TV series

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

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Sang-e-Mah Episode 05 (2022). The new TV series is directed by Saife Hassan and written by Mustafa Afridi. Sang-e-Mah is the spiritual continuation of the saga introduced in the Hum TV drama Sang-e-Mar Mar (2016). Sang-e-Mah is the acting debut of the famous Pakistani pop star Atif Aslam and the drama is a Momina Duraid Production.

+ Crew

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

+ Note

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

 + Main Cast

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

+ Plot

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

+ High Points

i – While there was not much development in the storyline department, Episode 5 largely dedicated itself to character interactions and character building moments. The journalist Sheherzaad finally makes it into the Khan family’s home/ sanctuary and gets to interact with the elders, understanding but yet also imposing some of her “modern” perceptions onto the traditional Pakhtoon society. 

ii – Since Episode 5 was largely devoted to the investigative journalist Sheherzaad (played by Kubra Khan) and it was refreshing as a viewer to look into Pakhtoon land and culture through the eyes of an outsider. As she tries to wrap her head around the concept of ‘Ghaag’, the proud nature of the Pakhtoon closes in on her and her perception of how society functions. By and large, Kubra Khan’s performance seems very natural which can prove to be a vital asset later for the show.

iii – Needless to say, Sang-e-Mar possesses some of the most beautiful outdoor scenery in any show on television and plays a character of its own. In such heavenly landscapes, the Pakhtoon family rivalries spoil the atmosphere, devoted to gaining revenge upon one another. Even when scenes lack engaging characters or dialogues, the gorgeous landscape makes it worthy of continuing on with the episode. 

+ Low Points

i – This episode was a bore. There is unfortunately no way around it. With no new plot revelations or climatic moments, the show primarily depended on its characters but sadly, since the character developments are still in their infancy, none of them have proven to be interesting enough to carry an hour long episode. Undoubtedly the journalist Sheherzaad is a great addition and a perfect way to understand the Pakhtoon as an outsider, it still was not enough to compel the viewer to have unbridled attention throughout its runtime. 

ii – Sigh… the comedy just does not work. What is this fascination with sunglasses?? Is it such an anomaly for the Pakhtoons that they need to impress others with it? It is beyond ridiculous to even assume that Pakhtoons are completely enticed with such minor, everyday objects.

iii – On that note, the more I listen every week to these utterly stereotypical Pakhtoon accents from the cast, the more I am taken out of this world created by Sang-e-Mar. It is wishful to assume that the main cast could have devoted a bit more time and energy into getting the Pakhtoon dialect right but unfortunately, they just opted for the most generic accent they could get their hands on. And the results are far removed from reality.

+ Overall

Satisfactory development for Kubra Khan’s character but apart from that, the episode was a dull outing for Sang-e-Mah

Rate: out of 5 stars 

TV series

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

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Sang-e-Mah Episode 04 (2022). The new TV series is directed by Saife Hassan and written by Mustafa Afridi. Sang-e-Mah is the spiritual continuation of the saga introduced in the Hum TV drama Sang-e-Mar Mar (2016). Sang-e-Mah is the acting debut of the famous Pakistani pop star Atif Aslam and the drama is a Momina Duraid Production.

+ Crew

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

+ Note

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

 + Main Cast

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

+ Plot

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

+ High Points

i – The plot thickens. Episode 4 provided a bit more clarity with the main plot and individual storylines. This week, we got a lot more exposure towards the Hikmat Khan and Gul Meena’s Romeo and Juliet situation. We also got to see some more investigative journalism from Sheherzaad (aka Kubra Khan). So in spite of some minor flaws, the episode was well paced, engaging throughout and ended with an interesting twist at the end. 

ii – What Sang-e-Mar does better than most shows is the slow teasing each week of the entire plot which in turn, keeps the viewers coming back every week. And the individual subplots are also fascinating in their own right. Although we already know just the glimpses of the plot, exactly what sin did Marjaan Khan commit in his past that has left his “son” to disown him altogether? Essentially it is all just family drama but the twist that Sang-e-Mar presents is the Pakhtoon cultural backdrop (for which many Pakistani viewers are not too familiar with). This one quintessential factor makes the show stand out from everything else on Television right now and if you include a star studded cast with it, you can potentially have a hit show on your hands. 

iii – Speaking of Star studded cast, everyone is out there playing their A game to bring some levity into the dramatic storyline. Although probably none of the cast members do a convincing Pakhtoon accent, their onscreen presence is strong enough for the viewers to go along with its storyline and have an entertaining time dealing with the woes of the Khan family.

iv – The twist at the end was great with Hilmand intentionally taking the place of his brother in order to anger and further humiliate his ” father’s” name. A splendid setup and would be interesting to see where the show goes from here.

