TV series

Mr. Khan’s Review on Mohabat Subh Ka Sitara Hai (2013)

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Mohabat Subh Ka Sitara Hai (2013). The 23 Episode limited TV series is directed by Sakina Samo and is a Momina Duraid production. Mohabat Subh Ka Sitara Hai was aired on HUM TV from Dec 2013 till May 2014.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Sakina Samo
  • Written by Umera Ahmed
  • Edited by Tanveer Alam and Afzal Fayaz
  • DOP by Ilyas Kashmiri
  • Music Composed by Shani
  • Opening Theme song “Ye Jo Ik Subha Ka Sitara” by Harshdeep Kaur
  • Produced by Momina Duraid

+ Note

Mohabat Subh Ka Sitara Hai is a case study on family politics and how wealth could potentially always be the root cause of Evil. Sanam Jung plays the part of Romaisa who, due to her father’s valuable lessons in Life, is apparently left uncorrupted by envy and greed that plagues humanity since the beginning of time. When Romaisa was young, her father told her the tale of the mysterious morning star. Even though the star is always visible, one cannot see it just through vision but with the aid of their heart. Throughout the show, Romaisa is constantly in search of that star, the one that could finally bring peace and happiness in her Life.

At 3rd Hum Awards in 2014, Mohabat Subh Ka Sitara Hai won ‘Best Actor” by Mikaal Zulfiqar and “Best Supporting Actress” by Mansha Pasha.

 + Main Cast

  1. Sanam Jung as Romaisa Sikandar
  2. Mikaal Zulfiqar as Nabeel Sikandar
  3. Adeel Hussain as Zeeshan Sikandar
  4. Mansha Pasha as Aliya, Romaisa’s aunt daughter.
  5. Mira Sethi as Rabia, Zeeshan ex-wife
  6. Farah Shah as Romaisa’s Khala

 + Supporting Cast

  1. Naeem Tahir as Nabeel and Zeeshan’s father
  2. Aini Zaidi as Nabeel and Zeeshan’s Mother
  3. Ali Tahir as Nabeel’s elder brother
  4. Tara Mehmood as Nabeel’s brother wife
  5. Hira Tareen as Hamna, Nabeel’s sister and Romaisa’s sister in law
  6. Hassan Noman as Hassan, Hira’s husband and Nabeel’s brother in law
  7. Sania Shamshad as Nayab, Nabeel brother’s wife sister (Guest Appearance/cameo)
  8. Rashid Farooqi as Romaisa’s father (only flashbacks)
  9. Kiran Fatima Bader as Jameela, Romaisa’s sister friend

+ Plot

Romaisa (played by Sanam Jung) is a young, orphan girl who, after the death of her father, is adopted by her aunt and her daughters. But life has never been easy for Romaisa as, due to her pure heart and kindness, is always taken advantage of by the people who surround her. In comes Nabeel (Mikaal Zulfiqar), a wealthy businessman who, due to Romaisa’s innocence and purity, falls head over heels in love with her. But as Life would have it, things do not go according to plan and Romaisa needs to search for that “morning star” so that she could finally achieve inner peace and happiness in her Life.

+ High Points

i – Mohabat Subh Ka Sitara Hai is fantastic in its execution when it comes to characterizations. Each of the main cast and side characters’ motivations are very well defined and depicted onscreen for the audience. And each character is not just a stereotypical version of themselves but rather, have subtle complexities within them. 

ii – Speaking of subtle complexities, the family drama is one of the key aspects of the show. And Mohabat Subh Ka Sitara Hai’s star shines the brightest when it comes to interaction with various family members. From the confident and brash to the weak and incompitent, the Sikandar family has it all. And the show was always compelling when the episodes solely focused on these integral dynamics between the siblings and in laws.

iii – Even though the performance was not always consistently flawless, Adeel Hussian as Zeeshan did a decent job in conveying his character to its fullest potential. As the story progressed, it became obvious that Zeeshan had to play a crucial part later in the show and the performance was more than up for the task.

iv – As a viewer, it’s also exciting to see how people from different social classes massively differ from one another. From the brash, sassy aunt of Romaisa and her daughters to the timid but cruel family members of the Sikandar family. And on some level, they still all seem very human. Credit here should go to Umera Ahmed’s writing and how her strength always lies in capturing different aspects of life within the city of Karachi.

v– The whole “Cinderella” story of Romaisa and her cruel Stepmother/ sisters who eventually meets her prince charming Nabeel was meretriciously integrated into the plot of the show. Mohabat Subh Ka Sitara Hai does have a very strong fairytale vibe to it and plays off seamlessly through its various characters and situational drama.

vi– An argument could be very well made that it is in fact the supporting cast of the show that makes it so compelling to watch. While the main cast does come off as bland and uninteresting at times, supporting characters such as Romaisa’s Aunt (Farah Shah) or Mansha Pasha who bring some life into the show.

 + Low Points

i – While the setup is interesting and the supporting cast is always fun to watch, Mohabat Subh Ka Sitara Hai has major flaws when it comes to the pacing and execution of the show. Firstly, the drama series did not need to be 23 episodes long. The length does not justify the time the viewer invested into the show, especially during the later half where the plot progression seemingly comes to a screeching halt. Almost a half of the supporting cast just disappears from the show and the themes of wealth and respect became incredibly repetitious till the last episode. Mohabat Subh Ka Sitara Hai starts off promising but is arguably a let down by the end.

ii – When it comes to the lead protagonist, the casting and writing of that character can either make or break the show. Even though Sanam Jung as Romaisa was fairly decent, the writing felt desperate in making her likeable for the audience who just ends up feeling incredibly naive and unintelligent at times. And if I be so honest, Romasia is not a likeable character at all. She comes off as a person who lets people emotionally abuse her for no good reason other than the fact that she wants everyone to like her. And what’s worse, this continues on till the last episode of the show! There is absolutely no character arc or a journey for Romaisa which is extremely disappointing for audiences who are supposed to empathize with her plight. And to top it off, even her future husband Nabeel makes fun of how naive and clueless she is about life. Initially, this is all justifiable as long as her character learns in the end to overcome her flaws. But sadly, that is not the case. 

I do not blame Sanam Jung because she did exactly what the script wanted her to do. It is clearly the writing which is at fault.

iii – As someone who has read my reviews before, knows beforehand that I am a fan of Umera Ahmed’s writing. I believe she has written great dramas and telefilms in the past but unfortunately, Mohabat Subh Ka Sitara Hai is one of her weakest works that I have come across. Most scenarios or vital scenes don’t feel organic but forced because the script wants it to happen. Case in point…

iv – The love story between Romaisa and Nabeel is incredibly forced and absurd. At first glance, how could Nabeel know that Romaisa is the one with “pure heart”? How much time did they spend talking to each other? Throughout the earlier episodes, Nabeel only comes off creepy who forces Romaisa into “dates” and lunches which she is visibly not very fond of. Only when she is forcefully married to Nabeel, does she “learn” to love her husband. How and why? What changed? Nothing is explained other than the fact that it needed to happen so the show could progress. Normally, one could claim that the male creatives write such depthless female characters but in this case, the writer and director are both women! There is no excuse for such terrible writing and reinforces the fact that a woman just needs a man to show her the way in life. Utterly disappointing.

v –  The production of the show is nothing special. Even with its various locations, the moving pictures are dower and bland. And that’s a real shame.

vi – There are way too many flashbacks of Romaisa and her father, always exclusively discussing what the morning star means. Does she literally have no other memories of her father? She is depicted to be around 7-8 years of age at the time so I’m sure she remembers a lot more than that.

vii – SPOILER ALERT!!! In the next point, I will talk about the ending of the show. You can skip directly to Overall if you would like to avoid it:

As a viewer, I waited for the episode where Romaisa finally stood up for herself and took control of her own life. But sadly, nothing such happens. Instead, Zeeshan comes up to her and painstakingly explains to her why she should’ve stood up for herself. What? What is the point in that? Why did Romaisa’s character arc not naturally bring that to the conclusion of the show? And apparently, that speech by Zeeshan made Romaisa finally see her “morning star”? The ending is so absurd and illogical. It ultimately leaves the viewer exhausted as to why he/ she invested so much time into this show.

