The social media buzzed in anticipation as two television channels ran teasers and promos of Tanhaiyan Naye Silsilay; and the first of the 13 episodes finally went on air on Saturday, Oct 20. While it cannot be called a damper, revisiting a cult classic may not be that easy.
Director Marina Khan seemed somewhat reserved while speaking to Images on Sunday about the project, and she had every reason to be. “This is a big challenge for me,” she said. “Had (late) Shehzad Khalil (producer of the original Tanhaiyan) been alive today and said ‘Ok, not bad’, it would have been a massive compliment for me.”
Thankfully, TNS is a sequel and not a remake. “When we were approached with the idea of remaking Tanhaiyan, we thought it would be quite difficult because you just can’t,” she exclaimed. While Marina reasoned with the sponsors to shoot a sequel, the corporate entity equated it with the virtues of “family togetherness and women empowerment.”
“To get (the cast) together who was a part of the main project was a novelty in itself. I don’t think we’ve done anything like this before,” she said. Written initially by Haseena Moin and eventually taken over by writer Mohammad Ahmed, the script of TNS will offer many surprises. The story picks up almost 27 years later without the character of Zara enacted by Shehnaz Sheikh who gave a stellar performance in the original. She reportedly didn’t want to be part of the project. “The story progresses without the central figure of Zara, and it should be interesting to watch how events unfold without her, and how the characters have fared.”
So what is TNS offering to the younger audience that has not seen the original? “We have struck a balance by introducing a younger cast with the original lineup. Who would want to see a cast that has grown older and perhaps fatter,” laughs Marina. The original cast comprises Marina Khan, Behroz Sabzwari, Durdana Butt, Badar Khalil, Asif Raza Mir, Syra Yousuf, Alishba Yousuf, Sheharyar Munawar, and Shaihroze Sabzwari.
On a trip down memory lane, she remembers how Tanhaiyan was shot in the studio, the style was different and the actors were more well-rehearsed. The sequel is shot in a house environment and partly outdoors (which makes) the whole nature of the play different. “The fact that we (the original cast) are there with the same background music is going to keep the nostalgia alive,” says Marina. Zoe Viccaji has sung the title song of TNS.
She says she feels jittery when it comes to the public’s reaction now that the episodes are on air, “We’ve taken a few liberties (in the script), which might just go against us. People might love us for it or they might hate us. But (the script) could not be written any other way. If it was, there would have been too many expectations which we would not have been able to fulfill.”
While Marina keeps her fingers crossed to see how TNS fares, she says she feels a strong connection between the original Tanhaiyan and herself. “Somehow it has never left me or any of the actors who were a part of it. People still call me Sanya, Behroz Sabzwari is still Qabacha for a lot of people and so on and so forth. This is something that has been alive for so long. The only thing that I can hope and pray for now is to live to see that I have done justice to it.”