+ Low Points

i – As mentioned previously, the actors are giving it their all in the performances but none of them ever feel like they have enveloped the Pakhtoon culture. The accents and mannerisms are still not convincing enough. It seems like each of them are there to be ‘Nauman Ijaz’ or ‘Sania Saeed’ but with some stereotypical Pakhtoon accents. And it’s a bit of a shame cause I genuinely feel they are all great actors who can do better than this.

ii – While we had some progress with the Hikmat/ Gul Meera storyline, Mastaan Singh was completely ignored and four episodes in, we still do not know what major role he plays in the main plot of the show. Probably just a minor complaint but love if each episode can continue giving glimpses of each subplot without sacrificing the other.

+ Overall

Episode 4 was an obvious improvement from the previous week as it had better pacing and none of the “comedy” nonsense. 

Rate: out of 5 stars 

TV series

Mr. Khan’s Review on Parizaad – Episode XXVIII (2021)

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Parizaad Episode 28 (2021). The new TV series is directed by Shehzad Kashmiri and written by Hashim Nadeem. Parizaad is a Momina Duraid 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 Shehzad Kashmiri
  • Written by Hashim Nadeem
  • Produced by Momina Duraid Productions

+ Note

Parizaad is based on a novel by Hashim Nadeem and is a case study of a protagonist who cannot seem to find his place in a world where illicit behaviour and exploitation is rewarded over truth and kindness. The show explores the lower middle class societal problems of Pakistan and how a wallflower like Parizaad is never appreciated by our society. 

The director of the show Shehzad Kashmiri is a well respected cinematographer who then moved towards directing TV shows. He also directed a feature length film Bin Roye in 2015 which earned him a nomination for Best Film Director at 15th Lux Style Awards.

 + Main Cast

  1. Noman Ejaz
  2. Ahmed Ali Akbar
  3. Syed Muhammad Ahmed
  4. Urwa Hussain
  5. Ushna Shah
  6. Yumna Zaidi
  7. Saboor Ali
  8. Mashal Khan
  9. Tipu Shah
  10. Kiran Tabeer

+ Plot

Born in a world of neglect and hurt, Parizaad is an innocent soul that differs from everyone. He is kind, thoughtful and a gentle soul who due to his nature and appearance, does not fit the societal norms of Pakistani culture. Will the devious modern society engulf Parizaad into its darkness or will he remain a beacon of hope and all that is good in Life?

+ High Points

i – If Episode 27 was the powerhouse tipping point for the character of Parizaad then this week was perhaps the “calm before the storm”. There is nothing much to be analysed for episode 28 as the show went back to the arc of Parizaad in search of himself through the depths of vast, gorgeous landscapes of Pakistan. After a long time, Parizaad is once again without power, responsibilities, professional rivals but in return, has his sense of freedom back. Deep into the outskirts of Punjab, Parizaad is once again a nobody and that suits him just fine. And truth be told, it works out quite well for the show.

ii – Even though the episode had no real dramatic twists or nerve wrecking storytelling, it was exactly what it needed to be. Case in Point; the local village school teacher that Parizaad ends up befriending along the way. Impressed by the old man’s sense of nobility, Parizaad decides to give something back to the society (apart from making an endless number of donations). By dedicating himself to educate the youth, this might seem as charitable work but it is in fact some self therapy for our protagonist. In the past 10-15 episodes, Parizaad has gained and lost so much in the process that perhaps, it was time for him to leave this all behind once and for all and start anew. 

iii – The only dramatic scene in the episode was perhaps the most essential of them all; the confrontation with Annie post-eye sight surgery. And suffice to say, the creative team handled the scene with perfection. From the oblivious reaction of Annie to the gut wretching paralysis of Parizaad, it was indeed the right outcome. Was this the last time these two would ever meet? Only the series finale next week can answer that…

+ Low Points

i – In critique, one could argue that the more “quiet” second to last episode might have derailed the moment the previous few episodes captured, all leading to the inevitable conclusion to the odyssey of Parizaad. And… there is some truth to it. Perhaps episode 28 could have concluded in a more impactful manner but it did feel a bit lackluster in the end. There was no real cliffhanger to reel the viewers back into the series finale next week. It just ends without any flair or a sense of excitement. Just sorrow and pity for our main protagonist.

ii – Personally, I was not a fan of the 5 to 10 minute clip show at the end. It really felt like the show runners wanted to prolong the episode into a whole hour long for no apparent plot reason. This time could have been utilized for some more character building or even motivated Parizaad to return back home. But instead, the episode ended on a whimper which is such a shame.