+ Overall

Mohabat Subh Ka Sitara Hai starts off strong but ends with a whimper. The main protagonist is not sympathetic enough to sustain the audience’s interest throughout its 23 episodes. While there are some beacons of engagement with its colorful supporting cast, it unfortunately does not justify the time the viewer needs to invest in the show.

 Rate: 2.25 out of 5 stars

TV series

Mr. Khan’s Review on Raqeeb Se – Episode XIII (2021)

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Raqeeb Se – Episode 13 (2021). The new TV series is directed by Kashif Nisar and is a production of Momina Duraid Productions. Raqeeb Se is a HUM TV Production.

(Note: If you’ve already read the review of the previous episode, you can skip directly ahead to the High points section).

+ Crew

  • Directed by Kashif Nisar
  • Written by Beegul
  • DOP by Hassam Mairaj
  • Music Composed by Hadiqa Kiani
  • Produced by Momina Duraid Productions

+ Note

Raqeeb Se is the newest HUM TV Production and is once again the collaboration of the award winning Writer/ Director duo of Bee Gul and Kashif Nisar. 

The title of the show is heavily inspired by a poem from the legendary poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz when the young poet fell in love with a girl next door in Sialkot. But alas, as luck would have it, she one day unexpectedly left the city, only to be reunited years later when Faiz was already an established poet in the circles of Urdu literature. This encounter inspired Faiz to write a poem “Raqib Se!”. The backstory of this poem plays a crucial role in the premise of the show.

 + Main Cast

  1. Hadiqa Kiani as Sakina
  2. Noman Ijaz as Maqsood
  3. Sania Saeed as Hajra
  4. Faryal Mehmood as Insha
  5. Iqra Aziz as Ameera
  6. Saqib Sameer as Rafiq

+ Plot

Raqeeb Se is a call of Maqsood’s dark past that could potentially destroy his present life. In order to escape her abusive husband, Sakina, along with her daughter Ameera, flees from her village to find shelter at her former lover’s place, Maqsood. Unfortunately Maqsood, who still holds a grudge against Sakina’s past actions, refuses to aid her in her most dire situation. But his wife, Hajra, seems much more sympathetic to the situation and lets Sakina stay at their home till things are figured out for the future.

But can Sakina be trusted to stay out of Maqsood’s life or will they be tempted to rekindle their lost love and in the process, destroy what Maqsood and his wife Hajra have built together?

+ High Points

i – Thirteen episodes in, Raqeeb Se is finally picking up its pace. This episode in particular had much more memorable moments and interactions between the main cast. While there is still some room for improvement, Raqeeb Se is slowly but surely becoming compelling television every week.

ii – The mystery surrounding Insha and Maqsood is fairly interesting. Insha apparently despises her father on some level, perhaps finds him quite arrogant in his beliefs. Which makes as a viewer wonder if there is more than meets the eye?

iii – Any episode that Saba Faisal is involved in, becomes an entertaining watch by default. In every scene, she just dominates the scene with her mere presence and her sassy Punjabi brings endless joy and entertainment for a show which is inherently dower. 

iv – Surprisingly, Insha and Abdul’s expository dialogue has massively evolved and refined since the first episode. Both actors play off well from each other and their side romantic storyline is a welcome addition to the show.

v – The last scene and cliffhanger was great. It sets up a very important crossroad of how far Hajira is willing to go with Maqsood sahib and how this will affect Insha, their daughter in the process. This was a great way to end an episode.

 + Low Points

i – Raqeeb Se is in the process of developing its storyline on a regular basis but still needs a lot of work. With each coming episode, the audience would like answers for once and be toyed with. So far, Raqeeb Se feels like its on the right path but needs a lot of ground to cover in the next coming episodes in order to justify us investing an hour of our time each week.

ii – The ‘spilling of the Kavaa’ was an eye roller of a scene and tacky at best. I’m sure the writer can come up with something better for Maqsood and Sakina to have physical interaction than this. 

iii – So far, Rafiq Ali has been all bark and no bite. Since Episode 1, he was described as a ruthless, wife beater who always takes the bull by the horns but instead, he has done nothing significantly evil onscreen for the audience to hate this character. Make him do something! If he is indeed one of the antagonists of the show then give us a reason to hate him other than something happening off screen.

+ Overall

Another good episode! Raqeeb Se is now improving every week which is indeed a sight for sore eyes. Let us hope this trend continues till the last episode.

 Rate: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Feature Length Films

Mr. Khan’s Review on Tere Bin Laden (2010)

A review on Indian satirical comedy film, Tere Bin Laden (2010) starring famous Pakistani Singer Ali Zafar in his debut acting role. The film is written/ directed by Abhishek Sharma and is distributed by UTV Motion Pictures.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Abhishek Sharma
  • Written by Abhishek Sharma
  • Cinematography by Santosh Thundiyil
  • Music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy
  • Produced Pooja Shetty Deora and Aarti Shetty

+ Note

Tere Bin Laden is essentially a satirical comedy on the mass paranoia that erupted after the 9/ 11 bombings. According to the legend, the concept of the film was conceived when, due to a severe headache, Abhishek Sharma wrapped a cloth around his forehead to ease the pain which led to someone commenting that he resembled ‘Osama Bin Laden’. This got Sharam to write the first initial draft of the film. 

For this screwball comedy, Ali Zafar was apparently the first actor to be cast for the lead role since Abhishek Sharma thought that his “quirkiness and wit” from his music videos would suit perfectly for the film. The most difficult role to cast was indeed the role of fake Osama Bin Laden. After a long tedious process of casting, Sharma finally decided upon Pradhuman Singh who later studied tapes of Osama and learnt Arabic within 8 months of preparations. In order to depict Karachi in the film, the production was held in Mumbai and Hyderabad to resemble the setting as much as possible. 

Understandable, the film was proven to be controversial in some nations and many middle eastern countries outright banned the film from being released there. The critical and commercial response was mixed but the film was a decent box office success which promoted a sequel Tere Bin Laden: Dead or Alive in 2016.

 + Main Cast

  1. Ali Zafar as Ali Hassan
  2. Pradhuman Singh Mall as Noora / Osama Bin Laden
  3. Sugandha Garg as Zoya Khan
  4. Nikhil Ratnaparkhi as Gul
  5. Piyush Mishra as Majeed Khan
  6. Rahul Singh as Qureishi
  7. Seema Bhargav as Shabbo

 + Supporting Cast

  1. Barry John as Ted Wood (Ted-ji)
  2. Chirag Vohra as Lateef
  3. Chinmay Mandlekar as Usmaan
  4. Rajendra Sethi as Jamal Bhai (Travel agent)
  5. Harry Josh as Security guard
  6. Masood Akhtar as Goga from Rahim Yar Khan
  7. Sudipto Balav as an ISI agent

+ Plot

Ali Zafar plays the role of an ambitious reporter who badly wants to migrate to the US but does not possess the finances to do so. After shooting a report on a local Chicken show, Ali meets Noora who is the exact doppelganger of the most wanted man in the world, Osama bin Laden. This gives Ali an idea to disguise Noora as the infamous personality and sell the threatening videos to local news channels for profit.

