TV series

Mr. Khan’s Review on Sang-e-Mah – Episode XX (2022)

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Sang-e-Mah Episode 20 (2022). The new TV series is directed by Saife Hassan and written by Mustafa Afridi. Sang-e-Mah is the spiritual continuation of the saga introduced in the Hum TV drama Sang-e-Mar Mar (2016). Sang-e-Mah is the acting debut of the famous Pakistani pop star Atif Aslam and the drama is a Momina Duraid Production.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Saife Hassan
  • Written by Mustafa Afridi
  • Produced by Momina Duraid Productions

+ Note

The drama Sang-e-Mah serves as a spiritual sequel to the show Sang-e-Mar Mar (2016) with Noman Ejaz, Sania Saeed and many others returning to the same cast and crew. The drama deals with life in the Pakhtoon region of Pakistan and explores such hard hitting topics like forced marriages and integral family relationships. According to the director, Sang-e-Mah serves under similar themes as its predecessor, in a three part trilogy, ending it with the next planned show, Sang-e-Siyah.

 + Main Cast

  1. Atif Aslam as Hilmand Khan
  2. Nauman Ijaz as Haji Marjaan Khan
  3. Kubra Khan as Sheherzaad
  4. Hania Amir as Gul Meena
  5. Zaviyar Nauman Ijaz as Hikmat Khan
  6. Sania Saeed as Zarghuna
  7. Samiya Mumtaz as Zarsanga
  8. Omair Rana as Mastaan Singh
  9. Najiba Faiz as Harshaali Kaur
  10. Hassan Noman as Badam Gul

+ Plot

Sang-e-Mah is a story of a dysfunctional Pakhtoon family in the tribal regions of Pakistan where pride and honour mostly triumphs over empathy and forgiveness. The show deals with issues such as young love and opposing families who are engaged in a tribal battle with one another.

+ High Points

i – Episode 20 was a massive improvement from its predecessors as it solely focused on the core plot of the show and less on the useless subplots. The episode was largely dominated by Hilmand, Mastaan Singh and Marjaan Khan and all of them gave noteworthy performances. We finally are led into Hilmand’s plan of getting a confession out of his step father and it makes perfect sense how he set up his carefully plotted trap for him. It was somewhat perplexing why, just a few episodes ago, did Hilmand blame his brother for his attempted murder but episode 20 does a great job in clearing Hilmand’s motivations and obsession towards justice (even if that frames his brother for a crime he never commited!). Good writing, fantastic pacing, episode 20 brought the best of Sang-e-Mah.

ii – Atif Aslam’s performance in this episode worked perfectly because:

  1. He had much better written dialogue which didn’t devolve into nonsense philosophy that went nowhere.
  2. He shared his scenes with much more seasoned actors like Nauman Ijaz and Omair Rana who played along with Atif’s strengths as an amateur actor.

As I mentioned previously, Atif Aslam has screen presence but he needs experience and support from his fellow actors on screen who can play along with his revenge filled schemes. With that being said…

iii – Hilmand and Mastaan Singh shared an intense scene as he closed in on him like a leopard closes in on its victim for consumption. But of course, Hilmand is not there just to get a confession out of him but rather, utilize him further into his grand scheme of vengence. His obsession, his white whale, the trial and punishment of his step father Marjaan Khan supasses everything he loves and holds dear to his heart. I admire this Shakepearen revenge story that will most probably end in tragedy.

iv – Another impactful scene in the episode was the yet another confrontation of Marjaan Khan and his step son. But this time, Hilmand clearly had the upper hand in this duel as he (inadvertently) got a confession out of Marjaan for the murder he (allegedly) commited thirty odd years ago. The pacing, the performances, everything worked here and I am now genuinely curious how the Jirga will proceed in the next coming episodes.

+ Low Points

i – Episode 20 was a welcome change in form for the show but it did have a few hiccups, namely the scene where Badam Gul accidentally lets out the terrible secret of Mastaan Singh. It felt a bit too rushed and not set up properly for such a pivotal moment in the show. This can be a total game changer in the plot of Sang-e-Mah and it needed a better structure and payoff. 

ii – The Zarghuna scenes, while well acted, felt short in quality as compared to the rest of the episode. It is also becoming a bit tedious with Mastaan Singh who still refused to marry his love even though there is no reason for him not to. Mastaan serving as Zarghuna’s “slave” has long been resolved. This was the perfect chance to show the more “humane” side of him but instead, the show just went along with him as if nothing ever happened. I still believe that Mastaan Singh was one of the best characters in the show who unfortunately got sidelined pretty fast for no good reason. Bring him back and conclude his story arc please.

+ Overall

Episode 20 had intense scenes, great dialogue and was engaging from start to finish.

Rate: out of 5 stars 

TV series

Mr. Khan’s Review on Fraud – Episode II (2022)

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Fraud Episode 2 (2022). The new TV series is directed by Saqib Khan and written by Zanjabeel Asim. Fraud is a story of love, innocence and treachery as our protagonist is manipulated into marrying a forged personality. Fraud is an iDream Entertainment and ARY Digital Production.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Saqib Khan
  • Written by Zanjabeel Asim
  • Produced by Abdullah Seja 
  • Production by iDream Entertainment

+ Note

Fraud is a case study of Pakistani families who always strive for betterment of their children. Obsession with wealth and power almost always ends up leading to unfavorable consequences. The director Saqib Khan is known for his numerous television projects and his upcoming cinematic film Ghabrana Nahi Hai (2022).

