THE WEEK THAT WAS

Qissa Meherbano Ka | Hum TV, Saturdays 8.00pm

Meherbano (Mawra Hocane) has suffered 10 years in limbo under the shadow of a nikkah-in-name-only because of her father’s pride and stubborn refusal to accept his own mistakes. Abba Miyan (Mohammad Ahmed) is the quiet villain of the piece, who is only moved to help his daughter after someone else’s taunts prick at his ego. The initial episodes are low in content and repetitive. The poor writing does not allow the heroine a personality: Meherbano has strictly no thoughts except cooking or cleaning, and sanctifying her father’s bad decisions by claiming to be happy, barring the odd scene of quiet tears.

Areej Mohyudin as Meher’s bubbly young niece and their neighbour Mehran (Zaviyar Naumaan), who wants to marry Meher, are left to push the story forward. Ahsan Khan, as Meher’s criminally avaricious husband Murad Ali, finds an opportunity in Abba Miyan’s foolish statements about inheritance. This complicated network of relationships takes more twists as we are introduced to the neglected nephew (Khushhal Khan) and Mishal Khan as Murad Ali’s second wife. Despite a slow start, Khushhal Khan and Zaviyar Naumaan, combined with Ahsan Khan’s ability to make his portrayals of villains so fascinating, might make this worth watching.

Squid Games | Netflix

Squid Games is dominating Netflix’s global ratings and is on its way to beat the phenomenally popular Bridgeton. Although Korean dramas are known for their quality, this was not a sure-fire hit, because subtitles and cultural differences can make a serial less accessible. However, the universal themes of debt and economic systems that often look like an unwinnable rat race have resonated with viewers across the world.

An incredibly rich man lures desperate people into playing what looks like a series of children’s games, giving them the chance to make millions. However, the simple-looking games are a trap and the price of not reaching the next round is sudden death. Seung Gi-Hun (Lee Jun-jae) is a gambling addict who’s lost everything and hits rock-bottom when he finds out his young daughter is moving to the US with her mother and stepfather. Will Gi-Hun, his friend Park — the failed investment manager — or Abdul Ali, the illegal immigrant, win this deadly game?

Berukhi | ARY, Wednesdays 8.00pm

It’s no surprise that this drama is a hit with the masses: a very black-and-white, good versus bad set-up, and a bholi larrki [innocent girl] waiting to be rescued are always calculated to be popular. Wearing her trademark frocks, Pakistan’s favourite femme fatale Hiba Bukhari plays Sabeen, with whom all the eligible men in her vicinity fall in obsessive love. Hassan Ahmed is the bad-boy relative Kamran who has fooled Sabeen’s family into accepting him. Enter Irtiza (Junaid Khan), a nawabzada whose family lost a riyasat (state) but maintains their traditions and feuds. Despite their pretentions, Irtiza’s family think Sabeen’s modern, materialistic cousin — read chalaak larrki [conniving girl] — Maira (Nazish Jehangir) might be a good match for Irtiza. For added intrigue, there are two scheming chaachis [paternal aunts] in the story who are unafraid to take the extra step to commit murder, and we see that the path to love is fraught with danger.

What To Watch Out For

Ishq-i-Laa | Hum TV, Coming Soon

Directed by Amin Iqbal with his usual cinematic flair, the teasers for Ishq-i-Laa have raised high expectations. A talented star cast including Sajal Aly and Yumna Zaidi and the debut of Azaan Sami Khan add to the excitement. Sajal seems to be an independent-minded journalist who marries Azaan. Yumna is shown as a small-town girl who fights against a constant tide of sexual harassment and intimidation in her mohallah.

Published in Dawn, ICON, October 10th, 2021

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