THE WEEK THAT WAS

Laapata | Hum TV, Wednesdays 8.00pm

Shams (Ali Rehman) and Sarah Khan (Falak) are two very different people whose romance is in troubled waters. Shams is a gambler who wants to get rich quick, while Falak is an achiever, good at sports and aiming to be a CSS officer. Also in the mix is their calculating cousin Geeti (Ayeza Khan), a wannabe TikTok star and, like Shams, a risk-taker with few scruples. Writer and director Khizer Idrees turns what looks like an idea for what would have been a mediocre movie into a fast-paced, entertaining serial. The breezy, romantic thriller style is anchored by authentic characterisations and some moments of genuine affection, and cast chemistry. Ali Rehman stands out as the likeable bad boy who has landed himself in serious trouble, that perhaps only being Laapata will save him from. Ayeza Khan is magic as Geeti, whose petty villainy is spiked with equal parts deadpan humour and pragmatic self-awareness. .

Fitoor | Geo TV, Thursdays 8.00pm

After Mere Pass Tum Ho and Jalan, the once taboo subject of extra-marital affairs seem to be in vogue, and Fitoor is the latest serial to capitalise on this. Dilnashin (Hiba Bukhari) turns to her old love Hamza (Wahaj Ali) when she finds out that her new husband Haider (Faysal Quraishi) still prefers the girl who left him, Mehmal (Kiran Haqq). Author Zanjabeel Asim skates around the edges of infidelity, hinting at Haider and Mehmal’s intimacy, and allowing Dilnashin to at least consider the idea of leaving her inconsistent husband before stepping back into conformity. However, Dilnashin is forced to reconsider her choices after she falls pregnant, and Haider’s past behaviour is conveniently whitewashed. Men in Pakistani serials are rarely held accountable for their actions and this story is no different. Mehmal forgives her errant husband and, despite Haider’s complete lack of self-awareness, it seems as if he will also get absolution. Good performances from Kiran Haqq and Wahaj Ali, and Faysal Quraishi’s devoted fan following combined, along with the risqué subject matter, have made Fitoor incredibly popular.

Prince Charming | See Prime

This streaming media service has been producing some interesting out-of-the-box projects for those looking for more diverse content. Their latest offering is actor Sheheryar Munawar’s directorial debut, a short film about depression and the drudgery that a marriage can become. Mahira Khan is the depressed wife who lives in her imagination with her “Prince Charming” husband (Zahid Ahmed) that he used to be. This quiet vignette is a curtain lifted, and a private misery revealed. Ahmed and Khan look good together, leaving the audience hanging on for more. Khan’s body language and expressions tells us exactly what the neglected wife cannot say without enunciating a word. Ahmed is never short on charm, but his complete ignorance of his wife’s deteriorating condition is what really hits the mark. Munawar’s ability to create and capture atmosphere and mood is fantastic. It will be interesting to see how this translates to bigger ventures.

What To Watch Out For

The need to reshape the past to fit present day politics is nothing new, and has given a new impetus to historical serials and films. The first Mughal Emperor Zaheeruddin Babar has become a favourite subject, with three upcoming dramas centring on him. A lavish production from India, based on the novel series Empire of the Moghal, is soon to appear on Disney Hotstar. Mehmet Bozdag, the writer of Dirilis: Ertugrul, is also working on a script, and Prime Minister Imran Khan has also announced a Pakistani-Uzbekistan collaboration about this fascinating leader.

Published in Dawn, ICON, August 15th, 2021

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