 + Main Cast

  1. Saba Qamar as Maya
  2. Ahsan Khan as Tabriaz
  3. Mikaal Zulfiqar as Shaan
  4. Rabia Kulsoom as Maila
  5. Adnan Samad Khan as Nael
  6. Mehmood Aslam as Nisar

+ Plot

Fraud is a story of Maya whose father wants her to marry into the richest family that he could find. But wealth does not equal character as she ends up marrying a wealthy man named Tabriaz who, through his trickery, makes life for Maya full of deceit and fraud.

+ High Points

i – Fraud has an interesting storyline with good pacing to keep the viewer engaged throughout its runtime. Most of the performances are decent and provide a convincing backdrop to the premise. Add some good direction to it and we have a promising show on our hands.

ii – What is also commendable is that the show takes its time for the viewers to get used to its surroundings and characters. Each person has a unique look, an interesting perspective to themselves that provide a colorful cast of characters to the show. Sometimes, pacing can be detrimental to the show’s longevity and Fraud is proving to be surpassing it all with flying colors.

iii – Mehmood Aslam as Nisar once again stole the show for me as his emotional and powerful performance has rapidly become the backbone of the show. It was intriguing to see the world from his perspective, how badly he wants a wealthy, comfortable future for his daughter. So much so that he has truly blinded himself to other qualities that a person should possess. 

iv  – Another great characterization by the writer is of Adnan Samad Khan as Nael as he now sits dejected and demoralized after the events of the last episode. It’s great to see that his character was not completely forgotten and perhaps will end up playing a major role down the line.

+ Low Points

i – The biggest drawback to the show is the bland, generic production behind the camera. You don’t need overtly emotional music overpowering every scene just to force the viewers to shed a tear or two. Such tactics are disappointing because it clearly shows the lack of faith the show has in its writing and the heartfelt performances of its actors. Fraud can prove to be a unique show with a relevant premise to its target audience but it immediately gets drowned into its flashy editing and overbearing music. This show can prove to be better than it currently is. 

ii – With all the quest of finding the right “Rishta”, episode 2 completely ignored Maya, our lead female protagonist of the show. Even though there were a few scenes devoted to her thoughts, Maya’s point of view should be the main focus of the show. We should see the world through her eyes, what a young adult woman goes through when her life decisions are already made for her by her parents, whether she is in favor of it or not. A prime example can be the drama Khaas (2019) where our female protagonist was in a very similar situation. 

iii – The scene with Mikaal Zulfiqar was the true low point of the show. Even though the show has just introduced this subplot, the acting was bizarre and the dialogues were incredibly bad and obnoxious. Mikaal sounded like a whiny brat and unsympathetic with cringy dialogues like “Stop it, yaar!” . I guess he will end up being Maya’s love interest later on but this means we will have to put up with this nonsense storyline of “Saas/ Boohoo” for many episodes to come. Oh joy… 

+ Overall

Another promising episode with good performances and an engaging storyline. But the production quality can exponentially improve to propel Fraud from good to great.

Rate: out of 5 stars 

TV series

Mr. Khan’s Review on Fraud – Episode I (2022)

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Fraud Episode 1 (2022). The new TV series is directed by Saqib Khan and written by Zanjabeel Asim. Fraud is a story of love, innocence and treachery as our protagonist is manipulated into marrying a forged personality. Fraud is an iDream Entertainment and ARY Digital Production.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Saqib Khan
  • Written by Zanjabeel Asim
  • Produced by Abdullah Seja 
  • Production by iDream Entertainment

+ Note

Fraud is a case study of Pakistani families who always strive for betterment of their children. Obsession with wealth and power almost always ends up leading to unfavorable consequences. The director Saqib Khan is known for his numerous television projects and his upcoming cinematic film Ghabrana Nahi Hai (2022).

 + Main Cast

  1. Saba Qamar as Maya
  2. Ahsan Khan as Tabriaz
  3. Mikaal Zulfiqar as Shaan
  4. Rabia Kulsoom as Maila
  5. Adnan Samad Khan as Nael
  6. Mehmood Aslam as Nisar

+ Plot

Fraud is a story of Maya whose father wants her to marry into the richest family that he could find. But wealth does not equal character as she ends up marrying a wealthy man named Tabriaz who, through his trickery, makes life for Maya full of deceit and fraud.

+ High Points

i – The premiere episode to the show was engaging and had some interesting foreshadowing towards the upcoming storyline. The narrative flowed well with the performances and the cliffhanger to the episode will definitely intrigue its viewers for several more weeks to come. Just a keen observation but Fraud has some incredibly strong vibes of the HUM TV drama Khaas (2019) where the female protagonist ends up marrying an egotistical maniac due to parental pressure and ends up ruining her life in the process. All in all, a good first episode. 

ii – The performances ranged from decent to great. Particularly Mehmood Aslam as Nisar (the father of our female protagonist) stood out from the rest with his emotional yet misguided well being for his daughter. Saba Qamar as Maya also gave a convincing performance in bringing out the innocence of a young adult who is shedding her naivety and entering the real world of deception and falsehood.

iii – The show should be commended for its storyline as many parents in Pakistan feel compelled to marry their daughter off to rich families regardless of their daughter’s emotional well being. This has always been a continuing issue in Pakistani culture as wealth is given priority above all else. On the other hand, as a parent, one would want their child to be financially secure but having an abusive life partner can never prove to be a good move in the long run. Fraud has an interesting but essential plot that deserves attention from the mainstream audience.

iv – The first episode had some good exposition, dialogue heavy set pieces as the plot is carefully set up for the ultimate payoff at the last episode of the show. I was particularly fond of Maya’s parents as they argued back and forth about what is best for their daughter. And last but not least…

v – The final act with the rejection of the Rishta was well written and fantastic performances all around. The emotions of rejection and humiliation drove the scene forward and made us empathize with the Khala’s side of the family. Of course it is good to be optimistic in life but some facts unfortunately cannot be overlooked namely wealth and social status; something that always plagues Pakistani society.