+ High Points

i – Tere Bin Laden has a great premise for a screwball, satirical comedy. The idea works on so many levels and just the concept alone was enough for the audience who bought the ticket in the cinema. So major props for Abhishek Sharma for creating the perfect “hook” for the cinemagoers.  

ii – I think the biggest question going into this film on everyone’s minds was “Can Ali Zafar act?”. And the answer is; yes, yes he can. At least he did exactly what the script required of him. Could any other more seasoned actor have done a better job? Probably but after watching the film till the end, Ali Zafar did not feel out of place so some praise should go to his performance in the film.

iii – Talk about perfect casting; Pradhuman Singh as “Osama” was picture perfect. This film would have never worked if “Osama” was not visually convincing enough to fool the characters in the film but with good casting of fake Osama, Tere Bin Laden pulled the stunt successfully in the end. 

iv – From beginning to end, the story flows smooth and doesn’t feel stagnated at all. Around the 90 minute mark, Tere Bin Laden has the perfect length which neither feels too long or too short. 

v– To the film’s credit, the greed and hunger for success and capital is evenly depicted between all facets of this “War on Terror”. Al Qaeda is out there killing innocent bystanders in their Holy War while the U.S authorities are there to deceive the world as saviours but instead are making profit off human lives. There’s a good line of dialogue from the FBI agent Ted Wood after being asked why he ordered to bomb Afghanistan if Osama is hiding within Pakistan:

“We have a 100 Billion Dollar budget for hunting down Osama, I can’t spend all of that on sipping coffee!”

 + Low Points

i – Tere Bin Laden commits the most cardinal sin imaginable for any comedy film; too many bad jokes. The film can easily be described as the feature length version of ‘Kapil Sharma show’. With obnoxious “funny” sound effects and over the top acting, the film just utterly fails to live up to its interesting premise. Abhishek Sharma is unfortunately not talented enough to create a good satire out of this premise. He just ends up doing what he can do, creating an unfunny, unintelligible “comedy”.

ii – For a story satirising such serious, real life events, the film also needed to be convincing when it comes to creating the atmosphere. But unfortunately, Tere Bin Laden also utterly fails in that department. The film is supposed to be taking place in Karachi but being a fellow Karachitie, it felt nothing like the city that I’ve grown up in! The city itself is obviously Mumbai, no real effort was made to disguise it as the city of Lights (also, slapping a mere PIA logo on a shop in the background does not automatically make it Karachi!). And since the majority of the actors are Indian, they can only deliver their dialogues in Hindi/ Mumbai slang and nothing even comes close to it even remotely sounding like a Karachite! It was utterly embarrassing how badly the film fails in this aspect. And there is no one to blame for this other than the director Abhishek Sharma for this.

iii – The film is just utterly ridiculous. And I don’t mean it in a good way. The comedy, dialogue, performances, production/ set design, everything feels so cheap and disposable. Abhishek Sharma was sitting on a gold mine with such a unique premise but due to lack of actual writer/ directorial skills, Tere Bin Laden fails to become even remotely what the potential was behind such a premise.

iv – The characterization of each individual felt like they just walked off the variety hour TV set. Why does the TV news CEO wear a wig? Why is a communist a being a part of this scheme? Why did Osama’s look alike needed to be obsessed with chickens? None of this makes any sense and was only there for the sole purpose of a second long gag which they can stretch for 90 minutes. When it comes to comedy, Tere Bin Laden lacks real effort. The script needed a lot of work before it would’ve been remotely ready for production.

v – Although the jingle is memorable, the songs themselves are nothing praiseworthy. They are cheap renditions of thousand other Bollywood film songs.

vi – “White people are always idiots!”. Or at least that’s what every Bollywood film wants you to believe. And this film is no different. It’s obvious that Tere Bin Laden needs a bit of “suspension of disbelief” but there is also a limit to how far the viewer can go with this. The American authority figures are depicted as complete buffoons who can’t differentiate what is real and what is fake.

vii – So the main protagonist Ali Hassan creates a fake Osama Bin Laden video, threatening a Holy War against the US army which leads to them bombing Afghanistan in return, killing hundreds of innocent civilians. Are we supposed to root for our protagonist? Was he unaware this would eventually happen? I’m completely baffled what the intention of the director was with this film. Although later in the film, Ali Hassan tries to make things right, it’s too late for that. The civilians are already dead. As a viewer, why should I now even care if Ali Hassan would get to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming big in the US? It’s very insensitive to the people who have actually become victims in this War on Terror. 

viii – The conclusion of the film also made absolutely no sense. It’s obvious that the writer was stumped on how to conclude the story so he just decided to ignore logic altogether.

+ Overall

With such an interesting premise, Tere Bin Laden fails due to lack of effort in every department. From script to production to performances, the film could’ve been a sharp, satirical look on post 9/11 paranoia but instead, ends up being just another run of the mill Bollywood “comedy”. Talk about wasted potential.

Rate: 1.75 out of 5 stars

TV series

Mr. Khan’s Review on Raqeeb Se – Episode XII (2021)

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Raqeeb Se – Episode 12 (2021). The new TV series is directed by Kashif Nisar and is a production of Momina Duraid Productions. Raqeeb Se is a HUM TV Production.

(Note: If you’ve already read the review of the previous episode, you can skip directly ahead to the High points section).

+ Crew

  • Directed by Kashif Nisar
  • Written by Beegul
  • DOP by Hassam Mairaj
  • Music Composed by Hadiqa Kiani
  • Produced by Momina Duraid Productions

+ Note

Raqeeb Se is the newest HUM TV Production and is once again the collaboration of the award winning Writer/ Director duo of Bee Gul and Kashif Nisar. 

The title of the show is heavily inspired by a poem from the legendary poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz when the young poet fell in love with a girl next door in Sialkot. But alas, as luck would have it, she one day unexpectedly left the city, only to be reunited years later when Faiz was already an established poet in the circles of Urdu literature. This encounter inspired Faiz to write a poem “Raqib Se!”. The backstory of this poem plays a crucial role in the premise of the show.

 + Main Cast

  1. Hadiqa Kiani as Sakina
  2. Noman Ijaz as Maqsood
  3. Sania Saeed as Hajra
  4. Faryal Mehmood as Insha
  5. Iqra Aziz as Ameera
  6. Saqib Sameer as Rafiq

+ Plot

Raqeeb Se is a call of Maqsood’s dark past that could potentially destroy his present life. In order to escape her abusive husband, Sakina, along with her daughter Ameera, flees from her village to find shelter at her former lover’s place, Maqsood. Unfortunately Maqsood, who still holds a grudge against Sakina’s past actions, refuses to aid her in her most dire situation. But his wife, Hajra, seems much more sympathetic to the situation and lets Sakina stay at their home till things are figured out for the future.

But can Sakina be trusted to stay out of Maqsood’s life or will they be tempted to rekindle their lost love and in the process, destroy what Maqsood and his wife Hajra have built together?

+ High Points

i – Episode 12 pertains nothing new when it comes to plot development but was a breeze to watch thanks to interesting banter between the main cast of the show. This time, the episode was rich rather in character development and explored more the motivations and struggles of each individual locked within the world of Maqsood and his past.

ii – “So what do you enjoy in Life, Maqsood sahib?”

The back and forth between Maqsood and Ameera was excellent in this scene. It really showed the contrast of personalities or perhaps… Maqsood outer exterior is one hammer strike away from opening up to reveal his true emotions? Great stuff.

iii – It’s satisfying to watch that in this episode, Abdul finally fulfills a milestone in his own personal achievements and when done right, the scenes between Insha and Abdul can be very charming to watch.

iv – A new character has been introduced into the show and without revealing anything, I think he/ she could prove to be a valuable asset to the show.

v – Because of the emotional struggle that Sakina and Hajira face within themselves, they now (understandably) share an unspoken bond between each other. This is good writing from Beegul and breaks the stereotype that women who love the same man just need to constantly throw venomous insults at one another.

vi – The production value of the episode is once again top notch in quality. As said before, Raqeeb Se is the most unique looking show right now on Pakistani television. It relies on its skills of setting up lighting and contrast with shadows rather than just pulling the saturation high to hide its lack of team’s skills behind the camera.