+ Overall

A decent episode, a brilliant confrontation scene but a lackluster conclusion into the final episode next week.

Rate: out of 5 stars

TV series

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

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Sang-e-Mah Episode 03 (2022). The new TV series is directed by Saife Hassan and written by Mustafa Afridi. Sang-e-Mah is the spiritual continuation of the saga introduced in the Hum TV drama Sang-e-Mar Mar (2016). Sang-e-Mah is the acting debut of the famous Pakistani pop star Atif Aslam and the drama is a Momina Duraid Production.

+ Crew

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

+ Note

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

 + Main Cast

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

+ Plot

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

+ High Points

i – With Episode 3, Sang-e-Mah’s storyline progresses further and the roles of the main cast are better defined for the audience. We get to witness a flashback scene and a dream sequence as indirect expositions to the plot (which is a predictable but nonetheless enjoyable way to get your viewers up to speed with the premise). The locations are gorgeous and the cast has dramatic interactions with one another. Even though it was the least engaging of all the three episodes up till now, Sang-e-Mah looks promising each and every week.

ii – What really excels the show is that each and every character has a certain quirk to themselves. Hilmand Khan (aka Atif Aslam) is bitter about his mysterious past and is out for revenge against his “father”, Marjaan Khan (aka Noman Ijaz) acts tough but deep down, knows that he wronged some people in his life, Mastaan Singh (aka Omair Rana) is struggling with his current situation but has nonetheless a humble, loving personality to him. These characterizations are great as they give the audience a reason to latch onto them and compel them to tune in each and every week. 

iii – The dream sequence was a fantastic way to convey the inner demons that Marjaan Khan has to live with. Although we just got a glimpse of the backstory between the two families, it is certain that Marjaan made some selfish decisions in the past that destroyed the lives of others. And now, these demons are coming back to haunt him. This is a brilliant way to create some complexity within the storyline itself and a perfect way to evolve some drama out of this plot.

iv – In terms of production, Sang-e-Mah is arguably one of the best looking shows on Television at the moment. Not only the locations and set designs are gorgeous, the cinematography and editing also compliments the rather timid pace and slow building tension of the show. Sang-e-Mah is not only enjoyable to watch due to its stellar cast and premise but also due to the creative team behind the camera. Its a rare occurrence with it comes to Pakistani dramas these days but one that makes it stand out from the rest.

+ Low Points

i – As mentioned above, the plot has been in parts revealed to the audience but some of it still remain shrouded in mystery. As expected, these mysteries will be revealed sooner rather than later but it will end up frustrating some of the viewers who might just bail out beforehand. What is the story behind Mastaan Singh? How does he know Zarghuna? Just who was Hilmand Khan’s real father? It also needs to be mentioned that there is at times way too much exposition dumped into some unnecessary scenes (usually involving two characters explaining the situation to one another for no real plot reason behind it). The exposition became so tiresome in fact that my brain just phased out for a couple of minutes and had to rewatch the scenes again for better understanding.

I am certain that each and every question mentioned here will soon be answered in the next coming weeks but some viewers might not possess such patience and the show might lose a chunk of viewership in the next coming episodes.

ii – The “comedy” was just badly written. None of the scenes with the sunglasses worked and I find it utterly ridiculous that in the year 2022, anyone would be fascinated wearing a pair of sunglasses as if it were Virtual Reality goggles. It also indirectly depicts Pashtoons as a backwards group of people who cannot keep with the basic modern day accessories. This were just some unnecessary “comedic” scenes that I hope are avoided in the next coming episodes.

+ Overall

Episode 3 provided some exposition regarding the premise of the show but the slow revelation of the complete plot might frustrate some viewers into quitting the show altogether.

