##THE WEEK THAT WAS##
Rah-i-Junoon | Hum TV, Thursdays 8.00pm
The first episode begins with a strong premise: Shavez (Danish Taimoor) is a broken man, about to end it all, when he is persuaded to give life another chance by passing stranger Mehar (Komal Meer).
The feeling of emotional depth and intimacy lasts for exactly 10 minutes before the serial reverts to its true purpose as a ‘Star Plus-style’ melodrama, designed to make ratings. The makers waste no time establishing the relationship between the leads, turning Shavez into the kind of violent, obsessed lover Danish Taimoor is now famous for playing, in the first episode.
From the teasers, it’s obvious Shavez’s wealthy family will be the main villains with Mehar’s jealous little sister lending a helping hand. Taimoor’s initially restrained and sensitive portrayal gives us a tantalising glimpse of what a good story this could have been if the audience could be weaned off the toxic-lover stories.
Gumn | Green Entertainment, Mon-Tues 9.00pm
After eight episodes, we begin to see the wood from the trees in this entertaining thriller set in Karachi. A stranger runs into lawyer Maya Malik’s (Tooba Siddiqui) car and loses his memory. We find out the stranger is Rayyan (Feroz Kadri), a medical student who has strangely lost all his family, and the people he was running away from are willing to kill for the information he has.
While Rayyan survives his injuries and the murder attempts, the details of his life are pieced together by the law firm’s chief investigator Shahid (Furqan Qureshi). A curious mosaic of connections between Maya, her father and Rayyan’s family begins to emerge. Curiously, the credits for this show list three editors but no director, but media reports from the project launch suggest Sarmad Khoosat was involved. The timeline jumps can be confusing at first, but they make the mystery, building tension and arousing curiosity.
This show is on par, if not better, than many Netflix shows and would be better enjoyed as a binge watch than the episode-a-week format. The makers have to be congratulated for not shying away from harsh details, keeping the show believable and allowing the audience to connect with every character without the conventional tropes of good and bad.
Namak Haram | Hum TV, Fridays 8.00pm
Imran Ashraf stars as Mureed, perhaps the world’s creepiest servant, and veteran actor Babar Ali as his wealthy master Amin Qureshi. Ashraf has made an art of playing intense, tortured individuals with a chip on their shoulders, and is the main reason to watch this show.
If restraint or depth were allowed in prime time, this would be an altogether more gripping and poignant show. Instead we are presented with theatrical speeches and many situations that lack credibility. Never fear, Ashraf has it all well in hand — just surrender any pretence of rationality and the story becomes entertaining by the force of his personality alone.
The family is shattered when their eldest daughter Asma (Sarah Khan) is kidnapped on the day of her wedding. The more modern and lively, youngest daughter Aiman (Annika Zulfikar) is infatuated with Mureed, but he is clearly fascinated by the conservative and religious older daughter Asma, who barely even looks at him. Despite their few direct scenes, the chemistry between Sarah Khan and Imran Ashraf remains strong, and another pull for this serial. While the family searches for Asma and tries to wipe their “disgrace”, no one thinks to look at Mureed, who is the secret hand behind this attack.
##What To Watch Out For (or not)##
Khumaar | Geo TV, Coming soon
Feroze Khan returns to the small screen with Neelam Muneer in a story about a one-sided secret love.
Published in Dawn, ICON, November 19th, 2023