Sunday, September 28, 2014

Aahista Aahista: GOOD. RIDDANCE.

I am currently at a loss for words.  I have no idea how to write a review for a show that ended so craptastically.   There's just no way for this review to be positive.

Let's just do a re-cap of this ENTIRE story.  No, not from the writer's point of view.  From MY point of view.  I just want us ALL to be on the same page so that there's no confusion.

Zawar (Adnan Siddiqui) is a cowardly liar who, instead of confessing to his mother in Pakistan that he's married an Indian woman, avoids discussions of marriage with his aging mother by.....not visiting all.  Zawar loves his mother a lot, but is too much of a coward to look into her eyes and tell her that he can't get married, because he's already married to a woman he would disapprove of.

On the other end, we have Zawar's wife Sophie (Sarwat Gillani).  Read:  "the villain."  Why is she a villain, you ask?  Because she's Indian, not Muslim and hey, guess what?  She's not a "legitimate wife" because Zawar hasn't confessed to his family about her.  The writers do their BEST to make this character thoroughly evil.  But to no avail:  All I was left with is that this character is a human being.  Given, a rude, witchy sort of human being, but who wouldn't react like her in this sort of situation?

Zawar FINALLY decides to go to Pakistan to visit his miserable mother who is sick with missing him.  While there, he marries Hayaa (Mawra Hocane).  Hayaa is much younger than him, a very innocent girl and is loved a lot by Bi Jaan (Saba Hameed) and the other family members (Hina Bayat, Behroze Sabwari, who are both wasted in roles not worthy of their acting capabilities).  Zawar just CANNOT say "No, I'm already married."  So he does the next logical thing:  He marries Hayaa.  OK?  Again.  COWARD.

Zawar leaves Hayaa in Pakistan and runs back to wife #1, Sophie.  But you know, that marriage, it's a tricky little thing!  Your wife USUALLY wants to LIVE WITH YOU.  So here comes Hayaa, courtesy Bi Jaan and Co., off to the USA to start her married life with Zawar!   But hey, Zawar can't tell Sophie that he's married.....again.  WOW.  COWARD.  So instead, Zawar keeps Hayaa in his house as "a friend's wife" and Sophie treats Hayaa like a servant.  Zawar defends her though of course?  Nope.  Wrong.  COWARD.  He just watches Sophie treat Hayaa like crap.

(Crazy) Sophie is something else.  She just assumes Hayaa is a guest, at least for a little while.  But she proceeds to treat Hayaa like complete garbage, because that's how we treat guests in America.  "Yeh America hai!  Yahan khud kaam karna padta hai!"  Yes.  This is how Pakistanis/Indians in the USA behave, we treat our guests like our personal cook, masseuse and cleaning lady.

Anyways, Hayaa deals with all this.  Finally, after many ridiculous scenarios, verbal abuse from Sophie and downright degrading behavior from all involved, Hayaa is THROWN out of the house by Sophie - because guess what?  That's right.  She caught Hayaa and Zawar cuddling.  At this point, Zawar MUST have said "Hey, she's my wife!"  Right?  Right.....rightttt?????  NO.  He just watches as Hayaa skulks away from the house and is taken in by Javed Sheikh and his wife, kindly Pakistani neighbors.

Zawar instantly repents and tries to rectify his mistake.  How?  Well you know, when Sophie has a miscarriage, he pays the hospital bill and just doesn't give a crap.  It's ALL Sophie's fault.  She should've just LET him cuddle with a random girl under her nose!  Meanwhile, Sophie in her grief calls Bi Jaan and introduces herself as Zawar's wife.  Bi Jaan has a severe attack and ends up in the hospital, with only enough time to disown Zawar entirely before dying.  Because Bi Jaan is EVIL and hates Indian people!'s actually because Zawar treated her beloved Hayaa as a servant and lied like the coward he is.

Bi Jaan is dead, Zawar is cut off from the family and he doesn't have Hayaa.  He has nothing left in life!!!!  Oh wait.....but he still has Sophie?  Oh that pesky girl!  Being in love with someone for 8 years doesn't mean anything!  Zawar has a new love, Hayaa!  And he will devote his entire life to her.  So Sophie does what any logical self-respecting woman would:  asks for a separation and leaves.

This is all perfect.  At this point, we're all thinking "Zawar is going to get what he deserves!  NOTHING!  YES!!!"

With the last episode, everything goes downhill.  The entire team brings us to such high hopes and then crushes those hopes with evil giggles as they present the final 30 seconds of the episode to us, leaving us wondering WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!

In this episode, we see the return of Shehroz Sabzwari's character, the cute, sweet, interested Pakistani boy who was so interested in Hayaa.  And guess what?  He's Javed Sheikh's nephew Mustafa.  What a nice coincidence!  I found myself smiling.  He strikes up a genuine friendship with Hayaa.  I was over the moon.  Hayaa asks for a divorce from Zawar.  YES!  Zawar reacts badly.  Who cares?  Hayaa sticks to her guns and more or less recognizes that Zawar is a terrible human being.  Bless Hayaa for being "normal."  Mustafa tells Hayaa he will be there for her, whatever she chooses to do, but she should think about what's best for herself.  AWWWW, the start of a new love story?

