TV series

Mr. Khan’s Review on Ishq Hai – Episode I & II (2021)

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Ishq Hai – Episode 1 & 2 (2021). The new TV series is directed by Aabis Raza and written by Rehana Aftab. Ishq Hai is an ARY Digital Production.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Aabis Raza
  • Written by Rehana Aftab
  • DOP by Waqas Ali
  • OST composed by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan
  • Editing by Zeeshan Ali Jokhio
  • Produced by Fahad Mustafa & Dr. Ali Kazmi

+ Note

Ishq Hai is a tale of two lovers, a Shakespearean tragedy set in South Asia where the conflict between tradition and individual freedom comes into play. An age long question within our Pakistani culture; should the tradition of arranged marriage be questioned? How important is the right to choose your own life partner? The drama has a star studded cast of young and veteran actors and is an exclusive ARY Digital Production.

 + Main Cast

  1. Minal Khan as Isra
  2. Danish Taimoor as Shahzaib
  3. Hammad Farooqi as Hammad
  4. Babar Ali as Isra’s father
  5. Hammad Shoaib as Haris
  6. Saba Faisal as Nafisa
  7. Mahi Baloch as Sameera
  8. Sajjad Paul as Raza
  9. Mahenur Haider as Nimra

+ Plot

Isra (Minal Khan) and Shahzaib (Danish Taimoor) are young lovers in conflict with their respective families as their parents have already found a spouse for them. Arranged marriages has been a family tradition but against all odds, Isra and Shahzaib want to fight for their love. Will their pure love be able to conquer all?   

+ High Points

i – Ishq Hai checks all the right boxes when it comes to making engaging Soap Opera. Young lovers who have to fight for their right to be together and in the process, gain their respective families’ approvals. If you find this enticing and entertaining television then this is the show for you.

ii – The setup of the two opposing families has a colorful cast and can potentially be utilized for interesting dynamics and plot points later in the show if the creative team plays their cards right.

 + Low Points

i – Just by the first two episodes, one could tell that Ishq Hai has absolutely nothing original to offer. Its run of the mill, mediocre writing and storytelling, lovers whose families don’t approve of them being together (yawn). The writer Rehana Aftab could’ve at least attempted to try a different spin to this age long ‘Romeo and Juliet’ tale. Something that could wake the viewers up from an age long slumber of mediocre Pakistani soap operas but nope, putting effort into your work is for the weak. 

ii – This is the actual synopsis of the show on the ARY Digital youtube channel:

“Ishq Hai is a love story of a boy who is madly in love with a girl. Going against all odd to achieve his love.”

Take the name “Ishq Hai” out of the equation and this could be ANY OTHER show on Pakistani television at the moment. This should be a strong indication how the show is lacking any sort of originality for its viewers.

iii – Absolutely none of the characters are interesting. They are all cardboard cutouts of the same tropes, the same cliches you see in every other Pakistani Soap Opera. None of the main cast has any personality or quirk that could distinguish them from anyone else. Their characterization and motivations all stem from the writer wanting them to act according to the plot and not the other way around. It’s the storyline that makes the decisions for them in the show and not their individual personalities. Its lazy, mediocre writing that should have no place in the creative field of television. 

iv – All the actors just resuscitate their lines for each scene. The acting ranges from decent to terrible. And I really can’t blame the actors for their bland performances if the writing and direction is so utterly uninteresting. Even Sir Anthony Hopkins can’t make this garbage fly.

v – Ishq Hai has got to have the most substandard excuse of conflicts in a show that I’ve ever seen! Upon learning that their daughter or son has someone already in mind to marry, their characters just (with a flip of a switch) change their personalities so that some conflict could be presented to the show. First of all, judging from their surroundings, they obviously come from rich social classes which usually allows a bit more freedom to choose their life partners as compared to other lower social classes of Pakistan. The ridiculousness lies in their parents as they already decided on the arranged marriages without even consulting their child. And then, they are shocked that their child already has someone in mind. There was no discussion, no arguments, just overly exaggerated reactions which seemed utterly unrealistic in the context of the show. Have the families meet first, let the conflict grow before you execute it.

vi – The show is not particularly pleasant to look at. The locations and colors have no sense of direction, just big mansions, lavish furniture and gorgeous actors for the viewers to ogle at.

vii – Too many dramatic pauses, overbearing music which overwhelm any emotions that you could make out from the actor’s performances. This clearly shows that the creative team has no faith in their stars to convey their emotions to the viewers with their acting chops. Everything needs to be big and epic and loud, regardless of the context of the scene!

viii – Speaking of bad music, its surprising to see that Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s OST is on par with this show’s creativity; utterly mediocre and uninspired.

ix – There is also an unnecessary mandate by the creative team to have a massive line of supporting cast. Most of them (in the first two episodes) had pretty much nothing to do. They were all relegated to the sidelines and contributed nothing to the overall plot. The first episode began with two sisters, scheming how they plan to get married in the same house and live like princesses. And then, nothing. It did not get mentioned, we never even get to see the two sisters interact afterwards. Usually an opening scene of a film or drama should address the main plot of the show or introduce the main cast. This did neither and was completely superfluous. 

+ Overall

The premiere episodes of Ishq Hai had nothing to offer. Bland acting, terrible writing and mediocre direction. You would be better off watching paint dry.

