Aakhri Station ~ Episode 1 Review

Aakhri Station is an issue based series, I knew that. It is hard-hitting, I knew that. It deals with women’s issues, I knew that. This project has some very committed and seriously talented people attached to it, I knew that. I love Sarmad, we all know that. All these boxes were already checked off before I sat down to watch.

Conversely, also checked off were those boxes that reminded me of other issue-based serials which though equally well-intentioned had fallen short on several counts. Too long and long-winded, women suffering throughout and getting redemption only in the last couple of episodes, too many side tracks, unnecessary additions of romance and glamour – all of which added up to take away from the seriousness and import of the message being conveyed. Hence my trepidation.

I needn’t have worried.

Stunned, saddened, gutted… I do not have a pretty word to describe my very raw emotions after watching the first episode of Aakhri Station. It’s not like I have not read about such happenings, or don’t know that real life is way worse than what we see onscreen, but the way it all played out and the very matter-of-fact Manto-esque manner in which tension was gradually built up, the teeny tiny unsaid nuances, the old Lahore setting, the creepy doodh wala, the local karkhanas, the bazaars and galis, authenticity of interiors, camera work, colors, that flashing red light – all came together brilliantly. Well done all!

But let me begin from the begining.

Jointly co-produced by Kashf Foundation and Khoosat Films, Aakhri Station is a seven episode mini-series, where each individual’s story forms a link in a larger narrative chain. Written by Amna Mufti the overall framing harks back to that of Anita Nair’s Ladies Coupe, where a ladies’ only compartment serves as a perfect setting for women of diverse backgrounds to come together  and swap their life stories. But that’s where the similarities end. The stories here are very different and if Yasmin’s story is any indication then we are in for quite the [train] ride.

Tehmina starts off the story when she gets on the train from Lahore Station. Once she finds her reserved seat in the ladies’ compartment she introduces herself to her humsafars. The value of setting the story in a train compartment is that it cuts across social, economic and cultural barriers to a large extent and Tehmina’s fellow travelers’ clothes, accents and attitudes all reflect that diversity; introducing a transgender person into this very contained setting adds yet another interesting dynamic. Tehmina’s determined friendliness and Gul Mina’s lovely smile make for an intriguing contrast with the taciturn reluctance of the other two passengers.

And then enters Yasmin with her daughter Mano.

We’ve all seen 10001 stories of mazloom biwis with wastrel husbands and in-laws who despite knowing their son is at fault will still defend him till the day they die, and Yasmin’s life is not very different. She begins her story at the point where she can’t even get milk for her daughter and her husband for all his promises gambles away her very last memory from her mother. What happens next is what makes this one special. In a bold move team Aakhri Station dares to push the envelope and delves deeper into the darker side of the human psyche and shows us in stark terms what happens when the boundary between right and wrong is blurred, when humanity is replaced by bestiality.

It is obvious from her terse tone Yasmin has gone through a lot and would have probably continued had it not become about her daughter. And it is this horrifying thought – her daughter leading a life similar to hers – that gives her the strength to walk away. Where she is headed we don’t know and I doubt if she’s thought that far either. For now just the freedom to remove that ghastly blue nail polish is catharsis enough.

Eman Suleman has a piece of my heart after this episode. Her straight forward, no fuss portrayal of Yasmin touched me in a way I can’t explain. Her wistful touching of the bangles on display said so much as did her looking around the “morning after.” She wasn’t guilty yet she felt dirty, a sharp contrast to her husband who proudly shared news of his new venture. A fabulous insight into how differently men and women’s brains are wired in our desi patriarchy.

Adnan Sarwar was fabulous as Waqar. Kudos to him for taking on such a dark character.  Zoay is super cute! Sanam Saeed is the star attraction here and after today’s episode I am eagerly anticipating the unfolding of her story.

