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 

TV series

Mr. Khan’s Review on Raqeeb Se – LAST EPISODE (2021)

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Raqeeb Se – Episode 23 (2021), the FINAL EPISODE of the series. The new TV series is directed by Kashif Nisar and is a production of Momina Duraid Productions. Raqeeb Se is a HUM TV 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 Kashif Nisar
  • Written by Beegul
  • DOP by Hassam Mairaj
  • Music Composed by Hadiqa Kiani
  • Produced by Momina Duraid Productions

+ Note

Raqeeb Se is the newest HUM TV Production and is once again the collaboration of the award winning Writer/ Director duo of Bee Gul and Kashif Nisar. 

The title of the show is heavily inspired by a poem from the legendary poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz when the young poet fell in love with a girl next door in Sialkot. But alas, as luck would have it, she one day unexpectedly left the city, only to be reunited years later when Faiz was already an established poet in the circles of Urdu literature. This encounter inspired Faiz to write a poem “Raqib Se!”. The backstory of this poem plays a crucial role in the premise of the show.

 + Main Cast

  1. Hadiqa Kiani as Sakina
  2. Noman Ijaz as Maqsood
  3. Sania Saeed as Hajra
  4. Faryal Mehmood as Insha
  5. Iqra Aziz as Ameera
  6. Saqib Sameer as Rafiq

+ Plot

Raqeeb Se is a call of Maqsood’s dark past that could potentially destroy his present life. In order to escape her abusive husband, Sakina, along with her daughter Ameera, flees from her village to find shelter at her former lover’s place, Maqsood. Unfortunately Maqsood, who still holds a grudge against Sakina’s past actions, refuses to aid her in her most dire situation. But his wife, Hajra, seems much more sympathetic to the situation and lets Sakina stay at their home till things are figured out for the future.

But can Sakina be trusted to stay out of Maqsood’s life or will they be tempted to rekindle their lost love and in the process, destroy what Maqsood and his wife Hajra have built together?

+ High Points

i – The final episode brilliantly wraps up the loose threads and ends the series on a well deserved high note. Episode 23 was everything good about Raqeeb Se as a TV series and more. The episode never overreaches its goal and settles in a comfortable space where the audience can admire and ultimately reminiscent being on an emotional journey with Maqsood, Sakina, Hajira, Insha and Ameera. Suffice to say, Raqeeb Se’s last episode more than lives up to its hype. 

ii – Since the previous episode was a showcase of Faryal Mehmood’s talent, this episode was definitely a display of Iqra Aziz’s wide range of acting chops. In the last few episodes, the actress has clearly proven that she could play comedic and darker roles with ease. Ameera, as a character, had the most prominent story arc of all. It’s the coming of age story, followed by the harsh realities that she was (at the time) too naive to understand. 

iii – The conclusion of the show (which I will get to more in the next point) was arguably the right outcome and a perfect send off to this tale of tragic love. Have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised by how neatly Beegul wrapped things up with her characters and the conflicts surrounding them. This is of course a clear indication that regardless of the longevity of the show, the writer was well aware of her destination.

iv – MAJOR SPOILER ALERT COMING UP!!! (If you would like to avoid it, please skip to Overall and Final Thoughts section)

The ending was surprisingly dark and I loved it! The conclusion finally brought new goals and ambitions for its cast of characters:

  • Maqsood finally learns how to act like a father to Insha.
  • Circumstances allow Hajira to finally live a life with her husband without the “obligation” that she needed to fulfill for it. 
  • Sakina comes to terms with her past and learns to look forward in life.
  • Insha, on the other hand, needs to understand more about life and goes on a soul searching journey of her own.
  • But the most unfortunate one is Ameera, who had to endure murder of an innocent man right in front of her eyes. As she lays her head down in a bustling night train, she reminicents the innocence and happiness she once possessed. But that Ameera died with Kashif in that very car. She finally understands what her mother had to go through. Whether she wanted to or not, Ameera is now the new ‘Sakina’. As she now becomes cynical and disenfranchised taking care of her father Rafiq Ali, the vicious cycle of pain and suffering continues.

Every character gets a closure to their situations, some ride off into the sunset while others are introduced to the dark elements of Life.

