Humsafar — Mohabbaton ka safar

Published: February 24, 2012

The writer is a well-known actress and communications adviser of the All-Pakistan Muslim League atiqa.odho@tribune.com.pk

If anyone thought Pakistani drama was dead, make way folks, “Humsafar” is here to rock your world. It feels good to see our audience come back home after being distracted for a while. I, for one, am not surprised at this revival of Urdu drama as I have always known that this particular form of story-telling is a gift we Pakistani’s own and no one can match it, regardless of other markets having bigger budgets, better production facilities, more resources, etc.

Urdu drama is particular to our nation in every sense — from its timing, script structure, performances to the technical style. In these times of national depression and distress, Pakistani drama has made us proud yet again, and given our people something to look forward to regardless of all else.

Before I begin to share with you how my character ‘Fareeda’ in “Humsafar”, came to life, let me first thank all the wonderful people who made this serial into a true international phenomena. As you know, a project always belongs to all that are a part of it before it is gifted to the audiences to enjoy; so, thank you God for our writer, director, producer and an extremely talented cast that brought so much life into the project in their very own special way. Also, let’s not forget the other really special people behind the success, the technicians, musicians, stylists and editors. What you see on screen is a contribution of a large group of specialists that come together to make on-screen magic — and magic is what we made with “Humsafar”.

Many have asked me why I decided to play Fareeda, the nasty mother-in-law. The answer, my dear friends, is a very simple one. Fareeda was a great and exciting character to develop from script to screen. As an actor, one always looks for challenge and I believe, Fareeda has helped me polish my craft as an artist further. Not being one to repeat my work in various roles, I felt my work as Fareeda would give viewers a new ‘me’ as an actor to watch. Sitting here, I am so glad I decided to bring her to life as she was definitely the cause of high drama all along.

It has been wonderful to see how people have identified with all the players in “Humsafar”, as each and every character in it actually exists in our society. My firm belief, while performing Fareeda, was that as a role it was a great project to do, but from a popularity point of view I was expecting her (and myself) to be extremely disliked. It may come as a shock to you, but Fareeda has a huge fan following! This initially troubled and then eventually amused me, as I realised over time that, many millions of Fareeda’s do actually exist in any eastern society. How often have we seen obsessive and controlling mothers hang on to their sons? So Fareeda pulled in her own fans across the world. I have met ladies with sons of all ages who absolutely adore Fareeda, as they feel she has pulled at their heart strings. Finally, a woman they can all relate to. This is strange and yet so funny. Playing Fareeda has taught me so much more about human behaviour on and off screen. Lesson learnt — never predict an outcome as drama reflects all aspects of character.

When we started filming “Humsafar” in July 2011, I was personally going through one of the most difficult times of my life. You may recall my real life drama thanks to the very Honourable you-know-who. In case you are now distracted by Fareeda and friends, let me refresh your memory. My real life drama had something to do with me having the privilege of becoming the first and perhaps the only Pakistani woman to be made the individual subject of a suo motu notice.

While I was struggling with the shock of having to deal with how ‘anything is possible in Pakistan’ becoming a reality in my case, nothing was really making sense around me those days. So confused and anxiety driven, I infused life into Fareeda.

The first day I went to the set of the play, I started my work by performing the climax scene of my character. I was tense with stress at the time and my director, Sarmad Khoosat identified my need for therapy in the form of creative expression, hence, we did the difficult scenes first. So when you watch the last few scenes where Fareeda becomes a complete victim of neurosis, you know who we can all thank for such violent emotions.

What has made the play so successful? I ask myself this question all the time, since its really an old story and we didn’t say anything new in this project. Perhaps, the key ingredient is ‘love/mohabbat’. This emotion is obvious in so many forms, through the characters of the play. Maybe our audiences have connected to the ‘love’ story between Ashar and Khirat, Basirat’s ‘love’ for his sister, Fareeda’s obsessive ‘love’ for her son, Asher’s ‘love’ for his mother and daughter, Sara’s ‘love’ for Asher and Khizar’s ‘love’ for Sara or Zarina’s ‘love’ for her daughter. The play is all about a whole lot of ‘love/mohabbat’ depicted in different forms. So how can a society like ours, that thrives on emotion, not connect to it?