+ Low Points

i – The opening scene of the show… was something I guess. I’m sure the show was going for a more metaphorical foreshadowing of the coming weeks but unfortunately, its horror tone just felt out of place with the rest of the show. Where did they end up finding so many bats to begin with?

ii – The show looks visual bland. There are no interesting perspectives, no innovative camera framing or editing. The production of the show only manages to reach the bare minimum what TV or film can accomplish. Shows produced by Momina Duraid are a good example that there is always room for visual experimentation, even for such a commercial medium like television. And it’s a real pity since the storyline is deserving of a more talented production crew behind the camera.

iii – Speaking of visual quality, it is unfortunate that the show resorts to mainstream Indian drama TV style of visual storytelling as it can definitely do without it. Let go of the “chamak dhamak” style of camera work/ editing as it ends up making your product look cheap and lacks originality. A perfect example can be Daam (2010) by Mehreen Jabbar where the show, even with its so-called “slow” visual presentation, brought so much depth and realism to the plot and its characters.

iv – The title of the show ‘Fraud’ seems way too much on the nose. Couldn’t the show runners have come up with something a little less conspicuous?

+ Overall

A good, promising first episode; Fraud has the capability to be one of the best shows currently on television right now if not for its lackluster presentation.

Rate: out of 5 stars 

TV series

Mr. Khan’s Review on Sang-e-Mah – Episode XIX (2022)

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Sang-e-Mah Episode 19 (2022). The new TV series is directed by Saife Hassan and written by Mustafa Afridi. Sang-e-Mah is the spiritual continuation of the saga introduced in the Hum TV drama Sang-e-Mar Mar (2016). Sang-e-Mah is the acting debut of the famous Pakistani pop star Atif Aslam and the drama is a Momina Duraid Production.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Saife Hassan
  • Written by Mustafa Afridi
  • Produced by Momina Duraid Productions

+ Note

The drama Sang-e-Mah serves as a spiritual sequel to the show Sang-e-Mar Mar (2016) with Noman Ejaz, Sania Saeed and many others returning to the same cast and crew. The drama deals with life in the Pakhtoon region of Pakistan and explores such hard hitting topics like forced marriages and integral family relationships. According to the director, Sang-e-Mah serves under similar themes as its predecessor, in a three part trilogy, ending it with the next planned show, Sang-e-Siyah.

 + Main Cast

  1. Atif Aslam as Hilmand Khan
  2. Nauman Ijaz as Haji Marjaan Khan
  3. Kubra Khan as Sheherzaad
  4. Hania Amir as Gul Meena
  5. Zaviyar Nauman Ijaz as Hikmat Khan
  6. Sania Saeed as Zarghuna
  7. Samiya Mumtaz as Zarsanga
  8. Omair Rana as Mastaan Singh
  9. Najiba Faiz as Harshaali Kaur
  10. Hassan Noman as Badam Gul

+ Plot

Sang-e-Mah is a story of a dysfunctional Pakhtoon family in the tribal regions of Pakistan where pride and honour mostly triumphs over empathy and forgiveness. The show deals with issues such as young love and opposing families who are engaged in a tribal battle with one another.

+ High Points

i – Episode 19 was a noticeable improvement from the previous two weeks. There were some well directed, dialogue heavy set pieces throughout the episode which were engaging and brought a new light to some of the characters and their motives. As always, the best part was Nauman Ijaz and Samiya Mumtaz sharing the screen together. 

ii – With the new “revelation” from Hilmand as to who really tried to murder him, the plot thickens yet again. Is this a deliberate attempt to take Hikmat out of the picture or was Hilmand completely blindsided by the incident? Probably the latter rings more towards the truth but after such a long time, the main plot of the show is taking center stage once again.

+ Low Points

i – Although it was courageous from the creative team to go for a dialogue heavy episode but with that move, the acting range of each performer became clear to us as viewers (for better or for worse). It is fairly obvious by now that Atif Aslam and Kubra Khan have absolutely no on screen chemistry together. Their performances also felt clunky and unconvincing as they tattled through their inner emotions and expectations. Since it’s his first major role as an actor, Atif Aslam cannot emote much with his limited acting skill set. He is desperately in need of sharing scenes with more veteran actors who can guide and support him. The scenes shared by Kubra Khan and Atif Aslam could have been great with some well known veteran actors but as of now, the scenes felt long, tedious and single note.

ii – Sigh, can we please never revisit Hilmand’s friends ever again? One can find more comedic, entertaining moments in Pakistani politics these days. It was absolutely unnecessary to reveal how Hilmand’s lackey escaped his prison sentence. It plays no part in the main plot of the show and neither was it even a tad bit hilarious.