Rate: out of 5 stars 

TV series

Mr. Khan’s Review on Parizaad – Episode XXVII (2021)

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Parizaad Episode 27 (2021). The new TV series is directed by Shehzad Kashmiri and written by Hashim Nadeem. Parizaad is a Momina Duraid 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 Shehzad Kashmiri
  • Written by Hashim Nadeem
  • Produced by Momina Duraid Productions

+ Note

Parizaad is based on a novel by Hashim Nadeem and is a case study of a protagonist who cannot seem to find his place in a world where illicit behaviour and exploitation is rewarded over truth and kindness. The show explores the lower middle class societal problems of Pakistan and how a wallflower like Parizaad is never appreciated by our society. 

The director of the show Shehzad Kashmiri is a well respected cinematographer who then moved towards directing TV shows. He also directed a feature length film Bin Roye in 2015 which earned him a nomination for Best Film Director at 15th Lux Style Awards.

 + Main Cast

  1. Noman Ejaz
  2. Ahmed Ali Akbar
  3. Syed Muhammad Ahmed
  4. Urwa Hussain
  5. Ushna Shah
  6. Yumna Zaidi
  7. Saboor Ali
  8. Mashal Khan
  9. Tipu Shah
  10. Kiran Tabeer

+ Plot

Born in a world of neglect and hurt, Parizaad is an innocent soul that differs from everyone. He is kind, thoughtful and a gentle soul who due to his nature and appearance, does not fit the societal norms of Pakistani culture. Will the devious modern society engulf Parizaad into its darkness or will he remain a beacon of hope and all that is good in Life?

+ High Points

i – Episode 27 served purely as a follow up to the cliffhanger from the previous one. And that in itself was an exciting prospect! This episode really tested the morality of Parizaad and what he could be capable of. He was tempted by fate, stood on the fork road of Good and Evil. Ever since Parizaad inherited Behroze Karim’s wealth and power, it all led up to this moment and suffice to say, the show handled it brilliantly. The episode was intense and full of emotion with great performances all around. And this serves perfectly as the bridge to the last two episodes of the series.

ii – This is probably universally agreed upon by now but Ahmed Ali Akbar was once again just brilliant in this episode. We got to see three completely different ranges of emotions/ characterization from Parizaad; the Vengeful, the Remorse and ultimately, the Acceptance. The impeccable writing by Hashim Nadeem allowed Parizaad to complete an entire character arc within an hour’s worth of screentime. And with the game changing cliffhanger at the end of the episode, I am keenly interested where the last two episodes will conclude the tale of Parizaad.

iii – Yumna Zaidi as Annie also gave a standout performance this week. Her very emotional farewell (?) to her mentor Parizaad was incredibly heartfelt and created a sense of realisation for the viewers just how essential Parizaad was to her.

iv – Episode 27 conclusion has brought in a lot of interesting questions to the forefront. Does Parizaad feel that he has failed himself? When his sense of sacrifice was questioned, Parizaad fell right into the hands of human temptation. After sacrificing time and time again in his life, perhaps he could not take it anymore and wanted at least one snippet of happiness to slip away from his fingers. But ultimately, Parizaad not only lost the love of his life but also ended up losing respect for himself in the process. Where this will all lead up remains to be seen.

+ Low Points

i – Although the “self-reflection” scene was impactful, it once again made the technical error where the reflection of Parizaad is facing the camera (aka the audience) instead of looking directly at himself in front of the mirror. Not a massive fault but still takes you out of the scene a bit.

ii – The scene with Majid felt quite unnecessary in this episode and also somewhat ended up disrupting the flow of the narrative. I’m not sure if the show will continue this storyline in the last two episodes of the series or if it will play an important part but as for now, it could’ve been avoided. 

+ Overall

What an intensive, thrilling episode this turned out to be! The show has certainly now intrigued its audience for the last two episodes of its series finale.

Rate: out of 5 stars 

TV series

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

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Sang-e-Mah Episode 02 (2022). The new TV series is directed by Saife Hassan and written by Mustafa Afridi. Sang-e-Mah is the spiritual continuation of the saga introduced in the Hum TV drama Sang-e-Mar Mar (2016). Sang-e-Mah is the acting debut of the famous Pakistani pop star Atif Aslam and the drama is a Momina Duraid Production.

