THE WEEK THAT WAS
Nauroz | Green TV, Thursdays 8.00pm
Rashtina (Mawra Hocane) has grown up hidden from the outside world and her biological father’s family, who want to murder her. She escapes her village, but catapulted into the strange new world of the city without friends or money, she wanders the streets till she forms an unlikely friendship with a TikToker, Hira (Mahnoor Shaukat). Rashtina also becomes a bit of a social media celebrity.
Despite this success, the shadow of death follows Rashtina. But she takes the risk and visits her village disguised as a boy to find her adoptive father (Shamyl Khan). Devastated to learn he has been killed, she returns a depressed soul, seeking new meaning for her life. She has found a new family in the form of Hira and Rustam (Rana Majid) — who has developed deeper feelings for her and quietly protects her.
Mawra Hocane is perfect as the naïve but never-foolish ingénue decoding a strange new world that we are all familiar with. Rana Majid surprises us with a very believable tough guy gone soft, but the most nuanced portrayal is from Mahnoor Shaukat, who reminds us that behind all the imagery and bravado on social media, there can be much pain and emptiness.
Jannat Se Aagay | Geo TV, Fridays 8.00pm
Umera Ahmed gives us a sharply observed image of contemporary society but, unlike her previous work, this script steps back from obvious sermonising, allowing her characters some surprising moral fluidity. It is left for the audience to decide if celebrity Jannat Ali Khan (Kubra Khan), darling of the masses and idol for millions of girls like Tabassum Mughal (Ramsha Khan), is a strong, independent woman or a materialistic, controlling shrew. Or is she just another woman who has failed to live up to the standards, whether patriarchal or feminist, that society has set for her?
Director Haseeb Hassan should have edited out a few episodes to speed up the pace of the show, but he has elicited exceptional performances from Kubra Khan, Talha Chahour, Gohar Rashid and Ramsha Khan. Tabassum used to be a loving, caring girl, but has picked up on Jannat’s negativity and bitterness.
While Jannat yearns for the sincerity of Tabassum’s relationship with Farook (Talha Chahour), Tabassum’s idolisation of Jannat has reached critical mass. Now she no longer idolises older women, she just wants to be Jannat.
Nijaat | Hum TV, Wednesdays 8.00pm
Hum TV brings us another show centred on the Islamic concepts of qisas and kaffara: a person may repent a terrible mistake but can they ever atone for the damage done?
Shahzain (Junaid Khan) is a spoiled, headstrong young man who has become hard-hearted and numb living a life of wealth and privilege. His wealthy father, Ibrahim (Javed Shaikh), has not forgotten his roots and is consistently God-fearing and very charitable, which makes him in despair of his son’s cynical attitude. Shahzain is particularly irritated by Faryal (Hina Altaf), the daughter of his father’s friend from their old neighbourhood, Amanat Ali (Noor Hassan).
The teasers show Shahzain running someone over in a terrible accident, and then chafing at a forced relationship with Faryal, so the trajectory of the story seems clear. Junaid Khan does not look like a foolish young man in his 20s but, putting that aside, the first episode was entertaining for those who like simple, spiritually oriented stories.
What To Watch Out For (or not)
Mannat Murad | Geo TV, Coming soon
The first teaser for this show stars Talha Chahour and Iqra Aziz , playfully cavorting through a wedding. Beautiful sets and a good-looking couple capture our attention, and hopefully the script and direction for this serial will too.
Published in Dawn, ICON, September 17th, 2023