In an era where telling a complete story in 39 minutes is almost a lost art, Amna Mufti’s screenplay is taut and her script very well-written. So many lines are written simply but are definitely not simplistic and make their point very well. And as for Sarmad Khoosat this is him doing what he does best. Every frame bears his signature. The alleyways of old Lahore looked like paintings come to life and the lighting was gorgeous.

We have all read of Red Light Areas, but to actually see one come to life quite so literally was simply stunning. The interiors of the old haveli, the old in-laws, whose faces we never quite saw, were almost theatrical in the way they moved across the screen. A round of applause for the young production team. Unfortunately ARY cuts off videos before credits roll so can’t name names. But well done all!

My one big peeve has to be the continuous background score, and that too so loud. Why? Can someone fix it, please?

All in all this was a very effective begining. Hard hitting, edgy and unafraid to make a point. Well done Kashf Foundation, Khoosat Films, Amna Mufti, and Sarmad Khoosat – Aakhri Station is a winner!

Written by SZ~

Aakhri Station ~ Ep 1 

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59 replies

  1. Wow. Just wow.

    That’s all I can muster at this point, because this episode hit so hard in so many places. I’ll come back when I’ve recovered my powers of speech.

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    • Haina! Ive sat around the entire evening with this.. wondering how and what to write… it was a shock to the system ..nothing like what the sammis and the mujhe jeenay do’s of this world had prepared us for!

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        • Haha!!! That was a magnum opus indeed! The first of its kind that opened up the gates to this deluge of “issue-based” dramas 😦
          Here though I was referring more specifically to the recent lot of sponsored TV plays which do have the stated purpose of highlighting issues 🙂

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          • Yesterday, I started binge watching Dar Si Jati Hay Sila on a colleagues recommendation. It was too disturbing a phenomenon to be fathomed. I needed some instant catharsis;and hence, I found you. I am so thankful to you for even existing. More, inshallah, while reading your review on Sila.

            Liked by 1 person

            • @Mrs Nazir’s Rhyme and Reason (love your blog name!): Aww! And I am so glad you found me and all of us here… yes, please do come back and write whenever you feel up to it .. would love to have a serious discussion on this one ….

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    • @TM: Yes, please do. I will warn you, its not an easy chalte phirte dekh liya type watch but its not the kind that overwhelms with you with the OTT rona dhona melodrama either. Its the kind that overwhelms you with that which is left unsaid … I will look fwd to your feedback .. yes, showing you my daadhapan 😉

      Also, referring back to the reply I posted to you last night, this ep kind of backs up my point, that here too we see a story that we see a story we are all familiar with, but the treatment of the said story and its presentation is so diff that its impact leaves you reeling and thats what compeks me to stay up and not fall asleep in my couch .. and so for me its not so much that the stories arent new its just that there is nothing to them that is making them anything different or hatke .. .

      am I making sense?

      Liked by 1 person

      • You definitely are. From your review it seems that they are actually showing what happens in our society, warts and all. No white washing. Look forward to seeing the first episode!

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  2. This blew my mind.. what a shocking portrayal of system.. I kept on thinking about this for quite a sometime after i finished watching.. gave me goosebumps overall but some scenes were so sad to see and that made me so thankful where I am..

    I liked how they showed milk was being wasted but was not given to Yasmin.. and look in her eyes was very disturbing.. the morning after scene.. she sheds tears while her daughter happily drinks mazedar dhoodh her dadi made for her.. thank you so much team Akhri Station for bringing much needed seriousness in social based issued.. cast was top notch.. Eman and Adnan were just brilliant.. and so was that little girl..

    SZ I was so looking forward to your review.. loveed reading it.

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    • @Rehmat: Uff that doodhwala!!!! How creepy was he!!! and so nasty! And how dirty were his feet! And dekho zara .. it was okay to eve tease a woman when she she was alone in the bazar and call out after her in the bazar and sing cheap songs but when the same woman comes to him asking for help all of a sudden its like jaantey hi nahin … also did you notice when she paid him he did not hesitate at all in taking it and counting it to ensure the right amt but then gave it to his chota to wash it and dry it and istri it because he didnt want to touch her “dirty money” — kiya hypocrisy hai bhaiya! Or the sharabi friend continually urging Waqas/waqar (?) to be a man and man up … Its these little vignettes more than the bigger dhansu dialogues that hit home for me .. really brilliant stuff

      And Im sure you mustve recognized Adnan from Shah – he directed and acted in that movie abt the boxer .. what a fab actor he is!

