Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Soteli - Episode 11 Review

For those who haven't been watching, Soteli tells a compelling story of remarriage and what can happen when children from another marriage are involved.  As I can't remember the character names, I'll just use their real names.  Haha.  Sabreen Hisbani and Deepak Perwani are a married couple who finally conceived a son later in life, after trying for a while.  Sabreen treats her son as her greatest blessing and, in turn, ends up babying him a lot.  Milkoo is definitely over-protected by his mother, but receives a lot of love from both his mother AND father.  They are a happy, loving family...until one day, Sabreen is diagnosed with final stage cancer and passes away, leaving Deepak to take care of Milkoo alone.  While he does his best to care and love for his son, he finally gives in to his sister and friend's wishes to remarry for the sake of his son.  Enter Ayesha Khan, his new wife and Milkoo's "Soteli" mother.

Ayesha makes Milkoo's life a living hell from day one.  Milkoo goes from being the pampered son to being treated like a servant boy, ignored and unloved.  Of course, all of this happens under the unknowing eyes of his father, as Ayesha has warned Milkoo that if he says anything, she will get back to him.  Milkoo lives in fear and becomes distant from his own father as well, fearing that he has become like his soteli mother as well.  To cope, Milkoo takes to writing letters to his dead mother, hoping one day she'll relay all this information to his father and save him.

For as long as we can remember, there have always been stories of "the wicked stepmother."  Soteli takes a page out of that book and not only brings the evil stepmother to life, but also shows the psyche of this woman and the emotional trauma she inflicts on her stepson.

What was really exciting about episode 11 was that the story took a huge turning point.  The show was starting to drag a bit and I was finding it difficult to watch, as each episode consisted of me crying for Milkoo and feeling incredibly depressed.

In this episode, Deepak and Ayesha found out that they are expecting their own child.  Deepak was incredibly happy.  One evening, Ayesha got stuck at her mother's house due to a downpour in the city.  Deepak took this time to reminisce about the time spent with Sabreen and Milkoo, fondly looking at Milkoo's things and missing his son.  It's then that he discovers Milkoo's box of letters, exposing each and every detail of Ayesha's misdeeds.  In shock and fury, Deepak goes over to Ayesha's mother's house and confronts her.  She, of course, denies all the allegations and accuses Milkoo of lying.  Deepak however has figured her out and tells her to wait for divorce papers.

On the drive home, Deepak laments and grieves over his actions, ignoring his son and allowing things to get to this point.

While this was an eye-opening episode, I do fear for what may happen in the next episode.  Deepak is driving and crying in a huge storm - does he pass to leave Milkoo alone once again, never knowing how sorry he was?  This would be a TERRIBLE twist in the tale.

Despite what's to come, I'm back to enjoying this show again.  It strikes a chord on an emotional level and the performances are really good from all involved!

Happy watching!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Opinion Piece: Cross-Over Stars

Every once in a while, a Pakistani celebrity ventures over to India to try their hand in Bollywood.  Sometimes, they're successful.  Usually, they're not.  However, despite their level of success, their fans "back home" are usually in an uproar over the star "abandoning" their home country.

It's also not always just the audience - anyone remember Shaan Shahid's infamous (and mildly insulting) words about actors going to Bollywood?  But even here, on the flip-side, we see Shaan now remaking Mahesh Bhatt's "Arth," conveniently named "Arth 2."  Is this hypocrisy at its best?  If an actor is so opposed to Pakistani talent going to Bollywood, he should also focus on making original content for Pakistani cinema.

With Zee TV's channel, Zindagi, our actors are coming into the limelight in India.  Zindagi Gulzar Hai and Aunn Zara have shot Fawad Afzal Khan and Osmaan Khalid Butt into stardom and both are being loved by the Indian audiences.  Indian fans are going as far as saying "These actors should move into Bollywood."  But if these actors move to Bollywood, what will Pakistani fans be left with?

