Mr. Khan’s Review on Neeli Dhoop (1994)

A review on Pakistani longplay Drama, Neeli Dhoop (1994). The PTV classic longplay is directed by Nariman and is written/ starring the veteran actress of Pakistani Industry, Bushra Ansari. The longplay also stars Sajid Hasan and Nighat Chodhri. This telefilm was aired on Pakistan Television in 1994.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Nariman
  • Written by Bushra Ansari
  • Edited by Fakhar-ul-Hasnain Zaidi
  • DOP by Salman Naji, Ibnul-Hashim and Mohammad Moiz Khan
  • Music Composed by Javed Allah Ditta
  • Produced by Meera

+ Note

Neeli Dhoop is the debut of Bushra Ansari as a writer for Pakistani Television. The longplay deals with such heavy themes like late marriage and the societal complications that come with it. Just by viewing the longplay, one could tell how personal the project of Neeli Dhoop was for the veteran actress. With the direction of the elder daughter of Bushra herself, Nariman brings the camera up close and personal, challenging the norms of a society and misperception regarding customs and religion. According to a DAWN newspaper interview of Dec 19 2010, Bushra Ansari came up with the script after she met a woman in a similar situation about 12 years ago before the release of the longplay. Upon release, Neeli Dhoop was relatively a critical and commercial success.

 + Main Cast

  1. Bushra Ansari as Nasira
  2. Sajid Hasan as Mansoor
  3. Nighat Chodhri as Rani
  4. Shahood Alvi as Shahood
  5. Arjumand Rahim as Naveeda
  6. Faryal Ali as Mano
  7. Mubassir Khan as Mrs. Barki
  8. Shahzad as Pervez
  9. Nilofar Khan as Shaila

+ Plot

Nasira (Bushra Ansari) is content with her life or at least she thinks she is. Although she became a widow some decades ago, she is happy to see their daughter start a family of her own. But with each passing day, the solitude of old age creeps upon her. After a marriage proposal from her cousin Mansoor (Sajid Hasan), Nasira reluctantly accepts it but ends up being mocked and ridiculed by the society and people around her. 

+ High Points

i – I don’t think anyone can start this review without addressing the controversial subject matter of Neeli Dhoop. Back in 1994, this was such a daring topic to engulf upon the Pakistani audience. Although the concept of late marriage is approved by Islam, it is still a controversial subject to bring upon the dinner tables of all Pakistani households. If a woman lost her husband at an early age and decided to not remarry right away, she is forever damned to remain lonely and unhappy for the rest of her life rather than finding happiness on her own later on in Life. High Art is a concept which is supposed to challenge the viewer’s perception on life and his/ her surroundings and Neeli Dhoop’s unapologetic wallop with the face of truth makes it such an engaging watch. Personally, I miss 90s Pakistani Television where they dared to be bold and different, where the only subject for each drama wasn’t a “love triangle” between three handsome co-stars. The content made you think, left a lingering thought long after the show was over. And Neeli Dhoop does exactly that.

ii – While also serving as the writer for the longplay, Bushra Ansari is enigmatic and fully in control of her performance as always. It is admirable how easily she could mold her acting skills with each passing scene, creating a concucment of happiness and despair. Perhaps an obvious statement but a longplay like this would’ve never worked if not for Bushra Ansari’s meticulously calculated performance.

iii – But all is not gloomy and dark, Sajid Hasan brings a much needed levity and comedic relief to the longplay. Whenever onscreen, Sajjid is fun to watch but most importantly, the quips and jokes never overstay their welcome. They are pretty much timed according to where the script could serve best. Watching two veterans of Pakistani television; Bushra and Sajjid on screen together is always a delight for the viewers.

iv – It is hard to imagine that this was Bushra Ansari’s first ever debut script for Pakistani television. The scenes blend well with each other, creating a perfect narrative flow throughout its 90 min runtime. But most importantly, it is the dialogues that are incredibly down to earth, giving the viewer a sense of “familiarity” and a certain attachment to its characters. They transcend beyond “written literature” and are casual enough for the audience to undoubtedly relate to the characters they are witnessing onscreen. Some of the off-hand jokes and observations of Sajjid Khan genuinely made me chuckle. 

v– The interactions between characters feel real. They never come off staged or exaggerated to enhance the audience’s perception of the emotions that the longplay is conveying. It never insults your intelligence nor does it look down upon you. Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of Neeli Dhoop is that it encourages you to elevate yourself and look at the longplay straight in its eyes and choose to either admire it or hate it.

vi– While giving away no spoilers, the ending pulls no punches. The longplay ends exactly how it was meant to be; bold and uncompromising. With all honestly, I really admire Bushra Ansari to take the high route and not succumb to false, unrealistic resolutions.

 + Low Points

i – Since Neeli Dhoop is a 90s production, it does have the obvious 90s production tropes. The camerawork is insipid, mainly working with mid close to close ups of actors, music is forgettable, sound design is non-existent. Neeli Dhoop solely works as a longplay solely due to its tight script and performances. 

ii – While I did praise the conclusion for its boldness, it does admittedly feel a bit abrupt with many threads left tangled. But I suppose that’s how real life is. A minor complaint but perhaps a better resolution was needed between characters that we grew to love and care about. I wasn’t expecting them to ride together into the sunset but I suppose some vital questions were deliberately left unanswered, mainly the daughter and mother relationship at the end.

+ Overall

“They don’t make them like they used to!”. Nope they sure don’t. With so much monotony and insipid TV shows of today, Neeli Dhoop blows all of them out of the water with its bold and courageous storyline and characters. It is a hidden gem that every Pakistani drama lover should watch.

Rate: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s