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 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 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