THE WEEK THAT WAS

Pehli Si Mohabbat | ARY Digital

After seeing kidnappers, abusers and literal rapists being romanticised on our screens, a thoughtful, grounded finale for a serial or a flawed-but-good man like Aslam (Shehryar Munawar) comes as a surprise. Rakshi’s (Maya Ali), father Faizullah (Shabbir Jan) marries a prostitute, Nargis (Rabia Butt) to “save” her, but this sets the entire mohallah against them, but especially Aslam’s conservative brother Akram (Hassan Shehryar Yasin). The burden of honour culture that women unfairly carry, the selfish decisions of friends, neighbours and family and, finally, their own mistakes lead to the break-up of Rakshi and Aslam’s innocent little romance.

Munawar has given an outstanding performance throughout, and whereas Ali fell short in some episodes, she matched him scene-for-scene in this wonderfully bittersweet ending. The transition from broken, wistful lovers to more whole, mature adults, who are content and in control of the lives they lead, was beautifully made. Fantastic, layered writing from Faiza Iftikhar, showed us the pair play acting a little at what could have been in front of strangers on the beach, before determinedly turning towards their present. They leave behind that pure soaring emotion of first love, replacing their disappointments and heartache with the gifts of affection and dignity.

Kurulus Osman, Season 3 | Geo TV

For a genre that is now famous for aesthetically smudged decapitations and sword fights, writer Mehmet Bozdag had to work hard to give us a shock, but he did, killing off the Turkish warlord’s horse Karayel in a vicious murder. As usual, Osman Bey is surrounded by trouble, cartoonish-but-never-stupid villains both Turkish and Byzantine, while new allies and threats to his alliances continue to emerge. The home front is also brewing trouble — the news of Osman’s first wife Bala Hatun’s pregnancy is making his second wife Malhun Hatun insecure and fearful for her son Orhan’s future.

Though not as gripping or as popular in Pakistan as the original Ertugrul, this show is a worldwide hit. The new season promises to hit all the right fan favourite notes of audacious action/ adventure, Islamic life lessons and amazingly well written characterisations that pull audiences in despite the historical inaccuracies.

Khuda Aur Mohabbat, Season 3 | Geo Tv

After what seems like a lifetime, but turns out to be only 36 episodes, this serial looks as if it’s finally winding up a story that is still failing to justify its most basic premise: the love between its two lead protagonists Mahi (Iqra Aziz) and Farhad (Feroz Khan). With 15 million-plus views for the latest episode on YouTube alone, this creative dilemma is not going to bother the producers or fans. Farhad is still sitting, sighing and contemplating his ishq at the mazaar while Mahi is facing the brunt of every accusation and difficulty from her conservative, tradition-bound family of gun-wielding pirs. On the plus side, Mahi’s ex in-laws support her happiness but her brother, Nazim Shah, is sending his hired gun Dilawer to kill Farhad. The twist in the tale is that Dilawer loves Farhad like a brother, so will he follow his instincts or orders?

What To Watch Out For

Akhir Kab Tak | Hum TV

This drama has flown under the radar, despite a strong story and a good cast including Adeel Hussain and Ushna Shah. The trajectory of unrelenting misery in the first five episodes made it difficult to watch, but this story of survival and psychological healing from years of familial abuse has developed into quality viewing. Worth catching up with on YouTube.

Published in Dawn, ICON, October 17th, 2021

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