+ Overall

A better outing this week around but it is fairly obvious now where Sang-e-Mah is lacking when it comes to storytelling and performances.

Rate: out of 5 stars

Feature Length Films

Mr. Khan’s Review on Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)

A review on American Superhero film, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022). The film is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Four films and is directed by Sam Raimi. Benedict Cumberbatch reprises his role as the mystic doctor of magic accompanied by Elizabeth Olsen as the Scarlet Witch, Xochitl Gomez , Benedict Wong and Rachel McAdams. The film is a continuation of the saga from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is now in cinemas.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Sam Raimi
  • Screenplay by Michael Waldron
  • Cinematography by John Mathieson
  • Music by Danny Elfman
  • Edited by Bob Murawski and Tia Nolan
  • Production by Marvel Studios
  • Distributed by Walt Disney Studios and Motion Pictures 

+ Note

Scott Derrickson, the director of the first film, was originally going to direct the sequel also but due to creative differences with the executives of Marvel Studios, he decided to step down. Enter; Sam Raimi. Ever since Spider-man 3 (2007), Raimi had not gone back to directing superhero films until he was approached by Marvel Studios to direct the sequel to Doctor Strange. Due to Raimi’s creative style of filmmaking, it was promised that the sequel would contain elements of which Raimi is revered for such as comedic gore and violence, pushing the boundaries of a PG-13 rated film. The film was also promised to be much more visually complex and creative than any other Marvel film before.

Now that Sam Raimi was set to direct, he also brought in his long time collaborator Danny Elfman to produce music for the film. Due to the pandemic, the film’s release was shifted to next year, 2022. The film is currently in cinemas with mostly positive reviews from critics and moviegoers alike. 

+ Main Cast

  1. Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange
  2. Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch
  3. Chiwetel Ejiofor as Karl Mordo
  4. Benedict Wong as Wong
  5. Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez
  6. Michael Stuhlbarg as Nicodemus West
  7. Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer

+ Plot

The sequel to the first Doctor Strange film takes place directly after the WandaVision (2021) show from Disney+. The mystic doctor dreams of himself and this unknown girl who can open portals to other dimensions. After meeting the same girl in the real world, Strange quickly realizes that the dreams were in part of a multi dimensional reality that is being threatened by a mysterious evil being who is in search of this girl’s portal wielding abilities. Meanwhile Doctor Strange visits Wanda to uncover the mystery of the Multiverse. And what follows, is what the Doctor perhaps never ordered…

+ High Points

i – The film is a fun watch throughout its runtime. With Sam Raimi back in his superhero gig, his knack for fast paced storytelling combined with dark humor and lively characters is what makes the sequel of Doctor Strange standout from the rest of the MCU films. And an unusual antagonist of the film was incredibly refreshing in my book. Even with inevitable studio mandates, this is undeniably a Sam Raimi film filled with glorious, unapologetic tongue in cheek gore and violence. And I can very well imagine this will not be everyone’s cup of tea. Those who are content with the so-called “Marvel formula” will be perplexed and disappointed but honestly, MCU definitely needs more experimentation like this film or the deeply disturbing Moon Knight series on Disney+. I had a blast watching this film and with its recent box office success, I hope the MCU execs give more leverage to film directors with a clear vision. In short; less of Ant-Man and more of Doctor Strange 2.

ii – Sam Raimi, oh how I miss thee! Whether you enjoy his work or not, you cannot deny the energy and dedication that he brings to every one of his films (yes, even Spider-man 3!). As mentioned above, this film has all the Sam Raimi tropes you can think of; cheesy one liners, homage to his earlier Evil Dead series, extras who can’t act, Bruce Campbell cameo, the works. Doctor Strange in MoM is far from being Superhero film masterpiece like The Dark Knight (2008) or The Avengers (2012), but it brings a lot of energy and a sense of excitement to each and every scene. From framing, camera movement, editing or music, the director utilizes each and every aspect of its craft to elevate the capacity of filmmaking to its potential. There were numerous scenes where I went “Huh, I’ve never seen that happen in a Marvel film before..” and not since Avengers: Infinity War (2018) did I have that feeling for a MCU film.

 MoM also has a mad third act which made me enjoy the film even more. And above everything else, MoM has what the first Doctor Strange couldn’t; a sense of personality. 

iii – There are many out there who protest that this film should have been called ‘Wanda in the Multiverse of Madness’ and they are half right cause Elizabeth Olsen just stole the show away from Cumberbatch with her performance. Thrusted into a role she is not used to playing, Olsen did a great job in diving into her character’s tortured persona and bring out the pain and suffering through her acting chops. But needless to say Benedict Cumberbatch as the mystic Doctor Strange and Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez played their part in investing the viewer into the world of Doctor Strange.

iv – For the most part, MoM is a self-contained story and is not too busy paying homages or building up sequels. There are obviously some fan service cameos in the film from the characters even casual audiences can recognize but it was never egregious or out of place to the context of the film.  

v – In most cases, Dr Strange 2 can easily be described as a horror film with a cheeky sense of humor. And I am genuinely surprised that with a PG-13 rating, how Marvel managed to get away with most of its gory horror scenes. This will inevitably drive away younger audiences or in cases, will make them sleep with the night light on but if you know Sam Raimi and his previous works, you should have expected it by now. Personally, I found it thoroughly entertaining. 

vi – The score by the legendary Danny Elfman was fantastic and a massive contributing factor to the enjoyment of the film. Elfman was obviously hired due to the insistence of Raimi since they had worked together on the Spider-man trilogy.