 + Low Points

i – Honestly, there isn’t much I can criticize about this episode. The only part of the episode which felt rushed was the romance between Kashif and Ameera. They never had much interaction before this episode and I guess Kashif started falling for her off screen? If they had built this romance for a couple of episodes and then the tragic ending is brought into the mix, that would’ve been much more impactful in my book. But in any case, the cold blooded murder was still shocking and was proud of the show that it dared to go in such pitch black direction.

+ Overall and Final Thoughts on Raqeeb Se

I am a firm believer that regardless of how an episodic show flows, the conclusion needs to bring everything together and in the process, reward its audience for sticking with them every step of the way. And Raqeeb Se does exactly that. The show had a fantastic cast, the performances were brilliant all across the board, especially Hadiqa Kiani as Sakina. For a debut performance on prime time television, her performance was nothing short of amazing. I hope we get to see more of her in the near future. The writing (although not consistently perfect) was engaging as we got to set foot into the world of Beegul and her tragic characters for a few months. 

But even with such a great plot and interesting set of characters, where the show suffered for me was its pacing. Raqeeb Se could’ve immensely benefited with less number of episodes (around 13-15) as midway through the show, the episodes dragged on with absolutely nothing happening in between them. Also at times, some back stories were unfortunately not well explained or visually depicted on screen which might have left some viewers perplexed where the story stands. And it’s a shame because Raqeeb Se is unique and dared to be different from the rest of what Pakistani television has to offer. The production, set designs, costumes, everything was marvelous. The show was very uniquely lit with shadows playing a major role in its gloomy atmosphere. A lot of credit goes to the director Kashif Nisar and his production team.  

In the end, Raqeeb Se took us on an emotional journey, the audience could empathize with each of the characters and their dilemmas. And most importantly, the show left us with questions and some lingering thoughts of our own. And that is a sign of a great television show. 

 Rate (Last Episode): 4.25 out of 5 stars

Overall Series Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

TV series

Mr. Khan’s Review on Raqeeb Se – Episode XXII (2021)

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Raqeeb Se – Episode 22 (2021). The new TV series is directed by Kashif Nisar and is a production of Momina Duraid Productions. Raqeeb Se is a HUM TV 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 Kashif Nisar
  • Written by Beegul
  • DOP by Hassam Mairaj
  • Music Composed by Hadiqa Kiani
  • Produced by Momina Duraid Productions

+ Note

Raqeeb Se is the newest HUM TV Production and is once again the collaboration of the award winning Writer/ Director duo of Bee Gul and Kashif Nisar. 

The title of the show is heavily inspired by a poem from the legendary poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz when the young poet fell in love with a girl next door in Sialkot. But alas, as luck would have it, she one day unexpectedly left the city, only to be reunited years later when Faiz was already an established poet in the circles of Urdu literature. This encounter inspired Faiz to write a poem “Raqib Se!”. The backstory of this poem plays a crucial role in the premise of the show.

 + Main Cast

  1. Hadiqa Kiani as Sakina
  2. Noman Ijaz as Maqsood
  3. Sania Saeed as Hajra
  4. Faryal Mehmood as Insha
  5. Iqra Aziz as Ameera
  6. Saqib Sameer as Rafiq

+ Plot

Raqeeb Se is a call of Maqsood’s dark past that could potentially destroy his present life. In order to escape her abusive husband, Sakina, along with her daughter Ameera, flees from her village to find shelter at her former lover’s place, Maqsood. Unfortunately Maqsood, who still holds a grudge against Sakina’s past actions, refuses to aid her in her most dire situation. But his wife, Hajra, seems much more sympathetic to the situation and lets Sakina stay at their home till things are figured out for the future.

But can Sakina be trusted to stay out of Maqsood’s life or will they be tempted to rekindle their lost love and in the process, destroy what Maqsood and his wife Hajra have built together?