 Rate: 1.0 out of 5 stars

Tele-Films

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

Short Films & Documentaries

Mr. Khan’s Review on He Named Me Malala (2015)

A review on American Documentary film, He Named Me Malala (2015) based on the Pakistani Human rights activist Malala Yousafzai. The film is directed by Davis Guggenheim and is distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures and National Geographic Channel.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Davis Guggenheim
  • Cinematography by Erich Roland
  • Music by Thomas Newman
  • Edited by Greg Finton, ACE, Brian Johnson and Brad Fuller
  • Produced by Walter Parkes, Laurie MacDonald and Davis Guggenheim
  • Produced by (Production companies) Imagenation Abu Dhabi FZ and Participant Media

+ Note

Under Guggenheim’s direction, we get to see Malala, not only as a role model for many young girls all over the world, but also in her home interacting with her family. She shares her personal experiences living in a foreign country while unintentionally serving as a “controversial figure” within her own homeland. By learning the ways of the West, Malala wants to also promote her own customs and religion, serving as the “tolerant” face of Islam. Her social activism includes travelling to different parts of the world such as Nigeria, Syria and many other war torn countries. The documentary includes short animated sequences, depicting the origin of her name and her past life in the Swat Valley. We also get to see many unseen family photographs of hers and also how her father’s activism has been a major influence on herself while stating that being a “female role model” was a decision of no one but herself.

 + Main Cast

  1. Malala Yousafzai
  2. Ziauddin Yousafzai

+ Plot

He Named Me Malala follows the life of young Malala Yousafzai who, while attending all girls school in Swat Valley in KP, Pakistan, was shot and injured by the Taliban. After recovery, Malala and her family (due to relentless threats from the Taliban) decided to stay in England while continuing on as a role model for Female education throughout the world. In 2013, Malala Yousafzai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and became the youngest recipient of the prestigious award. 

+ High Points

i – Malala is undoubtedly considered a divisive figure in Pakistan where the opinions reign strong from “the resistance of female empowerment” to “a propaganda piece for the Western Media”. In his documentary, Guggenheim tries to explore the “girl” behind the persona. What makes her happy, what does her family and her younger brothers mean to her, does she like living in the UK, what celebrities does she have a crush on. This undoubtedly “humanizes” Malala for the viewer and gives a chance for us to relate to her. In Spite of so much media coverage, Malala does come off as an extremely likeable young woman who not only wants to fight for Women’s rights but also live a normal, happy life with her family. No matter what your views are on her, no one can deny that every person on planet earth deserves that.

ii – The animated story sequences work quite well in conveying almost “fairy tale” like elements of storytelling. The tale of how she got her name and what it represents tied brilliantly to the overarching narrative of the documentary. The art style is also a subtle, crayonic portrayal of landscapes which blurs the line of fiction and reality.

iii – By interviewing the whole Yousafzai family, one gets to learn the roots of activism that stems from their blood. Perhaps in some way, fate had a strong hold in diverging Malala to this path of activism. But at the same time, Malala does not stray away from her past. Her stance on “peaceful Islam” and her being a role model for it is shared within her family (especially her father). Whether much truth was into this angle of documentary is anyone’s guess but was undeniably effective for the documentary in the long run.

iv – The music accompanying the visuals were subtle but melodic. Thomas Newman did a wonderful job in conveying the buried emotions of Malala on being forced to leave her homeland and pursue her goals in changing her own homeland from a distance.

 + Low Points

i – Going into this documentary, I was weary of the fact that how much of the different facets of truth Guggenheim is willing to depict in his documentary and the answer is an unfortunate; not many. The documentary plays it quite safe, never changing the subjects or status quo of the western media. Due to this safer route, the documentary does come off as bland and uninteresting in the long run. There is a short scene where Malala meets President Obama and the director asks Malala “Did you ask him about the drone strikes?” to which, she replies “Of course I did!”. Why was this not expanded upon? What is her view on this? Why was her hometown Swat Valley infested with conservative monsters like the Taliban? Should the western powers be held accountable for the rise in extremism in Pakistan? But most importantly, what does Malala think of all this? It’s nice to see Malala being a normal, teenage girl but what are her own political goals in Life? How does she believe that extremism can be eliminated in Pakistan or in the Middle East? Its all just surface level themes and ideas like “Tablian bad, Women’s Education good”. As a viewer, I didn’t really understand the ideology that Malala believes in. Only what she wants to accomplish. Sometimes the way is even more vital than the destination.

ii – Speaking of Hoggwash, there was unfortunately no political or historical backdrop given to any of the events mentioned in the documentary. How were the Taliban able to gain strong control in the KP region? Or perhaps mentioning why the KP region in Pakistan has always been a region of conflict. And most importantly, how the northern areas of Pakistan vastly differ from the majority of Pakistan. For the western audience, most cannot differentiate Pakistan from the Middle East so when they hear Tablian beheading people for speaking against them, attacking families who let their girls get proper education, they would most likely believe that the whole of Pakistan is engulfed in extremist war of ideologies. It’s a lazy, self fulfilling ideology of most Western media who are solely interested in war torn set pieces of the East without any real context or the bigger picture. Sadly, He Named Me Malala is another cog in the deranged western perception of Islam and the East.

iii – For around 90 min runtime, the film did not have enough material to follow through its runtime. 50 minutes in, I was checking my watch as the themes of Malala’s traumatic past became repetitive. The story itself is fantastic for film and well worth being told onscreen but perhaps He Named Me Malala would have served better as a television length documentary rather than a feature length one.

iv – He Named Me Malala was never egregious in any way but if you have kept up with the news, I don’t think you will learn much about her than you already know. The documentary is not ground shattering by any stretch of the imagination but after watching till the end, I did not feel rewarded at all.

