THE WEEK THAT WAS

Ishq Hai | ARY, Tuesdays 8.00pm

In what seems to be an undeclared competition to romanticise the worst kind of masculinity, Feroz Khan and Faysal Quraishi step aside as Danish Taimoor tries his luck, as yet another obsessed lover. Shahzeb (Danish Taimoor) and Isra (Minal Khan) are in love but, when their families reject the match, Isra bows to her parents’ wishes and prepares to marry another man. However, Shahzeb foils everyone’s plans by kidnapping the reluctant girl and blackmailing her into a nikaah by putting a gun to his head. Apart from Shahzeb’s obviously disturbed behaviour, there are a lot of loopholes and forced elements in the plot — such as Isra’s Canada-returned fiancé falling in love after a couple of meetings, and forcing her into marriage. Like all such “masala entertainers” a level of fantasy and suspension of disbelief is required to get on board with the story. Taimoor is a good actor and key to this serial’s success; the intensity and self-belief he brings to his character seems to be what the masses crave. Khan is left with little to do except virtue signal and faint.

Dil Na-umeed Tau Nahin Hai | TVOne/PTV, Mon-Sat 8.00pm

Combining a powerful script from acclaimed author Amna Mufti and excellent performances from a star cast including Yumna Zaidi, Wahaj Ali, Yasra Rizvi and Omair Rana, this serial continues to impress. Director Kashif Nisar has given us a raw, almost unfiltered slice of the underbelly of Pakistani society, depicting the lives of men and women caught in the web of human trafficking. Issue-based series are always a balancing act between palatability and harshness of reality, but the popularity of dramas such as Sung-e-Marmar, Udaari and Ullu Baraye Farokht Nahin prove it is possible. While better production values and good lighting are always a boost, a more focused story with fewer characters sometimes provide more connection and accessibility for the masses.

What To Watch Out For

Hum Kahaan Ke Sachay Thay | Hum TV, Coming Soon

Any script from Umera Ahmed catches our attention, but the return of superstar Mahira Khan to the small screen is an even bigger cause for excitement. Just like the teasers for the now iconic Humsafar, the promos for this drama focus on the internal dynamic of three main protagonists. The writer has warned us not to expect the usual, easily defined good versus bad dichotomy for the women and, despite his menacing, dominant attitude, Asjad (Usman Mukhtar), is the one weeping and pondering his vulnerability in the teasers. Mishal (Kubra Khan) comes across as a negative character with a glittering, hard edge. Again, the most intriguing sketch is of Mehreen, whose memories of childhood trauma, fear and suppression, before she is led away in handcuffs, give Mahira’s new avatar the promise of something beyond the ordinary.

Published in Dawn, ICON, July 25th, 2021

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