+ High Points

i – As the show is reaching its conclusion, an abundance of sharp screenwriting, performances and set pieces are on display. Characters are confronted, lines have been drawn and revelations have been made. And it’s great to see that the whole cast is up to the task.

ii – Episode 22 is probably the first in the show that Insha really gets the limelight. A lot of the episode was centered around her, she gets to confront the truth and perhaps once and for all, come to terms with it. I have criticized Faryal Mehmood’s performance during dramatic scenes in the past but I’m glad to say that she was more than up for the task when it really counted.  

iii – Insha’s journey from a naive, impressionable girl to a mature woman was very awe-inspiring. A lot of credit should go to the writing of Beegul and performance of Iqra Aziz as both aspects were brilliantly realized onscreen. The scene between Ameera and Hajira was modest and restrained but was nonetheless impactful (and quite possibly, my favourite scene of the episode).

iv – Once again, the cinematography was outstanding for this episode. I am always of the belief that a picture does tell a thousand tales and Raqeeb Se is excellent in depicting visual stories. Just take this framing as an example here:

Framing through the open door, characters engulfed into their surroundings, Insha’s face exposed, it gives the audience a sense of illusion that (perhaps) we are the ones eavesdropping into their private conversation. This kind of visual artistry is sadly missing from a lot of Pakistani TV shows but Raqeeb Se has always been pretty much consistent with its production quality. 

v – MAJOR SPOILER ALERT COMING UP!!! (If you would like to avoid it, please skip to Overall section)

So a lot of fan speculation and theories were proven true, Insha is, indeed, not the daughter of Maqsood. And this is a revelation that truly pays off. Why? Because they did set up this twist throughout the series and slowly built it up to its crescendo. So when it is finally revealed, it feels earned. Of course, it could be argued that it was perhaps a tad bit too obvious as many viewers already speculated it but sometimes, predictability is not detrimental to the show. The plot twist works fine to the context of the story. Although I do have another issue to this revelation but I’ll get to that in the low points section.

 + Low Points

i – Even though the revelation of Insha was great, I am completely perplexed why the creators decided to reveal it at the BEGINNING of the episode?? Guys, this is TV episodic writing 101! Make an earth shattering revelation at the END of the last episode so that the viewers would tune in for the next episode for more clarification. Right now, it feels like the show just wanted to get it over with and the payoff could’ve been utilized a lot more than it should have.

ii – The end of the road for Insha and Abdul’s short lived marriage. Where Insha’s revelation worked, this plot element, for me, just fails to live up to its expectations. From what was built up about Abdul’s character till now, I cannot imagine him having the cunningness to manipulate someone he loves without Insha realizing it. It was never even well hinted at and comes completely out of left field. If the divorce angle was really necessary, the reason could have been the obvious one that Insha was just sick and tired of playing “mama” to Abdul’s manchild personality. In this very episode, Insha does confess that fact to her cousin Kashif and that reason alone could have been more believable as compared to Abdul playing her to his future endeavours. Unlike Insha’s, this plot twist doesn’t work at all because it was never well set up to begin with. The show needed the marriage to end and here we are. 

iii – Also Rafiq Ali’s emotional scene with Sakina was a total bust. There is already too much going on in this episode and by the time we get to Rafiq Ali’s emotional outburst, the audience is completely drained out. You can’t expect that in one hour runtime, the audience should empathize with Insha’s secret upbringing, Ameera’s realization of her naivety towards life, the falling apart of the marriage between Insha and Abdul, the unsolved future between Maqsood, Sakina and Hajira and now, we are suppose to care for Rafiq Ali? It’s already an uphill task to empathize with him since he is a wife beater and the scene between him and Sakina doesn’t work in this episode. I hope that’s the last we see of him as his character arc should be done and dusted by now.

+ Overall

With a major plot revelation and confrontations, Raqeeb Se is full steam ahead to its grand finale! 

 Rate: 3.25 out of 5 stars

TV series

Mr. Khan’s Review on Raqeeb Se – Episode XXI (2021)

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Raqeeb Se – Episode 21 (2021). The new TV series is directed by Kashif Nisar and is a production of Momina Duraid Productions. Raqeeb Se is a HUM TV 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 Kashif Nisar
  • Written by Beegul
  • DOP by Hassam Mairaj
  • Music Composed by Hadiqa Kiani
  • Produced by Momina Duraid Productions

+ Note

Raqeeb Se is the newest HUM TV Production and is once again the collaboration of the award winning Writer/ Director duo of Bee Gul and Kashif Nisar. 

The title of the show is heavily inspired by a poem from the legendary poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz when the young poet fell in love with a girl next door in Sialkot. But alas, as luck would have it, she one day unexpectedly left the city, only to be reunited years later when Faiz was already an established poet in the circles of Urdu literature. This encounter inspired Faiz to write a poem “Raqib Se!”. The backstory of this poem plays a crucial role in the premise of the show.