+ Overall

Whether you see Malala as a role model for women all over the world or a figure of western media propaganda, He Named Me Malala depicts the human side of a young girl who wants to live a happy, meaningful life. But admittedly, the documentary could’ve been so much more than it ended up being.

Rate: 3.0 out of 5 stars

Tele-Films

Mr. Khan’s Review on Do Bata Aath (2021)

A review on Pakistani telefilm Comedy, Do Bata Aath (2021). The TV film is directed by Kamran Akbar Khan and is written by Rizwan Hassan. The telefilm stars the comedian Ahmad Ali Butt and Maria Wasti as leads with Ahmed Hassan and Zhalay Sarhadi serving as supporting cast. As the name suggests, the telefilm also includes eight child actors. Do Bata Aath is a Momina Duraid/ HUM TV Production and was aired on the 3rd Day of Eid-ul-Fitr 2021 Special.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Kamran Akbar Khan
  • Written by Rizwan Hassan
  • Cinematography by Abdul Qadoos
  • Editing by Sheeraz Fayaaz
  • Produced by Momina Duraid
  • Production House: MD Production

+ Note

Do Bata Aath serves essentially as a 75 min situational comedy, where the comedic antics are always connected to the vast number of children that the married couple has. The premise can be attributed to a Hollywood comedy classic of the 2000s Cheaper By The Dozen (2003) starring Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt. The telefilm also creates hilarious situations out of handling day to day life in the Faraz Family. Do Bata Aath is presented as the “lighter side of Life” and was a special broadcast on the 3rd day Eid-ul-Fitr 2021.

 + Main Cast

  1. Ahmad Ali Butt as Faraz
  2. Maria Wasti as Aleena
  3. Ahmed Hassan as Faraz’s Boss
  4. Zhalay Sarhadi as Biloo

+ Plot

There’s always fun and trouble brewing in the Faraz Family. While handling eight kids simultaneously with his wife, Faraz (Ahmad Ali Butt) struggles to make ends meet… or even remember the names of his kids or who came before or after. After not being appreciated enough for her efforts, Aleena (Maria Wasti) decides to take an indefinite hiatus off her motherly duties and let Faraz take her place in taking care of the kids instead. Hijinks ensue and now Faraz needs to find a balance between family life and maintaining his sanity in the process.

+ High Points

i – Maria Wasti was probably picture perfect casting as the grizzly, overworked mom of eight children. She not only looked the part but her performance matched well to her character. Probably the least offender from the whole bunch of terrible performances.

 + Low Points

i – Do Bata Aath had ONE joke throughout its entire runtime; “Hey, isn’t it funny that the family consists of EIGHT children?”. And five minutes into the telefilm, this joke got old real fast. For a comedy, there was absolutely nothing funny about this. All the jokes and setups were lazy and uninspired. The writer Rizwan Hassan probably wrote the script in an hour’s time as I refuse to believe any effort was put into this project. It’s nonsensical and unfunny throughout its runtime. You can find more comedy in the evening news than this pile of garbage.

ii – The performances are just way too ridiculous and over the top. Since the dialogue is so abhorrent, the actors are directed to over exaggerate their acting to compensate but ends up making it much worse. I don’t understand what people see in Ahmad Ali Butt but he’s not a good comedian by any stretch of my imagination. When it comes to comedy, Pakistani TV shows/ telefilms just fail miserably at it. Subtlety is not even in the cards, every performance needs to be like they are on an Umer Shareef Theater show. While Theater thrives on exaggerated performances, Television/ Film needs subtlety because the camera is much closer and personal to the actors. Why is this such a difficult idea to comprehend for Pakistani Television Production?

iii – Also the whole family dynamic makes no sense. Unlike Cheaper By The Dozen, all the children are more or less the same age. How is that even possible? Did they adopt kids in between? Were they born in pairs? What possessed them to have so many children if they clearly can’t afford all of them? It also seems obvious that there is no real ‘fatherly love’ to the kids as Faraz half the time doesn’t even remember their names or birthdays. Some context or backstory was needed for this comedy to work but the audience is given no explanation. The idea was there but absolutely nothing was built upon it. The whole telefilm relies on cheap comedy antics from its co-stars.

iv – Of all the performances, Ahmed Hassan as Faraz’s disgruntled boss was the worst. I felt literally embarrassed whenever he was onscreen. I hope he made some good money from this telefilm because this is one performance he can never live down.

v – NOISE. That’s what this telefilm is. And I don’t mean just the kids shouting all the time (although that would’ve been fitting to the premise). NOISE equals Background music here. By having constant Music running in the background of every single scene without a second’s rest, the telefilm made it perfectly clear that they had absolutely no faith in their writing and performances to maintain their audience’s attention span. It’s the “shaking of the keys in front of a cat” syndrome, HUM TV knows its garbage television and they have to try everything to keep viewers from changing channels.

vi – Speaking of Production, the camerawork and editing is just awful and unpleasant to look at. Most scenes just begin with a closeup on the actors without giving any indication to the audience where exactly the scene is supposed to be taking place in.

