of visuals to add texture to the story. The camera work was very good. The shot of the little boy pouring chai broke my heart as did the shot of Shaheena using the hand cutter. Also lovely were scenes of Saira getting dressed for her doll’s baraat, what a heartbreaking visual contrast to the next time there’s  going to be a shaadi in her house. All this said, there was way too much emphasis on capturing everybody’s reaction to everything with closeups. Bushra’s death announcement scene being a case in point.

Pros and cons considered Mujhay Jeenay Do has gotten off to a strong start and I for one an intrigued to see where the story leads us to eventually. What about you all? How many watched the first episode? Kaisi lagi pehli qist?

Written by SZ~

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8 replies

    • Thank you, Nina for reading and commenting. Hoping you will be a frequent visitor, would love to hear your perspective on our feedback from the “other side” 😊

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  1. I watched this just yesterday, so I’m so happy to see your review. As usual, you’ve managed to not only capture all my thoughts, but also you noticed so many things I missed. Well done!

    As I watched this, I kept thinking how much better this episode was then the first episode of Sammi. I enjoyed the way the characters were introduced, and how we could already see the fraying of certain relationship threads, but it was sufficiently subtle that I didn’t have to roll my eyes in disbelief the whole time. I didn’t quite appreciate Bushra being “fridged” to provide a reason for the child marriage, but I guess there’s no other way to advance that part of the plot.

    I actually sort of like Gohar Rasheed in this role? I think he’s definitely trying a bit too hard, maybe to counteract the audience’s perception that he’s always a bad guy. I’m hoping his character will become more interesting as the story progresses.

    Mehreen Raheel was a bit of a surprise, because she’s usually cast in those urban-sophisticate roles. She did a nice job with the accent, but I honestly don’t understand the decision to give her the weird bronzer tan, and whatever reason is advanced probably won’t satisfy me. It was all a bit too distracting, to be honest.

    Looking forward to watching this with the DRNR gang. 🙂

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    • @RK: Yayy! So glad to have you on board with this one 🙂

      Haina! Sammi was my point of reference as well and given they are pretty similar in terms of setting and masley masail I was not really looking fwd to this .. it was the cast that convinced me to tune in and then I was pleasantly surprised.

      LOL @fridged – such a delicious term! Will have to chori it from you and use it one of these days!

      Gohar.. hmmm.. I dont know for me it was like he was trying too hard to create an arc, which seemed overdone because the writing did all that for him .. but chalo all that is over and done with and now its on the bad boy Gohar .. I hope there is a bit of a nuance, some self reflection in that phase otherwise a monotone bad guy will be very tiresome. As it is we already have apna Sarmad re-living his Baaghi avatar, just a thicker application of surma separating the two.

      Haha! That bronzer, im glad im not the only bothered by it… I think the idea was to give her a tan so that she did fit in better as a hardworking gaon wali but it hasnt quite translated as that. You know I had been hoping that someone would cast Sarmad and Mehreen together since their ramp walk and I was so glad when I heard abt their pairing here.. but alas — yeh pairing bhi koi pairing hai :/

      Random aside: I have the same silver earrings that Nadia was wearing and even if she got them on a discount she certainly didnt buy them on her health workers salary! Maybe her shehri shohar got these as a gift? #ThingsIThinkAboutWhenIWatchDramas

      Will you tune into Teri Raza tomorrow? 😛

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  2. Lovely review SZ like always..
    ..n i quiet enjoyed this opening episode .. i didnt know CCP is same who sponsored Sammi.. and what a difference good writing makes.. everything was perfectly paced n not rushed at all n made sense too.. NJ was flawless.. she was just naturally awesome.. totally in her character with simple clothes and body language.. i so agree with you that only if other actresses could learn from her.. young Saira was too cute.. her dialog delivery was v.impressive .. there 2 were indeed stand outs..

    So they have shown 3 expecting ladies and all with different issues.. it was nicely handled

    That young kid pouring tea to cups disturbed me so much n i started to think about child maids in houses that do all kind of work 😦 ..

    But i couldnt understand logic of saira and naseeb wedding?

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    • I think it was to bring her to take care of the newborn baby – kind of like how ppl bring young maids to “play ” with their babies .. also if you remember the exchange of money in Saira’s doll’s wedding .. I have a feeling that will happen here as well – Murad has already been shown to be accepting money in such circumstances – or that they had taken money at Bushra’s time and they might feel they didn’t get their money’s worth .. basically a woman sold off to her in-laws.. I am totally guessing all this .. but I think that doll marriage scene holds the key to understanding the first few eps of this serial ..

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  3. Assalamoalaikum
    wanted to watch this for NJ but read some negative comments in youtube so did not watch initially..Today read ur review and a review on another site which compelled me to watch it…I did not like Sammi in the beginning so dropped it…I did not find this one up to the mark too…Perhaps i watch too many old ptv dramas…This one reminded me about Ahat too…How nicely the while subject was tackled in a subtle manner that being a child at tht time i was just interested in the kids gurya ,nashi etc n could not catch the odd side but here the distended abdomen was v necessary to show as if the adult viewers are so innocent tht they would not come to know what is happening….
    please do shed light on this aspect too…We have certain norms in our society and y on earth we want to disturb those and for what?
    And among ptv plays….just as a suggestion…do watch Tapish and review if u can…

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    • @Doctor: Wasalam. Good to hear from you 🙂

      I agree with you about Sammi, I did not enjoy it at all and therefore gave it a pass after the first ep. As far as this one is concerned I actually enjoyed the writing. It is by default a little in your face because of the subject but generally I thought they did a good job.

      Re; the comparison to Aahat, I agree it was a beautifully dome play but writing wise it was still quite bold for that time and age when we never talked abt such things in public, let alone on TV. I am not quite sure if I understand your concern correctly. Are you questioning the visual of a pregnant woman? My own personal opinion, and others are welcome to disagree with me, is that there is nothing more beautiful than the sight of a pregnant woman, why can they not show that on Tv? Its not like we dont see pregnant women around us or that families who watch TV or even children who watch are unfamiliar with the sight. I am far more disturbed by the increasingly graphic visuals of violence on women or of the frank language that we see in our supposedly family friendly serial where words like kamina and khabees and beghairat are commonplace now.

      Re: Tapish: Thank you for the recommendation, like you I am fan of PTV classics and many I had watched when they had originally aired. Given all the new stuff, however, that I have to watch for reviewing purposes, I cannot promise that I will get time to re-watch and write. But I do appreciate your recc.. and will def keep it in mind the next time I’m looking for something to binge watch 🙂

      Hoping we will continue to hear from you on other threads.

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