      Also the daughter inncenty coming and laying down in the same bed that the mother had fallen down from .. and later the father’s prouncement abt her future .. matlab ke visual storytelling ki kiya baat hai!! not one wasted/extra/meaningless frame

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes that dhoodh wala was too creepy.. I was soo annoyed on his dirty money dialogue.. Matlab k hadh hoti he yar but sadly this happens too.. yes I recognized Adnan Sarwar.. became fan of his acting after Shah .. love his mature handling of any character.. be Shah or dark character like Waqar..

        N to think it will end in next 6 weeks.. giving us some major quality stuff to watch…

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  3. Ok, I’ve had some time to reflect, so I can write a proper comment now. Your write-up is as fabulous as always, SZ. Taaliyaan!

    This was a fantastic start to what promises to be a powerful piece of television, and everyone associated with this deserves major kudos.

    The visuals here were stunning, what with the camera angles and the general aesthetic feel of the show. It reminded me a bit of some episodes of Manto, although the look here is more refined or mature, I think. It has Sarmad Khoosat’s imprint all over it. Major props to him!

    Big ups to the writer too. I really appreciate how a serious story is being told here, but without the usual fluff and embroidery, and 20 minutes of expository dialogue. From the derelict, almost abandoned look of Yasmin’s home, to her vacant eyes the morning after, to the Greek chorus of her in-laws, you have volumes of story told in a spare and tight fashion. This was genuinely impressive stuff.

    Eman Suleman (who I don’t think I’ve seen in anything else) was brilliant here. That scene where she’s rubbing off her nail polish like it’s infecting her was so powerful. She’s a star. Adnan Sarwar too deserves a pat on the back. I could feel his conflict as he stood on the threshold of his own house and his sense of responsibility warred with–and was overcome by–his addiction to gambling.

    Oh, also surprise cameo by Irfan Khoosat in the beginning!

    Can’t wait for the next episode now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • @RK: Eman is a model and a part of the Auratnaak an all female comedy troupe. And she’s absolutely stunning to boot. I loved her almosr deadpan face and flat dialog delivery – almost as if there was no more emotion/feeling/life left in her any more and it took an almost herculean effort on her part to take that last step… beautifully done.

      Yes, that internal conflict was really well done and I think Adnan was really an excellent choice because he truly understood how to balance the two emotions without appearing like he was apologizing for or rationalizing this man’s choices .. I thought that flickering red light was used to great effect as it was like flames reflecting on his face as the humanity within him was engulfed by the flames of bestiality … wah! truly this is the kind of stuff you can sit and decode for days …

      And yes, Irfan sb.. I gues he plays a recurring role here, but I always get a smile on my face every time I see him .. something abt the gentleness and wisdom he personifies … now, he’d be a great person to interview. Can you even begin to imagine the kinds of stories he would have to tell!!!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Also, I realy liked that we hadn’t seen so many of these actors. I loved the sense of freshness they brought to the screen and appreciated the no-makeup and regular every day look. I’m kinda done with the pretty faces, designer clothes and perfect hair.

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        • Yes, there’s a very natural look to the whole show that I think is an important aspect of the storytelling here too.