But it all goes downhill.

Zawar tells Sophie off, saying everything wrong in his life is her fault.  What a CLASS act!  He then writes Hayaa a letter, saying he's leaving the country and going back to Pakistan to Bi Jaan's house (uh fool, you were disowned!).  The letter is super cryptic and "emo," telling her that he wishes her all the happiness she deserves and that he now wants to die in peace (I don't know either.....).

We see Zawar, the coward, crying in the rain.  But wait!  He senses a presence behind him!  He turns around.......


They look at each other, share a glance and HUG.  THIS IS TRUE LOVE!!!!

The End.

Otherwise known as the crappiest show I've seen in a long time.

Can someone explain to me what the purpose of this story was?  You already know I think Zawar is a coward.  A jerk.  The worst sort of human being.  SO BASICALLY a man has every right to treat both his wives like complete and utter crap, but still deserves a happy ending?  How?  Why?  What sort of message is this sending to young girls out there?  I am completely on board with the message of compromise in marriage - but THIS is truly ridiculous.  I have felt the need to vomit for the last hour after watching this episode.  I can't stomach HOW anyone would think this would be a logical ending.

In THIS day and age where you have shows like "Pehchaan," where women are shown fighting for their right to live a fulfilling life, why are we still making shows like "Aahista Aahista" that are nothing short of regressive?  A woman starting a new life in the USA has no need to go back to her husband because of societal norms.  Why does she deserve to LIVE that life?  Why would she willingly go back to that sort of existence?  Love?  If that's love, then I clearly don't know what love is.

The bottom line is that this show has been a disappointment from episode 7 on-wards.  I have very little positive to say about this show.  Performances?  Mawra Hocane was pretty good, but I'm a fan of hers, so I may be biased.  I'll also say that her playing "timid" got old really fast.  The "bechaari" act started to grate on my nerves.  Sarwat Gillani should've avoided this role like the plague.  It was bad all around and only made her look foolish.  Adnan Siddiqui should be grateful for the fact that "Mere Humdum Mere Dost" aired alongside this mess with him in such a lovable roe, otherwise he could easily be considered the worst actor and character- chooser of the current actors.  What poor decisions from all involved!!!

RIP Aahista Aahista  Please let me forget that you ever existed.  I just want to forget.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Dramas I'm Currently Watching: September 2014 Edition!

It has officially been MONTHS since I've done this.  While I have been watching several dramas, I feel like my general interest in specific shows has been relegated to only 1-2 at a time, therefore I haven't felt the need to make a list in the last few months.  However, now with some exciting shows on air (Jackson Heights, Firaaq) and some exciting shows coming up (Goya, Sadqay Tumharay), I thought it was time!

So let's get right to it!  The shows are in order of best to slightly less interesting.

Jackson Heights
After only one episode, this show is currently ranking as my #1 favorite.  The first episode was interesting, had great dialogues and I really seemed to “connect” to it.  With great direction, writing and a great ensemble cast, I would urge everyone to watch this show.  Writing anything more on this show is unnecessary - so far, so perfect.

This show grabbed my attention after the first episode.  While our “lead” Paiman is a misfit (Sanam Saeed), we’re soon to see her transformation and her love story begin.  The storyline is interesting, focusing on the relationships between a mother and son, a brother and his sister, a husband and his wife, a couple and their friend and, eventually, Paiman and a psychiatrist (Mohib Mirza).  The relationships are so complex, yet so fascinating to watch that I look forward to the new episode each week.  This one is highly recommended.

Mohabbat Ab Nahi Hogi
While the basic premise of this show makes me queasy and the attitudes of the characters Azhar and Fiza make me want to slap someone, this show gets bonus points for keeping the viewer on their toes after each and every episode.  Saima Akram Chaudhry deserves special mention here for her writing.  While I haven't read the novel, I can imagine it must be good based on the content for the show.  The story revolves around Arham (Jibran) and Fiza's (Armeena Rana Khan) marriage.  Arham's brother Azhar (Ali Rehman Khan) has a close relationship with Fiza, treating her like a friend rather than a Bhabi.  This closeness of their relationship ultimately throws their lives into chaos, threatening not only Fiza and Arham's marriage but also Azhar's marriage with Urooj (Sundas Khan).  The story makes me want to hit my head against a wall at times due to frustration, but the pace is unmatched by any other drama.  And after this week's episode (episode 14) with Azhar now suspecting Fiza for all the confusion, the drama has taken an even more interesting twist.  If you aren't watching this one, I would recommend it.

While this is a drama I look forward to each week, after the recent episode (episode 7), I suddenly find myself on the fence about this.  I was very excited at the show bringing together Annie (Maya Ali) and Rohan (Fahad Mirza), feeling they were a perfect match for each other.  But the show has taken a weird turn after the marriage with Rohan consistently trying to please his terrible family, leaving Annie out in the cold.  Annie’s efforts to please Rohan’s mother and sisters is terrible to watch, because they dislike her for no reason at all!  On the other end, we see Kashaf’s marriage heading in a weird direction with her fiancĂ© demanding music nights and a car.  The show’s overall feel is suddenly making me uncomfortable.  While I realize it’s a reality in society, the reactions of others on the show are highly over the top.  With slightly restrained performances, the effect may have been different.  Still, I am enjoying the show overall and I like the theme.

