TV series

Mr. Khan’s Review on Maat (2011)

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Maat (2011). The 25 Episode limited TV series is directed by Amna Nawaz Khan and is produced by Momina Duraid. Maat was broadcasted on HUM TV Pakistan.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Amna Nawaz Khan
  • Written by Umera Ahmad
  • DOP by Shehzad Kashmiri
  • Edited by Husnain
  • OST Theme composed by Farrukh Abid and Shoaib Farrukh
  • Produced by Momina Duraid

+ Note

Maat (adapted from the book of the same name) is written by the prolific Pakistani Urdu writer Umera Ahmad who is well renowned in the Pakistani Literature as well as Drama Industry as one of the most talented writers in Pakistan. The show is an exploration of themes such as moral defeat and victory in the eyes of our society. How far should one be selfish or selfless in order to survive in this world? Umera’s key strength in her writing has always been indulging in close family affairs and how differences in lifestyles can destroy the loved ones around you.

After its original broadcast on HUM TV, Maat instantly gained its popularity amongst its fanbase and was aired once again in 2013. This also led to the show being dubbed in Pashto for Hum Pashto 1 and drew numerous fans outside the country’s borders (such as India, Iran and Turkey). At the Lux Style Awards, Maat bagged Best Television Actress for Saba Qamar, Best Director, Best Writer and Best Television Serial awards.

 + Main Cast

  1. Aamina Sheikh as Aiman
  2. Saba Qamar as Saman
  3. Adnan Siddiqui as Faisal
  4. Noor Hassan Rizvi as Hadeed
  5. Shamim Hilaly as Faisal’s mother
  6. Rabia Noreen as Afia
  7. Asad Malik as Aazar
  8. Samina Ahmad as servant
  9. Maheen Rizvi as Shaila
  10. Sadia Ghaffar as Munazzah

+ Plot

Two sisters; Aiman (Aamina Sheikh) and Saman (Saba Qamar) have vastly different visions of a perfect life. Aiman dreams of a modest, honest life whereas Saman dreams of a luxurious life with no consequences. Ideals clash when Faisal (Adnan Siddiqui)  proposes to marry his long time love Saman but her perfect Husband might not have a clear face so long as he can fulfill every material need that she desires in Life.

+ High Points

i – This is by now no secret that I am a massive fan of Umera Ahmed and her writing. She is undoubtedly miles ahead from many other drama writers in the Pakistani TV Industry. And Maat is no exception. Every episode is written with intricate precision and attention. With depth and understanding, each character feels a real and integral part of the story. Throughout its 25 Episodes, the show never felt staggered or prolonged (which is a rarity in modern Pak Television!). Each episode had a purpose to exist and that is perhaps one of the biggest compliments I could possibly give to a episodic soap opera. 

ii – Even though Maat is (yet again) a story of love triangle on the surface level, the plot goes much deeper than that. The show is an exploration of selfness vs selfishness (similar to Umera Ahmed’s previous work Daam (2010) but interestingly enough, the role of Aamina Sheikh reversed). It’s obvious that the sympathies lie solely on Aiman but she herself is not flawless in her woes. She fails to understand where the limits lie when it comes to personal sacrifice. Saman (on the other hand) fails to understand why the world doesn’t revolve according to her needs. She has no issues in manipulating people in order to get her way. The concept of ‘philanthropy’ is all alien to her. 

What I really admire about the storyline is all characters (whether good or bad) have flaws within them. The victim nor the oppressor can remain blameless throughout the show. It’s a balanced style of Umera’s writing which I truly applaud about her work. But with that being said, I think a lot of credit also should go to Amna Nawaz Khan’s superb direction. Her meticulous direction of her cast of characters and the scenes that they were part of really brought a lot of life into the show.

iii – The performances are great all around but it’s mostly the main cast of Aamina Sheikh, Saba Qamar and Adnan Siddiqui that shine throughout the show. The audience naturally tunes in for them to take the center stage and they never fail to deliver. But surprisingly, as the show progressed, Saba Qamar quickly captured the limelight of the show and most of the later episodes were solely through her perspective. And that I felt was very refreshing to view the events from the “Antagonist’s” point of view.

iv – The supporting cast of Shamim Hilaly, Rabia Noreen and others also contributed a lot to the show’s strength in its performances. Apart from the servant actors sounding a bit stiff, the main supporting cast was excellent throughout its 25 episodes. The scenes between Shamim and Rabia were also great to watch as their onscreen chemistry really had me believe that they are in fact sisters long after the cameras have stopped recording for the day.

v – The setting, locations and backdrop was all brilliantly realized for the show. The living condition differences between lower social classes and upper social classes were very apparent and added much needed depth and diversity to the moving images of the show.

vi – Apart from the brilliant OST by Muhammad Ali, most of the music was fantastic throughout the show. The integration of flute with melancholic piano really brought a sense of pain and regret onto the small screen. The music never felt overbearing but only ended up enhancing your viewing experience.

vii –  The conclusion to the show was outstanding and fit right in the tone and narrative of the show. Most TV dramas fall into the trap of a great setup but a terrible payback at the end but the writer of Maat knew in which direction she was taking the show and how this particular story would end. The conclusion of any show always makes or breaks it but fortunately, Maat had a very satisfying conclusion to the show.

 + Low Points

i – The production was serviceable to say the least. Shehzad Kashmiri’s camerawork was subpar and lacked any sort of creativity in its visuals. Shows like Raqeeb Se (2021) are a prime example how inventive framing and camerawork can really contribute to the overall aesthetic of the show.

(Warning! Spoilers Ahead! If you would like to avoid it, please skip to the Overall section):

ii – One major problem that left me perplexed was the shift of perspective from Aiman to Saman. Why? Why could not both have been the audience’s window into the world of Maat? Since the two sisters have polar opposite understanding of the world, this unique dual perspective would have worked seamlessly into the narrative but for some reason, Umera’s script solely focused on Saman’s view mostly throughout the show. A bit more balanced screentime between the two sisters would worked better for the show.

iii – Although Saba Qamar’s performance was great, she had a certain tick in her performance that whenever she said something in a condescending tone, she shook her head on the side at the end of each sentence. I’m not sure if it was supposed to be a tick that Saba invented for her character or if it was the director’s suggestion but became a bit distracting as episodes went on. 

iv – There were times when the audience might lose their empathy towards Aiman because she is gratuitously more generous than anyone ever should be. It’s hard to sympathize but only pity someone’s lack of intelligence if it’s already written on the wall that caving into Saman’s stubbornness and Faisal’s self-destructive desires will lead to nothing good in life. Perhaps it can be noted as a flaw of Aiman but these were the times when I momentarily lost sympathy for Aiman for being so naive and clueless.

v – The “elderly” make up in the last two episodes was laughable. It looked ridiculous considering the white hair but perfect “wrinkless” skin. A random guy called Aiman ‘old lady’ just took me completely out of the scene. Stage plays have better makeup than this!

vi – The last few episodes have a bit too many inner monologues from Aiman. I think that dragged the episodes a bit and could’ve been avoided. The visuals were enough for the audience to understand what was happening without the show spelling it out for them.

+ Overall

Maat is such an entertaining watch. The characters are interesting and the plot progression is excellent throughout its 25 episodes. One of the best shows to come out of the last decade.

 Rate: 4.0 out of 5 stars


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