+ Low Points

i – Doctor Strange in MoM has certain problems, mainly in the storytelling department. The pacing and flow of the narrative is not as smooth as Raimi’s previous films and feels disjointed at times, especially in the final act. Now, did it break my sense of enjoyment? Heck no but I can imagine for some, this could prove to be an issue. 

ii – With a title like ‘… in the Multiverse of Madness’, one cannot help but wonder if there could have been more ‘Madness’ added into the mix? With the premise of Multiverse, I wish we could have seen more parallel universes and different timelines with different Earths and so on. 

iii –  Even though the final act was a lot of fun to experience, the resolution did seem very ordinary and was disappointing to say the least. With all its issues, the first Doctor Strange (2017) did have an unusual resolution to a world threatening problem. If you know the premise, you know how the antagonist will be defeated.

iv – The film relies heavily on the ending to the Disney+ TV series, WandaVision (2021) and that’s not a great way to bring in new viewers. Those who are not aware of the TV series will be left confused as to what is actually going on. Make films more accessible or at least a narrative recap to the reference. The film’s plot kicks off with basically no prior explanations or recaps and hope that you are up to speed with everything Marvel. This could be one of the bigger contributing factors as to why some audience members will feel a bit lost throughout the film.

+ Overall

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is not a perfect film by any means but it easily covers its flaws with fun, fast paced actions, tongue in cheek horror and a personality all of its own.

Rate : out of 5 stars

TV series

Mr. Khan’s Review on Sang-e-Mah – Episode XVIII (2022)

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Sang-e-Mah Episode 18 (2022). The new TV series is directed by Saife Hassan and written by Mustafa Afridi. Sang-e-Mah is the spiritual continuation of the saga introduced in the Hum TV drama Sang-e-Mar Mar (2016). Sang-e-Mah is the acting debut of the famous Pakistani pop star Atif Aslam and the drama is a Momina Duraid Production.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Saife Hassan
  • Written by Mustafa Afridi
  • Produced by Momina Duraid Productions

+ Note

The drama Sang-e-Mah serves as a spiritual sequel to the show Sang-e-Mar Mar (2016) with Noman Ejaz, Sania Saeed and many others returning to the same cast and crew. The drama deals with life in the Pakhtoon region of Pakistan and explores such hard hitting topics like forced marriages and integral family relationships. According to the director, Sang-e-Mah serves under similar themes as its predecessor, in a three part trilogy, ending it with the next planned show, Sang-e-Siyah.

 + Main Cast

  1. Atif Aslam as Hilmand Khan
  2. Nauman Ijaz as Haji Marjaan Khan
  3. Kubra Khan as Sheherzaad
  4. Hania Amir as Gul Meena
  5. Zaviyar Nauman Ijaz as Hikmat Khan
  6. Sania Saeed as Zarghuna
  7. Samiya Mumtaz as Zarsanga
  8. Omair Rana as Mastaan Singh
  9. Najiba Faiz as Harshaali Kaur
  10. Hassan Noman as Badam Gul

+ Plot

Sang-e-Mah is a story of a dysfunctional Pakhtoon family in the tribal regions of Pakistan where pride and honour mostly triumphs over empathy and forgiveness. The show deals with issues such as young love and opposing families who are engaged in a tribal battle with one another.

+ High Points

i – If one could get past all the illogical scenes involving Sherherzad, there were some strong performances by the main cast especially from Nauman Ijaz and Samiya Mumtaz. Regardless of the declining quality of the show, these two actors are always enigmatic onscreen together. But with that said, Zaviyar Ijaz also gave a short yet memorable performance. 

+ Low Points

i – Half of the episode was dedicated to wrapping up the Sherherzad childhood abuse subplot and by God, was it just awful to sit through! With each progressive dialogue, it was equivalent to nails scratching profusely on a chalkboard. Horrible set pieces, unrealistic power fantasies and undoubtedly some of the worst scenes this show has ever produced. Cheesy, hokey writing that did harm to not only the integrity of the show but the cast as well. I don’t think it needs to be pointed out why such immediate resolutions to a decades long psychological and physical torture are harmful to be depicted on television. We, as a Pakistani society, need to go a long, long way in order to understand female representation and how physical abuse victims are spat upon by our own society before they ever have the chance to receive some form of justice. Such quick, one or two scene resolutions are nothing less than an insult to the very social problem the show is trying to address. One simple rule to producers of Sang-e-Mah, if you cannot maturely, realistically address a social issue, don’t bother addressing it at all. At least we can now thank our lucky stars that this subplot is finally done with (fingers crossed)!

ii – It is incredibly perplexing to me how Mastaan Singh’s attempted murder is being treated so lightly by others who know his secret. Not only that but it was an attempted murder of a son from a respected leader of the village. Nobody seems to really care and vice a versa, neither do we as an audience. Within a span of a few episodes, the show destroyed one of its best written characters Mastaan Singh with nonsensical writing.  

iii – At this point one could care less about the whole Khan family drama as the main plot of the show has not progressed since the previous 4-5 episodes! Solely because the show was too focused on its subplots which contributed pretty much nothing to the overall narrative. This included such “engaging” storylines like Sherherzad’s past abuse, a side character learning about religious tolerance, other characters debating if Mastaan Singh should confess to his crime or not and so on. With each and every week, Sang-e-Mah is not the show as it started off as, losing its focus with each and every episode, making it abundantly clear that the show has been searching for random subplots to prolong the show to its 25 episodes mark.

