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Prime Time: My feudal lord

January 29, 2011

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For Malik Wajahat (Noman Ijaz), Henry Kissinger’s now-clichéd quote: ‘Power is a great aphrodisiac’ is a mantra to be followed staunchly.

Mera Saaein tells the story of Malik, a very powerful and ruthless man who is also the ultimate babe magnet. When it comes to pretty women, he charms them by his suave personality aided by his wealth that blinds them to his flawed persona.

With a simple-minded first wife by arranged marriage Naima (Savera Nadeem) tucked away in the village, the playboy politician could give Hugh Hefner a run for his money.

After a string of marriages that go awry once he has loses interest in them and with no male heirs, he frequently gives vent to his rage. After a chance ‘brash’ encounter, he charms Shazmeen (Sunita Marshall) who was earlier in a relationship with Aarish (Faisal Qureshi). For a girl who has lived abroad, she is a bit too naïve and ends up marrying Malik without noticing the warning signs. In between his wives and mistresses, Malik even seduces his maid, Zeenat. In his drunken tryst, he promises to marry her if she produces a male heir.

On another track is the story of Shazmeen’s best friend Naina (Amina Shiekh) whose love marriage to the abusive freak Farhad (Mohib Mirza) is a living hell. As the story progresses, she escapes from Farhad’s clutches only to land in Malik’s lair. How the four women interact and try to outdo each other to win Malik’s attention forms the crux of Mera Saaein.

Written by Sameera Fazal and directed by Babar Javed, the serial is an A&B Production. Despite a slow start, it picked up pace after the eighth episode and the story has started to gain coherence. Given that it’s a male-centric story with clichés such as female infertility, producing a male heir, a battered wife and a cheating spouse to make it more female-oriented. But it’s the acting that is the play’s saving grace.

Noman puts up a superb performance. With a character that is slithery with shades of a chameleon, Malik is a sociopath. Simply put, he is a mix of Chaudhry Hashmat from Waaris crossed with Jahania Shah from Chand Girhan. Noman transitions from a seemingly charming man to a heartless brute in the blink of an eye. No matter how much female viewers hate him, his character is sure to be envied by their male counterparts. One such man told this scribe: “Wealth, women and wine. What more can a man ask for?”

Savera as Naima, the oft-neglected Malkani, is good. Full marks to her for coming up with an accent and tone that carries the pain of her character well. Sunita, however, needs acting lessons. Amina Sheikh as Naina is someone women can easily relate to. Though her character is still sketchy, she is a battered wife who seems resilient when she starts countering Farhad. Her real-life husband, Mohib, does justice to his role. Playing a psycho with deeply-rooted bigoted beliefs, Farhad is one man to stay away from.

However, the ‘maid to order’ performance is by Beenish Chohan who plays Zeenat — the young, mousy maid who has a crush on Malik. She seems to be the perfect match for him as she spins a web of intrigue that leads to stiff opposition on the home front. As the serial progresses, this particularly nubile bit on the side might bring about the mighty Malik’s downfall after all.

While Mera Saaein on ARY Digital is rating high on the charts and has entertainment value, it is yet another misogynist offering by Babar Javed. The serial is an insult to women and their decision-making powers, given that the sole purpose of all female characters is to satisfy men and produce kids.

Nonetheless, if you can keep all such disturbing thoughts aside, watch Mera Saaein for its performances especially that of Noman and Beenish who, as the master and the maid, are a match made in telly heaven.