When this show first started, I wasn't incredibly impressed, but was pulled in for Sabreen Hisbani.  When I realized how short her role was, I was mildly turned off.  However, this show has taken off to be one of the more interesting ones and I genuinely enjoy it.  The storyline is different and while it plays on the “soteli” stereotypes, I am enjoying seeing the story from the child’s point of view.   The performance of the child actor playing Milkoo is amazing.  Now that Milkoo has grown up (now played by Shehzad Sheikh), I am even more interested to see what direction the story takes.

Tum Meray He Rehna
Family drama and politics:  In a Pakistani family, who doesn't know what this is like?  Take family politics, enhance it with an easily influenced family member, throw in two cousins fighting over the same guy and you end up with a show like Tum Meray He Rehna. The character of Siraj (Waseem Abbas) is an easily gullible character, one who is easily influenced and this attitude used to the benefit of his interfering wife Shahana (Saba Hameed).  Siraj's sister Raheela (Huma Hamid) and her husband Naseer (Rashid Mehmood) are good people who get caught up in family politics without wanting to.  The effects are felt by Numail (Mekaal) and Rania (Urwa), cousins who want to get married but can't due to their feuding families.  Oh no, been there, done that you say?  Not exactly.  While this story may not be anything new, the treatment is.  The performances are great and the situations are very realistic.  The overall way the show has been handled is what makes it an entertaining watch.

 Main Bushra
While I'm having a hard time grasping the "point" of the drama, I do still look forward to tuning in each week.  Bushra's struggles are not something I can relate to, being one of three daughters (and no brothers).  While I find the story old-fashioned, I think it's important to bring light to a story like this in order to change mind-sets and the belief that only sons can help their parents.  It's nice to see a strong character like Bushra doing everything she can to support her family.  While Affan Waheed and Faisal Qureshi have yet to make an appearance in the story, the show is still moving at a good pace.

Chup Raho
Some mothers are their own daughters worst enemies.  Looking at the actions of Rameen's mother, one wonders how and why she thought staying quiet would be a good idea.  Yes, being quiet would save her elder daughter's marriage, but at what cost?  Staying married to a man that represents pure evil?  A man who admits to repeatedly cheating on his wife?  A man who raped his wife's sister?  A man who intends on continuing to rape his sister in law, despite Rameen being married to his Aazir, his cousin?  Numair's nature isn't unrealistic and Jibran is doing an amazing job of playing this twisted, sick character.  While the logic for Rameen not speaking up doesn't work for me and the lack of reasoning on Aazir's part confuses me (why doesn't he realize something is UP when his fiancee/wife does a 180 in personality?), the performances on this show are still good and the storyline is interesting.

Aahista Aahista
What started off as an interesting, promising show has slowly deteriorated into what can only be classified as an utter bore.  The character of Zawar (played by Adnan Siddiqui) is such a horrible human being that it’s hard to even understand what we’re rooting for.  While the writers have done everything in their power to make Sofia (Sarwat Gillani) look “evil,” the fact of the matter is that she FEELS that there’s something between Hayaa and Zawar and that her marriage is being infringed upon.  While she’s too rude and unlikable for her own good, the viewer still can’t BLAME her.  On top of that, her husband’s complete and lack of interest in her misery after her miscarriage was an even bigger blow for the poor girl.  On the other end, Hayaa (Mawra Hocane) is a young and sweet girl and deserves so much better than a man who can’t even tell his first wife that he remarried.  Not only that, but he was also unable to defend her even as a human being to his wife.  People don’t even treat their enemies the way Zawar treated Hayaa.  At this point, I don’t know where this show is going.  All I know is that I want nothing but unhappiness for Zawar.  I do hope to see Shehroze Sabzwari’s character return and possibly accept Hayaa into his life.  That’s what’s keeping me watching this show.  Also, I love Javed Sheikh and his wife on the show.  They play very positive characters.

There’s something wrong with a show when you find yourself completely unable to sympathize with the lead character.  For the life of me, I can't even remember the character names on this show, so it's going to be their real names.  Haha.  Aijaz Aslam and Ahmed Hassan play your general, sweet brother types.  These characters are really endearing.  On the other end, we have Mansha Pasha playing the Bhabi from hell.  Why?  No, she's not a bad person.  She's just easily influenced by her greedy family.  With a family like this, who needs enemies?  Saniya Shamshad plays Aijaz and Ahmed's younger sister, spoiled by her brothers and "Bua."  But this is all to Mansha's disliking, as she wants Aijaz to favor her own family and run the house her own way.  

The selfish nature of Mansha Pasha's character is so realistic that it's painful to watch.  She's not a bad person.  She's just a victim of circumstance.  While this show is almost a trainwreck with Mansha's character trying to "out" Bua this week, it's still entertaining to watch - the credit for this goes to good writing.

Mere Meherbaan
Oh boy.  What to say about this show?  Overacting, overacting, overacting.  Over-the-top situations beyond belief.  Crazy family members that you want to punch.  BUT entertainment overload.  This is one of those terrible dramas that you just cannot stop watching, because it's actually really entertaining.  Plus it's your perfect example of "good vs. evil" and you just really want to see the "good" family win and see the "bad" family left with nothing.