The actors who are currently the target of criticism are none other than our biggest star, Fawad Afzal Khan, and one of the industry's biggest "lookers," Imran Abbas.  Both are currently promoting their forthcoming Bollywood ventures, Khoobsurat and Creature 3D and have already signed one film each afterwards.

While I understand the disappointment from Fawad fans, I don't really understand the intense anger against him.  At one point in Pakistan, stars do stagnate professionally and want more.  And the lure of more MONEY is always a tempting one.  Even our greatest stars in Pakistan do not get paid in the amounts that Bollywood films would offer them.  In this way, I completely understand the lure of working in the Indian industry.

I completely agree that by Fawad going to Bollywood, this means we will see less of him in Pakistan.  While Ali Zafar had left our TV screens long ago, we were always given the pleasure of listening to his music.  Since his Bollywood ventures began, we have heard very little of him in Pakistan.  To my knowledge, I believe the Zindagi Gulzar Hai OST may have been his last Pakistani recording?  So YES, on that account, I do understand the discomfort and anger fans may feel.

I think what we can do is hope for the best and hope that our stars continue working in Pakistan as well as working in India.  As long as I can see Fawad Khan in an Umera Ahmed, Haissam Hussain or Farhat Ishtiaq drama once a year, I will happily watch him in Bollywood as well.  I love Bollywood and I love my own industry.  I just don't want one to suffer at the expense of the other.  =)

Until then, let's please continue supporting our stars in whatever ventures they choose to embark on.  They are, after all, our stars and deserve our support.

Let's hope for the best!  And as always, happy watching!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Pyaray Afzal - Episode 33

This will be brief.

Episode 33 was an episode of mangnis.  While on one end, Afzal got engaged to Yasmeen (yay!), on the other end, Farah's engagement was brought to a halt when Maulvi Sahab had a heart attack on the stage.

With Maulvi SubhanAllah in the hospital, this news couldn't be contained for long and Afzal rushed over as soon as he heard.  We then got to witness a brief encounter between Farah & Yasmeen, a heartfelt encounter between Arifa & Afzal and the beginning of a reunion between Afzal & Ruqaiyya.

These were the basic highlights of the episode.  And while these scenes were beautifully enacted, as a viewer, I am beginning to tire of the drawn-out nature of this show.  We're approaching episode 34 next week with no end in sight for the show.  Will episode 34 be the last episode?  Your guess is as good as mine.  What I do know is that the original path of 22-25 episodes per drama is the best path.  ARY has taken this route lately of extending their popular shows to 30 + episodes and this trend is starting to grate on my nerves.

Please, end this once-beautiful-now-prolonged show with dignity and allow it to live in our minds as a great show, rather than one that has been extended beyond reason.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Shab-E-Zindagi : The Finale

There's little about this drama that impressed throughout its run.  The "zulm" inflicted on Maryam, while not unrealistic, was horribly over-the-top.  The situations brought down on her head, while understandable, failed to bring about sympathy.  The attitudes displayed towards Maryam and her children, while legitimate, didn't bring out the necessary response (from the audience).  Why?

When I think about it, Maryam (Sumbal Iqbal) reacted inappropriately to most situations she was faced with.  She was so consumed with self-pity that she seemingly forgot how to handle herself.  It became difficult to sympathize with a character to repeatedly put herself in a bad position.  Whether it was her indecisiveness towards her brother-in-law (having no regard for his wife), her unnatural acceptance of her (crazy) cousin's rishta or her indifference towards Nasir Uncle after marriage, Maryam's relationships and decisions were consistently train-wrecks.

When we last left off, Maryam had married Nasir (Nasir Chacha) who, while a nice man, could not claim to be a great husband OR a good father.  Nasir became instantly irritated with Maryam's children.  Is this all Nasir's fault?  No.  To be honest, Maryam does a terrible job of readying herself for this marriage, let alone her children.  She never allows herself to connect with her husband before introducing her children into the mix.  In the meantime, her children begin to see Nasir as an old grouch who is nothing but harsh with them - thus clouding Maryam's behavior as well.