 + Main Cast

  1. Hadiqa Kiani as Sakina
  2. Noman Ijaz as Maqsood
  3. Sania Saeed as Hajra
  4. Faryal Mehmood as Insha
  5. Iqra Aziz as Ameera
  6. Saqib Sameer as Rafiq

+ Plot

Raqeeb Se is a call of Maqsood’s dark past that could potentially destroy his present life. In order to escape her abusive husband, Sakina, along with her daughter Ameera, flees from her village to find shelter at her former lover’s place, Maqsood. Unfortunately Maqsood, who still holds a grudge against Sakina’s past actions, refuses to aid her in her most dire situation. But his wife, Hajra, seems much more sympathetic to the situation and lets Sakina stay at their home till things are figured out for the future.

But can Sakina be trusted to stay out of Maqsood’s life or will they be tempted to rekindle their lost love and in the process, destroy what Maqsood and his wife Hajra have built together?

+ High Points

i – Episode 21 was eventful to say the least. Lots of emotional set pieces and confrontations. Good character building moments and high tension all around as the narrative is reaching its overarching and inevitable conclusion to the Maqsood/ Sakina saga.

ii – Iqra Aziz was particularly good in this episode. Her subtle gestures and dialogue delivery shows how much she has developed since the introduction to her character in the show. The events that take place in this episode also brings a certain epiphany to her character and matures her mindset as Ameera reaches adulthood.

iii – The “Talk” that Maqsood has with Ameera was brilliantly written and poignant to that moment. It’s exactly what it needed to be. The phrase “Stars can be admired from a distance but never touched upon” brings a lot of depth to the scene. It also signifies the amount of experience and pain Maqsood has and he genuinely wants Ameera to avoid the mistakes that Maqsood made in his youth.

iv – Even though Rafiq Ali is now out of the picture, it was a nice touch for writer Beegul to have Sakina reminiscent over him. He obviously was a terrible husband but sharing years of your life together does leave an impression on you. It was great piece of writing for Beegul to address that, giving some further depth to Sakina’s character.

v – The episode ends on a tense note and rightfully leaves the viewer eagerly awaiting for next week. 

 + Low Points

i – Even though the episode was significant to the narrative, there were way too many emotional set pieces crammed into a 1 hour mark. One can endure only a handful of sobbing scenes before becoming desensitized to it by the end of the episode.

ii – SPOILER ALERT!!! (If you would like to avoid it, please skip to Overall section).

So there were two massive turns of events in this episode. And unfortunately, both have not been handled particularly well for the audience to follow. So the first was Ameera’s attempted suicide. Arguably, there seems to be some scenes missing which should be vital before such a drastic step. Granted, Maqsood (in the previous episode or so) had a short talk with Ameera about her feelings for him but there was never a scene where Ameera felt hopeless or emotionally charged enough to take such a life threatening step. The scene before, Ameera is just (in her trance state) justifying her love for Maqsood and suddenly in the next, the whole family rushes to see her in a critical condition. Was it all leading up to Ameera attempting suicide? Perhaps but it needed a few more scenes (even an episode or so) to build upon. As if now, the whole turn of events feel rushed and not earned enough for the audience to be fully onboard with this.

iii – The whole Insha/ Abdul situation. It seems very out of character for both sides to act so impulsively in such circumstances. If what lies on the surface is accurate, it’s incredibly hard to imagine that Abdul would be capable of manipulating people to his advantage. It’s very hard to buy into all that. Insha, on the other hand, seems totally convinced of Abdul’s unfaithful behaviour and impulsively has decided to file for Khula (divorce). Is she being played by her father? Or her cousin Kashif? Perhaps that could be the case but her sudden life changing decisions seem out of character for her as she was always the most level headed of the main cast of the show. 

+ Overall

Episode 21 was eventful, dramatic and essential to the story of Raqeeb Se. Perhaps it went overboard in a few places and the emotional twists did not make complete sense but the episode was a breeze to watch.