Or perhaps, the other key ingredient in the plot is the value of the male member of a family (Ashar) being projected as the central figure in a male-dominated society, such as ours. Since all the women in the play are fighting for attention from the ‘Man’ (and what a handsome one at that), people can easily relate to the issues addressed in the storyline from several aspects. Wives sympathise with Khirat, Mothers sympathise with Fareeda, cousins relate to Sara. The point I am trying to make is that maybe its all about basic eastern values, but packaged in a very western style.

Whatever the reason for it’s success, I feel another big thank you is due to all the fans for giving us a sense of being artists who try to work hard to reflect real issues of our society. Ultimately, it is the fans that make or break a project and here it is the fans, who have made it possible for this project to reach such great heights.

The difference between a good drama and a great one is where the actors always remember that the fans are their true ‘humsafars’. As the play’s theme song says “Kya dhoop chaaon ka alam raha/Judai na thi”. God bless the fans for always being there with us.

The penultimate episode of “Humsafar” will air today on Hum TV

Published in The Express Tribune, February 25th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (56)

  • Faizan Ayyub
    Feb 24, 2012 - 9:58PM

    Atiqa Odho Done a great Job , Thumbs Up

    Recommend

  • Farah Shadat
    Feb 24, 2012 - 9:58PM

    No doubt; it was certinaly a great safar.

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  • Rabia Khan B
    Feb 24, 2012 - 10:10PM

    FYI it’s Khirad not Khirat Ms. Odho.

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  • Feb 24, 2012 - 10:23PM

    Job well done. Humsafar Drama has definitely gained the attention of masses. Pakistani Dramas reached to another level.

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  • Ch Allah Daad
    Feb 24, 2012 - 10:29PM

    During these times of national depression and distress, one or two drinks are better option than these Dramas.

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  • Feb 24, 2012 - 10:31PM

    One thing that makes Humsafar stands out from the rest of current dramas so much is because of not the stereotypical nature of the characters we find on our tv dramas. its a very character driven show and we see many many emotions and personality traits of the characters (e.g. khirad is egostic, proud yet innocent and very trusting and forgiving, ashar: insecure, jealous possessive yet very loving and sensitive) which enhance them and audience can relate to them a lot more. yes its a age old story of a love triangle, a evil mother in law but at the end of the day its about two people trying to overcome the misunderstanding, the insecurities, the ego issue and the communication gap that has almost destroyed their marriage. These issues all married couples face (once at least) and thankgod the drama has not lost its message up until now. Humsafar’s message is very strong: communication is the key to any marriage and for that matter, any relation in life.

    thankyou to Humsafar team for giving us hope that our once amazing wonderful drama industry that for me died 11-12 years ago still has hope and a very long way to go!

    Woh Humsafar tha, magar us say humnawaye na thi

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  • S A
    Feb 24, 2012 - 10:32PM

    feelings for love strengthen when there is Farida in between.

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  • Feb 24, 2012 - 10:47PM

    I am in Los Angeles 45 years and started seeing Pakistani dramas on major Pakistan TV only couple of years ago. In these two years the quality of these dramas has constantly gone up and up. Thanks to professional artists that were never given a chance to perform their best before. Pakistani are the best in any field given the opportunity. I thought “Roag” was extremely well with badly needed powerful messages for what is wrong in our society. Humsafar has pushed the envelope of powerful “Academy Award” class drama made in Pakistan even higher. The only problem, now the writers, directors, artists will be expected to do equal or better. Now you are a very powerful resource and influence on millions of Pakistanis not only in Pakistan but like me around the world who are yearning to see better Pakistan that most of us want top come back to. Help us dear Atiqa, Mahira, Asif Raza and others.

