THE WEEK THAT WAS
Wabaal | Hum TV, Saturdays, 8.00pm
Like Qaiser Hayat’s other work, this serial avoids any pretence at subtlety and hits on the issues it wants to tackle like a high-speed train, never trusting the audience to think for themselves.
Shagufta Ejaz is in fantastic form, switching from evil loan shark to irritated middleclass housewife to a cruel slave driver within the space of a few scenes. The contrasts only make her character more interesting, and this is where the writer’s strong point lies — well-etched characters that have a touch more gradation of light and dark than her story. For example, Anum (Sarah Khan) is materialistic and a little selfish, but she still loves her family and plans to change her life by getting a job.
The main attractions in this show are Talha Chahour, fresh off his debut in the critically acclaimed Jo Bichharr Gaye, and Sarah Khan, who’s on-screen chemistry provides the energy and some sweet romance to this otherwise preachy tale. Chahour proves he is a star in the making, lending his “boy from the village” character a heaping of his own tentative charm in his fledgling relationship with Khan’s more ambitious city girl persona. Another great addition to this strong cast is Abid Ali Raza, last seen as the devil-may-care Shokky Bhai of Parizaad, as Gul Khan, Shagufta’s henchman. Mehrub Ali is doomed to play yet another virtuous maiden spouting virtuous dialogues and looking disappointed at everyone not quite as virtuous as her.
Siyani | Geo TV, Daily, 9.00pm
Masala lovers rejoice, here is another cartoonish, easily digestible, chalaak larrki vs bholi larrki [conniving girl vs naive girl] tale, that took little thought to make and requires even less to watch.
Anmol Baloch plays crafty Kiran, whose goals in life are reducing her defenceless “good girl” cousin Ujala (Saniya Shamshad) to tears and marrying into a wealthy family. Her plans to trick a rich idiot succeed with Zarbab (Mohsin Abbas), who conveniently falls in love with her at a mutual friend’s wedding reception. Now Kiran plans to use Ujala’s inheritance to fund a fake lifestyle as part of her trap for Zarbab. Included in this complicated, wafer-thin plotline is forcing Ujala to marry a lafanga [good-for-nothing] neighbour. Anmol Baloch seems to be the go-to actor for fast-talking middle class girls and, as with most of these soap operas, her negative character has all the energy.
Habs | ARY, Tuesdays, 8.00pm
Most dramas present the relationship between mother and son like a dangerous obsession and the addition of a psychotic mother-in-law is enough to guarantee ratings for any show. Habs shows us a more realistic image, reminding us this most basic of connections sets the foundation for how we treat others.
Basit’s mother abandoned him for another relationship but never stopped loving him. Her death and Basit’s unresolved guilt are beautifully explored in this serial. Feroz Khan and Irsa Ghazal have given us some wonderfully moving performances that touch the heart in a way the recent trend for disposable, quick-reaction serials can never hope to achieve.
Ushna Shah and Dania Shah have also more than justified their roles, abandoning any glamour for authentic, heartfelt portrayals. The weight of poverty and disappointments have also made it hard for Ayesha’s (Ushna Shah) dysfunctional mother to empathise with Ayesha but, while she overcomes this, Basit has more work to do.
What To Watch Out For (Or Not)
Kala Doriya | Coming soon
Teasers for Kala Doriya promise the kind of competitive, family style, romantic comedy that writer Saima Akram Chaudhry has become famous for. Teasers show Osman Khalid Butt and Sana Javed in this fun, fast-moving story of bickering college students.
Published in Dawn, ICON, September 18th, 2022