If you grew up watching PTV or were simply part of the PTV drama hour your family was absorbed in, then “Tanhaiyan” needs no introduction.
Whether it was the combination of a bubbly Sania with an uptight and rather peculiar Qabacha which had the audience in fits of laughter, or a more serious plot where two young girls lose their parents in a tragic car accident — the ‘80s drama created treasured memories. After 27 years, the team is back with a sequel: “Olper’s Tanhaiyan: Naye Silsilay” which will air at 8pm every Saturday on PTV and ARY Digital, starting October 20.
Marina Khan and Behroz Sabzwari, who won hearts by playing two of television’s most cherished characters — Sania and Qabacha respectively — spoke to The Express Tribune about the good old days and gave an insight into the sequel.
“’Tanhaiyan’ is actually an important factor in my life; in my 45-year-career, I have done numerous plays but it was because of this one that I received such immense popularity and unimaginable love,” said Sabzwari. “When someone like Raj Kapoor messages you from India saying: ‘Qabacha when you are in Bombay, you will stay with me,’ you know you are popular and loved.”
Fresh crew and script
Marina, who will be directing this 13-episode-sequel, explained how the idea of continuing this legacy came about. “A survey was conducted recently and it showed that ‘Tanhaiyan’ was the most-watched PTV drama of its time. The Olper’s team approached us with the initiative and then after much discussion, we decided to go for it,” she said, pleased with her decision. “The characters are pretty much the same — we are playing the same roles we did back then but now, 27 years later, we are the grown-up versions.”
She admitted, however, that times have changed and amongst the 16 original cast members, six remain and the rest have passed away. Therefore, the cast will include those six with the addition of Alishba Yousuf and Shehryar Munawar in lead roles and Cyra Yousuf and Shehroz Sabzwari in supporting roles. The script, on the other hand, has been co-written by Haseena Moin and Mohammad Ahmed.
“The attachment to the characters and original plot is a binding characteristic and there’s a lot of mimicking from the old version as well — juxtaposing would be the correct term to define it,” said Khan, in regard to the new setting and actors. “It’s reminiscent of the past but is a story of today. The plot is about young kids who come back from the US and the rest you will have to see.”
In the same line of thought, Sabzwari added a little about his own role and how it might be misinterpreted in today’s time: “Qabacha was a character people always felt was nonexistent in society and in order for my performance to not come off as ‘over-acting’, I would have to justify my role. However, the truth is that such characters do exist amongst us — they are intelligent creatures in the masks of fools.”
He further elaborated on how his character will retain its essence and said: “This season was very difficult for me as I was constantly told that I was losing my original tone and attitude and I would say: ‘That was 27 years ago!’; and to be honest I haven’t enacted this role anywhere in these 27 years — talk shows, stage shows — nowhere at all.”
Marina, on the other hand, had a more direct and straightforward attitude when it comes to speculating how the audience would react — whether it was a negative response or a positive one. “If people are expecting it to be exactly like the original play, then they are slightly mistaken and would probably be disappointed,” she said. “But those who will view it as a sequel to the original will enjoy it. Those who haven’t even seen the original, will surely be delighted.”
In conclusion, Marina added that PTV’s presence is evergreen and widespread, specifically in Swat and Gilgit: “People still recognise you even today if you were in a PTV production — it’s the only channel watched over there.” When asked whether she would like to produce more sequels of famous dramas such as “Dhoop Kinare” and “Khuhr”, she said: “Why not? I would love to be a part of that team. But Sahira Kazmi is the one to contact if you want someone to direct it.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 20th, 2012.