+ Overall

Do Bata Aath is just another uninspired mess of a telefilm which is neither funny nor creative. Its 75 minutes of my life that I will never get back.  

Rate: 0.75 out of 5 stars

TV series

Mr. Khan’s Review on Raqeeb Se – LAST EPISODE (2021)

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Raqeeb Se – Episode 23 (2021), the FINAL EPISODE of the series. 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 – The final episode brilliantly wraps up the loose threads and ends the series on a well deserved high note. Episode 23 was everything good about Raqeeb Se as a TV series and more. The episode never overreaches its goal and settles in a comfortable space where the audience can admire and ultimately reminiscent being on an emotional journey with Maqsood, Sakina, Hajira, Insha and Ameera. Suffice to say, Raqeeb Se’s last episode more than lives up to its hype. 

ii – Since the previous episode was a showcase of Faryal Mehmood’s talent, this episode was definitely a display of Iqra Aziz’s wide range of acting chops. In the last few episodes, the actress has clearly proven that she could play comedic and darker roles with ease. Ameera, as a character, had the most prominent story arc of all. It’s the coming of age story, followed by the harsh realities that she was (at the time) too naive to understand. 

iii – The conclusion of the show (which I will get to more in the next point) was arguably the right outcome and a perfect send off to this tale of tragic love. Have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised by how neatly Beegul wrapped things up with her characters and the conflicts surrounding them. This is of course a clear indication that regardless of the longevity of the show, the writer was well aware of her destination.

iv – MAJOR SPOILER ALERT COMING UP!!! (If you would like to avoid it, please skip to Overall and Final Thoughts section)

The ending was surprisingly dark and I loved it! The conclusion finally brought new goals and ambitions for its cast of characters:

  • Maqsood finally learns how to act like a father to Insha.
  • Circumstances allow Hajira to finally live a life with her husband without the “obligation” that she needed to fulfill for it. 
  • Sakina comes to terms with her past and learns to look forward in life.
  • Insha, on the other hand, needs to understand more about life and goes on a soul searching journey of her own.
  • But the most unfortunate one is Ameera, who had to endure murder of an innocent man right in front of her eyes. As she lays her head down in a bustling night train, she reminicents the innocence and happiness she once possessed. But that Ameera died with Kashif in that very car. She finally understands what her mother had to go through. Whether she wanted to or not, Ameera is now the new ‘Sakina’. As she now becomes cynical and disenfranchised taking care of her father Rafiq Ali, the vicious cycle of pain and suffering continues.

Every character gets a closure to their situations, some ride off into the sunset while others are introduced to the dark elements of Life.

 + Low Points

i – Honestly, there isn’t much I can criticize about this episode. The only part of the episode which felt rushed was the romance between Kashif and Ameera. They never had much interaction before this episode and I guess Kashif started falling for her off screen? If they had built this romance for a couple of episodes and then the tragic ending is brought into the mix, that would’ve been much more impactful in my book. But in any case, the cold blooded murder was still shocking and was proud of the show that it dared to go in such pitch black direction.

+ Overall and Final Thoughts on Raqeeb Se

I am a firm believer that regardless of how an episodic show flows, the conclusion needs to bring everything together and in the process, reward its audience for sticking with them every step of the way. And Raqeeb Se does exactly that. The show had a fantastic cast, the performances were brilliant all across the board, especially Hadiqa Kiani as Sakina. For a debut performance on prime time television, her performance was nothing short of amazing. I hope we get to see more of her in the near future. The writing (although not consistently perfect) was engaging as we got to set foot into the world of Beegul and her tragic characters for a few months. 

But even with such a great plot and interesting set of characters, where the show suffered for me was its pacing. Raqeeb Se could’ve immensely benefited with less number of episodes (around 13-15) as midway through the show, the episodes dragged on with absolutely nothing happening in between them. Also at times, some back stories were unfortunately not well explained or visually depicted on screen which might have left some viewers perplexed where the story stands. And it’s a shame because Raqeeb Se is unique and dared to be different from the rest of what Pakistani television has to offer. The production, set designs, costumes, everything was marvelous. The show was very uniquely lit with shadows playing a major role in its gloomy atmosphere. A lot of credit goes to the director Kashif Nisar and his production team.  

In the end, Raqeeb Se took us on an emotional journey, the audience could empathize with each of the characters and their dilemmas. And most importantly, the show left us with questions and some lingering thoughts of our own. And that is a sign of a great television show. 

 Rate (Last Episode): 4.25 out of 5 stars

Overall Series Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

TV series

Mr. Khan’s Review on Aanch (1993)

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Aanch (1993). The 13 Episode limited TV series is directed by Tariq Jameel and is a PTV Karachi Center production. In 1993, Aanch was broadcasted nationwide on Pakistan Television.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Tariq Jameel 
  • Written by Naheed Sultana Akhtar
  • DOP by Abdul Majib
  • Produced by PTV Karachi Center

+ Note

Aanch is a TV drama which focuses on social issues like divorce and remarriage. It asked vital questions such as “How is a woman viewed by our society if she files for a divorce from her husband?” and “How are children from a previous marriage supposed to be taken care of under such circumstances?”. For its time, Aanch touched upon a subject matter which was widely regarded as taboo from being screened on commercial television. The drama is based on a novel ‘Behtay Paani Pe Makan’ by Naheed Sultana Akhtar who also acted as the writer to the TV adaptation of it.  Aanch is a showcase of patience, perseverance and in the end, triumph of love.