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  • Silent Spectator
    Feb 24, 2012 - 11:17PM

    Hum TV and plays like Humsafar and Maath deserve all the credit for bringing back the charisma of Urdu dramas. After being bombarded with pathetic dramas with equally weak storylines, the Pakistani drama fans got a pleasant surprise in the form of Humsafar. I hope and pray that Sarmad Khoosat, his team, and the actors continue to perform and deliver at this level. Since they have set the bar quite high this time with Humsafar, it will be interesting to watch them create something else that can overcome the success of Humsafar.
    As a kid, I remember watching PTV plays and admiring their overall excellence. Hum TV and its directors/producers through their productions have enabled us once again to relive those good old times.
    Good luck and best wishes for the future!

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  • MAK
    Feb 25, 2012 - 12:05AM

    My 10-year-old sister was asked by her teacher to name a Pakistani song. From all the desi songs she hears daily, Humsafar turned out to be her favourite.
    So there you go. In a local primary school in Manchester, UK, a gori maim is singing (well, trying to sing) ‘Woh Humsafar Tha’, while us desi teenage girls are relishing over Ashar’s smile and clapping over Khirad’s newfound confidence and learning from Fareeda how mum-in-laws can be ;) And of course, polishing our Urdu too!

    Well done to the entire Humsafar team! Thank you for re-connecting today’s youth, especially abroad, to Pak TV.

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  • x
    Feb 25, 2012 - 12:25AM

    Sarmad Khoosat’s direction is superb. Subtle yet with emphasis on little details which make a project outstanding rather than just good. The acting crew is also serious talented and khoosat’s direction pushes the envelope further. simple expressions, gestures, fleeting looks evoke great meanings. Lastly, the dialogues are very relatable with no high drama and ludicrous statements used which is a plus.
    A typical subject and story is given such excellent treatment and delicate handling that it is transformed into something the whole nation has become addicted to. Kudos to director, dialogue writer and actors.
    Also, more people have started reading up urdu literature as these dramas are adapted from urdu plays.

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  • thecapital15
    Feb 25, 2012 - 12:29AM

    @Ch Allah dad and Imran Khan is the next PM right?

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  • Marium
    Feb 25, 2012 - 12:40AM

    Kudos !

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  • Torrent
    Feb 25, 2012 - 12:47AM

    This might be a bit unfair, i didn’t see humsafar but the storyline was the same old indian serials everyone mocks about.

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  • Anum
    Feb 25, 2012 - 1:29AM

    Eh really? There was nothing else to publish?

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  • Ali Tanoli
    Feb 25, 2012 - 1:55AM

    I am been in states for twenty years now and never missed our one soap opera jaye pakistan
    and Atiqa u are all ways been my favored in PTV.

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  • Cynical
    Feb 25, 2012 - 2:35AM

    It’s so simillar to typical ‘Saas Bahu Stories’ peddled on Indian channels.

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  • Feb 25, 2012 - 3:38AM

    We need dramas covering the diverse social issues of our broad Pakistani culture apart from the same old saas-bahu sazishi dramas ..

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  • Feb 25, 2012 - 4:21AM

    Here is a challenge to all the producers, directors, writers, artists of Humsafar and other new world class Pakistani dramas and soaps. Can you make reasonably short but mind piercing, heart piercing dramas that help force change the mindset of the corrupt, the feudals, the male chauvinists who think women are garbage or slaves, literacy and more. Please stop showing and promoting male dominated Pakistan in dramas. Stop showing 50 year old man marrying young 15 to 10 old girls. Stop showing rich feudals have multiple marriages. Stop showing dramas that drag on and on and on. There are too many real human drama live stories taking place in every corner of Pakistan that needs to eb told in powerful ways. Help remove the mindless suffering of millions across Pakistan through your powerful writing, directing, acting.

