Episode: 7 and 8
Aired: June 27 and July 7
Channel: Express Entertainment
Aazi and Kathy’s nuptials seem doomed as Aazi has no money for the wedding and Aazi’s brother-in-law won’t give his sister Sakina permission to attend. Sajid’s wife Naheed goes about trying to trick Kathy by fooling her that in Pakistan, the bride has to pay for everything: outfit, jewellry, valima, etc. The innocent and gullible Kathy duly dishes out $2,000. Now with the money in hand, it seems like everything is set until the ghosts of girlfriends past come back to haunt Aazi as Sumbal is not giving up and runs away from home to be with him. Aazi’s friends then get stuck in the mess he made after Sumbal needs to be taken to the hospital, and circumstances push Sajid to fabricate a story about Sumbal being Maulvi’s wife. It’s a little implausible that Aazi’s father warmed up to Kathy the moment they met (at the end of episode 5). He keeps saying “meri beti ki shaadi hai” and is offended when Kathy gives money for the wedding because it’s his responsibility to pay for his “daughter’s” wedding. Interestingly, earlier in the episode when Aazi (his actual son), needed money for this same wedding he said he didn’t have any! I get that Kathy is much more loving than his own children have ever been but it would be more believable if their relationship had developed over some time.
Episode: 8 and 9
Aired: June 28 and July 5
Channel: ARY Digital
Sadaf’s sister Deeba is in the hospital and requires a blood donation from Fareed but he’s unreachable. We then learn that he’s been leeching money off of Sadaf to pay a friend who has promised to help him get to Australia. Sadaf is completely devastated by her brother’s betrayal when she finally learns he got expelled from university seven months ago and she’s been paying for his fees and other expenses this whole time. We knew Fareed and Mehak are beyond selfish, but Fareed hit a new low when he stole the money meant for Deeba’s operation and practically murdered his grandfather, who tried to stop him from doing so in the process.
Two major deaths in one episode! In one day, Sadaf loses her sister and her grandfather, and Fareed is pretty much responsible for both. First he wasn’t available when his sister needed blood and then he stole the money needed for her surgery because he couldn’t see past his own myopic desire to escape the difficulties of living in Pakistan and move to Australia. It’s clear that the motivation behind each character’s actions, good or bad, is the harshness of poverty, and this drama serial underlines how extreme circumstances can potentially distort one’s morality, ethics and humanity. However, I feel like most of the characters are too black-and-white, like Sadaf who never wavers in her principles and Mehak and Fareed, who are always inconsiderate and selfish. Their mother is the only character who seems genuinely conflicted, as she tries to balance and consider the best interests of all her children.
“Shehr e Zaat”
Episode: 1 and 2
Aired: June 29 and July 6
Channel: Hum TV
Following the phenomenal success of “Humsafar”, director Sarmad Sultan Khoosat and actor Mahira Khan reunite once again for “Shehr e Zaat”. Written by Umaira Ahmed, it tells the story of Falak, played by Mahira, a headstrong free-spirited young woman who is also a bit of a spoilt brat. Hina Khwaja Bayat plays her socialite mother and Samina Peerzada plays her grandmother. Falak is materialistic, self-centered and often rude and unkind. She’s usually at odds with her grandmother about how to treat others, how to behave and ones religious matters. Falak is an art student and her best friend at college is Hamza (Mohib Mirza). She is enamoured when, at a friend’s party, she meets Salman (Mekaal) who funnily looks just like the sculpture she’s been working on. As a callback to “Humsafar”, in the first episode, a potential suitor played by Sarmad Khoosat himself, is rejected by Falak because he watches ‘cheap’ Pakistani dramas and his ringtone was the “Humsafar” song! It seems from the promos that Falak will go through an existential and spiritual crisis and change through the course of the series and it will be interesting to see how and why. Regardless of the plot, Khoosat has established himself as a really good director, so it’s safe to assume “Shehr e Zaat” will be worth watching.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2012.