+ Crew

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

+ Note

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

 + Main Cast

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

+ Plot

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

+ High Points

i – The narrative flows at a brisk pace, each and every scene is made essential viewing through poignant writing and noteworthy performances. There are three essential storylines running parallel at the moment; the deteriorating relationship between Father (Marjaan Khan) and Son (Hilmand Khan), the young lovers caught in between two rival families and the case of Mastaan Singh. The second episode slightly elaborates further the conflicts taking place in these set pieces and for the most part, ends up leaving a lasting impression on the viewers. Sang-e-Mah ticks a lot of boxes which brings the audience back each and every week. From the looks of it, the show provides snippets of the plot each week, just enough so it peaks the viewer’s interest and keeps coming back for more. 

ii – While the Pashtoon accents may be somewhat generic from the cast, the themes visited in the show are very real and regionally specific. The concept of Ghaag is a Pashtoon ritual that is extensively explored in the first two episodes of the show. It is a ritual perhaps unbeknownst to many non-Pashtoon Pakistanis across the country but is devastating to the young girls in the region. This clearly shows that the writer Mustafa Afridi has written the different plot set pieces around the customs and rituals of where the show is taking place in and thus, Sang-e-Mah sounds, looks and feels different from many shows on Television at the moment. And speaking of looks…

iii – The view is admirable, the setting is breathtaking and the production design is one of the key highlights of the show. The costumes, the make up, the colourful props; everything visual brings out this wonderful vibe of authenticity and fantastical viewing experience. 

iv – And of course, this show would be lacking if not for good performances from the main and supporting cast and thankfully, this show has plenty! Being veteran actors for decades now, Nauman Ijaz and Sania Saeed can play almost any type of role in a heartbeat. But what really fascinates me is the seamless mixture of the old and the new. Newcomers like Atif Aslam bring a sense of presence onscreen and although he plays well as a stoic, heartbroken son who wants to be loved, I hope the coming episodes make him display his wide range of emotion on screen which is always a real test for any actor. Whether Atif Aslam could have a new career as an actor remains to be seen but for now, he fits in seamlessly with the rest of the talented cast of actors.

+ Low Points

i – The only major flaw at the moment is the plot mystery itself. Although it is commendable that the show is taking its time in revealing the backstories of each character, some set pieces are still shrouded in the dark like the ordeal of Mastaan Singh. Not much screen time has been devoted to the character so it is hard to emotionally invest ourselves into his storyline. Maybe the next coming episodes will rectify that but for now, his story is what intrigues me the least.

ii – Two episodes in, and the dialogues still sound very exaggerated and lofty for their own good. The writing doesn’t sound natural but rather what a non-Pashtoon person would think a Pashtoon sounds like. I am certain that Pashtoons of this particular region do not always walk around in anger and constantly make epic, sweeping statements at every chance they get. Let the characters display some more wide range of emotions, let them be a tad bit more human, let them stutter, make errors in their speech. There is such a thing as writing dialogues a bit too perfect which make the characters appear too stoic and not real on screen.

+ Overall

Sang-e-Mah reveals the converging storylines a bit more and provides yet another engaging and entertaining episode.

Rate: out of 5 stars 

TV series

Mr. Khan’s Review on Parizaad – Episode XXVI (2021)

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Parizaad Episode 26 (2021). The new TV series is directed by Shehzad Kashmiri and written by Hashim Nadeem. Parizaad is a Momina Duraid 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 Shehzad Kashmiri
  • Written by Hashim Nadeem
  • Produced by Momina Duraid Productions

+ Note

Parizaad is based on a novel by Hashim Nadeem and is a case study of a protagonist who cannot seem to find his place in a world where illicit behaviour and exploitation is rewarded over truth and kindness. The show explores the lower middle class societal problems of Pakistan and how a wallflower like Parizaad is never appreciated by our society. 

The director of the show Shehzad Kashmiri is a well respected cinematographer who then moved towards directing TV shows. He also directed a feature length film Bin Roye in 2015 which earned him a nomination for Best Film Director at 15th Lux Style Awards.

 + Main Cast

  1. Noman Ejaz
  2. Ahmed Ali Akbar
  3. Syed Muhammad Ahmed
  4. Urwa Hussain
  5. Ushna Shah
  6. Yumna Zaidi
  7. Saboor Ali
  8. Mashal Khan
  9. Tipu Shah
  10. Kiran Tabeer

+ Plot

Born in a world of neglect and hurt, Parizaad is an innocent soul that differs from everyone. He is kind, thoughtful and a gentle soul who due to his nature and appearance, does not fit the societal norms of Pakistani culture. Will the devious modern society engulf Parizaad into its darkness or will he remain a beacon of hope and all that is good in Life?

