Piyari Bitto ~ Episodes 5-10 Review

As a rule I don’t like sad stories, particularly the kind where characters are faced with mushkilat ke pahar and weighed down under dukhon ke anbaar. Phir  yeh bhi pata ho ke there is no immediate relief in sight, in fact it is actually going to get worse before, if at all, it gets better. Add to that the fact that there are no scenic locales, no flavor-of-the-month hottie, no attempt at glitz and glamor, and you have to wonder ke bhaiya yeh kis qasam ka drama hai. Bas ek gharelu si kahani jahan ek diwani si phupho apni pagli si bhatiji ke peeche halkan huyi jaa rahi hai aur bas… 

How and why then would the makers expect a drama like Piyari Bitto to attract audiences?

Simply put: Piyari Bitto works because of its craftsmanship. This is a serial that does not need bells and whistles because it actually has a well thought out story to tell and a team of artists talented enough to sell said story. Such is the pull of the serial that no matter that this is not my usual chai ki piyali – I am hooked.

When we had last left off it seemed like Shakira’s shaadi was postponed for good, but shukar hai ke fates conspired and our girl got married. It is absolutely lovely to see Shakira enjoying the little moments of halal romance with her very own mehboob. On Sakina and Bittu’s front things took a decided turn for the worse as Shakira’s fears came true. I will refrain from  spoilers but suffice it to say that Sakina has turned out to be a real piece of work and haye bechari Bitto!

Piyari Bitto works not due to the what of the story but on account of the how of the story. More so than the actual story – which is compelling enough – I am enjoying how it is being told. It is rare to come across a drama – particularly these days – without clearly defined heroes and villains. I appreciate Saji Gul for not just the grey characters but for enabling us to see the story from various points of view. I love Shakira as much as am I am exasperated by her. Sakina is never going to find a makan in jannat waiting for her, but then you cannot help but feel for her. I do not condone her actions but I find it hard to not criticize the societal set-up which engenders such extreme bitterness and frustrations. Mehboob is probably in line for sainthood but then he has that very human streak which  prevents him from telling Shakira what he knows about Bitto. Similarly Mushtaq. He is a well-meaning family man, the kind you would want in your corner, but where he could have found a way to protect Bitto he allows himself to be  persuaded otherwise.

Not only are the characters well-etched by they are authentic with an uppercase A. Mazhar Moin deserves a standing ovation for keeping the narrative real and relatable. I don’t remember a recent drama portraying the safaid posh middle class milieu so well. The characters’ dressing, their every day lingo, the places they frequent – that park wali chaat date was superb – the settings, all are so very real. I love the extensive use of outdoor locations and the way the city is shown from a middle class person’s viewpoint – the travel in rickshaws, motor cycles, and taxis, narrow lanes, traffic jams, circa ’70s houses. And all this is then contrasted with the nouveau riche lifestyle of Bittu’s in-laws.

In a story so rife with potential for melodrama, there is actually none of it here. There is tension between Shakira and her mother-in-law but it is never allowed to turn into a typical saas-bahu moment. Bittu’s track has been handled particularly well. If we thought Sakina was bad then Bittu’s saas makes her look like a mere babe in the woods. What a character that woman is – she legit gives me chills! And then there are the new entrants in this story: Namo, the maid, Qamar, and Dr. Haseen. What a fabulous cast of characters, each one unique and individual.

Ever so fluently the narrative moves between the past and present, a brilliant technique to keep the viewers hooked as to what happened in between then and now. Shakira’s unravelling mental state has  been very nicely paced and fabulously enacted by Sania Saeed. Every scene here is a testament to Sania’s brilliance. Why hasn’t she been awarded a Pride of Performance as yet is my big question here. Matlab kyon nahin?!?

The way Sania has essayed the various phases of this woman’s life is beyond brilliant. Shakira’s joys, sorrows, stresses, gradual changes in relationships, the onset of mental health issues to her present day breakdown, all are beautifully brought to life. And it’s not just Sania. Fawad Khan has turned in a superlative controlled performance as Mehboob. Atiqa Odho has made a very complex character look ever so easy. Yorguc Tipu is very effective as the resident baddie Shahid. Rashid Farooqi is outstanding as Mushtaq, so real that is hard to believe Mushtaq is fictional. Zaib Rehman is absolutely chilling, seriously seems like she has ice water running through her veins.

Shamim Hilali is my love and here she demonstrates yet again why I love her so. Just check out the way she smells achar here and compare it with a similar scene in Talkhiyan and see the difference. It is these subtle nuances and variations they give to each character that make actors great, not their social media following and the number of VMs they inspire. The little quiet moment between Shakira and her saas – as the bahu’s apology is accepted by her saas in episode 10 – was all kinds of fab.

We often complain of younger actors not being as invested in their performances as the older lot, but here Saniya Shamshad ably demostrates that blame should not only be placed on the actors, but also on the entire team as they all rush to churn out one disaster after another. I am very impressed by Saniya here; more so with her commitment to the character where she is unafraid to look dirty and messed up.

And this then brings me to the issue of casting. A huge roumd of applause to whoever came up with this ensemble cast, where each actor fits their character perfectly. And yes, I do mean actors rather than stars. I have not seen several of these actors – the lady playing the maid Qamar, the nurse helping Shakira in Islamabad, her mother – but they are excellent and oh so real.

There is a lot more that I could write about so many memorable scenes, but that I leave to you all to discuss below. For my part, I would strongly urge those who havent yet tuned in to Piyari Bitto, to give this one a serious shot. If you are a fan of good drama and enjoy a well-told story, the kind which is fluently narrated and brilliantly enacted, then this one should not be missed.