 + Main Cast

  1. Shafi Muhammad Shah as Jalees
  2. Shagufta Ejaz as Khulfat
  3. Sami Saani
  4. Mehak Ali
  5. Shehla Solangi
  6. Ayesha Khan
  7. Mehmood Ali
  8. Qaisar Naqvi
  9. Farheen Nafees 
  10. Kunwar Nafees 

+ Plot

Jalees (Shafi Muhammad) is wealthy businessman who’s wife Asma recently left him and their three children to grasp the opportunity of living abroad. Worried about his children growing up without a mother, Jaless decides to remarry to a working girl named Khulfat (Shagufta Ejaz). Unfortunately things do not go as planned as the step mother and the children have a hard time accepting each other.

+ High Points

i – Aanch is a drama that just gets better with time. Not just episodically but also with the decades that have passed by. Released back in 1993, marriage and divorce were such bold subjects to explore on prime time television. It is somewhat unimaginable how this drama stood out from the rest of the shows on television at the time. And since Naheed Sultana Akhtar also serves as the writer and adapted the screenplay for television, one could just feel how personal the subject matter was to her. I think having a female writer really helped portray a “feminine” perspective to the show. Divorce has a much stronger connotation on a woman than a man and this fact has been on full display and explored on this show. Aanch steps out of the drama world and portrays a more realistic view of how characters would have adjusted in such emotional turmoil. As the name suggests, Aanch has a double meaning in Urdu. One is “feelings of great warmth and intensity” and other “an open flame”. Both when implemented, can easily ignite a happy family within a matter of seconds. And this is what the show represents.

ii – The writing of the show is superb. The emotions and motivations are brilliantly conveyed through spoken dialogues, none of the lines feel forced or out of character. It is, at times, not easy to translate written dialogue to spoken. Sometimes what sounds good on paper does not translate well spoken but Naheed Sultana Akhtar has done an outstanding job in bringing life to her novel onto the small screen. A lot of credit should go to her writing skills for the success of this classic PTV drama.

iii – It probably goes without saying that Shafi Muhammad Shah and Shagufta Ejaz are simply enigmatic whenever they share a scene together. Even with a tightly written script, I personally felt that (at times), the dialogue was improvised between the actors to bring some further “humanity” into the given predicament. Their characters were so utterly convincing at times that as a viewer, it was hard for me to separate the characters from the actors. On one hand, we see the struggle Jalees (Shafi Muhammad) goes through in order to provide his children with a stable upbringing while on the other hand, one could also sympathise with Khulfat (Shagufta Ejaz), who was somewhat forced into this marriage by her family, with children that she has no connection with, the offsprings who just plain refuse to accept her as their new mother. Through their brilliant performances, Shafi Muhammad and Shagufta Ejaz make the conflict clear for the audience to follow and empathise with both sides at the same time. And that is not a small feat to accomplish.

Also I do have to admit that the School of Acting that Rahat Kazmi or Shafi Muhammad Shah came from is unfortunately a lost Art now. Taking nothing away from the actors of today, there was a particular sense of “humanity” that was present in such performances that make these classic dramas so entertaining to revisit time and time again.

iv – Also the supporting cast plays a vital role to the success of the show, particularly Mehmood Ali. His performance really permeates throughout the show as the “voice of reason”. His performance had to be good in order for the show to work and he made every second of the show count.

v– Even the “B story” of the show was interesting and well intertwined with the overall narrative of the show. This is a problem that many episodic TV shows face to balance but Aanch is a textbook example of how it should be handled.

vi– Only 13 Episodes long! A lot of shows have a given quota to prolong the show but Aanch knew the limits of how far the story should be stretched and as a result, the narrative feels tight, responsive and no scene or episode feels dragged or out of place (with exception to one in particular). A lesson MANY television shows of today can learn from.

 + Low Points

i – Although the subject matter and the performances are arguably ahead of its time, the production of the show (unfortunately) is not. Yes, as a reviewer, I should be more forgiving for the TV shows produced in the 90s but some odd production choices did (at times) ruin a dramatic scene which sadly just came off a tad bit comical. Take for example the first episode, there is an intense dramatic scene where Jalees’ first wife is having an argument with him, Jalees blurts out “SHUT UP!”, followed by an exploding (?) building with intense lightning??? Honestly, I just had to laugh at that. Thankfully, this technique was never repeated in the latter episodes. But it is what it is. A product of its time. The camerawork is uninspired, sound is at times muddled, the budget (and the skills behind the camera) were probably not much to brag about. So if you plan on revisiting Aanch (which I wholeheartedly recommend), watch it with an open mind.

ii – The child actors were not particularly good. I’m sure Kunwar Nafees tried his best with what was given to him but none of them felt convincing to the immediate narrative of the show. When you compare their performance to shows like Ankahi (1982) and Faisal Bilal as Jibran, his performance was leaps and bounds ahead. Whenever the scene with child actors came on, I felt being taken out of the show a bit. Unfortunately the director Tariq Jameel is also at fault for not bringing out the best performances from his young actors.

iii – The dialogue is too intermingled with English. On the surface level, I realise that is an odd criticism to make since normally, Pakistanis mix the two languages (Urdu/ English) a lot but sometimes, what works in the real world doesn’t necessarily work on the Television screen. The constant switching of languages (especially by the child actors) was very distracting. A few English words sprinkled in between Urdu sentences is not an issue at all but complete English sentences during Urdu dialogues was very jarring for me as a viewer.

iv – The final episode was basically a clip show from all the previous episodes. Even though I praised the show for being concise with its number of episodes, the clip show just felt like either they ran out of story to tell or they didn’t want to spend money so the creative team decided to rerun their past scenes in between. Either way, the final episode can largely be skipped.

v – 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):

For the most part, Aanch has a great balance between the two opposing sides but as the show progresses, the sympathies eagerly lean more towards the husband’s side of the story. In my opinion, both sides were at fault, why did Khulfat have to be the only one to apologize? Just because her husband gave a favorable testimony for her in court, doesn’t automatically clear him off his own mistakes.

