THE WEEK THAT WAS

Ishq-i-Laa | Hum TV, Thursdays 8.00pm

The first two episodes introduced us to Azlan (Azaan Sami Khan), a successful young man born into wealth and privilege, who has just opened up a new branch of his family’s banking empire in China. His arrogance and lack of empathy are a metaphor for a certain kind of elite class that celebrates materialism and achievement, without taking a backward glance at those less fortunate. Azaan Khan’s understated approach hasn’t won him many fans just yet, but it has centered Azlan as a grey-shaded character without crossing the line into cruel or abusive.

In contrast, his best friend Shanaya (Sajal Aly) is a journalist from a similar background, whose compassion and drive for justice sometimes makes her blunder into situations without a practical understanding of the cultural structures that lead to issues, such as the underage marriages illustrated in the show.

Azka (Yumna Zaidi) is the catalyst for change in this story, a spirited young woman who, despite her position on the opposite side of the economic divide, refuses to accept mistreatment from either Azlan or her unwanted suitor Abid (Adnan Samad). Abid’s incessant harassment and manipulations are shown in the negative light they deserve, striking a more authentic note than the romanticisation of obsessive lovers currently in vogue on our screens.

So far Adnan Samad, Sajal Aly and Yumna Zaidi are doing the heavy lifting of cementing the characters and their relationships, and connecting the audience to a simple but effective script that does not trust its audience with too much complexity. Good performances from Uzma Hassan, Samir Suhail and Simi Raheel, as Azka’s family, are another boost for this show.

Half Cooked | See Prime

Starring Mikaal Zulfikar (Rehan) and Humaima Malik (Ayat), See Prime’s short feature combines a lot of traditional Pakistani dramas tropes to bring us something more thoughtful. Written and directed by Shahrukh Naeem, this short feature makes every second count, pulling the audience out of their passivity, drawing on the intimacy of the digital screen to connect us to the world of its protagonists.

A new baby, insecurities and a changing relationship make Ayat decide to put four questions to her bemused husband Rehan. While Half Cooked does not have any startling revelations, the fresh treatment and the decision of the writer to allow viewers the space to pick up the inferences and nuances of the story themselves makes this interesting. Zulfikar and Malik are seasoned performers, skillfully building up their characters and chemistry within the limits of this fast-growing genre. The only downside to watching it is the realisation that there will not be more than one episode.

Mohabbat Dagh Ki Surat | Geo TV, Wed-Thurs 8.00pm

A cast of fan favourites, including Sami Khan, Neelum Munir and Syed Jibran, combined with a well-structured script from writer Saira Raza, have made this show very popular. Traditional family dynamics, a controlling cousin, a determined heroine and a sensitive but damaged hero are the ingredients for this relatable and effective story.

Now this simple but positive story has taken a dark turn, with the inclusion of an obsessive, blackmailing lover track as the hero’s ex-fiancée uses suicide as a tactic to force him to accept her.

What To Watch Out For

Mor Moharan | TV One, Coming Soon

The teasers for Mor Morahan promise some heavy, rural-based melodrama, replete with a wind-blown dupatta and an intense-looking Sonya Hussyn (Roohi) brandishing a gun. Roohi returns to her traditional family but finds her life complicated by two very different men, played by Zahid Ahmed and Mustafa Changezi.

Published in Dawn, ICON, November 7th, 2021

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