There is so much stupidity in this show that the show itself reeks of brainlessness.  That said, it’s a show of chaos that you can’t take your eyes off of.  I find myself drawn in, week after week, to see what new nonsense will happen this week.  I definitely do watch the show in fast-forward motion though.  Each and every character has a different level of “stupid”:  Whether it be Haashir’s ridiculous reason for marrying Shazia, Saman’s doormat like behavior, Faisal’s playing two cousins……it’s all just terrible.  But of course, I will stick with it to the end, if only in hopes to see Shazia and Faisal “get theirs.”

A promising cast, a nice OST….I was really looking forward to this show.  However, the ridiculous scenario presented in the show is unpalettable.  I'd written about this show last week and my feelings and thoughts about it are the same.  For a modern, loving couple with good principles and a great relationship with their children, this situation is almost unrealistic for a cousin of Taseer to come in and not only shed suspicion on Taseer and Fiza's relationship, but to cause problems in their life, especially considering Fiza has mentioned over and over that she is uncomfortable with said cousin in the house.  Only 3 episodes so far, so I won't over-criticize.  But this one does rank low on my list.

I think I’ve already written my thoughts on this show in a previous blog post, but I’ll rehash it again anyway.  Moammar Rana is the biggest drawback of this drama, once again playing a “young bachelor” when he looks nothing short of an uncle ji.  On the other end, Aisha Khan looks like the furthest thing from a young, eligible girl attracting a man with simply her eyes (what on earth?).  If anyone is aptly cast in this drama, it’s the actor playing Hamzah, who is probably the only one playing a character his age.  It HAS only been one episode though and Siraj Ul Haq does have nice stories in his dramas, so I’m still willing to give it a chance.

Bashar Momin  
I was initially very upset when Geo went off air during the ban and was happy when I found out it was back.  Looking back, I don’t know why.  I watched a small handful of Geo shows and they are all pretty bad, the top of the list being Bashar Momin.  This show is all glamour, no substance.  The situations here are so unrealistic and so ridiculous that I can’t even stomach it.  Bashar & Rudaba’s marriage, Buland and Tayyaba’s forthcoming marriage, Adil and Saira’s dysfunctional relationship and Adil’s weak personality…..all of it makes close to zero sense.  These are what you call “forced situations.”  These are situations that would never happen in real life and seem inspired by the Star Plus genre of dramas.  I am highly unimpressed and this show overall is nothing short of irritating.  But for some reaosn, I just can’t stop watching.

Bikhra Mera Naseeb
I have very little to say about this show.  It aired for only 6 episodes before going off air due to the Geo ban.  Since then, it has just started airing new episodes again.  That said, the storyline was seriously OTT to begin with and I found the show pretty irritating.  The only thing holding my interest was the potential pairing of Sami Khan and Aiza Khan, a pairing which I love.  Episode 7 was OK.  What I do find refreshing is that despite Hina (Aiza Khan) being a completely spoiled, rich brat, her parents are not shown being “maghroor” or pampering towards her personality…though Saba Qamar’s character looks like she will play a hand in Hina’s further negativity in the future.  Let’s see.  I’m not impressed.

Sadqay Tumharay
This show is set to start in October and with such a promising cast, a great creative head, director and production house, this is one of my most awaited shows for the Fall season!  =)

Likewise as Sadqay Tumharay, this show has everything "exciting" going for it!  Also scheduled to start airing in October, this show has been gathering steam for months now and already has a fan following waiting with baited breath!

Alright, that's it for now!  Some exciting shows, some not-so-exciting - but that's generally the nature of these write-ups.  Haha.  Enjoy these shows - the first half are definitely worth watching!  =)

Happy watching!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Jackson Heights - Episode 1 Review


Every once in a while, a drama comes along that captures the interest of nearly everyone.  Jackson Heights falls into that category.  With Vasay Chaudhary behind the writing, Mehreen Jabbar directing and an ensemble cast including Marina Khan, Noman Ejaz, Adeel, Aamina Sheikh and Ali Kazmi, there's very little about this drama that could deter viewership.

Did episode 1 meet my incredibly high expectations.  YES!

The episode starts off showing that Salma (Aamina Sheikh) is in high demand at the waxing-threading parlor she works at.  From the get-go, you realize that this drama focuses on the "labor class" of immigrants rather than the "professional class."  Aamina Sheikh plays the part with sincerity.

We also bear witness to a group of Desi taxi drivers (Indian, Pakistani and Bengali) visiting Jackson Diner, a place owned by "Madam," (Marina Khan), a tough woman with strong principles.  This scene is clearly to show Marina Khan's character's attitude - very no nonsense with little sympathy to the plight of immigrants (probably due to her own struggles in life).

A great portion of the episode focuses on Imran Bhatti (Nauman Ejaz), a taxi driver working hard to support his family back home.  Not only are his scenes heart-warming and doused with mild depression, but also highly comedic due to his personality.  Nauman Ejaz is a complete natural in this role!