 Rate: 3.0 out of 5 stars

TV series

Mr. Khan’s Review on Raqeeb Se – Episode XX (2021)

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Raqeeb Se – Episode 20 (2021). The new TV series is directed by Kashif Nisar and is a production of Momina Duraid Productions. Raqeeb Se is a HUM TV 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 Kashif Nisar
  • Written by Beegul
  • DOP by Hassam Mairaj
  • Music Composed by Hadiqa Kiani
  • Produced by Momina Duraid Productions

+ Note

Raqeeb Se is the newest HUM TV Production and is once again the collaboration of the award winning Writer/ Director duo of Bee Gul and Kashif Nisar. 

The title of the show is heavily inspired by a poem from the legendary poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz when the young poet fell in love with a girl next door in Sialkot. But alas, as luck would have it, she one day unexpectedly left the city, only to be reunited years later when Faiz was already an established poet in the circles of Urdu literature. This encounter inspired Faiz to write a poem “Raqib Se!”. The backstory of this poem plays a crucial role in the premise of the show.

 + Main Cast

  1. Hadiqa Kiani as Sakina
  2. Noman Ijaz as Maqsood
  3. Sania Saeed as Hajra
  4. Faryal Mehmood as Insha
  5. Iqra Aziz as Ameera
  6. Saqib Sameer as Rafiq

+ Plot

Raqeeb Se is a call of Maqsood’s dark past that could potentially destroy his present life. In order to escape her abusive husband, Sakina, along with her daughter Ameera, flees from her village to find shelter at her former lover’s place, Maqsood. Unfortunately Maqsood, who still holds a grudge against Sakina’s past actions, refuses to aid her in her most dire situation. But his wife, Hajra, seems much more sympathetic to the situation and lets Sakina stay at their home till things are figured out for the future.

But can Sakina be trusted to stay out of Maqsood’s life or will they be tempted to rekindle their lost love and in the process, destroy what Maqsood and his wife Hajra have built together?

+ High Points

i – The relationship between Insha and Abdul is going through turbulence of sorts. It’s hard to say exactly where this turn of events are heading but I’m nonetheless intrigued.

ii – Probably sounds a tad bit awkward to say this but it was very satisfying to see Hajira show a bit of aggression and frustration in this episode. Throughout the show, she has mostly been stoic and calm so it was gratifying to see a different side of Hajira’s personality. 

iii – For once, Ameera was calm and collected in this episode. Iqra Aziz got to display some good, dramatic performance and in turn, shows a class of character maturity and development. This is the character progression that Raqeeb Se badly needs for the rest of the cast as well.

 + Low Points

i – Earlier in the episode, Masood asks his younger brother out of frustration: “What do you want?” 

I think Masood is acting as a composite for the viewers to the writer of the show. Since the past few episodes, Raqeeb Se has lost its sense of direction and is just meandering in Purgatory. 20 Episodes in and the show has no overarching conflict to overcome. The conflicts that are already present are not dramatic enough for the audience to tune in every week for it. Sakina’s fate can easily be resolved since Maqsood wants to keep her in his house and Hajira wants them to get married so she can “repay” Maqsood for marrying her. So what crucial, overbearing problem is there to be solved?

 When it comes to storytelling, Raqeeb Se is a drag to watch. 

ii – The scene with Kashif and her sassy Punjabi mom was a complete waste of time. Granted it wasn’t really time consuming but why have such moments where nothing is being really said other than the show fulfilling its 1 hour episode mark?

iii – SPOILER ALERT!!! (If you would like to avoid it, please skip to Overall section).

So the big revelation of Episode 20 was that Ameera has admitted to her mother (and everyone else) that she has fallen in love with Maqsood…. Um, was that not obvious? She didn’t exactly hide her emotions before. Her body language and gestures (even her dialogue) made it pretty clear that she at least has a crush on Maqsood sahib. In this scenario, only Insha was the one who was not utterly shocked by this revelation (and arguably the most sensible of the bunch). This was such a lazy, mundane technique to deliver some tension and drama into the show. 

+ Overall

Episode 20 was, at times, entertaining to watch (due to some good performances) but the big revelation really fell flat on its face.

Rate: 2.75 out of 5 stars

TV series

Mr. Khan’s Review on Raqeeb Se – Episode XIX (2021)

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Raqeeb Se – Episode 19 (2021). The new TV series is directed by Kashif Nisar and is a production of Momina Duraid Productions. Raqeeb Se is a HUM TV 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 Kashif Nisar
  • Written by Beegul
  • DOP by Hassam Mairaj
  • Music Composed by Hadiqa Kiani
  • Produced by Momina Duraid Productions

+ Note

Raqeeb Se is the newest HUM TV Production and is once again the collaboration of the award winning Writer/ Director duo of Bee Gul and Kashif Nisar. 