 + Low Points

i – Raqeeb Se has always been a slow burn of a show. But regular plot progression is absolutely necessary in a weekly televised show if it wants to maintain its audience on a weekly basis. Although Episode 12 was not the worst offender, I really hope the show picks up its pace pretty soon.

ii – There has been too much teasing going on about why Hajira is really grateful to Maqsood and why she decided to marry him even though she knew he could never be hers. The revelation at this point of the show is necessary in order for the audience to feel empathy towards her. Right now, it just feels that show needs to go through this monotonous routine of:

“Maqsood has done so much for me…”

“But what has he really done?”

(Change of subject matter).

iii – Faryal Mehmood’s performance can be very effective in short bursts but in Episode 12, she has a long monologue just unfortunately felt slightly awkward due to her dialogue delivery. But with the right direction from Kashif Nisar, I’m certain she can improve upon this hurdle in her performance.  

+ Overall

Episode 12 is a definite improvement from the last few weeks and if the lack of regular plot progression is resolved within the coming weeks, Raqeeb Se has the potential to become must see TV.

 Rate: 3.25 out of 5 stars

Tele-Films

Mr. Khan’s Review on Behadd (2013)

A review on Pakistani telefilm Drama, Behadd (2013). The TV film is a directorial debut by Asim Raza and is written by the Urdu novelist Umera Ahmad. The film stars Nadia Jamil, Fawad Khan and the young Sajjal Ali. This telefilm is produced by Momina Duraid and is a HUM TV production.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Asim Raza
  • Written by Umera Ahmad
  • Edited by Kashif Ahmad and Wasim
  • DOP by Suleman Razzaq
  • Theme music by Fawad Khan
  • Music Composed by Hasil Qureshi
  • Produced by Momina Duraid

+ Note

The famous commercial TV director/ producer Asim Raza announced to the press beforehand that Behadd is going to be his directorial debut in the world of telefilms. As many of Umera Ahmad’s screenplays, Behadd serves also as a ‘slice of life’ tale and explores the relationship between a widowed mother and her young teenage daughter. The telefilm indulges in themes such as single parenthood and ‘selflessness’ verses ‘selfishness’. How important is one’s own happiness as compared to your child’s. 

The film was primarily shot in Karachi, Sindh and used real locations and settings of the city. After its release, Behadd received praise from critics and viewers alike and was the recipient of Hum Awards for Best Producer in 2014.

 + Main Cast

  1. Fawad Khan as Jamal “Jo” Ahmed
  2. Nadia Jamil as Masooma “Mo” Jamal
  3. Sajal Ali as Maha
  4. Nadia Afgan as Shafaq
  5. Nasheen Masud as Popi “Po” Masood
  6. Rahma Saleem as Fareena

 + Supporting Cast

  1. Adnan Siddiqui as Hassan (Masooma’s husband)
  2. Adnan Jaffar as Shafaq’s husband
  3. Shamoon Abbasi as Masooma’s boss
  4. Hira Tareen as Shaista (Jo’s proposal)

+ Plot

After the unfortunate death of her husband, Masooma (Nadia Jamil) is left to take care of their daughter Maha (Sajal Ali) all on her own. Along her journey to single parenthood, Masooma ends up meeting her old friend’s brother Jamal (Fawad Khan) and they both quickly realize that they have much more in common than they could ever hope for. 

+ High Points

i – Behadd’s ‘slice of Life’ plot is what makes most Pakistani Television so appealing to watch. With Umera Ahmad’s impeccable writing and Asim Raza’s meticulous direction, the telefilm works pretty much on every facet of successful storytelling. Even if you have never had a child or been a single parent, Behadd just feels so magnificently real and relatable. 

“If you indeed have to be selfless, how far can you take it?”

“What if your selflessness and wellbeing is being detrimental to those around? Should you then focus on your own happiness?” 

These are incredibly valid questions that we, in our line of duty of being a parent, tend to forget. 

ii – Brilliant performances all around but what stands tall above the rest is Nadia Jamil’s depiction as an overzealous single parent. Her reading of dialogue and body language conveys greatly her anguish and suffering behind the facade of being strong for her daughter.

iii – Some of the best scenes came not only from the climactic scenes of the telefilm but also the much quieter moments when Masooma is just casually interacting with her friends and colleagues in the office. The nonchalant manner of speech and dialogue is so crucial in inviting the audience to become part of the scene itself and Behadd’s writing and supporting cast exactly does that.

iv – And of course, the breakout performance by Sajal Ali as Maha was also a valiant effort in making this telefilm a success. Her performance was essential in order to captivate the audience into buying into this tale of mother/ daughter relationship. 

v– Behadd is a perfect example of why a show/ telefilm doesn’t need overbearing music and editing to force the audience into feeling sympathy with the characters. The writing and performances have to be good enough to invite their audience into that. Never did my attention falter or felt manipulated in any way. And that’s a sign of pure class from the creative team behind this telefilm.

vi– The song “Nindiya Re” by Kaavish is how seemlessly music and visuals can create the perfect rhythm. Perfect selection for Behadd’s OST.

vii– The conclusion of the story was also brilliantly handled and executed. Considering the circumstances of the storyline, this was probably the most logical conclusion that could have occured. Kudos to the entire team behind this telefilm!

 + Low Points

i – Honestly, whatever low points I have are mostly nitpicks but are still issues with the telefilm’s onset production. Namely, the overuse of Close Ups. Now close ups can be very impactful in visual language but only if they are used sparingly. Behadd unfortunately indulges in it a tad bit too much and it does lose its impact after a while. 

ii – And speaking of close ups, the cinematography is also nothing to admire at. Although it’s fairly competent by Suleman Razzaq, he did not use the visual language to its full potential and now just comes off sub par in contrast to the brilliant writing and performances of the telefilm.

iii – As much as I adore Behadd, it also suffers from the “rich people with rich people problems” syndrome. Now being wealthy does not equate to happiness, that’s fairly obvious but almost all Pakistani dramas/ telefilms shoot in lavious, massive houses so that they visually look pleasing to the eye and almost never a decision made based on the script. But have to give credit to Behadd as they did explain that they are living in the house as tenants. 

+ Overall

A well written script, brilliant performances, no overbearing use of music/ dramatic effects, Behadd is what every Pakistani telefilm should strive to be.  

Rate: 4.25 out of 5 stars

TV series

Mr. Khan’s Review on Raqeeb Se – Episode XI (2021)

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Raqeeb Se – Episode 11 (2021). The new TV series is directed by Kashif Nisar and is a production of Momina Duraid Productions. Raqeeb Se is a HUM TV Production.

(Note: If you’ve already read the review of the previous episode, you can skip directly ahead to the High points section).

+ Crew

  • Directed by Kashif Nisar
  • Written by Beegul
  • DOP by Hassam Mairaj
  • Music Composed by Hadiqa Kiani
  • Produced by Momina Duraid Productions

+ Note

Raqeeb Se is the newest HUM TV Production and is once again the collaboration of the award winning Writer/ Director duo of Bee Gul and Kashif Nisar. 

The title of the show is heavily inspired by a poem from the legendary poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz when the young poet fell in love with a girl next door in Sialkot. But alas, as luck would have it, she one day unexpectedly left the city, only to be reunited years later when Faiz was already an established poet in the circles of Urdu literature. This encounter inspired Faiz to write a poem “Raqib Se!”. The backstory of this poem plays a crucial role in the premise of the show.