Michele "Madam" and the Indian Muslim Rizwan (Adnan Jaffar) are shown having a close friendship, one that Rizwan would like to take forward, but is unable to, due to the hesitation on Michele's part.  Again, we assume Michele's story will unravel with time.  These two actors have done a great job with their parts.

And last, but not least, we are introduced to Jamshed (Adeel), Imran's nephew.  Jamshed is nothing short of a dreamer with few goals in life.  The only thing on his mind is to go to America and make money - how that will happen, who knows?  Adeel plays the role of your stereotypical, typical dreamer who imagines the grass will be greener on the other side, not realizing how much of a struggle comes along with those dreams.

All these characters have come together to make the first episode of Jackson Heights incredibly interesting and a great mish-mash of different personalities.  I am thoroughly impressed!

That being said, I'm not claiming everything about this episode was perfect.  The age-old concept of "America bad, Desis living in America bad, the USA so cruel" is featured here as well.  Lines like "Pardes mein kaisi Eid?" managed to rub me the wrong way.  People who have been living in the USA, regardless of whether they're immigrants or the children of immigrants, have formed their own traditions, ways to celebrate occassions and so forth.  No one here is sitting around remembering Eid in Pakistan/India/Bangladesh and not celebrating here.  YES, there's no Eid like Eid with your family and loved ones, but Muslims in the USA still celebrate Eid AND have their own sense of community among the other Desis they meet.  I just really wanted to hit the nail on the head with that one.  It happens too often in Pakistani dramas (Aahista Aahista) and Bollywood (Aa Ab Laut Chalen) that Desis living in the US are either "kameenay" or super "Lachaar, ghareeb and bechaaray."  Let's give those stereotypes a rest.

Moving away from the complaint, I DID love that Imran Bhatti (Nauman Ejaz) so frustratingly tries to explain to his family that Jamshed should be studying and working a good job in Pakistan, rather than running to America with the notion that money grows on trees.  It really hit home, especially seeing how hard Imran himself was working to earn a living and complete the "Farmaishein" of his family back home.  Stories like these are the heartbreaking reality for some immigrants.

In closing, I really loved all the performances in this first episode, along with the direction and the dialogues.  Everything seemed very "real."  I'm expecting great things from this drama and so far, it's off to a great start!

If you aren't on this bandwagon, hop on now!  =)

Happy watching!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Disney's Khoobsurat : A Review

Yes, I realize that this is a Bollywood film, but as a long-time fan (since the end of 2002) of Fawad Khan (and Entity Paradigm), reviewing this movie for me is wholeheartedly necessary!

I watched the movie with a big group on Friday night, opening day.  I kept my expectations low, mostly because I'm well-aware of the slightly overacting nature of Sonam Kapoor and because the film genuinely just did not look interesting to me.  But the Fawad fan in me had to venture out simply for support.  And so I did.

While I may have gone into the film with the thought of solely supporting Fawad, I came out of the film having thoroughly enjoyed it.  While the movie itself was nothing outstanding or out of the ordinary, it was a cute, nice movie following your typical "Disney" path and formula.

The story revolves around a physiotherapist Dr. Chakrovarty (Sonam Kapoor), who is hired on to treat an aristocrat ("the king" type) who is wheelchair bound.  Her interactions with the royal family form the basis of the story, namely with "Prince" Vikram (Fawad Khan).

A love story at heart, Khoobsurat is also about familial bonds and family relationships.

What really worked in the movie's favor were the performances.  Not only the performances of the main lead, but the performances of the entire ensemble cast are terrific.

Sonam Kapoor was cute.  I thought her antics would begin to grate on my nerves in the 2nd half, going by the reviews I read beforehand, but they didn't.  This role was perfect for her and her persona.  I almost believe this character was written with Sonam (and her acting style) entirely in mind.  She was very likable.

Fawad was Fawad - always perfect and giving 100% to whatever role he plays.  Fawad became Vikram (or "Viku").  He's an absolute natural and I don't see this role hindering his Bollywood career, regardless of whether it's a success or a flop.  He's a perfect package.  What I am happy about is that he isn't intending on staying in Bollywood and is already working on getting started on his Pakistani films.  Rather than criticizing Fawad for working in Bollywood, we should be praising him for doing us proud, sticking to his principles (well-executed staged kissing scenes considering Fawad refused to kiss!) and bringing back that knowledge to our own film industry to apply to future projects.

The supporting cast, as I said, was great.  Kirron Kher as Manju was hilarious and while Kirron Kher can go over the top at times, that was perfect for this character!  Ratna Pathak was incredible in her role as well, balancing her stoic expressions and need to control things with her softer side.  Aamir Raza Hussain also deserves applause for his portrayal of Shekhar Singh Rathod, making him a highly lovable character.

The three drawbacks of this film (Yes, there are some):

#1:  The film could've easily been half an hour shorter.  Some sequences were unnecessary.

#2:  The songs were entirely unnecessary and did nothing to move the story forward.  Rather, they slowed the pace down.  This should've been a song-less venture.

#3:  Regardless of their good performances, Sonam and Fawad didn't share any real chemistry.  Forced kissing moments and lines like "Tumhe dekh ke ganday khayaal aa rahe hain yaar" were used to get the point across.  These two were great in the movie, but that "spark" simply wasn't there - though the two did look nice together.  It worked in this particular movie, because it just seemed very "Disney."

