TV series

Mr. Khan’s Review on Khaas (2019)

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Khaas (2019). The 27 Episode limited TV series is directed by Danish Nawaz and is a Momina Duraid production. Khaas was aired on HUM TV.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Danish Nawaz
  • Written by Sarwat Nazir
  • Edited by Mehmood Ali and Nasir Inayat
  • DOP by Tameen Nizami
  • Music Composed by Sohail Haider
  • Opening Theme song “Woh Jo Tha Bahut Hi Khaas” by Natasha Baig
  • Produced by Momina Duraid

+ Note

Back in 2019, Khaas was a show which strived to be unlike any no other on Pakistani Television. On the surface level, Khaas could be your typical run of the mill drama between In laws and daughter in law but Sarwat Nazir’s writing strives the show to be much more than what it seems to be. Khaas is about an emotional plight of a woman in a male dominated culture. Where certain expectations are required from the woman of the house. The show is primarily a case study of what emotional abuse a woman has to face in order to be loved and respected by the Pakistani society; be that sustaining composure while your Husband makes hurtful jokes about you or extinguishing your goals and ambitions in order to please the traditional “norm” of being a housewife. Although this word is treated as poision by most of the Pakistani community, Khaas is in fact a ‘feminist’ drama in which the target audience is not necessarily women but also the male counterparts of our everyday life.

Khaas was a critical and commercial success throughout the country, garnering praise and applause from audiences who saw themselves in the protagonist Saba. The drama was nominated by Lux Style Awards for Best Writing and Best Original Soundtrack.

 + Main Cast

  1. Sanam Baloch as Saba Faraz
  2. Ali Rehman Khan as Ammar Saud
  3. Haroon Shahid as Fakhir
  4. Behroze Sabzwari as Faraz Ahmed; Saba’s father
  5. Lubna Aslam as Sadaf Faraz; Saba’s mother
  6. Saba Faisal as Kanwal Saud; Ammar’s mother
  7. Mashal Khan as Sonia
  8. Anam Goher as Nida Saud
  9. Sajida Syed as Nusrat

 + Supporting Cast

  1. Natasha Ali as Farah
  2. Amna Malik as Javeria
  3. Shehryar Zaidi as Saud; Ammar’s father
  4. Sonia Nazir as Anam
  5. Areesha Shah as Mehak Faraz
  6. Sanam Baloch as Fakhir’s late mother 
  7. Danish Nawaz as Fakhir’s late father (only seen in flashbacks)
  8. Hira Tareen as Salma

+ Plot

Khaas is a story of an ambitious woman named Saba (played by Sanam Baloch) who strives for her career and other goals in Life. That all unfortunately gets cut short once Ammar (Ali Rehman Khan) proposes to her and her family. Due to unwarranted pressure from her parents and society, Saba accepts the proposal and focuses on her married life instead. Even though Ammar is considered charming and loved by everyone around him, something seems not right about him. Slowly, the façade of Ammar breaks down and Saba gets to see what lies behind the curtain.

Meanwhile Fakhir (Haroon Shahid), a timid, shy artist who falls in love with Saba and steadily, a friendship brews between them, proving that within all that is dark, there is a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel.

+ High Points

i – Khaas is a textbook example of how it should be done! Engaging storyline, memorable characters, cliffhangers after each episode, never once did my attention span falter while watching the show. The show hit every narrative beat picture perfect and its success and admiration by the fans is the living proof of it. 

ii – A lot of praise and attention should be devoted towards the main cast as each one of them portrayed their characters with absolute perfection. Sana Baloch as the strong yet sympathetic protagonist, Ali Rehman Khan as the narcissistic, petty manchild and Haroon Shahid as the shy, timid artist who sees good in everything. That’s a perfect dynamic of characters one could have for any TV show. And their performances were excellent throughout the series. 

iii – The character arcs of each of the main cast is also incredibly well written and realized onto the small screen. As a viewer, you can empathize with Saba’s journey from a shy, dominated girl to an empowered, striving woman. Experiences made her change, become more stronger in a cut throat environment of male domination. In Pakistan, men usually get away with a whole lot more than a woman can and Khaas highlights that aspect with total honesty and sincerity. And that is one of the main reasons why Khaas was such a mainstream success.