+ High Points

i – This week produced yet another great episode. The pacing was great, we also got a new revelation which could significantly change the dynamics of the last few episodes of the show. The episode also contained some great dramatic scenes, particularly in the later part of the hour. Although the conclusion of the series still remains to be seen, the show has done a fantastic job in potentially bringing the events and relationships to a satisfying conclusion.

ii – It is admirable that whenever Parizaad needs to make an important, moral decision, he always goes back to his old friend Nasaaz. Someone who gave him courage in the past, who made him believe in himself. So it is obvious that with the decision of sacrificing the love of his life, Parizaad would once again fall back to his old friend yet again. But perhaps this time, he has gone to the well once too often and might have ended up interpreting the advice in the worst possible way. Absolutely brilliant writing by Hashim Nadeem! 

iii – The moment of solitude for Parizaad was undoubtedly the highlight of the episode. This sans dialogue moment packed in a lot of emotion and heartbreak that the show Parizaad is so excellent at displaying. The urge to grasp and hold onto his “happiness” is burning inside him. Why does he always get the short end of the stick? Why do people who display kindness and empathy also end up last? No, for Parizaad, this time is his. He will seize his moment…. By any means necessary!

iv – And this led up to the shocking turn of events at the conclusion of the episode. Will Parizaad really go through it? Will he finally succumb to the dark side? One of the finest cliffhangers this show has ever produced!

+ Low Points

i – Since his introduction, I was questioning why the character of Sharjeel has been introduced so late into the show and now, we all know why. He plays a foil, a roadblock to Parizaad’s path to eternal happiness. And that unfortunately seems a bit too convenient for the plot of the show. Could they have not introduced him a bit earlier (or even mentioned him at some point) because this is not the most skilled way of creating obstacles for our protagonist. Just like real life, characters and events should evolve naturally from the plot of the show and not just for the sake of convenience for our character to react because the script wants it to be that way. I do not mind Sharjeel’s introduction into the show nor his hidden love for Annie but this all could have been much better presented.

+ Overall

Episode 26 proved to be a catalyst that could potentially lead up to something to a shocking finish!

Rate: out of 5 stars 

TV series

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

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Sang-e-Mah Episode 01 (2022). The new TV series is directed by Saife Hassan and written by Mustafa Afridi. Sang-e-Mah is the spiritual continuation of the saga introduced in the Hum TV drama Sang-e-Mar Mar (2016). Sang-e-Mah is the acting debut of the famous Pakistani pop star Atif Aslam and the drama is a Momina Duraid Production.

+ Crew

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

+ Note

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

 + Main Cast

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

+ Plot

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

+ High Points

i – Admittedly, I have yet to watch Sang-e-Mar Mar, which visited similar themes of another Pakhtoon family saga. But suffice to say, the premiere episode was a breeze and enjoyable to sit through. Beautiful scenery, accompanied by traditional Pakhtoon music was visual serenity at its finest. The performances from the main cast were satisfactory and the plot moved along at a brisk pace to keep the viewer engaged throughout its runtime. What was especially exceptional from the writing of Mustafa Afridi was the fact that I could follow the plot and characters with such ease and did not necessarily needed to have any prior knowledge of the show beforehand. So if there are any readers out there who feel at unease of this show being integrally linked to the previous one, your fears will prove unjustified due to clever, easy to follow writing of the show.

ii – Speaking of great performances, the show consists of a mixture of veteran, seasoned TV actors such as Noman Ejaz and Sania Saeed accompanied by young and newcomers such as Atif Aslam. This makes for an interesting viewing for the audience as we get a diverse group of acting talents, all together at the center of the stage. 

iii – So a lot of the viewers would be curious to know how Atif Aslam played out in his first ever on screen acting performance. Since he was hardly five odd minutes in the first episode, it is not easy to judge how much acting talent he possesses but for now, he seems right at home. His character has a strong presence, Atif delivers his dialogue with a certain weight and tenacity that is vital to any main cast performer. So far so good and I am excited to see more of him in the upcoming episodes.

iv – I also enjoyed the ‘Romeo and Juliet’ plot that took the centerstage of the premiere episode. Hania Amir is especially good in her loving but yet vulnerable character who is torn between sticking to her family’s principles or following her heart. 

v – Apart from cultural diversity, it is also fantastic to see the show shed some light on the religious diversity that Pakistan has. Granted, it is nowhere near as diverse as India for example, but characters such as Mastaan Singh (played by Omair Rana) taking semi-center stage to the show is something that many Pakistani TV dramas should be encouraged to do.  