          That’s actually a problem I’ve had with shows Mujhey Jeeney Do, for example. None of the women on that show looked like they’d actually ever been to a village, much less lived in one. With the exception of Mehreen Raheel’s fake tan (which is problematic for a host of other reasons), there was no attempt at credible portrayal at all.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yeah, that’s the problem when they take stars rather than actors. Even in Sammi. Where then it becomes all abt insta pics and the selfies and promoting the designer jora they’re wearing and the makeup artist who’s doing their look .. and then even in the play itself it’s abt their beauty shots and their scenes where they get proper footage .. both sammi and mjd annoyed me no end cause of that .. we were never allowed to forget that Mawra, hania and gohar were stars.. I saw the last ep of mjd – don’t ask why – and I honestly can’t for the life of me understand why this girl keeps getting these parts .. she can’t act! She is pretty tho

            Liked by 2 people

            • Completely agree with you SZ.. I also watched last epi of mjd and my goodness what rubbish was that.. so it always always n always has to be shaadi at the end.. child marriage was limited to tu ne kabhi meri taraf dekha.. 😑

              And no wonder then AS came and feel like Job done properly.

              Liked by 1 person

            • She thinks she can, that’s the sad part. The impression she gives on SM and I could be way off, is that she is the hottest thing since sliced bread!

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            • Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Are they insta-famous because they’re actors, or do they become actors because they’re insta-famous? 😉

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    • @Shabina: Hello and welcome – lovely to hear from you 🙂

      Haina! This one does pack a very powerful punch! And speechless is exactly how most of us have felt after watching this one … it takes a while to recover from the impact …

      Hope you’ll continue to join us in our discussions as we meet weekly to discuss each woman’s story … looking fwd to hearing more from you 🙂

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      • yes i would love to join this discussion………. m a huge fan of pakistani dramas unlike the mindless & over the top ones in india since you are a regular viewer can you please let me know more such dramas

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        • @Shabina: Sure. am happy to recommend more dramas, although I do have to warn you the Pakistani dramas are also fast coming to resemble Indian ones when it comes to being mindless OTT.

          I dont know how man you’ve already watched and who your fave actors/writers/directors are but here are a few personal faves and some popular faves in recent times

          Talkhiyan – starring Sanam Saeed and based on Arundhati Roy’s God of Small Things
          Pehchan – a brilliant play about modern day relationships that unfortunately not many saw – but if you like meaningful entertainment its a must watch
          Aunn Zara – meaningful comedy
          Manto – based on Saadat Hasan Mato, the writer’s life
          Daam
          Jalpari

          Crowd faves
          Sang-e Mar Mar
          Yakeen Ka Safar
          Diyar-e Dil

          And the staples
          Zindagi Gulzar Hai
          Humsafar

          Im sure there are many others that Im forgetting at the moment, so others please feel free to jump in and share your picks. Shabina feel free to jump in in any thread and join in and ask any questoions you may have about any old or new serials. Even if I dont respond someone else will .. .

          Great to have you on board 🙂

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        • Hey Shabina.. welcome to this amazing blog.. I would like to recommend you to watch Daam, Malal, Matae Jaan and Coke Kahani.. they all are my personal favourites..:) hope to hear from you soon

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  4. SZ,

    After your review thought to get it go.. before even reading your review so that I can judge it unbiased!

    I watched it last night, am still numb :(.

    Everything was so realistic in whole episode. From streets to people, everything.

    The moment they shown some glimpse of mother and daughter duo sitting on railway station, was looking forward to their story. But, didn’t expect such a dark background of them :(.

    I can’t think, how hard that would be in real life, if its based on real lives!

    Liked by 1 person

    • @Sadia I: Exactly! It just leaves you gutted — it took me a few hours to process what id watched before i could write a semi-coherent review. And this is where I have to question all those other producers who are also claiming to bring us one “issue-based ” serial after another. Why is it that every single person who has watched this has the exact same response. Why do we not find it quite as easy to move on as we do after all those other OTT melodramatic serials … clearly its high time producers went bavk to their drawing boards and re-assessed their presentation strategy. It is obviously not the awam that is not mature enough to handle the bitter reality of life, its they who do know know how to walk the fine line that separates class from crass.

      And yes, unfortunately, all these stories are very much real. In fact, Sarmad had said, that in some places they had to actually soften the stories because the truth was simply too much to handle.