+ Overall

Sang-e-Mah’s take on child abuse has been awful and unrealistic to say the least. If you cannot approach such serious subject matters with the level of respect that it deserves then you are just insulting the victims more than representing them on screen.

Rate: out of 5 stars 

TV series

Mr. Khan’s Review on Sang-e-Mah – Episode XVII (2022)

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Sang-e-Mah Episode 17 (2022). The new TV series is directed by Saife Hassan and written by Mustafa Afridi. Sang-e-Mah is the spiritual continuation of the saga introduced in the Hum TV drama Sang-e-Mar Mar (2016). Sang-e-Mah is the acting debut of the famous Pakistani pop star Atif Aslam and the drama is a Momina Duraid Production.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Saife Hassan
  • Written by Mustafa Afridi
  • Produced by Momina Duraid Productions

+ Note

The drama Sang-e-Mah serves as a spiritual sequel to the show Sang-e-Mar Mar (2016) with Noman Ejaz, Sania Saeed and many others returning to the same cast and crew. The drama deals with life in the Pakhtoon region of Pakistan and explores such hard hitting topics like forced marriages and integral family relationships. According to the director, Sang-e-Mah serves under similar themes as its predecessor, in a three part trilogy, ending it with the next planned show, Sang-e-Siyah.

 + Main Cast

  1. Atif Aslam as Hilmand Khan
  2. Nauman Ijaz as Haji Marjaan Khan
  3. Kubra Khan as Sheherzaad
  4. Hania Amir as Gul Meena
  5. Zaviyar Nauman Ijaz as Hikmat Khan
  6. Sania Saeed as Zarghuna
  7. Samiya Mumtaz as Zarsanga
  8. Omair Rana as Mastaan Singh
  9. Najiba Faiz as Harshaali Kaur
  10. Hassan Noman as Badam Gul

+ Plot

Sang-e-Mah is a story of a dysfunctional Pakhtoon family in the tribal regions of Pakistan where pride and honour mostly triumphs over empathy and forgiveness. The show deals with issues such as young love and opposing families who are engaged in a tribal battle with one another.

+ High Points

i – No real highlights this week. Just unoriginal family melodrama that does not require much thought. If some mindless television is what you are searching for then Episode 17 was completely serviceable.

+ Low Points

i – Episode 17 was arguably one of the worst episodes that Sang-e-Mah has ever produced. Apparently the show is still pushing on with the tragic Sherherzad backstory and it was bad writing at its finest. The dialogues were generic, the acting was subpar and lacked any sort of conviction. I have been very local about the Sherherzad subplot being forcefully integrated into the narrative when there were already enough stories to be unfolded from the main plot. Why is Sherherzad being given the spotlight in the MIDDLE of the Khan family/ murder drama? Why is Marjaan Khan so eager to get revenge on her behalf? How does he even have the time to personally track down the doctor and not just send one of his minions to do the job for him? Not only is it unoriginal in its take on child abuse but due to bad writing, this subplot is terribly forced into the show. And judging from the end of the episode, I think we are far from done with this subplot… 

ii – The actress who played Dr. Haider’s wife… It has been a while since I have seen such stiff acting on a Momina Duraid production but by God, she somehow accomplished it. Given such a pivotal role in the Sherherzad subplot, she ends up demolishing whatever credibility this story might have had with her performance.  

iii – What is even worse is that even if you exclude all the Sherherzad subplot storyline, this episode has no real redeeming qualities at all. Each and every scene involving Hilmand was repetitive from the previous few episodes. And it is still confusing to me that even though Hikmat is the prime suspect in the case of attempted murder of Hilmand, there apparently is no uproar from the village for an investigation or anything of the sort. Seems as if it was just a slap on the face. Ridiculous. At the moment, I have no idea where this show is heading but most probably not somewhere intriguing.

+ Overall

Episode 17 was a bore to sit through. Not worth your time.

Rate: out of 5 stars 

TV series

Mr. Khan’s Review on Sang-e-Mah – Episode XVI (2022)

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Sang-e-Mah Episode 16 (2022). The new TV series is directed by Saife Hassan and written by Mustafa Afridi. Sang-e-Mah is the spiritual continuation of the saga introduced in the Hum TV drama Sang-e-Mar Mar (2016). Sang-e-Mah is the acting debut of the famous Pakistani pop star Atif Aslam and the drama is a Momina Duraid Production.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Saife Hassan
  • Written by Mustafa Afridi
  • Produced by Momina Duraid Productions

+ Note

The drama Sang-e-Mah serves as a spiritual sequel to the show Sang-e-Mar Mar (2016) with Noman Ejaz, Sania Saeed and many others returning to the same cast and crew. The drama deals with life in the Pakhtoon region of Pakistan and explores such hard hitting topics like forced marriages and integral family relationships. According to the director, Sang-e-Mah serves under similar themes as its predecessor, in a three part trilogy, ending it with the next planned show, Sang-e-Siyah.