 + Main Cast

  1. Hadiqa Kiani as Sakina
  2. Noman Ijaz as Maqsood
  3. Sania Saeed as Hajra
  4. Faryal Mehmood as Insha
  5. Iqra Aziz as Ameera
  6. Saqib Sameer as Rafiq

+ Plot

Raqeeb Se is a call of Maqsood’s dark past that could potentially destroy his present life. In order to escape her abusive husband, Sakina, along with her daughter Ameera, flees from her village to find shelter at her former lover’s place, Maqsood. Unfortunately Maqsood, who still holds a grudge against Sakina’s past actions, refuses to aid her in her most dire situation. But his wife, Hajra, seems much more sympathetic to the situation and lets Sakina stay at their home till things are figured out for the future.

But can Sakina be trusted to stay out of Maqsood’s life or will they be tempted to rekindle their lost love and in the process, destroy what Maqsood and his wife Hajra have built together?

+ High Points

i – Episode 11 brings slight closure between Sakina and Hajira. They have a brief interaction about Life choices and how they were at times forced to continue those choices against their will. Although brief, this was a good scene for the audience to sympathise with the two characters who have had (unfortunately) the least amount of development throughout the show up till now.

ii – I have to admit, it is kinda fun to see Ameera try her hardest to please Maqsood sahib. She sometimes moves away from her personality just to be a bit more like her mother Sakina because it is her that Maqsood sahib fell in love with in the first place. 

iii – The confrontation between Maqsood and Sakina was the highlight of the show. His frustrations towards Sakina’s lack of self respect indulges him to face his past and make Sakina realize that she needs to grow as a person in order to have a better future. I can’t help but wonder that (like the audience) even Maqsood got sick of Sakina just moping and cursing her own fate.

iv – The show has always had great production value and this episode was no exception. Camera work, lighting and set design were all once again top notch!

 + Low Points

i – It is extremely odd that even with a few confrontational scenes between the main cast in this episode, nothing ever really happens in this show. As a viewer, you don’t feel as if the story has progressed, or the satisfaction of investing your time watching this show. Perhaps the reason is that the status quo of the show never ever changes; Maqsood sahib is always grumpy, Sakina is always whining about her fate, Hajira always acts like a doormat, Ameera acts erratic and Insha goes to her boyfriend to complain about her family. And it’s unfortunately getting real old now.

ii – In Episode 11, the scene between Insha and Abdul once again turned into unnecessary expository dialogue. Yes, Insha’s family is dysfunctional, we as an audience just saw that. Why repeat that same information? It’s just a waste of a scene which the writer could easily use to further develop the storyline. 

iii – Awkward greenscreen during car driving scenes of the show. Doesn’t look good to a show which otherwise, has good production value.

iv – Maqsood sahib’s anger outbursts in each single episode is becoming tiresome real fast. It’s obvious that he is frustrated with the current state of affairs but anger outbursts are only impactful if done seldom. 

+ Overall

Episode 11 is yet another tale in the life of Maqsood sahib and the women around him. Even though there are a few good scenes, the storyline still remains unmoved.

 Rate: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Feature Length Films

Mr. Khan’s Review on Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021)

A review on Hollywood feature length film, Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021). The film is distributed by HBO Max streaming service and is part of the continuing DC Extended Universe.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Zack Snyder
  • Cinematography by Fabian Wagner
  • Edited by David Brenner
  • Written by Chris Terrio
  • Music by Tom Holkenborg
  • Produced by Charles Roven and Deborah Snyder

+ Crew II (Production Houses)

  • Warner Bros. Pictures
  • DC Films
  • Atlas Entertainment
  • The Stone Quarry

+ Note

During the Production of Justice League (2017), a terrible family tragedy occurred and the director Zack Snyder had to leave the project. Whilst adding the finishing touches to the film, the executives at Warner Bros. decided to hire Joss Whedon (who had prior experience on directing the massive Marvel success The Avengers (2012)) as the replacement for Snyder. But during Post Production, the WB executives became skeptical as to how they would compete and market Synder’s dark vision of Superheroes against a massive conglomerate like Marvel Studios. This led the company to add numerous reshoots, cut down the runtime from 4 hours to 2, rewrite certain scenes, shoot completely new footage and of course, the infamous ‘Moustache-gate’. The film was finally released in 2017, to a critical and commercial disappointment. The film was not the Snyder vision that DCEU fans were accustomed to neither was it the fun, light hearted ‘marvelesque’ superhero film that the WB execs were going for. It was obvious at that point that the DC cinematic Universe was in trouble.

In the coming years, fans started speculating that in the vaults of Warner Bros., lies an uncut Zack Snyder’s version of Justice League. Pretty soon, hashtags like #ReleaseTheSnyderCut were trending on social media and a massive cult following began for the unreleased version. Due to its strong popularity and demand, Zack Snyder and Warner Bros. reached an agreement with the streaming platform HBO Max to exclusively release the Zack Snyder’s version Justice League, as it was originally intended. The project began taking shape in early 2020. The film was then reassembled from ground up, excluding all reshot scenes and dialogue, instead opting for what Snyder had intended the film to be. There were a couple of scenes reshot exclusively for the Snyder Cut but most importantly, Zack Snyder got to revisit and fulfill his vision of Justice League. The film was finally finished and released on March 18 2021, garnering praise from critics and fans alike.

+ Main Cast

  1. Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne / Batman
  2. Henry Cavill as Kal-El / Clark Kent / Superman
  3. Amy Adams as Lois Lane
  4. Gal Gadot as Diana Prince / Wonder Woman
  5. Ray Fisher as Victor Stone / Cyborg
  6. Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry / Aquaman
  7. Ezra Miller as Barry Allen / The Flash
  8. Willem Dafoe as Nuidis Vulko
  9. Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor
  10. Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth
  11.  J. K. Simmons as James Gordon
  12. Ciarán Hinds as Steppenwolf

+ Plot

Superman is dead. And a new world threatening event is on the horizon. Wonder Woman and Batman need to assemble a team of superheroes (calling themselves ‘Justice League’) in order to fight for the very existence of the human race. Flash, Cyborg, Aquaman, all ultimately join in to fight against Steppenwolf, the destroyer of civilizations across the universe. Will the Justice League be able to defend the planet or would they need the help of the Man of Steel in order to fight this new wrath of Evil?

+ High Points

i – Zack Snyder’s Justice League is an improvement over the original theatrical cut in every possible way. The narrative flows a lot smoother, each character’s motivations are much better explained and get to bask in their own spotlight. It is truly baffling to me why Warner Bros. decided to chop the film and reshoot scenes which were perfectly good/ serviceable to begin with! And in most cases, better! The Snyder cut is yet another example why Studio execs should only focus on marketing the film rather than making creative choices. After the less than expected Box Office returns for Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, Warner Bros. execs panicked and tried their best to emulate the “Marvel Formula”. From badly written quips to light hearted banter, the film ended up resonating with neither the Marvel fans nor the Snyder fans. Thanks to active petition from the fans, we get to see the “behind the scenes” drama of how a creative force gets destroyed in order to have a safe financial return. Now, even Zack Snyder’s Justice League has its own set of flaws (which I will get to later on in the review) but it is safe to assume that the film exceeded my expectations (considering what a mess his last two DCEU films were).

ii – Unlike Whedon’s Justice League, Snyder’s film has a much better explanation of the plot; the three mother boxes, how they got awakened and what consequences it would have once they are all synchronised together. This way, the story has much more stakes going in and keeps the viewer invested throughout the film.

iii – There are two characters that clearly benefited from this recut of Justice League and one of them is Cyborg. His complete backstory was cut out from the original film, left him utterly unrelatable and useless throughout the film. Here, his character (before his transformation) had a lot going for him, gives enough time for the viewer to sympathise with his unfortunate situation and probably, the most emotional backstory of all of the Justice League characters.