That's it!  Overall, the movie was a very enjoyable experience.  I had a good time, I laughed a lot and just really found the movie to be "cute."  I'd recommend this whole-heartedly!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Lots to watch, very little to write about: Mehram, Main Bushra, Mohabbat Ab Nahi Hogi and Jaanam

Yes yes yes, I realize today is THE day:  Jackson Heights day!!  =)  But I'll be watching the episode later this evening (Saturday morning in Pakistan), as I want to watch it stress-free, so my review will have to wait until tomorrow!  Until then.....

I feel horribly bored with every show these days, including all the newly launched ones!  I just feel like there's so much to criticize.  So here goes my criticism-filled post on several different dramas.

Let's first start with yesterday's premiere show:  Mehram on Hum TV.

#1:  Moammar Rana's character, Zubair, sees Ayesha Khan's EYES while she's wearing naqaab and can't stop thinking about her, to the point that he basically neglects his fiancee when meeting her for the first time.  He is unable to get those eyes out of his head.  NOW just WAIT one MINUTE.  This isn't Pakeezah, friends.  No one can be THAT enchanted by someone's eyes.....especially an ordinary looking pair of eyes like Ayesha Khan's!  If this story were to be plausible, they should've cast Armeena Rana Khan.  Given, she's not a good actress like Ayesha Khan, but at least she has eyes worthy of attracting someone.  Anyway, my point is that the entire premise of the show so far is incredulous and fickle.

#2:  If you guys don't already know my severe dislike for Moammar Rana, you're about to be exposed to it.  He's an actor who refuses to play his age and this is a fact that really manages to ruin the beauty of any show.  Siraj Ul Haq has done this before in "Roshan Sitara," completely destroying the character of Momin by casting Moammar Rana.  An otherwise gorgeous, beautiful show was put to shame in the 2nd half once we were forced to endure Moammar Rana's role as Momin....a stark contrast to his YOUNG "older" brother Mansoor (Affan Waheed).  He's not fit to play a young bachelor looking for a bride for the first time, especially with his receding hairline.  Meanwhile, his male counterparts and peer group like Adnan Siddiqui, Aijaz Aslam, Faisal Qureshi have moved on to playing more mature, adult roles.  Momi is still stuck in 2000 when he debuted.

#3:  Here we go - not a criticism!  The character of Hamza is adorable, carefree, fun and the actor playing him (not sure of his name), while pretty young-looking for Ayesha Khan, is endearing so far.

So overall, I am not impressed with this show.  The first episode was very much a strange sort of let down....though I expected to be let down, considering I don't like Moammar Rana.  Despite that, I think Siraj Ul Haq is a good director, so let's see how this goes.

Mohabbat Ab Nahi Hogi.....Can I just ask about the logic in this drama?  Arham's mother, sister, sister-in-law, everyone is uncomfortable by the relationship between Azhar and Fiza.  HOWEVER, as soon as Arham reacts to their disgustingly close relationship, everyone switches sides, calling him unreasonable.  What about this is unreasonable?  He caught his brother and wife in a compromising situation TWICE.  This is just common sense - a devar and bhabi do NOT get THAT close.  Especially when a bhabi is crying to her devar about how she married the wrong brother.  Oh dear.  The characters of Fiza and Azhar are becoming very trying on the brain, considering they don't understand what they've done wrong.  On the other end, Arham is becoming a trying character as well, considering he isn't actually TALKING or telling anyone what he witnessed on skype and in the bedroom.  Either way, the next episode looks even more nausea inducing with Fiza asking Azhar if he'll marry her if Arham divorces her.  What. The. Hell?  That said, this drama is definitely one of the more interesting ones and I'm always kept on my toes, waiting for what happens next.

Moving on, we come to Jaanam.  It's strange that I'm supposed to believe or buy into this scenario.  Taseer (Adnan Siddiqui) seems like a very loving, understanding man who respects his wife a lot.  On the other end, we see Fiza (Saba Qamar) openly uncomfortable with her husband's cousin (played by Nomaan Masood), who is not only now divorced and broke, but also a pervert and openly harassing towards Fiza.

When Fiza tells Taseer in VERY vague terms that she's uncomfortable with his cousin in the house, Taseer jokingly dismisses her claims.  This entire premise for a show could be cleared up very simply:  Fiza telling Taseer EXACTLY what his cousin said to her.  THere is NO man in his right mind, especially an understanding, loyal one like Taseer, who will stand for that sort of harassment towards his wife.  But rather, Fiza vaguely talks about her discomfort and then "bardaashts" it all.  This is what I call weak writing.

On the other end, we see Noman's character putting in the seeds of "shukk" in Taseer's head towards Fiza's colleague - a colleague who has been around for years and has been very supportive of Fiza and Taseer's marriage.  When your own wife says there's something wrong with this man, the wife you trust and love, why would you suddenly listen to this man and allow his words to cloud your marriage?

Like I said, the basic premise of this story is very weak.  I'm having a hard time enjoying the show due to the sheer lack of communication and sense.