Khulfaat was also mistreated by her step children, threatened and verbally abused and the husband did particularly nothing about it. I felt he also needed to step up and apologize for his mistakes of not handling his children well. As the conclusion of the show goes, the idea of the woman not appreciating what she had is prominent much more than the husband who was also at fault.

This conclusion is not bad by any means but it could rub the modern viewers the wrong way and some could even take the wrong “lesson” out of this story.

+ Overall

With such a bold and interesting subject matter to explore, Aanch is a show that was well and truly ahead of its time. Whenever people talk about the “golden days of Pakistani Television”, Aanch is definitely one of the shows that comes to my mind.

 Rate: 3.75 out of 5 stars

TV series

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

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Raqeeb Se – Episode 22 (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 – As the show is reaching its conclusion, an abundance of sharp screenwriting, performances and set pieces are on display. Characters are confronted, lines have been drawn and revelations have been made. And it’s great to see that the whole cast is up to the task.

ii – Episode 22 is probably the first in the show that Insha really gets the limelight. A lot of the episode was centered around her, she gets to confront the truth and perhaps once and for all, come to terms with it. I have criticized Faryal Mehmood’s performance during dramatic scenes in the past but I’m glad to say that she was more than up for the task when it really counted.  

iii – Insha’s journey from a naive, impressionable girl to a mature woman was very awe-inspiring. A lot of credit should go to the writing of Beegul and performance of Iqra Aziz as both aspects were brilliantly realized onscreen. The scene between Ameera and Hajira was modest and restrained but was nonetheless impactful (and quite possibly, my favourite scene of the episode).

iv – Once again, the cinematography was outstanding for this episode. I am always of the belief that a picture does tell a thousand tales and Raqeeb Se is excellent in depicting visual stories. Just take this framing as an example here:

Framing through the open door, characters engulfed into their surroundings, Insha’s face exposed, it gives the audience a sense of illusion that (perhaps) we are the ones eavesdropping into their private conversation. This kind of visual artistry is sadly missing from a lot of Pakistani TV shows but Raqeeb Se has always been pretty much consistent with its production quality. 

v – MAJOR SPOILER ALERT COMING UP!!! (If you would like to avoid it, please skip to Overall section)

So a lot of fan speculation and theories were proven true, Insha is, indeed, not the daughter of Maqsood. And this is a revelation that truly pays off. Why? Because they did set up this twist throughout the series and slowly built it up to its crescendo. So when it is finally revealed, it feels earned. Of course, it could be argued that it was perhaps a tad bit too obvious as many viewers already speculated it but sometimes, predictability is not detrimental to the show. The plot twist works fine to the context of the story. Although I do have another issue to this revelation but I’ll get to that in the low points section.

 + Low Points

i – Even though the revelation of Insha was great, I am completely perplexed why the creators decided to reveal it at the BEGINNING of the episode?? Guys, this is TV episodic writing 101! Make an earth shattering revelation at the END of the last episode so that the viewers would tune in for the next episode for more clarification. Right now, it feels like the show just wanted to get it over with and the payoff could’ve been utilized a lot more than it should have.

ii – The end of the road for Insha and Abdul’s short lived marriage. Where Insha’s revelation worked, this plot element, for me, just fails to live up to its expectations. From what was built up about Abdul’s character till now, I cannot imagine him having the cunningness to manipulate someone he loves without Insha realizing it. It was never even well hinted at and comes completely out of left field. If the divorce angle was really necessary, the reason could have been the obvious one that Insha was just sick and tired of playing “mama” to Abdul’s manchild personality. In this very episode, Insha does confess that fact to her cousin Kashif and that reason alone could have been more believable as compared to Abdul playing her to his future endeavours. Unlike Insha’s, this plot twist doesn’t work at all because it was never well set up to begin with. The show needed the marriage to end and here we are. 

iii – Also Rafiq Ali’s emotional scene with Sakina was a total bust. There is already too much going on in this episode and by the time we get to Rafiq Ali’s emotional outburst, the audience is completely drained out. You can’t expect that in one hour runtime, the audience should empathize with Insha’s secret upbringing, Ameera’s realization of her naivety towards life, the falling apart of the marriage between Insha and Abdul, the unsolved future between Maqsood, Sakina and Hajira and now, we are suppose to care for Rafiq Ali? It’s already an uphill task to empathize with him since he is a wife beater and the scene between him and Sakina doesn’t work in this episode. I hope that’s the last we see of him as his character arc should be done and dusted by now.

+ Overall

With a major plot revelation and confrontations, Raqeeb Se is full steam ahead to its grand finale! 