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  • American Pakistani
    Feb 25, 2012 - 4:48AM

    God bless the internet, I never miss an episode. Thanks from San Francisco.

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  • Nahmeded
    Feb 25, 2012 - 9:33AM

    We respect you as an artisit of class and we respect you more as a leader of APML whose chairman showed the world how to run a country ruined by politicians.

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  • Maryam
    Feb 25, 2012 - 9:38AM

    I wonder whether it is such an important issue that it is given a place in OP-ED pages???? It was the item to be placed on entertainment pages.

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  • Raj
    Feb 25, 2012 - 9:52AM

    …I am Indian…and want to register this is the best drama I followed in last 10 yrs. I would say its craze among youth, my entire office (Indians) are hooked to this. Some have finished all episodes in flat three days…
    I want to see many MORE from pakistan….such creative works….Best of Luck to all creative people behind this amazing master work.

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  • Ghufran Kazmi
    Feb 25, 2012 - 10:00AM

    Atiqa, you’re my fav !!Recommend

  • Sarah
    Feb 25, 2012 - 11:32AM

    she belongs to apml? damn ! i just lost all respect for her :/

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  • Raj
    Feb 25, 2012 - 11:57AM

    @Cynical: Not really…You NEED to follow…FEW.

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  • maryam
    Feb 25, 2012 - 11:58AM

    we need more intelligent comedy since most of our plays are so full of misery and suffering of human condition..Recommend

  • maryam
    Feb 25, 2012 - 11:58AM

    now give us something to laugh about…………we cried enough!!!!Recommend

  • Azar Ali Zain
    Feb 25, 2012 - 12:33PM

    At some points while reading this op-ed, I felt Khirad’s words echoed: “Mummy yeh aap kya keh rahi hain?!”

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  • Parvez
    Feb 25, 2012 - 12:59PM

    When it all comes together, it’s a great thing to watch and in Humsafar that is exactly what happened.

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  • Torrent
    Feb 25, 2012 - 1:06PM

    How does her work relate to her being a part of APML?
    Pakistan needs a time-out of prime time talk shows.

    PS. I didn’t like the storyline, and I am not voting for APML.

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  • Uzair
    Feb 25, 2012 - 1:20PM

    I honestly don’t get this series, first of all I have a big problem with the whole cousin marriage thing, and that too inflicted in the name of “who will take care of the girl”. This mindset that women are not able to take care of themselves is sadly of course completely embedded in our society, but a series such as Humsafar which is apparently so widely followed and liked does NOTHING to help fight this misogyny.

    Yes the series shows the male dominance of our society, and maybe I missed the bus watching it, but I didn’t get a message against such dominance. If anything the series tells women it is ok to be used and abused and “owned” by men.

    That is my main problem with Humsafar, but on a production/entertainment level it also falls flat because the story progresses at a snail’s pace, barely advancing per episode. But hey, if that works for Pakistani female viewers (I guess), who cares :)

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  • Salman
    Feb 25, 2012 - 1:30PM

    The drama is good and eye catching but story is so typical and made deliberately lame. Its impossible that a wife didn’t disclosed the reality to her husband that what actually happened, some thing which couldn’t remain hidden all these years. The love triangle is presented in a wonderful manner and to me Sarah stole the show with her arrogant acting.But the drama theme song is the best part of this series.

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  • Truth Teller
    Feb 25, 2012 - 1:54PM

    Atiqa O, You were simply SUPERB in Humsafar! Love you for standing strong & bold with President Pervez Musharraf, the only hope for Pakistan. We Love You!

