Featuring star-crossed lovers enveloped in a web of miseries, Sadqay Tumhare is a classic Friday night viewing.

But 14 episodes in, the drama hasn't quite gained the momentum that grips an audience eagerly awaiting a climax. It is almost needlessly lingering on without a watershed moment that propels the story further.

Written by Khalil ur Rehman Qamar, fresh off the success of the recent hit serial Pyaray Afzal, this is an autobiographical story about Khelu (Adnan Malik) and Shanno (Mahira Khan), whose path is strewn with hurdles from the past.

The plot

Betrothed while they are children, as young adults Shanno and Khelu are in love, but Shanno’s parents (especially her mother) are now dead set against the match.

The sins of the past still cast long shadows over the young lovers. Vindictive Rasheeda (Samiya Mumtaz) cannot forgive Khelu’s biological father Sadiq Khalu, for using her at a young age nor can she forgive Khalu Abdul Rehman, (Khalil’s stepfather played by Farhan Ali Agha), for breaking off their engagement and marrying her sister (Khelu’s mother played by Tahira Imam).

Rasheeda tries unrelentingly to prevent the union and finally seems to have gained a foothold by convincing her husband Amin (Rehan Sheikh) that Abdul Rehman still wants to marry her. Whether Amin has the childlike simplicity to accept her reasoning remains to be seen.

The highs

This serial is beautifully shot, catching the essence of the period (1970s) it is set in. The camerawork and straightforward direction by Ehtashamuddin makes it a visual treat. High production values are a hallmark of Hum TV and Momina Duraid productions, and from sets to cast, styling and lighting, we are not disappointed.

Complementing this show of colour and light is some great music and three simple but haunting songs, two of which are beautifully picturised on Mahira Khan. The original soundtrack (OST) by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan also adds to the beauty of the episodes.

Adnan Malik and Mahira Khan in 'Sadqay Tumhare'. — Photo Courtesy: HUM Network Ltd
Adnan Malik and Mahira Khan in 'Sadqay Tumhare'. — Photo Courtesy: HUM Network Ltd

The star of the show is Mahira Khan as the beautiful Shanno. Far from the the average bholi bhali larki, Shanno has courage and intelligence in abundance.

However helpless she is or however restricted the circle of her life becomes, she remains resilient and effervescent with hope. Shanno is going to be another one of this highly selective actress’s memorable roles.

She is the magnate, the captivating element which brings the audience back again and again each week. Mahira has that rare gift of believing in her roles and jumps into them with a blind faith that leaves more technical performances far behind.

Adnan Malik has delivered a strong performance for the most part, but falls just short of making a strong impact. This is one of his first projects and a difficult role, begging a certain swagger and bravado, which even an experienced star might find difficult to create on screen.

This serial is full of great performances from Shamil Khan as Dr Maqsood, Khelu’s cousin and confidant, Rehan Sheikh as bumbling, easily led Amin and Farhan Ali Agha as Abdul Rehman who never fails to make a strong impression.

The lows

After 14 episodes, the story has not moved much. The tangled web of deceit and broken relationships between Shanno’s mother Rasheeda and Khelu’s parents has been confirmed in ugly detail and despite the innocent young lovers' best efforts, not a single thread of this tangled yarn can be pulled free.

Sadqay Tumhare is fairly light on content; anyone looking for depth or the nuances of human psychology that the best Pakistani dramas have become known for will be disappointed.

It follows the Indian pattern of dramas, where one incident leads to another, episode after episode, but the story remains essentially static.

Khalil ur Rehman Qamar is no doubt a skilled writer and manages to keep the serial interesting. His dialogues are beguiling but the length of the serial tends to wear out their potency and for regular viewers it may be reaching a saturation point.

Mahira Khan as Shaano.—Photo Courtesy: indiaforums.com
Mahira Khan as Shaano.—Photo Courtesy: indiaforums.com

There are several inconsistencies in the portrayal of family behaviour itself, which seems culturally inauthentic. Khalil is seen barging into Shanno’s house at will, against the wishes of her parents. He even spends time alone in her room helping her resolve some math questions while her family waits in helpless anger downstairs. None of this seems to be likely in the conservative Punjabi culture of that time and society.

Adnan Malik and Mahira Khan in 'Sadqay Tumhare'. —Photo Courtesy: hum.tv
Adnan Malik and Mahira Khan in 'Sadqay Tumhare'. —Photo Courtesy: hum.tv

In the most recent episode, Khalu Amin sends his wife to sit alone with her ex fiancé Abdul Rehman, someone she has already admitted to have spent an inappropriate evening with at a hotel before their marriage. Again, this trend is not commonly seen in Pakistani families.

The level of infidelity and crossed relationships described is strongly at odds with its family viewing time slot, but as Hum TV has kept this part fuzzy and hinted at with a gloss of aesthetics, it manages to avoid being overtly distasteful.

Sadqay Tumhare is a simple, sweet story of young love. Pleasant and engaging, it is a stress-free way to spend an evening without taxing the mind too much.

Sadaf Haider is a writer at dramapakistani.net

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