 Rate: 3.25 out of 5 stars

TV series

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

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Raqeeb Se – Episode 21 (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 21 was eventful to say the least. Lots of emotional set pieces and confrontations. Good character building moments and high tension all around as the narrative is reaching its overarching and inevitable conclusion to the Maqsood/ Sakina saga.

ii – Iqra Aziz was particularly good in this episode. Her subtle gestures and dialogue delivery shows how much she has developed since the introduction to her character in the show. The events that take place in this episode also brings a certain epiphany to her character and matures her mindset as Ameera reaches adulthood.

iii – The “Talk” that Maqsood has with Ameera was brilliantly written and poignant to that moment. It’s exactly what it needed to be. The phrase “Stars can be admired from a distance but never touched upon” brings a lot of depth to the scene. It also signifies the amount of experience and pain Maqsood has and he genuinely wants Ameera to avoid the mistakes that Maqsood made in his youth.

iv – Even though Rafiq Ali is now out of the picture, it was a nice touch for writer Beegul to have Sakina reminiscent over him. He obviously was a terrible husband but sharing years of your life together does leave an impression on you. It was great piece of writing for Beegul to address that, giving some further depth to Sakina’s character.

v – The episode ends on a tense note and rightfully leaves the viewer eagerly awaiting for next week. 

 + Low Points

i – Even though the episode was significant to the narrative, there were way too many emotional set pieces crammed into a 1 hour mark. One can endure only a handful of sobbing scenes before becoming desensitized to it by the end of the episode.

ii – SPOILER ALERT!!! (If you would like to avoid it, please skip to Overall section).

So there were two massive turns of events in this episode. And unfortunately, both have not been handled particularly well for the audience to follow. So the first was Ameera’s attempted suicide. Arguably, there seems to be some scenes missing which should be vital before such a drastic step. Granted, Maqsood (in the previous episode or so) had a short talk with Ameera about her feelings for him but there was never a scene where Ameera felt hopeless or emotionally charged enough to take such a life threatening step. The scene before, Ameera is just (in her trance state) justifying her love for Maqsood and suddenly in the next, the whole family rushes to see her in a critical condition. Was it all leading up to Ameera attempting suicide? Perhaps but it needed a few more scenes (even an episode or so) to build upon. As if now, the whole turn of events feel rushed and not earned enough for the audience to be fully onboard with this.

iii – The whole Insha/ Abdul situation. It seems very out of character for both sides to act so impulsively in such circumstances. If what lies on the surface is accurate, it’s incredibly hard to imagine that Abdul would be capable of manipulating people to his advantage. It’s very hard to buy into all that. Insha, on the other hand, seems totally convinced of Abdul’s unfaithful behaviour and impulsively has decided to file for Khula (divorce). Is she being played by her father? Or her cousin Kashif? Perhaps that could be the case but her sudden life changing decisions seem out of character for her as she was always the most level headed of the main cast of the show. 

+ Overall

Episode 21 was eventful, dramatic and essential to the story of Raqeeb Se. Perhaps it went overboard in a few places and the emotional twists did not make complete sense but the episode was a breeze to watch.

 Rate: 3.0 out of 5 stars

Tele-Films

Mr. Khan’s Review on Teri Meri Kahani (2021)

A review on Pakistani telefilm Drama, Teri Meri Kahani (2021). The TV film is directed by Aehsun Talish and is written by Saima Akram Chaudhry. The telefilm stars Haroon Kadwani and Sehar Khan as leads while veterans such as Javed Sheikh, Bushra Ansari and Usman Peerzada serve as supporting cast. Teri Meri Kahani is a Geo TV exclusive and a 7th Sky Entertainment.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Aehsun Talish
  • Written by Saima Akram Chaudhry
  • Produced by Abdullah Kadwani & Asad Qureshi
  • Production House: 7th Sky Entertainment

+ Note

Teri Meri Kahani is a light hearted portrayal of young love. It is the modern Romeo and Juliet induced romantic comedy. With this telefilm, Geo TV gave two relatively newcomers, Haroon Kadwani and Sehar Khan to play the leading roles along with veteran actors as supporting cast. This project was handed to Aehsun Talish since he already has experience directing comedy such as the TV series Suno Chanda (2018) and also has received a nomination for the Lux Style Award for Best Director.

 + Main Cast

  1. Haroon Kadwani as Arman
  2. Sehar Khan as Zara
  3. Javed Sheikh as Zara’s father
  4. Bushra Ansari as Arman’s mother
  5. Usman Peerzada as Arman’s father

+ Plot

Teri Meri Kahani plays the oldest of love tales; Arman is the son of a wealthy businessman who takes life easy and finds his passion in sports & luxury cars. Zara, on the other hand, wants to succeed in Life and make her only surviving parent proud of her accomplishments. The two play pranks at one another which eventually leads to a comedic, romantic predicament. 

+ High Points

i – The only way I could see Teri Meri Kahani being “worth a watch” if you have it in the background and you’re busy during house chores on a lazy weekend. And this is the biggest praise I could give this hot garbage.

ii – The telefilm can be unintentionally hilarious at times during its dramatic moments. While the whole film is not consistent in this tone, parts of it can fall into the “it’s so bad, its enjoyable” category.