 + Main Cast

  1. Atif Aslam as Hilmand Khan
  2. Nauman Ijaz as Haji Marjaan Khan
  3. Kubra Khan as Sheherzaad
  4. Hania Amir as Gul Meena
  5. Zaviyar Nauman Ijaz as Hikmat Khan
  6. Sania Saeed as Zarghuna
  7. Samiya Mumtaz as Zarsanga
  8. Omair Rana as Mastaan Singh
  9. Najiba Faiz as Harshaali Kaur
  10. Hassan Noman as Badam Gul

+ Plot

Sang-e-Mah is a story of a dysfunctional Pakhtoon family in the tribal regions of Pakistan where pride and honour mostly triumphs over empathy and forgiveness. The show deals with issues such as young love and opposing families who are engaged in a tribal battle with one another.

+ High Points

i – Arguably the strongest asset that Sang-e-Mah possesses is the powerful one on one interactions of its main cast and episode 16 were filled with such instances. The heartfelt dialogue between Marjaan Khan and Sherherzad brought a hint of the Khan sahib’s past that I frankly was not expecting but was great nonetheless. His fading childhood memory of a random act of kindness brought a lot of depth to Marjaan’s character and perhaps, we understand him and his motivations a bit better now. With good screenwriting, the viewer does not need to necessarily agree with the actions of the character but rather simply try to empathize with them.

ii – A rare scene that was shared between Hilmand and his mother was brilliantly realized and just made me realize why this show did not allow these two characters to interact more often. Since Atif Aslam is still an amateur actor, working with veterans of the television industry brings out the best in him and creates wonderful back and forth with one another. And the irony of all this is that Hilmand was unconscious throughout the entire scene and still was arguably the most compelling part of the episode!

iii – Visually, Sang-e-Mah has always been top notch in quality. The contrast of illuminated lighting accompanied by dark shadows brings so much atmosphere to the show. Props should go to the entire production crew for doing such a fantastic job each and every week.

+ Low Points

i – The first 10 minutes of the episode were some of the worst that this show has ever produced. The village elders and the entire Hilmand crew are some of the most useless side characters and they contribute nothing to the overall narrative of the show. They are all two dimensional caricatures of themselves and are involved in scenes which can be entirely skipped. Thankfully, once Marjaan and Zarsanga came into the picture, that’s when the episode really picked up.

ii – Even though the interactions between the colorful cast of characters were great, they did lack some form of sceneric variety to them. All of the scenes consisted of actors just sitting around and talking. This is something I have always complained about the show. To get some depth of realism, Sang-e-Mah needs to show its characters interacting more with their environment like walking in the fields, picking apples, cleaning the house or your study room, folding clothes… anything that could make the audience relate to the characters they are watching on tv. 

+ Overall

Episode 16 was a treat to watch solely due to its well written exposition scenes.

Rate: out of 5 stars 

TV series

Mr. Khan’s Review on Sang-e-Mah – Episode XV (2022)

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Sang-e-Mah Episode 15 (2022). The new TV series is directed by Saife Hassan and written by Mustafa Afridi. Sang-e-Mah is the spiritual continuation of the saga introduced in the Hum TV drama Sang-e-Mar Mar (2016). Sang-e-Mah is the acting debut of the famous Pakistani pop star Atif Aslam and the drama is a Momina Duraid Production.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Saife Hassan
  • Written by Mustafa Afridi
  • Produced by Momina Duraid Productions

+ Note

The drama Sang-e-Mah serves as a spiritual sequel to the show Sang-e-Mar Mar (2016) with Noman Ejaz, Sania Saeed and many others returning to the same cast and crew. The drama deals with life in the Pakhtoon region of Pakistan and explores such hard hitting topics like forced marriages and integral family relationships. According to the director, Sang-e-Mah serves under similar themes as its predecessor, in a three part trilogy, ending it with the next planned show, Sang-e-Siyah.

 + Main Cast

  1. Atif Aslam as Hilmand Khan
  2. Nauman Ijaz as Haji Marjaan Khan
  3. Kubra Khan as Sheherzaad
  4. Hania Amir as Gul Meena
  5. Zaviyar Nauman Ijaz as Hikmat Khan
  6. Sania Saeed as Zarghuna
  7. Samiya Mumtaz as Zarsanga
  8. Omair Rana as Mastaan Singh
  9. Najiba Faiz as Harshaali Kaur
  10. Hassan Noman as Badam Gul

+ Plot

Sang-e-Mah is a story of a dysfunctional Pakhtoon family in the tribal regions of Pakistan where pride and honour mostly triumphs over empathy and forgiveness. The show deals with issues such as young love and opposing families who are engaged in a tribal battle with one another.

+ High Points

i – I admire the way certain themes were handled in Episode 15. Themes regarding decades long friendship between Baddam Gul and Mastaan Singh or religious biases one could have regarding belief differences. The lessons were never overbearing and were communicated with some thought behind it. 

ii – Thankfully episode 15 was never plot heavy. Infact, it was a breeze to sit through. The show this week focused more on building relationships between the existing characters and exploring situations that could prove fatal to the people involved in them. The structure and the flow from one scene to the next was well executed and enhanced the overall viewing experience.

iii – When it comes to framing and setting up a scene, Sang-e-Mah is breathtaking to watch. Each frame you can just pause, print it out and hang it on your wall.