iv – Apart from the main cast, some of the supporting characters also resonate incredibly well, mainly Saba Faisal as Ammar’s mother. Saba is such a versatile actress that she could adapt to any character she would like and this one is no exception. Her perception towards womanhood and blindness towards her son Ammar is a story seen numerous times in our culture. Men mainly get away with such ruthless behaviour because there are certain women who support and tolerate them.

v– The production of the show is also a key aspect of its success. The colors are vibrant, the sets and costumes are adapted well to its narrative. Momina Duraid’s shows are usually top notch in quality and Khaas is no different.

vi– The story progression of the show is meticulously handled and executed. With each episode, you get to learn more about each of our main cast of characters, their motivations and their ambitions in life. Each episode just revealed enough for the audience to eagerly anticipate what would happen next.

vii– The dream sequence scene involving Fakhir’s parents was inventive and brilliantly executed. Especially casting Sanam Baloch as the mother (since Fakhir sees his mother in Saba) and the father played the director of the show Danish Nawaz.

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

So the most vital question in each viewer’s mind was how the show will conclude? Would Saba and Fakhir live happily ever after? Would Ammar learn the error of his ways and rekindle his love with Saba? The answer is; perhaps a little bit of it all? A lot of people were disappointed not to see Saba and Fakhir happily living together and granted, his supposed life threatening accident was a forced narrative decision (which I will elaborate more in the Low Points) but to see Saba, even in her most vulnerable position with her new born child, reject Ammar’s proposal for remarriage was the absolute right outcome. Fakhir’s untimely death and Saba’s decision to live her own life the way she wants it is the most logical conclusion to the story. She needed the conflict of decision making when life doesn’t go as planned. 

Saba’s experiences living under Ammar’s thumb and eventually self-emancipating herself from the shackles of society would have been in vain if not for this conclusion. Fakhir taught her to be responsible, to live her own life the way she sees fit. With his passing away, Saba can put all of this to the test. Whether she would ever remarry, could be anyone’s guess but Saba decided to raise her child on her own was the right outcome of the show. And a lot of praise and admiration should go to the writer Sarwat Nazir for making this happen in a mainstream TV show.

 + Low Points

i – While I really applaud the show’s audacity and determination to show such a unique storyline of how women are emotionally abused in Pakistani culture, what Khaas really should’ve done is make the show as close to reality as possible. This was necessary in order for the audience to relate to the protagonist beyond the world of TV dramas. Unfortunately, this is what the show failed to accomplish. The script is merely written for the sole purpose of melodrama entertainment. And sadly, that is what Khaas ends up being. A TV show. There are too many unrealistic scenarios, coincidences (in convenience to the plot), characters act completely dumb in order for the misunderstandings to happen, too many times where two characters gossip about someone and that “someone” is eavesdropping at that exact moment. Yes, it is possible to brush all of this off and say “It is just a TV show!”. Well, that is why one cannot take the story of Khaas seriously. It’s only true within the confines of your TV screen.

ii – Speaking of dumb characters, Behroze Sabzwari as Saba’s dad should really be awarded the “Worst Father of the Year” award. Judging how the character was written, even the slightest words of encouragement from anyone in the show would persuade him to jump off a cliff. Unless of course, you are his daughter. Then he will not believe a single word you could say. Saba’s father was incredibly dumb and gullible whenever the script wanted him to be. He was written with absolutely zero intelligence, arriving at the most awkward of moments and did not possess the intelligence to even put 2 and 2 together. Sabzwari ‘s character is by far one of the worst written characters I have come across and is the embodiment of what a bad writing looks like.

iii – There are way too many flashbacks in the show. There are several flashbacks of scenes and dialogues that happened just a few minutes ago! Does the show think we have a memory of a goldfish? It’s a bad move from the creative team’s part to treat its audience like they are not intelligent enough to follow a single episode without a reminder every five minutes of each character’s motivations. 

iv – Whenever a dramatic moment occurs, this show just abuses it with a barrage of slow motions, melodramatic cheesy music and anything they could get their hands on. The first episode especially was the worst offender in all this. In visual art, subtlety is always the best option and Mehreen Jabbar’s TV dramas have proven that.

v –  That “twisted ankle and rubbing ointment on it” scene. Just a perfect example of forced romantic moments between the two protagonists. Ugh.