The title of the show is heavily inspired by a poem from the legendary poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz when the young poet fell in love with a girl next door in Sialkot. But alas, as luck would have it, she one day unexpectedly left the city, only to be reunited years later when Faiz was already an established poet in the circles of Urdu literature. This encounter inspired Faiz to write a poem “Raqib Se!”. The backstory of this poem plays a crucial role in the premise of the show.

 + Main Cast

  1. Hadiqa Kiani as Sakina
  2. Noman Ijaz as Maqsood
  3. Sania Saeed as Hajra
  4. Faryal Mehmood as Insha
  5. Iqra Aziz as Ameera
  6. Saqib Sameer as Rafiq

+ Plot

Raqeeb Se is a call of Maqsood’s dark past that could potentially destroy his present life. In order to escape her abusive husband, Sakina, along with her daughter Ameera, flees from her village to find shelter at her former lover’s place, Maqsood. Unfortunately Maqsood, who still holds a grudge against Sakina’s past actions, refuses to aid her in her most dire situation. But his wife, Hajra, seems much more sympathetic to the situation and lets Sakina stay at their home till things are figured out for the future.

But can Sakina be trusted to stay out of Maqsood’s life or will they be tempted to rekindle their lost love and in the process, destroy what Maqsood and his wife Hajra have built together?

+ High Points

i – The episode was a great showcase for Saqib Sameer’s wide range of acting chops. Rafiq Ali got some great dramatic moments throughout the episode and it was also a brilliant display of some humanity left within him.

ii – Speaking of great performances, Maqsood and Sakina had some fantastic moments to shine together as well. Maqsood remincienting over his deceased brother was quite tragic and heartfelt. 

iii – There were some wide range of locations within the episode which made for some great visuals. As I’ve mentioned before, Raqeeb Se is by far one of the best looking shows out there simply because the creative team knows how to tell visual stories. Even if there are no words uttered throughout the scene, one could tell the atmosphere in the room by simply observing the moving images.

 + Low Points

i – SPOILER ALERT!!! (If you would like to avoid it, please skip to Overall section).

(So with this single trial of thought, I will try to summarize the Elephant in the room, the most egregious flaw of Episode 19 and the show itself): 

With Episode 19, everything returns back to status quo. The main protagonist Rafiq Ali is out of the way, Sakina is back again in the vicinity of Maqsood sahib, Hajira is content with her husband having his ex lover around, Ameera fantasizes day and night about marrying her crush and…. This just seems like a dead end of storytelling. Where is the overall conflict of the show? Where is the obstacle that our protagonist has to overcome?  Unless some miraculous secrets are revealed in the next coming episodes, this show lacks a coherent sense of direction. The writing is afraid to even slightly experiment or develop its vast range of characters. And even if some episodes do experiment, they instantly return back to their status quo. 

I would like the readers themselves with a question: since Episode 1, how much has each character developed? What has been their character arcs? Where do you expect the show to go from here?

Raqeeb Se has some good actors, great production, a good premise even but it all falters in the end due to lack of any character/ story development. As a viewer, if I see Mr. Maqsood come to certain realisation about himself, situations that force him to develop as a person, I feel rewarded having sat through all the weekly episodes. But if the show itself is not clear which direction it wants to go into, it demotivates the viewer as well into tuning in every week. Which is why episode 19’s return to the status quo of Episode 1 left me utterly frustrated. The only real character development anyone ever got was Ameera who (rather abrasively) fell in love with Maqsood sahib.

When the dust has settled and the show ends up exactly where it started from, as a viewer, what do I have to look forward to?

+ Overall

Episode 19 does contain some good set pieces and performances but lack of character/ story progression are the shackles of Raqeeb Se that it never seems to truly shake off.