+ Low Points

i – There are just certain subplots carried from the previous episode that should have no place in this show, namely the Sherherzad and the misogynistic doctor Haider. Not only does the subplot not fit with the lead narrative of the show but it is also poorly timed and executed. The doctor is as cliche of an antagonist as they come and the coincidence of him ending up being the lead surgeon for Hilmand’s operation is also ludicrous. I understand that the show is trying hard to bring some depth into Sherherzad’s character but that also could have been achieved by just her interacting with the Khan family without a tacked on tragic, abusive past. The show could have just built a subplot around Sherherzad’s struggle working as a female journalist in a male dominated world and that alone is worth exploring without a needless back story that fits nowhere in the show.

ii – Although the situational drama with character interactions were great, the acting itself came off quite stiff and unconvincing from certain characters, namely the christian doctor. Not to mention, there were some cringeworthy dialogues like “Ziada Pathan mat bano! (Don’t be such a Pathan!)”. That was just horrendous writing.

iii – I really despise how little they have utilized Hilmand as a character and given him any depth to his character. In almost every scene, he just lethargically moans and complains about the situation he is in. And to top it off, there is absolutely zero chemistry between him and Sherherzad to build any romance around them. And as a result, Sang-e-Mah suffers heavily for lacking any interesting main protagonist on the show.

+ Overall

Sang-e-Mah is great when it focuses on building relationships but terrible at elevating its main plot. And episode 15 is a perfect example of it.

Rate: out of 5 stars

TV series

Mr. Khan’s Review on Sang-e-Mah – Episode XIV (2022)

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Sang-e-Mah Episode 14 (2022). The new TV series is directed by Saife Hassan and written by Mustafa Afridi. Sang-e-Mah is the spiritual continuation of the saga introduced in the Hum TV drama Sang-e-Mar Mar (2016). Sang-e-Mah is the acting debut of the famous Pakistani pop star Atif Aslam and the drama is a Momina Duraid Production.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Saife Hassan
  • Written by Mustafa Afridi
  • Produced by Momina Duraid Productions

+ Note

The drama Sang-e-Mah serves as a spiritual sequel to the show Sang-e-Mar Mar (2016) with Noman Ejaz, Sania Saeed and many others returning to the same cast and crew. The drama deals with life in the Pakhtoon region of Pakistan and explores such hard hitting topics like forced marriages and integral family relationships. According to the director, Sang-e-Mah serves under similar themes as its predecessor, in a three part trilogy, ending it with the next planned show, Sang-e-Siyah.

 + Main Cast

  1. Atif Aslam as Hilmand Khan
  2. Nauman Ijaz as Haji Marjaan Khan
  3. Kubra Khan as Sheherzaad
  4. Hania Amir as Gul Meena
  5. Zaviyar Nauman Ijaz as Hikmat Khan
  6. Sania Saeed as Zarghuna
  7. Samiya Mumtaz as Zarsanga
  8. Omair Rana as Mastaan Singh
  9. Najiba Faiz as Harshaali Kaur
  10. Hassan Noman as Badam Gul

+ Plot

Sang-e-Mah is a story of a dysfunctional Pakhtoon family in the tribal regions of Pakistan where pride and honour mostly triumphs over empathy and forgiveness. The show deals with issues such as young love and opposing families who are engaged in a tribal battle with one another.

+ High Points

i – All the scenes involving Samiya Mumtaz as Zarsanga were fantastic. There was tons of drama and emotion behind each scene but at the end, it was Samiya’s performance that knocked them out of the park. The hair coloring scene which was shared between Zarsanga and Zarghuna was not only well written but was also visually compelling to watch. As the news dawns upon Zarsanga that her son might be fighting for his life in the hospital, tears stream down her face with a slow momentum of the camera forward to frame the two sisters together. These are the kind of scenes that make Sang-e-Mah feel natural and realistic. I hope the next coming episodes contain more scenes like this.

ii – I also loved the on screen chemistry between Marjaan Khan and his wife. Earlier in the episode, they share a wonderful scene together which makes it obvious how much they are still in love with each other without uttering the words to signify it. For the two veteran actors, it just comes naturally to them as they have tons of acting experience behind them to make it work. 

+ Low Points

i – Apart from scenes involving Zarsanga, the rest of the episode was a letdown. The only plot that saw some form of development was the uninteresting and pointless backstory of Sherherzaad. Although tragic, the backstory feels incredibly tacked onto the overall narrative of the show. Firstly, you have the tension between Marjaan and his step son Hilmand, then the forcibly marriage situation between Hilmand and Gul Meena which has prompted her lover Hikmat to take revenge against his own brother. Then you have the side story of Mastaan Singh, not to mention Zarghuna’s unresolved beef with her past. Do we really need to be involved with yet another tragic backstory? Apart from that, the story itself is dull and lifeless, including caricature, mustache twirling performance by the antagonist. Let this be clear that I am always up for strong female leads on Pak television but not when it feels irrelevant to the overall plot of the show.

ii – Later in the episode, there were way too many nonsensical exposition scenes which dragged the episode way too much for its own good. As a viewer, do I really need to sit through why slapping the doctor who is heading the medical operation of Hilmand was a mistake? Sang-e-Mah undeniably has a vast list of characters and a supporting cast. We really don’t need any more. Develop the ones you already have.

iii – The police raid at the hospital also felt reckless and out of the blue. So apparently the law enforcers are searching for the Khan family now? And this buffoon from the Hilmand gang just decided to reveal the identity to a couple of police guards? This was just incredibly lazy writing. No prior information, no scene build up, just random events happening to keep the show going.

+ Overall

An improvement from the previous week but not by much. The needless exposition scenes are ultimately killing the narrative flow of Sang-e-Mah.

Rate:out of 5 stars