TV series

Mr. Khan’s Review on Fraud – Episode I (2022)

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Fraud Episode 1 (2022). The new TV series is directed by Saqib Khan and written by Zanjabeel Asim. Fraud is a story of love, innocence and treachery as our protagonist is manipulated into marrying a forged personality. Fraud is an iDream Entertainment and ARY Digital Production.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Saqib Khan
  • Written by Zanjabeel Asim
  • Produced by Abdullah Seja 
  • Production by iDream Entertainment

+ Note

Fraud is a case study of Pakistani families who always strive for betterment of their children. Obsession with wealth and power almost always ends up leading to unfavorable consequences. The director Saqib Khan is known for his numerous television projects and his upcoming cinematic film Ghabrana Nahi Hai (2022).

 + Main Cast

  1. Saba Qamar as Maya
  2. Ahsan Khan as Tabriaz
  3. Mikaal Zulfiqar as Shaan
  4. Rabia Kulsoom as Maila
  5. Adnan Samad Khan as Nael
  6. Mehmood Aslam as Nisar

+ Plot

Fraud is a story of Maya whose father wants her to marry into the richest family that he could find. But wealth does not equal character as she ends up marrying a wealthy man named Tabriaz who, through his trickery, makes life for Maya full of deceit and fraud.

+ High Points

i – The premiere episode to the show was engaging and had some interesting foreshadowing towards the upcoming storyline. The narrative flowed well with the performances and the cliffhanger to the episode will definitely intrigue its viewers for several more weeks to come. Just a keen observation but Fraud has some incredibly strong vibes of the HUM TV drama Khaas (2019) where the female protagonist ends up marrying an egotistical maniac due to parental pressure and ends up ruining her life in the process. All in all, a good first episode. 

ii – The performances ranged from decent to great. Particularly Mehmood Aslam as Nisar (the father of our female protagonist) stood out from the rest with his emotional yet misguided well being for his daughter. Saba Qamar as Maya also gave a convincing performance in bringing out the innocence of a young adult who is shedding her naivety and entering the real world of deception and falsehood.

iii – The show should be commended for its storyline as many parents in Pakistan feel compelled to marry their daughter off to rich families regardless of their daughter’s emotional well being. This has always been a continuing issue in Pakistani culture as wealth is given priority above all else. On the other hand, as a parent, one would want their child to be financially secure but having an abusive life partner can never prove to be a good move in the long run. Fraud has an interesting but essential plot that deserves attention from the mainstream audience.

iv – The first episode had some good exposition, dialogue heavy set pieces as the plot is carefully set up for the ultimate payoff at the last episode of the show. I was particularly fond of Maya’s parents as they argued back and forth about what is best for their daughter. And last but not least…

v – The final act with the rejection of the Rishta was well written and fantastic performances all around. The emotions of rejection and humiliation drove the scene forward and made us empathize with the Khala’s side of the family. Of course it is good to be optimistic in life but some facts unfortunately cannot be overlooked namely wealth and social status; something that always plagues Pakistani society.

+ Low Points

i – The opening scene of the show… was something I guess. I’m sure the show was going for a more metaphorical foreshadowing of the coming weeks but unfortunately, its horror tone just felt out of place with the rest of the show. Where did they end up finding so many bats to begin with?

ii – The show looks visual bland. There are no interesting perspectives, no innovative camera framing or editing. The production of the show only manages to reach the bare minimum what TV or film can accomplish. Shows produced by Momina Duraid are a good example that there is always room for visual experimentation, even for such a commercial medium like television. And it’s a real pity since the storyline is deserving of a more talented production crew behind the camera.

iii – Speaking of visual quality, it is unfortunate that the show resorts to mainstream Indian drama TV style of visual storytelling as it can definitely do without it. Let go of the “chamak dhamak” style of camera work/ editing as it ends up making your product look cheap and lacks originality. A perfect example can be Daam (2010) by Mehreen Jabbar where the show, even with its so-called “slow” visual presentation, brought so much depth and realism to the plot and its characters.

iv – The title of the show ‘Fraud’ seems way too much on the nose. Couldn’t the show runners have come up with something a little less conspicuous?

+ Overall

A good, promising first episode; Fraud has the capability to be one of the best shows currently on television right now if not for its lackluster presentation.

Rate: out of 5 stars 

TV series

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

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

+ Crew

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

+ Note

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

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

 + Main Cast

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

 + Supporting Cast

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

+ Plot

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

+ High Points

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

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

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

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

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

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

 + Low Points

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

+ Overall

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

 Rate: 2.25 out of 5 stars