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

Even though I praised the ending of the show above, the demise of Fakhir’s character was incredibly lazy writing. In every good script, there needs to be a set up and a pay off. Granted, Fakhir had this one nightmare and kept reminding Saba to be brave if she ends up alone but that is not enough to earn that pay off. A terminal illness of Fakhir could’ve been hinted at right at the beginning of the show and then his passing away in the final episode would’ve made a lot more sense. In short, the script wanted to kill off Fakhir so Saba could have her moment of realization that she could live and be happy on her own. It feels very unearned and possibly divides the audience on this decision.

+ Overall

Khaas has a very unique story to tell. It is bold and pulls no punches when it comes to exposing the hypocrisy against women in Pakistani culture. Unfortunately it also gets muddled up with too many TV drama cliches and mediocre writing. But at the end of the day, it is the cast of the show that makes Khaas special. True, the show could’ve accomplished a lot more than it ended up with but for what the show is, Khaas is definitely worth your time.

 Rate: 3.25 out of 5 stars

TV series

Mr. Khan’s Review on Daam (2010)

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Daam (2010). The 18 episodes limited TV series is directed by Mehreen Jabbar and is a production of 7th Sky Entertainment. Daam is an ARY DIGITAL Production.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Mehreen Jabbar
  • Written by Umera Ahmed
  • Edited by Mehreen Jabbar
  • DOP by Asad Malik
  • Music Composed by Ustaaz
  • Opening Theme song “Daam Tha” by Zeb Bangash and Haniya Aslam
  • Produced by Humayun Saeed and Abdullah Kadwani

+ Note

Daam is a “coming of age” tale of young Karachities who dream big and stars soon to be famous actors like Sanaam Baloch, Aamina Sheikh and Adeel Hussain. This show  is the brainchild of the famous Urdu novelist Umera Ahmed who has been credited to writing more than 30 books in her career, most notably ‘Peer-e-Kamil’ and ‘Meri Zaat Zara-e-Benishan’. Most of the TV series has been shot in the city of Karachi and is filmed on real locations. When first premiered, Daam became an instant rating sensation for ARY Digital and in 2015, made its premiere in India on Zindagi TV.

Daam indulges in social themes like friendship, betrayal and of course, the price of Happiness. 

 + Main Cast

  1. Sanam Baloch as Zara
  2. Aamina Sheikh as Maleeha
  3. Adeel Hussain as Junaid
  4. Nimra Bucha as Aasma
  5. Sanam Saeed as Fiza
  6. Pari Hashmi as Mano
  7. Muhammad Yasir as Jamaal (Zara’s brother)
  8. Lubna Aslam as Amna (Zara’s mother)
  9. Shahid Naqvi as Hidayatullah (Zara’s father)

 + Supporting Cast

  1. Faisal Shah as Yasir
  2.  Muhammad Ahmed as Sami (Maleeha’s father)
  3. Parveen Malik as Maleeha’s mother
  4. Behroze Sabzwari as Haji Saab
  5. Atif Badar as Ghulam Ali (The Shopkeeper)
  6. Farah Nadir as Mumani
  7. Ahmed Zeb as Jibran

+ Plot

Daam is the story of a group of young adults, living in the city of Karachi who (regardless of their social classes) have a strong bond of friendship that binds them together through thick and thin of Pakistani societal hardships. This all changes when Maleeha (from a financially well off family) finds out that her best friend Zara (from a lower middle class family) is in love with Maleeha’s brother Junaid and are engaged to be married. 

Can relationships be bought and sold in the market of Life? Daam is the story of the price that Maleeha has to pay to her best friend in order to stop the marriage and retain the status quo of social norm of Life.

