THE WEEK THAT WAS
Mor Moharan | Tv One, Tuesdays 8.00pm
After 25 episodes, Rohi (Sonya Hussyn) is still oscillating between, foreign-returned Nawabzada Sikander (Mustafa Changezi) and local businessman-cum-politician Ahmed Gardezi (Zahid Ahmed). When Gardezi narrowly escapes a trap of false accusations, Rohi’s heart begins to incline towards him; she now sees him as a good man and an ally in her environmental cause. Instead of the coal energy plant pushed by Sikander’s mother, Rohi pushes her father Saeen Malook (Firdaus Jamal) towards the solar project plant proposed by Gardezi.
The charm of this serial has always been in the interesting, detailed characters and their well-written development arcs. Instead of becoming an easy villain, Gardezi has matured and grown as a person following the advice of patience and compassion from his mother. Then there is Rohi, an independent, sensible young woman, who has goals beyond shopping and marriage. This serial would have been much more impactful with fewer episodes and a lot more editing. Fans continue to watch for the fantastic chemistry between the leads, despite the tiresome antics of Sikander and his dysfunctional family.
Agar | Hum TV, Tuesdays 8.00pm
After the soap opera Dil-Awaiz, author Madiha Shahid surprises us with a more measured and thoughtful story in Agar. Ainni (Juggan Kazim) is a dutiful, elder daughter who has long suppressed any hope of marriage and family, as she is the sole earner supporting her family. When her turn finally comes, despite her accomplishments, she is considered too old and left with only a few good prospects.
Meanwhile, her younger siblings are gearing up for their own relationships. Her pretty but lazy sister Hooriya (Hina Altaf) has found a beau (Usama Khan), and her brother Behram (Ahmed Randhawa) is under pressure from his girlfriend to marry. Only their younger sister, the repressed Chandni (Maheen Siddiqui), has bigger aims and, like Ainni, supports the household.
While there is nothing new about the characters, they are nuanced and easy to connect with. The only note of dissonance is the casting of Junaid Khan as Shawaiz, a “younger man” in love with Ainni, when there is clearly only a hair’s breadth difference in the actual ages of the actors. Putting that aside, Khan and Kazim make a fresh, interesting pair. This serial’s mellow pace and focus on feelings, rather than reactions, makes this a good watch for fans of traditional, more detailed stories.
Siyani | Geo TV, Daily 9.00pm
This Indian-style soap opera has all the cliches and slow-motion reaction moments masala lovers enjoy. Kiran (Anmol Baloch) is a cunning, manipulative girl who aims high and manages to trap the wealthy Zarbab (Mohsin Abbas Haider) into marriage. So begins a cascading series of events, in which Kiran’s malignant influence on Zarbab’s naïve family leads to one bad decision after another. Kiran even manages to push Zarbab’s younger sister to suicide and remains remorseless while covering up her part in the crime.
Anmol Baloch is supposedly the star, but her character is written with little scope beyond making it as annoying as possible. Saniya Shamshad does better as her much-victimised cousin, coming back strong after surviving all the difficulties life throws at her. Like most melodramas, this serial focusses on moments rather than on a story. If it were possible to extrapolate anything from this show, it would be the question: why is Zarbab’s family so incredibly foolish?
What To Watch Out For (Or Not)
Aik Thi Laila | Bol TV, Coming soon
Actor and writer Yasir Hussain is trying his hand at direction, with a fresh script, Aik Thi Laila, from renowned author Faiza Iftikhar. A formidable star cast includes Faysal Quraishi, Iqra Aziz, Nayyar Ejaz and Yasir himself.
Published in Dawn, ICON, November 20th, 2022