iv – The second has to be Barry Allen/ the Flash. In Whedon’s version, Flash was the supposite “comic relief” of the film. But in reality, he was an annoying, bad quip machine that quickly became the least likable character of the Justice League. In Snyder’s version, he is still a comic relief of the film but his personality traits fit much better this time around. Barry Allen’s introduction scene of the film has to be the best, most poetic moment throughout the film. It was simply delightful to watch and was just shaking my head throughout the scene wondering “Why was this scene ever cut from the theatrical release!?”. Not only that, Flash also ends up being pretty integral to the final climactic battle at the end.

v – Less bad jokes. No obnoxious rant on “What is Brunch!?” or awkward Batman dialogue “Guess we’re not getting the Band back together!” or “Do you talk to fish?” or Superman responding to being resurrected from the dead as “Itchy!”. Ugh.

vi – No CGI removal of Superman’s mustache. Funny how a film significantly improves with its exclusion, huh?

vii – One of the most significant improvements that the Snyder cut has is that Justice League really works as a team. They are not overly dependent just on Superman to do the job for them. Each member has their own task to fulfil and in the process, gets to resonate with the audience.

viii – Unlike Snyder’s Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, Justice League is much better paced, the dialogues are much better written and each character has their own story arcs. I am by no means a Zack Snyder advocate, I am still not a fan of his portrayal of Superman and his “dark” cinematic universe but I do have sympathy for him with this film. Invertedly, the studio execs took advantage of Snyder’s personal tragedy, butchered his work without his consent and what is even worse, they spent millions of dollars on something which was actually good to begin with! Sheer, utter madness!

+ Low Points

i – For all that’s good with Synder’s original vision, it is at times very self-indulgent and bloated with numerous unnecessary scenes and dialogue. There is a 5 minute scene where Lois Lane hands Clark a shirt. Why do we need to see that? The film is at 4 hour runtime and even though Snyder fans will enjoy every minute of it, it feels completely tacked on and unnecessary to the overall experience. On one hand, I can understand why the Studio execs panicked when they saw a 4 hour nightmare. Three hours or so would have benefited the film perfectly. 

ii – Unlike Thanos from the Marvel films, Steppenwolf is an utterly dull and tiresome villain of the week. True, his motivations have been a bit more explored compared to the original film but sadly, not enough. At best, Steppenwolf is just a plot device for the Justice League to band together to fight the big baddy at the end.

iii – Midway through the film, a certain character makes a very brief cameo appearance and there was no reason for this to happen other than fan service. It will probably leave most audience members completely baffled by it and I don’t blame them.

iv – The last climactic battle is still a dark, muddy CGI mess. The strength of the film lies in its First to Second Act but ultimately suffers from the same Third Act issues as its theatrical counterpart.

v – Speaking of Bad CGI, this whole film is riddled with it. The CGI characters have no weight to them, the movement/ details are jerky and unresponsive at times, it’s amazing that with all that budget, Warner Bros. still can’t accompany their summer blockbusters with decent special effects.

vi – For lack of a better phrase, the film just looks ugly. Yes, the original had color saturation up to 11 but at least you could actually understand what was happening on screen. Snyder always opts for dark, flat colors which are in complete odds with what the Justice League should represent. 

vii – I wish I did not have to say this but… Lois Lane in Snyder films just plain sucks. She is treated by the plot as someone extremely important but her demeanor says otherwise. I cannot (for the life of me) care why she is focused so much during the film when all she has done up till now is mop and being rescued by Superman. 

viii – The 4:3 aspect ratio was supposedly Snyder’s original vision of the film (to fit the large IMAX screens). There is no obvious benefit that Justice League has from this format and it also doesn’t make any sense to release it in IMAX format only to end up being viewed by everyone on their 16:9 Television screens on HBO Max. 

ix – SPOILER ALERT!!! (if you would like to avoid it, please skip directly to the Overall Section):

Snyder’s Justice League has the “LOTR: The Return of the King” effect. Too many ridiculous endings that serve no purpose to the film. Did we really needed to see Martian Manhunter approach Bruce and painstakingly explain to him what will happen in the next coming sequels (which are apparently abandoned by WB/Snyder as of now), how “Lois is the key to all this” nonsense, a badly written dystopian future with hilarious R Rated dialogue between the Batman and Jared Leto’s Joker. Please, I really do not want to hear Joker make a “reach around” joke with Batman. That really is Zack Snyder at his worst. Being pointlessly “dark and edgy”. The film should’ve ended when Darkseid’s threat was averted.  

+ Overall

While the film suffers at times with its incredibly long runtime and overindulgence, Zack Snyder’s Justice League is still a massive improvement over the original. It is a picture perfect example of how a film studio destroys a vision that filmmaker has and why creativity should be left best to the creators. 

Rating: 2.0 out of 5.0 stars (Theatrical release)

Rating: 3.75 out of 5.0 stars (Zack Snyder’s)

TV series

Mr. Khan’s Review on Raqeeb Se – Episode X (2021)

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Raqeeb Se – Episode 10 (2021). The new TV series is directed by Kashif Nisar and is a production of Momina Duraid Productions. Raqeeb Se is a HUM TV Production.

(Note: If you’ve already read the review of the previous episode, you can skip directly ahead to the High points section).

+ Crew

  • Directed by Kashif Nisar
  • Written by Beegul
  • DOP by Hassam Mairaj
  • Music Composed by Hadiqa Kiani
  • Produced by Momina Duraid Productions

+ Note

Raqeeb Se is the newest HUM TV Production and is once again the collaboration of the award winning Writer/ Director duo of Bee Gul and Kashif Nisar. 

The title of the show is heavily inspired by a poem from the legendary poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz when the young poet fell in love with a girl next door in Sialkot. But alas, as luck would have it, she one day unexpectedly left the city, only to be reunited years later when Faiz was already an established poet in the circles of Urdu literature. This encounter inspired Faiz to write a poem “Raqib Se!”. The backstory of this poem plays a crucial role in the premise of the show.

 + Main Cast

  1. Hadiqa Kiani as Sakina
  2. Noman Ijaz as Maqsood
  3. Sania Saeed as Hajra
  4. Faryal Mehmood as Insha
  5. Iqra Aziz as Ameera
  6. Saqib Sameer as Rafiq

+ Plot

Raqeeb Se is a call of Maqsood’s dark past that could potentially destroy his present life. In order to escape her abusive husband, Sakina, along with her daughter Ameera, flees from her village to find shelter at her former lover’s place, Maqsood. Unfortunately Maqsood, who still holds a grudge against Sakina’s past actions, refuses to aid her in her most dire situation. But his wife, Hajra, seems much more sympathetic to the situation and lets Sakina stay at their home till things are figured out for the future.

But can Sakina be trusted to stay out of Maqsood’s life or will they be tempted to rekindle their lost love and in the process, destroy what Maqsood and his wife Hajra have built together?

+ High Points

i – Episode 10 was the introduction of Insha’s boyfriend to her family and the whole sequence of events were very well handled throughout the episode. Abdul’s anxiety and nervousness to Maqsood seeing a bit of his younger self in Abdul brings some much needed tension and interest other than the main plot of the show (which is unfortunately slowly deteriorating into obscurity).

ii – It is also worth a mention that the dynamics between Insha and Abdul have also significantly improved since the earlier episodes. The interactions between them seem better written and acted. Also their body language gives off fairly well that they have known each other for years now.

iii – The show’s production is excellent since its premiere and one of the most visually unique shows out there on Pakistani television at the moment. Most Pak TV shows heighten the color saturation just to make it more “eye catching”. Raqeeb Se achieves just that and much more by merely playing with light and shadows. Props should go to the Raqeeb Se’s production design team.

iv – While her performance during the show is slightly over the top, Iqra Aziz is nonetheless always entertaining whenever she is onscreen. And that is a God sent compared to the rest of the lifeless, dull characters of the show.