Finally when we begin to see Maryam adjusting to her married life - BAM!  Yasir makes his re-entry.  Yasir was missing and unable to reunite with his family, but was definitely not dead.

It's here where the story takes a ridiculous turn.  Maryam barely blinks for two days before she decides that she will stay with Nasir, as he was there for her at a time when no one else was.  Logically speaking, this decision is yet another terrible one added to her list of mistakes.  While Maryam thought of no one but her children after Yasir's "death," here she makes a decision that's entirely against the well-being of her children.

While Maryam has accepted Nasir as her husband, her children have yet to accept him as their father - and not only that.  Nasir has yet to accept them as his children, which means the children are not receiving the love of a father.  Maryam has grieved for so long for her lost husband, Yasir, who was the love of her love.  Yasir, the father of her children.  Yasir, a husband who despite all his flaws was her perfect match.  And we're fed yet another one of Maryam's silly decisions to stay with Nasir, despite the fact that her children want to be with their father, her husband could die at any moment and it's unfair for her to stay with him AND even religiously she's been instructed to go back to her first husband.

I think it became hard for me to stomach that a logical man like Nasir didn't step out of the way on his own.  Despite having a rocky marriage with Shamsa, Nasir was still presented as a kind-hearted man with a solid head on his shoulders.  However, as the drama progressed, he became more and more finicky, rigid and untrusting. It became hard to understand his character at all.

Of course, as always happens in such dramas, Nasir conveniently passed away at exactly the right time, leaving Maryam open to reunite with Yasir.  While this was the most logical ending, Maryam ending up with Yasir, it was done in such a ridiculous, haphazard manner that it was hard to stomach.

Well, another drama comes to an end.  I won't miss this show at all.  I won't miss these characters.  I won't miss the bad writing or the illogical scenarios.  Unfortunately there are those dramas that come and go without leaving any sort of impact (or that have any sense).  Shab-E-Zindagi was one such drama.  If you haven't veered all the way to the end like I did, you didn't miss anything.  Give this one a miss.

Happy watching!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Koi Nai Apna - Finally Getting Interesting

So as promised, I'm catching up on the shows that I've been slacking off on!

When Koi Nai Apna began, I slugged through the first 8-9 episodes.  Uninteresting storyline with very little chemistry between the lead pair.  Separately, I love Fahad Mustafa and like Sarwat Gillani, but together, the chemistry was just not there (in my opinion).  The forced dialogues of "Yaaaar, kya kar rahe ho?"  "Yaaaar, main tumse pyar karta hoon yaaaar," and even Hamza's (Fahad) mother's "Meri elaichi kahan hai?" were incredibly repetitive and very grating on the nerves.  I resigned myself to the idea of giving up this show entirely.

And then episode 10-12 happened.  I did a mass catch-up on these 3 episodes and found myself falling prey to being interested once again.

The storyline at present really resembles "Akele Hum Akele Tum" (Bollywood) and "Kramer Vs. Kramer" (Hollywood).  At least this is the feeling I'm getting and I do feel that we will see a courtroom battle over Shiza's custody soon enough in the future of the show.  Surprisingly, I'm enjoying the turn of events and especially am enjoying Fahad Mustafa's performance.  His ego and his anger towards Alvira are understandable and the character is really well-written.  It helps that his character was never ill-intentioned and worked hard to support his family, which ended up being his downfall in the eyes of Alvira.  While I'm not enjoying Sarwat Gillani's performance at all in this drama OR Sajid Hassan's performance as Alvira's father, Fahad Mustafa, Maheen Khalid and Salma Hassan are doing a commendable job of keeping the show interesting on the other "poor" spectrum.

I also have to say that I just love the little actress Maryam and she's fast become my favorite child artist after Meri Beti, Bashar Momin and now Koi Nahin Apna.

As of right now, I would recommend this one!  Happy watching!