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  • Hooriah
    Feb 25, 2012 - 2:18PM

    I am thirteen years old and I live in Canada. It’s two in the morning and I can stop thinking about Humsafar. I started watching it two and a half days ago. I watched it ten hours straight yesterday. And a few hours ago I finished the last available episode. I’m getting kind of delirious. Mujhe is drama sey bohot mohabbat ho gaye hai. I can’t stop thinking about it all. Asher and Khirad’s happy memories, that horrifying night, Farida’s ruthlessness, Khizer’s shamelessness, Khirad’s strength and perseverance. I am in love with this drama and me and all my girls will no doubt have a marathon and watch every single episode in one day. I’m gonna watch this over and over again. I think the reason we all like it so much is that there’s no “boom boom flash to every face move on to next scene make a whole season for one scene”. You know what I mean? Those dramas aren’t realistic. It’s like watching so lame story. Humsafar is so realistic. It’s believable and we know that this stuff actually happens. The acting is really good. Open emotions, very passionate and gorgeous, straight from the heart. Honesty this drama is gorgeous. Not even a drama; a reality show it could be. LOVE YOU ALL!!!!

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  • Annie
    Feb 25, 2012 - 3:14PM

    You did justice to the role. Very proud of you. Hope we get to see you again in a role as strong.

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  • Faith
    Feb 25, 2012 - 3:15PM

    “It has been wonderful to see how people have identified with all the players in “Humsafar”, as each and every character in it actually exists in our society.”

    No Fareeda Aunty! People like you are extremely rare, who destroy the lives of their own sons.

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  • wahab Noor
    Feb 25, 2012 - 4:39PM

    hamsafar is good but i cant understand what makes it so much different and superb than others,,,our viewers want to live in kind of utopia or in a fantasy world and hamsafar is exactly gives you that….. story is very typical …..a fairy tale end…but the thing which gripped people come across is beauty of main characters ,romance and least but not last the OST…..
    i think pakistani people should to mature now about media….one thing i observed mostly teen agers fell in such fantasies quickly so its also a duty of writers and directors to present things which would have a positive and good impact on people not only romance…..

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  • Feb 25, 2012 - 5:47PM

    No doubt it was a complete and superb drama. Every artist gave its top performance.

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  • zain
    Feb 25, 2012 - 6:34PM

    this drama also proves that women biggest enemy is women.Recommend

  • Amna
    Feb 25, 2012 - 7:54PM

    Atiqa Odho you put life into the character of Fareeda and have done amazing. Humsafar really has revived pakistani dramas and it is heart whelming to see such a big response to the serial from all over the world. We need more dramas like this. Hats of to the actors , Sarmad and everyone else involved. You have all done a tremendous job. WELL DONE

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  • Ali
    Feb 25, 2012 - 9:17PM

    Our dramas of PTV & STN were the best. Very modest and gave good morals. Sorry but these dramas are just promoting vulgarity & nudity.

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  • Komal Aqil
    Feb 25, 2012 - 9:51PM

    Yeah… This is so damn true that ‘humsafar’ has really made this ‘safar’ of Pakistan’s drama industry way more attractive and unique… Humsafar is a drama ov lots and lots of lessons in it’s own way… A big shout out to awl the humsafar cast for their incredible and extra-ordinary performance. Especially naveen waqar. Although it was her first drama. But the expressions she gave in some particular scenes were amazing. And even em not feeling gud about ‘SARA’S’ death in humsafar… There shud b something else ov sara that cud have been done. But attempting suicide and dying lyk ths…… Anyways, Hina bayat also played a good part. And yeah ofcourse ‘FAREEDA’ (atiqa odho) too. And our m0st beloved Ashar (fawad khan) and Khirad (mahira khan) were more than awesome. The looks they gave, the moves they made, the way they cried and awl that left all the viewers totally speechless..
    Feeling sad that humsafar has reached to its last episode… Anyways
    Great work ‘HUMSAFAR’ team..
    Hoping this type of work again from u awl in your next dramas.Recommend

  • mubarak
    Feb 26, 2012 - 12:36AM

    Atiqa…I will never forget your powerful negative role to make this drama such a positive hit.