 + Low Points

i – As a reviewer, it is at times so frustrating to watch this show. Repetition, illogical scenes and dialogues have become so common that it becomes a chore just to sit through the entire episode without feeling exasperated. Half way through the episode, Rafiq Ali is sitting at Maqsood sahib’s Bungalow, having tea with Hajira. How!? Why? How did he get here? Why was he invited in? They know he can be dangerous, could potentially take Sakina back home by force, why take the risk? Would the show care to explain this to the viewers?

ii – In the last five episodes or so, Sakina and Hajira have undoubtedly become mere plot devices to the show rather than having any sort of characterization of their own. Sakina curses her fate while Hajira does everything Maqsood wants and praises him for it. A white sheet of paper has more dimension than these two characters!

iii – The crush that Ameera has on Maqsood sahib is incredibly tacked on and awkward. For now, it serves nothing to the overall plot of the show but perhaps the writer Beegul has something up her sleeve that we as viewers are not aware of. But for now, it does not work.

iv – The background music during the Rafiq Ali/ Hajira scene was extremely odd. I wish I could comment on it more but I have absolutely no idea what kind of feeling they were going for there.

+ Overall

Episode 10 goes back again to status quo. Lethargic plot development, lack of strong character motivations, repetition of scenes/ dialogues. Even though Adbul and Insha’s subplot is well integrated into the story, Raqeeb Se needs to give a clear reason why viewers should stick around till the end.

 Rate: 2.5 out of 5 stars

TV series

Mr. Khan’s Review on Khaas (2019)

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Khaas (2019). The 27 Episode limited TV series is directed by Danish Nawaz and is a Momina Duraid production. Khaas was aired on HUM TV.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Danish Nawaz
  • Written by Sarwat Nazir
  • Edited by Mehmood Ali and Nasir Inayat
  • DOP by Tameen Nizami
  • Music Composed by Sohail Haider
  • Opening Theme song “Woh Jo Tha Bahut Hi Khaas” by Natasha Baig
  • Produced by Momina Duraid

+ Note

Back in 2019, Khaas was a show which strived to be unlike any no other on Pakistani Television. On the surface level, Khaas could be your typical run of the mill drama between In laws and daughter in law but Sarwat Nazir’s writing strives the show to be much more than what it seems to be. Khaas is about an emotional plight of a woman in a male dominated culture. Where certain expectations are required from the woman of the house. The show is primarily a case study of what emotional abuse a woman has to face in order to be loved and respected by the Pakistani society; be that sustaining composure while your Husband makes hurtful jokes about you or extinguishing your goals and ambitions in order to please the traditional “norm” of being a housewife. Although this word is treated as poision by most of the Pakistani community, Khaas is in fact a ‘feminist’ drama in which the target audience is not necessarily women but also the male counterparts of our everyday life.

Khaas was a critical and commercial success throughout the country, garnering praise and applause from audiences who saw themselves in the protagonist Saba. The drama was nominated by Lux Style Awards for Best Writing and Best Original Soundtrack.

 + Main Cast

  1. Sanam Baloch as Saba Faraz
  2. Ali Rehman Khan as Ammar Saud
  3. Haroon Shahid as Fakhir
  4. Behroze Sabzwari as Faraz Ahmed; Saba’s father
  5. Lubna Aslam as Sadaf Faraz; Saba’s mother
  6. Saba Faisal as Kanwal Saud; Ammar’s mother
  7. Mashal Khan as Sonia
  8. Anam Goher as Nida Saud
  9. Sajida Syed as Nusrat

 + Supporting Cast

  1. Natasha Ali as Farah
  2. Amna Malik as Javeria
  3. Shehryar Zaidi as Saud; Ammar’s father
  4. Sonia Nazir as Anam
  5. Areesha Shah as Mehak Faraz
  6. Sanam Baloch as Fakhir’s late mother 
  7. Danish Nawaz as Fakhir’s late father (only seen in flashbacks)
  8. Hira Tareen as Salma

+ Plot

Khaas is a story of an ambitious woman named Saba (played by Sanam Baloch) who strives for her career and other goals in Life. That all unfortunately gets cut short once Ammar (Ali Rehman Khan) proposes to her and her family. Due to unwarranted pressure from her parents and society, Saba accepts the proposal and focuses on her married life instead. Even though Ammar is considered charming and loved by everyone around him, something seems not right about him. Slowly, the façade of Ammar breaks down and Saba gets to see what lies behind the curtain.

Meanwhile Fakhir (Haroon Shahid), a timid, shy artist who falls in love with Saba and steadily, a friendship brews between them, proving that within all that is dark, there is a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel.

+ High Points

i – Khaas is a textbook example of how it should be done! Engaging storyline, memorable characters, cliffhangers after each episode, never once did my attention span falter while watching the show. The show hit every narrative beat picture perfect and its success and admiration by the fans is the living proof of it. 

ii – A lot of praise and attention should be devoted towards the main cast as each one of them portrayed their characters with absolute perfection. Sana Baloch as the strong yet sympathetic protagonist, Ali Rehman Khan as the narcissistic, petty manchild and Haroon Shahid as the shy, timid artist who sees good in everything. That’s a perfect dynamic of characters one could have for any TV show. And their performances were excellent throughout the series. 

iii – The character arcs of each of the main cast is also incredibly well written and realized onto the small screen. As a viewer, you can empathize with Saba’s journey from a shy, dominated girl to an empowered, striving woman. Experiences made her change, become more stronger in a cut throat environment of male domination. In Pakistan, men usually get away with a whole lot more than a woman can and Khaas highlights that aspect with total honesty and sincerity. And that is one of the main reasons why Khaas was such a mainstream success.

iv – Apart from the main cast, some of the supporting characters also resonate incredibly well, mainly Saba Faisal as Ammar’s mother. Saba is such a versatile actress that she could adapt to any character she would like and this one is no exception. Her perception towards womanhood and blindness towards her son Ammar is a story seen numerous times in our culture. Men mainly get away with such ruthless behaviour because there are certain women who support and tolerate them.

v– The production of the show is also a key aspect of its success. The colors are vibrant, the sets and costumes are adapted well to its narrative. Momina Duraid’s shows are usually top notch in quality and Khaas is no different.

vi– The story progression of the show is meticulously handled and executed. With each episode, you get to learn more about each of our main cast of characters, their motivations and their ambitions in life. Each episode just revealed enough for the audience to eagerly anticipate what would happen next.

vii– The dream sequence scene involving Fakhir’s parents was inventive and brilliantly executed. Especially casting Sanam Baloch as the mother (since Fakhir sees his mother in Saba) and the father played the director of the show Danish Nawaz.

viii– SPOILER ALERT!!! In the next point, I will talk about the controversial ending of the show. You can skip directly to the Low Points if you would like to avoid it:

So the most vital question in each viewer’s mind was how the show will conclude? Would Saba and Fakhir live happily ever after? Would Ammar learn the error of his ways and rekindle his love with Saba? The answer is; perhaps a little bit of it all? A lot of people were disappointed not to see Saba and Fakhir happily living together and granted, his supposed life threatening accident was a forced narrative decision (which I will elaborate more in the Low Points) but to see Saba, even in her most vulnerable position with her new born child, reject Ammar’s proposal for remarriage was the absolute right outcome. Fakhir’s untimely death and Saba’s decision to live her own life the way she wants it is the most logical conclusion to the story. She needed the conflict of decision making when life doesn’t go as planned. 

Saba’s experiences living under Ammar’s thumb and eventually self-emancipating herself from the shackles of society would have been in vain if not for this conclusion. Fakhir taught her to be responsible, to live her own life the way she sees fit. With his passing away, Saba can put all of this to the test. Whether she would ever remarry, could be anyone’s guess but Saba decided to raise her child on her own was the right outcome of the show. And a lot of praise and admiration should go to the writer Sarwat Nazir for making this happen in a mainstream TV show.