While I don't have any clear-cut issues with Main Bushra, there's also something seriously lacking.  YES, both male leads have yet to make their appearance.  But it's more than that:  WHY is Bushra blamed for the "bad fate" of her father?  Simply naming your daughter Bushra does not guarantee a prosperous future.  I don't understand the concept of a father of 5-6 daughters (how many kids are there here anyway?!) blaming his MIDDLE daughter for all his "misfortunes."  It doesn't make sense to me.  Regardless, Mawra Hocane is doing a good job in her role, as is Saba Hameed and Waseem Abbas.  The scene with Fiza threatening to leave the house was a particularly good scene for Mawra, Saba and Waseem, all three giving good performances.

Anyways, let's hope this one picks up soon!

These were the four shows I really wanted to write about at this point in time.  I'll definitely be writing my comments on ALL the shows I'm watching within this week, as I'm working on my "Currently watching" list!  =)  Keep an eye out on this space!
Happy watching!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Mere Humdum Mere Dost = A Memorable Experience for 2014

I refuse to review this last episode.  I would simply not do it justice.  Therefore, I'm simply going to state my thoughts about the show overall.

Mere Humdum Mere Dost is a drama based on a popular novel (of the same name) by Farhat Ishtiaq.  With this drama, I think Urdu1 proved that not only can they run successful foreign dubbed content, but can also rise with local Pakistani content.

The story revolves around, essentially, family and family relations, despite being a love story at the heart of it all.  Aiman's relationship did not focus solely on her bond with Haider, but also the growth of her relationship with Taufeeq, Almas, her younger brother, with Bibi and even her tiff with Sajeela.

What is great is that not one of these characters can be described as "negative."  Coming to the female characters, while yes, Sajeela was essentially a self-absorbed girl who didn't know right from wrong, as we see in the beginning, she's not a BAD person.  She just went through a lot, all of her own doing and felt entitled to get her ex-husband back.  That sense of entitlement is what made Sajeela seem negative.  Hareem Farooq excelled as Sajeela, because the audience fluctuated from liking her, hating her, feeling sorry from her all at a moment's notice.  I loved that Almas wasn't the role of a stereotypical step-mother, but rather was a very positive, kind-hearted woman.  While she was torn between Sajeela and Aiman, when she realized that the matter was finally at rest, I really loved seeing her bond with Aiman and how she supported her, especially in the last two episodes.  I still have a hard time believing that ZQ is no longer playing "Lead" female roles - actresses have such a short shelf life!  But ZQ did a great job as Almas.

Coming to Aiman specifically, I can't claim that Aiman was the most lovable character.  She wasn't.  If anything, I spent more time wanting to slap Aiman than wanting to hug her.  I felt like she was 90% responsible for the reactions she received from others, mostly because of her low self-esteem and her cutting words.  In the last episode, I was particularly irritated with her, especially for throwing her hard work and education away simply because she didn't want to see Haider's marriage.  The amount of pain she was willing to cause her family, namely her father, just to serve her own purpose was very irritating and in that moment, I felt Aiman was very self-serving.  However, looking at it logically, Aiman is essentially every 21-22 year old girl, isn't she?  She represents the ego, the determination and the wrapped-up-in-my-own-life that most young girls do have.  Plus, she had her own hang-ups from her upbringing, so Aiman was a very realistic character - and Sanam Jung did a fabulous job of playing her and bringing the character to life.

Of course, we also can't forget the ultimately lovable "Bibi" played by Shamim Hilali.  Effortless as always, Bibi is the voice of reason and encouragement.

It's been a while since we've seen strong, older male characters that were so LIKABLE.  The characters of Taufeeq and Haider are two such characters.  They will forever be etched onto that list of great male leads, mostly because of how well-written the roles were - but more than that, the actors do deserve credit.  Adnan Siddiqui made Haider into someone who you felt for.  You loved him, because he was the definition of a "good guy."  Unrealistically so?  No.  The scene when he found out about Sajeela's affair was perfect, as he acted as any NORMAL man would.  The scene when Aiman calls him a coward, again - perfect.  You could see the pain and anger in his eyes in that moment.  Adnan Siddiqui needs to take a bow for this role.  Likewise with Farhan Ali Agha as Taufeeq - initially, the audience sees Taufeeq as a "bad guy" of sorts, a man who abandons his wife and daughter.  But as the story unfolds, we realize that things weren't as they seemed and it's possible that Aiman's mother may not have been as "pure" of a soul as we (or Aiman) thought and Taufeeq was actually a caring man with principles.  Farhan Ali Agha was perfect in this role.  Despite looking very young to be playing father to Sanam Jung, he took the role and made it his own, making Taufeeq a highly lovable character.

The only complaint I would have with this entire show are two points:  The first being the quick disappearance of Sajeela's character.  While I understand that she realized how everything in her life backfired due to her own foolishness and that her father always had her best interest in mind - I didn't love that she didn't have any heart-to-hearts with Almas or Taufeeq and abruptly decided to leave.  I don't even think we got to see her goodbye?  The 2nd complaint I have was the ending itself.  While I loved the confrontation scene between Aiman &  Haider and what transpired, the very last scene somehow felt.....lacking.  I can't place it, I don't know what should've been different.  It just felt very odd.