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  • Seriously NonSerious
    Feb 26, 2012 - 1:36AM

    Currently the best drama on Pakistani channels is “Jannat se nikali hui aurat” on Geo tv.

    Very unique story, crisp acting and apt dialogues. Way better than humsafar……

    Recommend

  • axfar
    Feb 26, 2012 - 1:45PM

    woo woo wooo DAAM and HUMSAFER r the drama of the decadeee no doubt in itt ……hats off to pakistani drama and fashion industryyyy
    we dont need films if we have such kindd of playysss

    Recommend

  • Sumbul Siddiqui
    Feb 26, 2012 - 8:05PM

    What a lovely drama..HUMSAFAR. I remember when there was time when we use to watch “khuda ki Bastti,.Uncle Urffi,Taanhaiiyaan,Dhoop -Kinarray,EK-Haqeeqat -ek- Afsana,and many more..when the streets of Pakistani cities were all empty and few people were on the roads…and all the family members use to watch drama’s as and important event happening in there TV rooms.After 2 decades we are able to watch a drama that has revived our norms not only on the screen but also given a fruitful thought to the polluted mind set of our society, things that we were unable to transfer to our next generation. WHAT? The correct norms and limits of our Pakistani Society. Thank You! HUM TV for telecasting such a strong messages through your drama.THIS IS THE RIGHT WAY TO ENTERTAIN AND TRAIN OUR UP COMING GENERATION!

    Recommend

  • FKazmi
    Feb 27, 2012 - 2:49PM

    u r most welcome Ms.Odho. it was a very sweet drama. the perfect cast. passed some very fascinated hours watching it.

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  • PK
    Feb 27, 2012 - 5:47PM

    Wonderful drama….great job and keep it up.

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  • Ruby
    Feb 27, 2012 - 9:32PM

    Saw Humsafar and fell in love with it.Saw aPakistani drama after 20 yrs.After moving from Pakistan lost touch with Pak TV and after hearing from my friends just thought of looking at it,but once I started it got addicted and could not stop.Job well done by every one. Oh God Fawad khan has come out so good that i have gone GA GA on him. Good luck to you all.

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  • Mar 2, 2012 - 2:50AM

    I live here in the British capital London, I for one do not watch Pakistani television because I do not have access, but it seemed everywhere I went, all people could talk about was Humsafar, before I knew it, I too became a fan, i managed to see the first 20 episodes in 3 days after discovering Humsafar, then I found out Episode 21 is a week away and I was disappointed. I think social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube played a significant role in the popularity of Humsafar. Without it’s Facebook following and Youtube, I don’t think I could have seen Humsafar, id have missed out on it.
    People Read my Blog ‘Social Media Ka Humsafar’

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  • Yash
    Mar 3, 2012 - 4:49AM

    my friend happens to be a famous fashion designer from Pakistan , and once I was showing him a programme from sony TV as he was visiting me, he asked me to search ‘Humsafar’ on you tube, and as he left, I watche d5 episodes in a rown , and finished watching 22 episodes in 4 days…. makes my boring evenings of London became intresting watching a clean and intresting entertainment :)

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  • Farhan
    Mar 3, 2012 - 6:46PM

    Yo Lady! something shown like smoking in anxiety and suicide is the only solution to the worst problem; may be adopted as an influence embedded in one’s subconscious…….

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  • Mar 3, 2012 - 11:06PM

    Awesome drama :) Must like this present another project

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  • Afia Mansoor
    Mar 5, 2012 - 5:40PM

    Congratulations Atiqa!

    I think you’re a wonderful actress because I would say to my husband watching the initial episodes as to why it seemed as though your expression towards Khirad lacked any ‘real warmth’, your eyes seemed cold while you were affectionate to her…

    It was only later that we realised why that was so….AMAZING job everyone!

    Recommend

  • Nikhat I
    Mar 6, 2012 - 5:36AM

    @Rabia Khan B:
    Seems like Fareeda (Ms. Odho) still hates Khirad.

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