 + Low Points

i – Teri Meri Kahani is honestly the worst telefilm/ drama I’ve reviewed on this website. It’s bad in every conceivable way; the direction is horrid, the script looks like it was written by a computer bot on the pretenses of every cliché of a romantic comedy imaginable and the actors are obviously there just to collect their paychecks. There is absolutely nothing praiseworthy about this telefilm. Its badly acted, predictable nonsense that gives television a bad reputation.

ii – The “comedy” is pathetic. The only way that this telefilm made me chuckle was how terrible and desperate it really is. To top it off, none of the veteran actors could save this abomination. 

iii – SPOILER ALERT!!! If you would like to avoid it (I’m not sure why you would even bother), skip to the next point):

(This is how probably a conservation with the creative team go regarding the plot and conclusion of this telefilm):

xxxx

Audience: Why did the protagonists fall in love with each other? They have absolutely nothing in common. Did just playing abhorrent pranks on each other somehow equals love?

Geo TV: Um…why not?

Audience: Wait, why is there a conflict all of a sudden? Why didn’t Zara’s father just ask Zara what she really thinks of Arman before having an anger fit in front of his most trusted friend? 

Geo TV: Does it matter? Oh look, Javed Sheikh is in the hospital now.

Audience: Huh? He faked his own heart attack?? And Arman’s dad was also into this? How does this all make sense? Why was this necessary?

Geo TV: Oh look, the telefilm ended. Thanks for dropping by.

xxxx

In short, conflicts are forced, resolutions are swift just as the telefilm is about to end, nothing makes sense in this world…

iv – There is absolutely no perception of the director Aehsun Talish leading his actors through each scene. It seems like the crew had probably incredibly limited days of shoot and each scene has the exact same flow, regardless of how lighthearted or essential that scene is to the narrative. It’s obviously terrible writing but even worse how minimal effort you find from the director and crew themselves.

v – If you ever want to see money being burnt on screen well, there you have it folks! It is fascinating that with all the budget, luxury mansions, lavish gardens you see on your TV screens, the telefilm still somehow looks incredibly cheap. Perhaps it lacks the talent or artistry that you need to make good Set designs or even just a sense of what visually looks good on screen and what looks tacky. And no money on earth can buy you that kind of talent.

vi – Bushra Ansari’s character is apparently an addict to Pakistani dramas but not any other dramas… no, no….only Geo TV dramas of course! Did that play any role or quirk to her character? Nope. Just a cheap, pathetic way for Geo TV to promote their content onto the viewers.

vii – I can’t fault the young talent for being part of this telefilm as they have a massive opportunity to be the leads of a telefilm but the veterans? Don’t they have any sense of moral integrity? I was embarrassed just to see them being actively part of this monstrosity. How they didn’t feel uncomfortable to be part of this project is beyond me.

viii – The sound editing/ mixing is one of the worst offenders of this telefilm. Each emotion has to be spoon fed to the audience because the creatives behind this project have zero confidence in their skills to convey emotions on screen with skilful dialogue and meaningful performances.

+ Overall

Teri Meri Kahani is devoid of any sort of originality. Its writing is terrible, acting is insanely exaggerated, it’s arguably one of the worst Pakistani telefilms I’ve ever seen. Avoid it like the plague.

Rate: 0.5 out of 5 stars

TV series

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

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Raqeeb Se – Episode 20 (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 – The relationship between Insha and Abdul is going through turbulence of sorts. It’s hard to say exactly where this turn of events are heading but I’m nonetheless intrigued.

ii – Probably sounds a tad bit awkward to say this but it was very satisfying to see Hajira show a bit of aggression and frustration in this episode. Throughout the show, she has mostly been stoic and calm so it was gratifying to see a different side of Hajira’s personality. 

iii – For once, Ameera was calm and collected in this episode. Iqra Aziz got to display some good, dramatic performance and in turn, shows a class of character maturity and development. This is the character progression that Raqeeb Se badly needs for the rest of the cast as well.

 + Low Points

i – Earlier in the episode, Masood asks his younger brother out of frustration: “What do you want?” 

I think Masood is acting as a composite for the viewers to the writer of the show. Since the past few episodes, Raqeeb Se has lost its sense of direction and is just meandering in Purgatory. 20 Episodes in and the show has no overarching conflict to overcome. The conflicts that are already present are not dramatic enough for the audience to tune in every week for it. Sakina’s fate can easily be resolved since Maqsood wants to keep her in his house and Hajira wants them to get married so she can “repay” Maqsood for marrying her. So what crucial, overbearing problem is there to be solved?

 When it comes to storytelling, Raqeeb Se is a drag to watch. 

ii – The scene with Kashif and her sassy Punjabi mom was a complete waste of time. Granted it wasn’t really time consuming but why have such moments where nothing is being really said other than the show fulfilling its 1 hour episode mark?

iii – SPOILER ALERT!!! (If you would like to avoid it, please skip to Overall section).

So the big revelation of Episode 20 was that Ameera has admitted to her mother (and everyone else) that she has fallen in love with Maqsood…. Um, was that not obvious? She didn’t exactly hide her emotions before. Her body language and gestures (even her dialogue) made it pretty clear that she at least has a crush on Maqsood sahib. In this scenario, only Insha was the one who was not utterly shocked by this revelation (and arguably the most sensible of the bunch). This was such a lazy, mundane technique to deliver some tension and drama into the show. 

+ Overall

Episode 20 was, at times, entertaining to watch (due to some good performances) but the big revelation really fell flat on its face.

Rate: 2.75 out of 5 stars