Written by SZ~

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8 replies

  1. Brilliant write-up, SZ! I don’t know how you do it, but you’ve captured all the things I love about PB here.

    A thought on Sakina: yes, she’s done a lot of terrible things, but I appreciate that she’s not some cardboard cut-out villain. She’s selfish, but she also has some remorse, and she’s probably one of the most self-aware characters on TV ever. When was the last time a mother on TV was able to admit she didn’t really love her child? Great writing, this.

    I also thought the scene between Shakira’s mother-in-law and Rukhsana bhabhi in the most recent episode was an effective way to show how mental health issues are sometimes ignored in our society. When mumani jaan suggests–I assume with good intentions–that Shakira should maybe get professional help, Rukhsana shuts her down with the usual haw-haye khandaan ki izzat ka kya hoga? Some food for thought there.

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    • @RK: Thank you 🙂
      Haha! You know what they say about great mind ‘n all 😉

      Yes! that scene, re: professional help for mental issues: Exactly!! This was so beautifully done .. and this is what we really need, when we talk about stories with messages … not long winded lectures but real life situations which can then be referred to later so as to hammer home their importance. This is what I so wish had been done in SeMM as well. Just a stray line or two about the importance of education, or abt the need for women to be gainfully employed, even in the house…
      I was just telling a friend earlier that I wish this drama could be made essetial viewing for all youngsters wanting to enter this business ..this is how you write, act and direct .. magar hamari baat kaun sunta hai .. sab lage huey hain muscles banane mein and selfies post karne mein and coming up with one cut paste serial after another :/

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  2. What an amazing review.. i so so agree with RK that dont know how you do it but you do it so brilliantly… maza ajata he yar seriously..

    You know i have watched ost quite few times n seems we are in ride here and i am so interested in how things further unfold.. u get so involve in Sakina Shakira and Bittos lives that it doesn’t even matter like u said k its all so sad…. i really liked how they gradually started showing Shakiras mental issues.. written n directed with so much finesse ..

    I totally love the scene where Sakina feels bad for bitto and at same time had flashbacks of Aslam.. n how she rationalize her hatred for bitto k this how my nafrat gets settled.. my goodness what a powerful scene was that.. Atiqa Odho was too good n writing was brilliant.

    The two scenes which bitto MIL had with her maid and Dr.Haseen.. the way she was murdering them with her words.. classsic.. her eyes give impressions of some evil power in her..

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    • @Rehmat: Thank you 🙂

      Acha, I havent really gone back to the teasers and the OST since the serial started so I kind of have an idea but not really … and I am happy to keep it that way 😀 Oh but I do know that Kaif is in the serial as well so looking fwd to her entry.

      Yes, Atiqa is brilliant here and I felt for her at that moment but equally hated her too …it was hard not to feel both emotions at the same time.

      Uff!!! That saas!! Do you remember the scene where she was poking needles into the dolls! Taubah!
      And then Dr Haseen! What a character he is! I have a feeling Saji Gul was enjoying himself too much here with the writing hence all these names. Haseen is exactly the opposite of his name!!

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  3. Hey SZ
    Thanks for suggesting this drama , I’m really enjoying it.Bittos evil mil looks familiar , where have we seen her?
    Bitto is super annoying , yes I know her mother paid to get rid of her but nevertheless she’s irritating , and does she always have to wear the same black jora?
    Great acting by everyone esp Sania .
    Lol @ mehboob lined up for sainthood 😃

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    • @ Deeba: hey! Sorry for the late jawab 🙈
      Thanks for watching this one on my recc. Haina! This is a really good story telling!
      Bitto’s mil is Zaib Rehman, a very senior actress. She used to be in a lot of PTV dramas then I didn’t see much of her but now apparently she’s back (or maybe I haven’t seen her other more recent stuff). She will also be seen in the Hum TV period piece Angan.
      Haha! I think her one black jora is supposed to symbolize her protest and refusal to succumb to her situation and accept clothes provided by her mil.
      Mehboob, Imtiaz .. all these guys! Kahan hotey hain aisey husbands and why are they always stuck with wives who do not appreciate them!
      And as for Teri Raza 🙈🤦🏻‍♀️👎😱😷🤐🙄

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  4. Loving the serial and this review was detailed and heartfelt, SZ..

    The Nammo issue has been nicely dealt with so far.. though everyone insensitively refers to him as “pagal”, the boy himself is a gentle and helpless soul, controlled by his mother. The director has left it to the viewers to sympathise with him.

    Saniya Shamshad, though she appears too mature to be a 14 year old child, has put passion into this performance.

    It’s rare to find a story these days without a conventional hero and heroine, and Piyari Bittu proves that those were never needed to make a story interesting.

    On a different note, I live in Goa, India, and have almost no friends who watch Pakistani dramas. Happy to find a forum where I can discuss!

    Looking forward to every Saturday..

    Like

    • @nnemrac: hello! Lovely to hear from you – thank you for reading and commenting. So glad to hear from another fellow PB watcher. It’s such a gem of a serial isn’t it! And so true abt a good story not needing the crutch of conventional tropes.

      Absolutely spot on abt Nammo. Like you I too am appreciating how delicately and sensitively the director, Mazhar, has handled his actor and this character’s portrayal, allowing them both their dignity, not reducing Nammo to a crass caricature.

      Arrey wah! I’m in frigid Boston and Goa- sunny beaches n all – sounds absolutely heavenly right now!
      I’ve been preoccupied with work these last couple of weeks so haven’t been writing much but yeah plenty of drama lovers here. Please feel free to continue sharing your thoughts on this and other dramas. All our threads are always open.
      Welcome aboard!

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