+ High Points

i – The success story of Daam has to be credited to the brilliant talented team behind it. Mehreen Jabaar’s impeccable direction throughout the series brought the hardships of Life out on the forefront. Jabbar is excellent when it comes to directing a large cast of actors and Daam was no exception. Her talents are best utilized when she is given free reign to make her actors emote tension, excitement and sorrow and inturn, create exciting Television for her viewers. Although Jabbar has also indulged in Cinema, her strength has always been in Television and Daam is a prime example.

ii – The TV show entails incredible, highly convincing performances from its lead actors; Sanam Baloch, Aamina Sheikh and Adeel Hussain. Whenever they were together onscreen, it was evident with every dialogue and physical interaction, they were in fact, not mere actors but actual characters that they were portraying on screen. After the premiere of the show, all three went on with their own career success stories and Daam could very well be the pinnacle of where it all began for them. 

iii – But it’s not just the lead actors, the supporting cast of Daam was also a major contributing factor to the show’s success. The parents of each character led out love, anger and empathy in such a convincing manner that one cannot help but compare them to someone we know in our own lives! The intercracy of marriages and family life in a Pakistani society is extremely vital and Daam’s depiction was of incredible depth and delicacy that the story so richly deserved.

iv – Some say that behind each great performance, it is the writing that holds it all together and for Daam, it could very well be the case. Umera Ahmed’s brilliant writing was probably a major contributing factor for the TV show’s success. The elegance in her writing dialogues and set pieces makes you as a viewer utterly convinced by the sheer urgency and warmth behind each character and the emotions behind the facade. Regardless of male or female character, Umera’s writing is frightently convincing and sometimes, the simplicity and naturalness of her dialogue makes you forget that you are in fact watching a scripted TV show.

v– The pacing of the show from beginning to the end was superb. Each episode was crafted with such precision by Umera Ahmed that every single one of them can be seen solely on its own personal merit and still, the narrative of the show was simplistic to follow through.

vi– The set design, locations and costumes play such a key role in presenting the reality of societal hardships and Daam seamlessly shifted back and forth between the divide of rich and poor communities of Karachi. 

vii– The soundtrack ‘Daam tha’ by Zeb & Haniya for the show is fantastic with its slight Jazz influences and melodramatic traditional music that leaves you humming each time you are through with an episode!

viii– A lot of TV shows start off great but by the end, fizzle out and become a mere relic of how great they once were. Not this show. Daam was carefully planned, right from the getgo and the plot seamlessly flowed from the first episode till the last. The show ends on such a high note that will leave a lingering thought in your mind for weeks to come. And that for me, is a sign that Mehreen Jabbar and ARY Digital really made something special.

 + Low Points

i – While Daam is flawless in almost every way when it comes to narrative, plot development and characters, it does unfortunately lack in its technical execution; namely the sound mixing. Numerous times, it was evident that the collar mics got muffled in between characters hugging each other or the audio levels were extremely off; some scenes too loud, echoing can clearly be heard in some locations. Such a great show but tad bit disappointing that the audio team behind the show did not do a decent job that the show deserved.

ii – But the problem is sadly not only limited to Audio; the editing of the show was incredibly amateurish. The editing and pacing at times was out of sync with the flow of each particular set piece. For example, Telephone calls were edited one dialogue from each character at a time which makes the scene incredibly monotonous and boring to observe/ listen to. With each scene, the editor needs to decide where the emphasis of the scene should lie and cut accordingly. One to one editing has the tendency to make scenes much more tedious than they should be. Since Mehreen Jabbar credits herself to be the sole editor of the show, it can be safely concluded that while Jabbar is excellent in directing her actors, she is also unfortunately in love with every image she shoots with her Director of Photography. Perhaps the show would’ve benefited much more if an external Editor was hired to edit the show for a more polished look.

iii – There were numerous repetitions of the ‘city of Karachi’ scenes in between scenes. Within a single episode, the exact same main road scene was seen twice within a 15 min span. That’s unfortunately just lazy editing and momentarily takes the viewer out of the show.

iv – There were perhaps too many flashback scenes at times in the later episodes. It is obvious that the show wants to keep their new viewers up to date as to what is happening but the show would’ve benefited if they kept some flashback scenes out, especially when you saw that scene just in the last episode!

+ Overall

With excellent performances, superb direction and writing, Daam is one of the best modern dramas Pakistani television has ever produced. Even with its obvious technical flaws, the show speaks to its audience like no other. Daam is one for the ages.

 Rate: 4.25 out of 5 stars