 Rate: 2.5 out of 5 stars

TV series

Mr. Khan’s Review on Raqeeb Se – Episode XVIII (2021)

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Raqeeb Se – Episode 18 (2021). The new TV series is directed by Kashif Nisar and is a production of Momina Duraid Productions. Raqeeb Se is a HUM TV 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 Kashif Nisar
  • Written by Beegul
  • DOP by Hassam Mairaj
  • Music Composed by Hadiqa Kiani
  • Produced by Momina Duraid Productions

+ Note

Raqeeb Se is the newest HUM TV Production and is once again the collaboration of the award winning Writer/ Director duo of Bee Gul and Kashif Nisar. 

The title of the show is heavily inspired by a poem from the legendary poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz when the young poet fell in love with a girl next door in Sialkot. But alas, as luck would have it, she one day unexpectedly left the city, only to be reunited years later when Faiz was already an established poet in the circles of Urdu literature. This encounter inspired Faiz to write a poem “Raqib Se!”. The backstory of this poem plays a crucial role in the premise of the show.

 + Main Cast

  1. Hadiqa Kiani as Sakina
  2. Noman Ijaz as Maqsood
  3. Sania Saeed as Hajra
  4. Faryal Mehmood as Insha
  5. Iqra Aziz as Ameera
  6. Saqib Sameer as Rafiq

+ Plot

Raqeeb Se is a call of Maqsood’s dark past that could potentially destroy his present life. In order to escape her abusive husband, Sakina, along with her daughter Ameera, flees from her village to find shelter at her former lover’s place, Maqsood. Unfortunately Maqsood, who still holds a grudge against Sakina’s past actions, refuses to aid her in her most dire situation. But his wife, Hajra, seems much more sympathetic to the situation and lets Sakina stay at their home till things are figured out for the future.

But can Sakina be trusted to stay out of Maqsood’s life or will they be tempted to rekindle their lost love and in the process, destroy what Maqsood and his wife Hajra have built together?

+ High Points

i – Episode 18 contains some good dramatic confrontations; namely Maqsood and Rafiq Ali. Noman Ijaz and Saqib Sameer play off brilliantly with each other’s dialogue and emotions. A man who is driven by moral integrity in contrast to one who cunningly finds a way to exploit every situation he could get his hands on. There is a clear sense of desperation on Maqsood’s face as he tries his best to save Sakina, his love from the clutches of this madman. Maqsood and Rafiq were undoubtedly the highlight of this episode.

ii – There’s a short but poignant interaction between Insha and Ameera as she explains to Insha how things would’ve been different if she was Maqsood’s lover instead. It sets up an incredibly awkward situation between the two “daughters” of the family and allows Insha to strongly retort back at her. Credit goes to Beegul for writing this scene so well.

iii – Although the end of the episode was far from spectacular, it was a nice, quiet way to conclude this chapter of affairs.

 + Low Points

i – SPOILER ALERT!!! (If you would like to avoid it, please skip to the next point).

This episode was frustrating to watch at times. Especially when it comes to Hajira and Insha. After pressing her mother on to reveal her dark past, Hajira finally caves in. Only to explain the facts that we as an audience already know! What? They already described the situation with her father several episodes ago. It might be new information for Insha but how does this retelling brings anything new to the table? What a letdown. Until and unless there are more secrets to be revealed in the upcoming episodes, this really has been one of the worst bait and switch this show has ever pulled off. And as a viewer, it frustrates me to no end!

ii – Unfortunately, the scenes between Insha and Abdul were really not on par with the quality of acting from the rest of the cast. When it comes to lofty dialogue or brief romantic moments, Insha and Abdul work great together but with intense, dramatic moments, their performances flounder and fall apart as the scene progresses. 

iii – Episode 18 also pertains to some unfortunately bad, unnatural dialogue. The graveyard scene between Hajira and Ameera could have been a perfect setting for some much needed character development but it once again devolves into worshipping Maqsood sahib. At this point of the show, it is getting tad ridiculous that the only personality trait that Ameera has is her falling head over heels for Maqsood… in front of his wife! And she finds it endearing? I’m just utterly surprised how badly (at times) the female characters are written in this show.

iv – Ever since Sakina has returned back to her villiage, the show has been struggling what to do with her. She has been starkly sidelined to Maqsood and Rafiq Ali. Aside from some minor interactions, Sakina hasn’t contributed much to the show.

+ Overall

Raqeeb Se has a terrible habit of taking one step forward and two steps back. Apart from the Maqsood and Rafiq Ali confrontation, nothing really stands out from this episode.