In closing, I just wanted to say that this was a must-watch drama for 2014.  Beautiful story, beautiful acting, realistic characters, great writing all came together to make a very lovable story.  If you haven't seen this, watch it!

Happy watching!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Pehchaan Finale: Ignored, Underrated and Brilliant!

While I wasn't sure what to expect from the "Pehchaan" finale, considering the heaviness of the last few episodes, I can happily say that this show ended on the note that it should have.  I winded up the episode feeling completely satisfied and happy.  Pehchaan is one of those near-perfect shows from this year.  I'm not saying it was a flawless show, but it tugged at all the right strings in my heart, put forth realistic situations and didn't rush itself towards a quick, happy wind-up for all.  Realistic yet beautiful.

The episode started with Mansoor urging Laila to come back to him as they are a family with their daughter.  Laila was not as convinced and asked Mansoor to give her time, telling him that she's moved forward in life.  The following day, we see Saadi asking Laila to meet his mother, to which she hesitantly accepts, knowing the task will not be easy.  What followed were a series of stand-out scenes.

Laila happily goes to meet Saadi's mother, baking her a cake with the hopes that she'll look past her divorcee status and accept her.  However, Laila's fears were confirmed when she arrives and overhears a heated discussion between Saadi and his mother.  His mother re-iterates every fear that Laila had into words, telling Saadi that he's too good for Laila, Laila is a divorcee with a child, "Log kya kahenge," and so on.  Saadi spots Laila standing there and is stunned as she runs off.

Meanwhile, at home, Mrs. Khan is caring for the baby when Mansoor drops by to speak to Laila.  Mrs. Khan lets him know that she will be out for a while, to which he says he'll wait.  A moment here to remember is when Mansoor says "Bachi kabhi roti nahi hai.  Doctor ke paas jaana chahiye.  Yeh roti kyun nahin?" ("This girl never cries.  I should take her to a doctor.  Why doesn't she cry?")  to which Mrs. Khan responds "Yes, she doesn't cry.  She doesn't cry so there must be something wrong with her.  She needs to see a doctor.  She doesn't cry.  Just like Laila."  This scene really touched me as our society tends to see strength in a woman as weakness.

Laila arrives home and tries to avoid breaking down in front of Mrs. Khan, who senses something is wrong.  She informs her that Mansoor is there and quietly leaves.  Mansoor, almost like a predator, senses Laila's grief and pounces.  He begins to tell her that they will go back to their married life as if nothing ever happened.  They will be a family again.  Laila almost falls into his trap, however, Mansoor takes it a step further.  He says that he will never protest to her friendship with Saadi if she wishes to continue it.  "Har kisi ko kabhi na kabhi aise dost ki zaroorat hoti hai.  Mujhe bhi baad mein ho sakti hai."  (Everyone needs a friendship like that at some point in their lives.  I may need one later as well."), which INFURIATES Laila and she kicks Mansoor out.  Yes, Mansoor suggested an "open marriage" for the sake of his "izzat."  Hypocrisy at its best.

With Laila finally putting her marriage with Mansoor behind her after asking for a divorce, she stumbles across a conversation between Saadi and Mrs. Khan.  Mrs. Khan asks Saadi if he's serious about Laila, while he proceeds to explain to her that all his life, he's done nothing but listen:  Listen to Laila, listen to his mother, listen to society - he never felt able to discover himself and make his own decisions...have his own "pehchaan."  Knowing that Laila is there, he tells Mrs. Khan that he will always be there for Laila whenever she is ready for him, but until then, he's leaving on a trip of self discovery.  This scene was great, because it showed that Saadi wanted to be more than just Laila's "backup" or "savior," he wanted to actually have relevance in her life.

We're then treated to a monologue by Kuku, who is in touch with and writing to Khurram.  Kuku tells Khurram that Laila and Saadi are together, planning their wedding, postponing their wedding and then planning their wedding.  While this chain continues, they're very happy together.  She tells of Mrs. Khan, who is still forever out to please her inconsiderate husband.  She tells of Mansoor, who there is no news of other than news of his remarriage - but is that really news?

She tells of Laila's mother who is now her client, a woman who makes hair appointments in the hopes of seeing her daughter and bringing toys for her granddaughter:  A mother's attempt at forgiveness and feeble demonstration of love.

And she writes about herself - alone, yet happy.  And yes, missing Khurram.

There was so much in this episode, yet nothing felt rushed.  Every scene, every moment, every gaze had meaning and purpose.  Was this a female-oriented show against males?  Absolutely not.  If anything, if Mansoor represented the male chauvinist with his hypocritical views, Saadi represented that "new age" man with liberal thoughts while still set in the good aspects of culture.  

Each character was given their version of a "happy ending," while those endings may not necessarily BE happy.  Life goes on, continues and people move along with it.  What's important in this world is to have your own identity, whether as a woman or a male.  

Pehchaan, throughout its run, was an emotional journey for the viewer and a treat to watch, due to the incredible performances.  Alisbha Yousuf, Iffat Omar and the oh-so-known actress who plays Mrs. Khan but I can never find her name are the STARS of this show, not only showing a realistic story of female bonding, but also showing how three different women going through three different life situations all come together to support one another.

Beautiful.  That's all I have to say about this show.  Please do watch it.