      Yes, these stories are dark, but what I liked and appreciated that they hadnt turned it into what I have now started calling tragedy porn … where a women’s misery is cashed by stretching it to the nth degree for the sake of sponsors and ratings. Here in 39 mins, we saw a woman nt just being abused but also taking that very imp first step towards self empowerment.

      I hope you wil continue joining us every week with these stories – Looking fwd 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • ARM nay aik recent interview mein bohat acchi baat ki thi, Pakistan has more celebrities and fewer actors. Very few in the current and old low that fit in the latter category and loads in the former.

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  5. @RK: Actors tau def they are not … and the certainly become stars on acct of their insta profiles. Hania was selected for Janaan based on her insta acct, as was Namal, the girl who played MK’s sister in law in Verna. Bilal Abbas Khan (from OR) has mentioned making an account for Vines to attract a different demographic/public attention to his profile, which he hoped would help him get producers interested in him… so yeah its not for nothing that the younger lot are pushing their insta accts …

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    • Ha! Well, I guess there’s something to be said for the social media savviness that allows people to parlay their success on Instagram into actual celebrity. Reminds me of Rupi Kaur, apparently now the greatest poet who ever lived. 😉

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  6. I watched it last night. Don’t have the words. You were right it was not an easy watch. It was gritty, unvarnished, showing society at its ugliest. Few of the dialogues made my blood boil. Look forward to the next episode.

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        • @TM: see what you started! Bas ab DRNR’s first meet up in your city – be ready to host a bunch of drama crazy girls – and no prizes for guessing what MUST be the on the menu 😀 😀

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          • @SZ, sure any time! We can have a chai only, samosa only for the ones who don’t drink chai and then a chai and samosa group? A 12 year old samosa lover may want to join in if it’s ok with all. Psyched about reading your review on aaj ki episode!

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  7. @Shabina: Since you’re a hige Sarmad fan then you mustve already watched the most confused drama of the century – Teri Raza. No one could make any head or tail of it but Sarmad bhai sahab was definitely hot in it! I have reviewed it here so you can enjoy reading the reviews and our crazy convos – Im sure you’ve already guessed by now ke we can talk abt everything and nothing with remarkable facility and ease. Another Sarmad directed play new play Noor ul Ain has just started.

    Also, to give you a heads up, here’s a new Sarmad drama starting soon – Lamhay

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      • Haa itna bakwaas drama bardaasht karne ki do hi wajah thi sarmad and the concept of isthikhaara. But they wasted both my reasons. I had so many hopes frm sanam also but all she behaved was an over pampered teenager though she looked like an aunty.

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        • Teri Raza was utter nonsense, all of us tuned in only for Sarmad, since he was the only one who had a clue abt his character’s arc, rest were all walking around blindfolded, banging into corner after another – what an utter mess that serial was!

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      • NuA is a copy of Saathiya with a liberal tarka of dramaland wala masala stirred in. Sarmad’s directed it so its aesthetically sound and Marina Khan is ❤ but bas … If can find it in me I might write a rant today or tomorrow..

        Lamhe is Sarmad acting opposite Saima Noor. This drama starts 12th March on APlus.. I have zero hopes from that . the promos are bombastic with loads of cheehna chilana and oh Sarmad's mustache deserves a post all to itself – ke kis keere ko maar ke moonh pe chpkaya hai! (See tumhare aati hi my snark is back – the impact you have on me 😉 )