+ Low Points

i – Even though I praised the performances above, I do have to admit, the Pashto accents from all the actors seem much more stereotypical than authentic ones from the actual region. Now granted, it is not distracting enough to derail the viewer’s sense of concentration but still, a little more depth and research into the actual dialects would have been appreciated.

ii – The dialogues do sound at times, lofty and pretentious as they should. It is obvious that the writer opts for an epic, dramatic vibe (Shakespearean even) to the spoken dialogues but they come off at times unnatural. Which makes it hard as a viewer to relate to these characters and their problems. Perhaps it would have been a bit more compelling viewing if we got to witness the ‘day-to-day’ aspects of a Pakhtoon (man or woman) in the tribal regions. But since the show has a lot of episodes to go, let’s see how it all plays out in the end.

+ Overall

A solid premiere episode of the show. Even though Sang-e-Mah serves as a spiritual sequel, the writing is inviting to all potentially new viewers in the saga of the Khan Pakhtoon family.

Rating: out of 5 stars 

TV series

Mr. Khan’s Review on Parizaad – Episode XXV (2021)

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Parizaad Episode 25 (2021). The new TV series is directed by Shehzad Kashmiri and written by Hashim Nadeem. Parizaad is a Momina Duraid 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 Shehzad Kashmiri
  • Written by Hashim Nadeem
  • Produced by Momina Duraid Productions

+ Note

Parizaad is based on a novel by Hashim Nadeem and is a case study of a protagonist who cannot seem to find his place in a world where illicit behaviour and exploitation is rewarded over truth and kindness. The show explores the lower middle class societal problems of Pakistan and how a wallflower like Parizaad is never appreciated by our society. 

The director of the show Shehzad Kashmiri is a well respected cinematographer who then moved towards directing TV shows. He also directed a feature length film Bin Roye in 2015 which earned him a nomination for Best Film Director at 15th Lux Style Awards.

 + Main Cast

  1. Noman Ejaz
  2. Ahmed Ali Akbar
  3. Syed Muhammad Ahmed
  4. Urwa Hussain
  5. Ushna Shah
  6. Yumna Zaidi
  7. Saboor Ali
  8. Mashal Khan
  9. Tipu Shah
  10. Kiran Tabeer

+ Plot

Born in a world of neglect and hurt, Parizaad is an innocent soul that differs from everyone. He is kind, thoughtful and a gentle soul who due to his nature and appearance, does not fit the societal norms of Pakistani culture. Will the devious modern society engulf Parizaad into its darkness or will he remain a beacon of hope and all that is good in Life?

+ High Points

i – Episode 25 develops Parizaad’s further decent into the dirty, underworld tactics of maintaining power. And that is a great way of depicting how much our main protagonist has changed since the transition of ‘rags to riches’ storyline. Even though we all know and love Parizaad for his kind heartedness and empathic point of view of his world, one must also never push such a character to his extreme. You might be surprised as to what you would end up discovering. But…

ii – …. at the same time, the writer’s decision to not let Parizaad completely descend into the abyss of evil was a wise one. While this was never in true doubt, murdering his adversary’s innocent son in cold blood might have too massive of a character development in one, stand alone incident. While his tactics can be cruel, he is still the Parizaad that we all can relate and sympathize with.

iii – The relationship between Parizaad and Guru is also a heartfelt one. Guru has had a harsh, unforgiving life who adjusted himself to the evil nature of our society. Every scene that they share together, it is apparent that Guru sees a bit of himself in Parizaad before he has enveloped into the madness of revenge and solitude.

+ Low Points

i – The very late introduction of the cousin character of Annie seems so forced and out of place with the current storyline. His performance seems to belong to some other light hearted Hum TV drama, not the gritiness real life of Parizaad. Up till now, I have no idea what major purpose he serves to the plot but as of now, his existence seems unnecessary to the inevitable conclusion of the show.

ii – Speaking of harsh reality, the “fight scene” at the rooftop with Parizaad’s adversary seemed so phony and ridiculous. When your show is excellent at staying grounded and real, you don’t need such scenes to elevate the absurdity of the situation. If the dialogues, characterizations and performances are based on reality, so should the fight scenes.

+ Overall

Once again, a good episode although the plot now does feel somewhat directionless in the grand storyline of the show. Where is this all heading to?

Rating: out of 5 stars