 + Low Points

i – While I really applaud the show’s audacity and determination to show such a unique storyline of how women are emotionally abused in Pakistani culture, what Khaas really should’ve done is make the show as close to reality as possible. This was necessary in order for the audience to relate to the protagonist beyond the world of TV dramas. Unfortunately, this is what the show failed to accomplish. The script is merely written for the sole purpose of melodrama entertainment. And sadly, that is what Khaas ends up being. A TV show. There are too many unrealistic scenarios, coincidences (in convenience to the plot), characters act completely dumb in order for the misunderstandings to happen, too many times where two characters gossip about someone and that “someone” is eavesdropping at that exact moment. Yes, it is possible to brush all of this off and say “It is just a TV show!”. Well, that is why one cannot take the story of Khaas seriously. It’s only true within the confines of your TV screen.

ii – Speaking of dumb characters, Behroze Sabzwari as Saba’s dad should really be awarded the “Worst Father of the Year” award. Judging how the character was written, even the slightest words of encouragement from anyone in the show would persuade him to jump off a cliff. Unless of course, you are his daughter. Then he will not believe a single word you could say. Saba’s father was incredibly dumb and gullible whenever the script wanted him to be. He was written with absolutely zero intelligence, arriving at the most awkward of moments and did not possess the intelligence to even put 2 and 2 together. Sabzwari ‘s character is by far one of the worst written characters I have come across and is the embodiment of what a bad writing looks like.

iii – There are way too many flashbacks in the show. There are several flashbacks of scenes and dialogues that happened just a few minutes ago! Does the show think we have a memory of a goldfish? It’s a bad move from the creative team’s part to treat its audience like they are not intelligent enough to follow a single episode without a reminder every five minutes of each character’s motivations. 

iv – Whenever a dramatic moment occurs, this show just abuses it with a barrage of slow motions, melodramatic cheesy music and anything they could get their hands on. The first episode especially was the worst offender in all this. In visual art, subtlety is always the best option and Mehreen Jabbar’s TV dramas have proven that.

v –  That “twisted ankle and rubbing ointment on it” scene. Just a perfect example of forced romantic moments between the two protagonists. Ugh.

vi – SPOILER ALERT!!! In the next point, I will talk about the controversial ending of the show. You can skip directly to Overall section if you would like to avoid it:

Even though I praised the ending of the show above, the demise of Fakhir’s character was incredibly lazy writing. In every good script, there needs to be a set up and a pay off. Granted, Fakhir had this one nightmare and kept reminding Saba to be brave if she ends up alone but that is not enough to earn that pay off. A terminal illness of Fakhir could’ve been hinted at right at the beginning of the show and then his passing away in the final episode would’ve made a lot more sense. In short, the script wanted to kill off Fakhir so Saba could have her moment of realization that she could live and be happy on her own. It feels very unearned and possibly divides the audience on this decision.

+ Overall

Khaas has a very unique story to tell. It is bold and pulls no punches when it comes to exposing the hypocrisy against women in Pakistani culture. Unfortunately it also gets muddled up with too many TV drama cliches and mediocre writing. But at the end of the day, it is the cast of the show that makes Khaas special. True, the show could’ve accomplished a lot more than it ended up with but for what the show is, Khaas is definitely worth your time.

 Rate: 3.25 out of 5 stars

TV series

Mr. Khan’s Review on Raqeeb Se – Episode IX (2021)

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Raqeeb Se – Episode 9 (2021). The new TV series is directed by Kashif Nisar and is a production of Momina Duraid Productions. Raqeeb Se is a HUM TV Production.

(Note: If you’ve already read the review of the previous episode, you can skip directly ahead to the High points section).

+ Crew

  • Directed by Kashif Nisar
  • Written by Beegul
  • DOP by Hassam Mairaj
  • Music Composed by Hadiqa Kiani
  • Produced by Momina Duraid Productions

+ Note

Raqeeb Se is the newest HUM TV Production and is once again the collaboration of the award winning Writer/ Director duo of Bee Gul and Kashif Nisar. 

The title of the show is heavily inspired by a poem from the legendary poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz when the young poet fell in love with a girl next door in Sialkot. But alas, as luck would have it, she one day unexpectedly left the city, only to be reunited years later when Faiz was already an established poet in the circles of Urdu literature. This encounter inspired Faiz to write a poem “Raqib Se!”. The backstory of this poem plays a crucial role in the premise of the show.

 + Main Cast

  1. Hadiqa Kiani as Sakina
  2. Noman Ijaz as Maqsood
  3. Sania Saeed as Hajra
  4. Faryal Mehmood as Insha
  5. Iqra Aziz as Ameera
  6. Saqib Sameer as Rafiq

+ Plot

Raqeeb Se is a call of Maqsood’s dark past that could potentially destroy his present life. In order to escape her abusive husband, Sakina, along with her daughter Ameera, flees from her village to find shelter at her former lover’s place, Maqsood. Unfortunately Maqsood, who still holds a grudge against Sakina’s past actions, refuses to aid her in her most dire situation. But his wife, Hajra, seems much more sympathetic to the situation and lets Sakina stay at their home till things are figured out for the future.

But can Sakina be trusted to stay out of Maqsood’s life or will they be tempted to rekindle their lost love and in the process, destroy what Maqsood and his wife Hajra have built together?

+ High Points

i – These past few episodes has really fleshed out the love story of Abdul/ Insha and is finally now being integrated into the overall narrative of the show. Also the development of both characters has significantly been improved upon and is slowly becoming the highlight of each episode.

ii – In Episode 9, the dramatic tension within Maqsood sahib’s compound was very well written and brought some life into the ongoing tense moments of the show (which for the past few episodes have been frankly dull and repetitive).

iii – Noman Ijaz as Maqsood finally gets to emote and show his full potential in this episode. Maqsood eventually breaks his stoic mannerisms and lets his true emotions be put on display for the audience to witness. Noman Ijaz seems very comfortable playing the main protagonist who has an obvious chip on his shoulder.

iv – With tense, visual atmosphere and soft lighting, Raqeeb Se might be one of the best looking TV dramas out there at the moment. Even if the narrative falters at times, the visuals are always pleasant to marvel at.

v – Compared to other episodes, Episode 9 had good pacing/ plot progression and was a slight improvement from the rest of the show. The scenes were well set up, the actors got to display their acting chops; from here on-out, this is how the show should move forward!

 + Low Points

i – Hadiqa Kiani as Sakina has really become a drag to watch. Her one note line delivery and lack of any character development has really hurt her performance in the show. She has never had anything interesting to say, her regret of “setting foot into Maqsood sahib’s house” is over and done with by now. The show really needs to give her something more interesting to do than just mop and whine about her fate. 

ii – As far as one note characters, Hajira’s motivations have also not developed since the first episode. She is by far the least interesting character of the main cast. She has nothing to do throughout the show other than to remind the audience how grateful she is to Maqsood sahib and lacks any motivations of her own. The manner in which Hajira is written makes her a mere “plot device” to the overall narrative rather than having a character of her own.

iii – Although the cliffhanger of the show was an interesting one, let us also not forget that Hajira is not onboard with any of Maqsood’s decisions. Are we supposed to sympathize with how noble Maqsood is in vowing to take care of Sakina? If his own wife is not completely in agreement with this “new arrangement” then it is not a noble but selfish act from Maqsood’s part. If the show wants us to sympathize with Maqsood’s selflessness without his wife’s consent then that is an abhorrent decision from the creative team of Raqeeb Se. Whether the show runners will work on this upcoming angle remains to be seen…

+ Overall

Episode 9 brings back some of the tension and drama from the first few episodes. It’s a much needed character dynamic that the show was lacking in the previous few weeks. With a stellar cast like this, Raqeeb Se most certainly has the potential to become a must see television show.

 Rate: 3.0 out of 5 stars