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  8. آخری سٹیشن
    Episode 1.
    کیا اے آر وائے پہ دیکھا یہ ڈرامہ ؟ ضرور دیکھیں ؟ اگر میں کہوں کہ معاشرے میں عورت کی بے بسی کی ذمہ دار عورت ہی ہے تو کیا خیال ہے ؟ عورت ماں کے روپ میں اپنے بیٹے کی برائیوں بدمعاشیوں پہ پردے ڈالتی ہے۔ شوہر سے بیٹے کی سایڈ لیتی ہے۔یہاں تک کہ وہ ایسا ناسور بن جاتا ہے۔ قران میں دو عورتوں( جو دو پیغمبروں کی بیویاں تھیں) پہ لعنت ہوئی۔ سورہ تحریم میں نوح علیہ السلام کی 950 سال کی تبلیغ انکے اپنے بیٹے کو مسلمان کیوں نہ کر سکی ؟ لوط علیہ السلام کی قوم کی برائی میں پیغمبر کی اپنی بیوی قوم کیساتھ تھی۔ تو انجام کیا ہوا ؟ یہ عورت ایک طرف بیٹوں کو بدمعاش بنا رہی ہے۔ دوسری طرف ساس بن کر بہو کو بیٹی تسلیم نہیں کرتی۔ حل کیا ہے ؟ یہ ڈرامہ دیکھ کر اپنے ملک سے ڈر لگ جاتا ہے۔ عورت کی دنیاوی تعلیم اور خاص طور پہ دینی تعلیم و تربیت انتہائی ضروری ہے۔ تاکہ بچوں کو معاشرے کیلئے سانپ اور بچھو نہ بنایے۔ مومن عورت تو قران میں حافظات ہیں۔ شوہر کے بچوں، مال، گھر ،عزت کی حفاظت کرنے والیاں، اور محصنات قلعہ بند رہنے والیاں جو صرف ضرورت کے تحت باہر نکلتی ہیں۔ اور بازاروں میں بے حیائی نہیں دکھاتی اور پھیلاتی رہتیں۔

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    • @Farhin Kanwal: Hello and welcome aboard. Thank you for reading and sharing your views.
      Yes, I had watched this on ARY and you make a valid point that women have a big role to play in society as mothers and should be mindful of not passing on regressive behavior patterns to the next generation as they raise their sons. Also the importance of education for women cannot be stressed enough for educating one woman is akin to educating an entire generation.

      My one request to you would be to not bring in religion and draw on religious references in comments. We are a lighthearted drama blog and discuss all kinds of things and make jokes etc and I would not want any of us to be inadvertently disrespectful of a holy text or holy personalities. Lets keep religion and religious judgments out of our conversations. Thanks!

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  9. @SZ brilliant review as always!
    Haven’t watched anything for a while – noticed ur riviews for Akhri Station so tuned in. Watched first ep. And thought I’d come to the blog tomorrow.. but honestly meri neemd urr gai hai! I can’t get over it!

    As much as I was liking the opening shots and the intro of all the characters , knowing me , as ususal , I was thinkng of all the other silly stuff ke itni sari aurein – where’s the luggage? And was wondering what else could Sanam fit in her make up pouch after that huge nail varnish remover bottle.. but as soon as the Yasmins story started I was stunned.
    Unlike glamourised and Disney-fied Sammis, the raw organic feel portraying the harsh realities of life was overwhelming. Yasmin’s quiet and dead-pan demeanour spoke volumes more than all the rona dhona cheekho pukar..
    and ufff!! that morning after scene!!! The little girl on the bed where she the mother was the night before – feeding out of a milk bottle… horrifying! – and later husband spelling it out – painting that picture while painting her nails..
    The subtle hints added so much more – the geele baal hiding/ coverong up her face.. the ‘blind’ father in law depicting family members / people around her turning a blind eye to the realities around them, following the mother-in-law … the cringy doodh ka dhula doodh wala.. yes i was thinking ke he was quick to take the money – and then sending it for a wash – hinting at society ki money laundering style thinking/approach – very manto-esque indeed!
    Brilliant acting and perfect casting! Sanam and her sari reminded me of Talkhiyan .. (although having said that she had the cotton saris in DeD too – going off the topic here) .
    Sarmad doing what he does best! Narrating the story and in this case tragedy inlligently. Im not sure how it works but Im glad kashf are working with someone like him – going for the to-the-point approach you mentioned – in a more meaningful and effective manner.
    @SZ glad I watched it and thanks again for this space.. now it’s out of my system hopefully I can get some sleep now.

    Like

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