 Rate: 2.25 out of 5 stars

TV series

Mr. Khan’s Review on Raqeeb Se – Episode XVII (2021)

A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Raqeeb Se – Episode 17 (2021). The new TV series is directed by Kashif Nisar and is a production of Momina Duraid Productions. Raqeeb Se is a HUM TV 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 Kashif Nisar
  • Written by Beegul
  • DOP by Hassam Mairaj
  • Music Composed by Hadiqa Kiani
  • Produced by Momina Duraid Productions

+ Note

Raqeeb Se is the newest HUM TV Production and is once again the collaboration of the award winning Writer/ Director duo of Bee Gul and Kashif Nisar. 

The title of the show is heavily inspired by a poem from the legendary poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz when the young poet fell in love with a girl next door in Sialkot. But alas, as luck would have it, she one day unexpectedly left the city, only to be reunited years later when Faiz was already an established poet in the circles of Urdu literature. This encounter inspired Faiz to write a poem “Raqib Se!”. The backstory of this poem plays a crucial role in the premise of the show.

 + Main Cast

  1. Hadiqa Kiani as Sakina
  2. Noman Ijaz as Maqsood
  3. Sania Saeed as Hajra
  4. Faryal Mehmood as Insha
  5. Iqra Aziz as Ameera
  6. Saqib Sameer as Rafiq

+ Plot

Raqeeb Se is a call of Maqsood’s dark past that could potentially destroy his present life. In order to escape her abusive husband, Sakina, along with her daughter Ameera, flees from her village to find shelter at her former lover’s place, Maqsood. Unfortunately Maqsood, who still holds a grudge against Sakina’s past actions, refuses to aid her in her most dire situation. But his wife, Hajra, seems much more sympathetic to the situation and lets Sakina stay at their home till things are figured out for the future.

But can Sakina be trusted to stay out of Maqsood’s life or will they be tempted to rekindle their lost love and in the process, destroy what Maqsood and his wife Hajra have built together?

+ High Points

i – Episode 17 was one of the quieter ones and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. This gave the show to explore more on the main cast dealing with the current situation and the tension filled atmosphere created due to it. The episode was a nice display of acting chops all across the board and perhaps sometimes, that’s all an episode needs.

ii – The episode clearly focused on the volatile yet saddened emotions of Rafiq Ali. He is the main antagonist and the show was not afraid to depict his unpredictable nature. In perhaps an eerie manner, Rafiq Ali longs for Sakina to show affection to him as she does for Maqsood but Rafiq’s volatile nature stops him to show any emotions other than jealousy or anger. 

iii – The last few episodes have been dedicated to exploring Hajira and her motivations. She has taken the centerstage and has shown some initiative to display her true intentions. Although it has been solely in service of Maqsood, it is still commendable that the show is showing some signs of attention to Hajira.

iv – Kashif is a new character added some episodes ago to the show and I think he has a lot of potential. He’s awkward, sophisticated (unlike the rest of his family) and probably serves as a gateway for Insha to let out her true emotions. 

 + Low Points

i – One of major sins that Raqeeb Se I feel commits on a regular basis is repetition. Whether its plot progression, character development or motivations, the show repeats its current themes once too often. How many times have we seen Hajira worrying about Sakina or Ameera flirting with Maqsood? Even if it’s all leading up to its conclusion, the pacing of a weekly show should never repeat the same themes if you would like to grow your weekly audience. And episode 17 unfortunately, suffers from the same trope.

ii – The usage of greenscreen with this show is extremely odd at times. Throughout the show, some scenes shot inside a moving car are shot with greenscreen in the background and frankly, it looks terrible. The lighting on the actor’s faces as compared to the background are completely at odds and looks amateurish at best. 

iii – At times, it’s hard to understand if Hajira just wants to see good in people or if she just has terrible character judgement. In this episode, Hajira describes Ameera as “gentle and innocent”. I understand its the “mother” in Hajira talking but to think that Ameera is “naive” about the world is like saying Rafiq Ali is “decent and well mannered”.

+ Overall

Episode 17 was a “middle of the road” journey to its destination. Although minimal plot progression, it contains good character development moments that will keep you entertained throughout its runtime.

 Rate: 3.0 out of 5 stars