We arrive at “Shehr e Zaat”

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City of Self is what Shehr e Zaat (ApnaHub preview is here) would literally mean. It is a romantic story of a girl which begins with her passion and love for worldly desires and later transforms into ishq-e-haqiqi (true love) for Allah. The drama is based on a novel of the same name “Shahr-e-zaat”, written by Umera Ahmed. It has been directed by Sarmad Sultan Khoosat, who we all know from the last time when we reviewed Humsafar.

I decided to wait for airing of the second episode before I could pen down my thoughts about this experience, the beginning of our journey to Shehr e Zaat.

The first episode begins with Abida Parvin’s soulful Yaar ko Humne Ja Baja Dekha and a visit to one of the largest necropolises in the world, Makli, on the outskirts of Thatta in Sind Pakistan. Legends abound about its inception, but it is generally believed that the cemetery grew around the shrine of the fourteenth century Sufi, Hamad Jamali. The director here tries to exquisitely highlight a golden era of the bygones with glorious verses from the Quran inscribed on graves, to Falak’s (Mahira Khan) fascination and Hamza (Mohib Mirza) telling her “Qabirstan fascinate hone ki jagah nahi hoti…. Ibrat haasil karne ki…..”. In my opinion the entire sequence looked a bit prolonged or stretched, at ten straight minutes, perhaps the message could have been delivered in a shorter span. This first sequence is what actually prompted me to wait until the second episode to write my review.

One thing which is very clear from the first episode is that the character of Hamza has been specifically carved for this screen adaptation and the director has actually done a very good job of integrating this new character to the mix. Next, we are introduced to Falak’s naani (Samina Peerzada) and I would not go on writing tons of praises for her. I have very recently watched Samina Peerzada in “Durr-e-Shehwar”, and I can safely say that it was one of the best performances I have ever seen by a television actor in Indo-Pak in recent times. I think, as Shehr e Zaat progresses, Samina Peerzada’s character would have more influence on how Falak transforms.

And, then there was the awkward moment when Falak’s suitor (Sarmad, yes played by the director saheb himself) asks Falak, “Have you seen Humsafar … ?” His mobile ring tone kept screaming, “Woh Humsafar thaaaaa….”. This sequence was well shot and conceived, so was the frame when Falak complains to her mom, “Mummy you know what…. uss ki ringtone Pakistani drama ki thi….”

We also got some sense and characterization of Falak’s parents and how their personalities would have shaped Falak’s self obsessed lifestyle. We see on one hand Falak’s mom getting annoyed at their housemaid on matters of daily chores, to then her caring side when this housemaid is in need of financial help. Lot more will evolve here I am sure how Falak’s mom and naani will seem to interact as Falak’s character outgrows her current lifestyle.

This story of Falak’s self obsessed lifestyle to how she falls head over heels for Salman Ansar (Meekail Zulfiqar) has been told in perfect words by the writer, Umera Ahmed. Once again, Sarmad Khoosat (the director) not only visualizes this perfectly on the screen, but on canvas as well when it came to the publicity poster.

Mohib Mirza’s character (Hamza) I think will have some hard work to do and will be challenging for him since the actual novel did not have Hamza anywhere in the story. He’s going good.

The technical team members have done a great job with the final visuals and the background score has been perfectly fit in to the mix. I think it’s about time HUM TV moves on to an HD platform (MPEG 4 stream) as it will do more justice to the high production values they associate to their name. This is my honest suggestion having been a fan of their technical skills.

Back to Shehr e Zaat, as in the coming weeks we will see how Falak and Salman (characters with totally different personalities) get to connect or perhaps disconnect, for good or worse, during their course of evolution. That remains to be seen.

Unfortunately, in Canada we do not have a direct HUM TV feed, but thankfully, HUM TV’s YouTube channel here has the full episodes in good quality. For the gadget geeks out there, if your TV or media player connected to the TV has YouTube, all you do is create a personal playlist on YouTube, add the episodes to your playlist and then watch it on your Flat Panel TV, it’s that easy!

Here is the link to HUM TV’s Shehr e Zaat playlist (that includes the promos and the episodes):

Shehr e Zaat is over now and has left us with mixed thoughts. While it could not become the Humsafar which we had hoped for, it did leave a few questions that need to be answered, as we watched the final episode. Shehr e Zaat remained a complicated journey of self realization that in our opinion did not transpire well on the screen. The emotional depth main characters required never got visualized the way the writer (Umera Ahmad) would have wanted. Perhaps, written stories and narration sometimes leave more of an impression than a visual directorial effort ? We would let the viewers decide.

Mahira Khan performed and acted well, Mikael’s character was confusing and not very assertively portrayed, Samina Pirzada as the annoying naani (grandmother) had nothing to offer apart from reconciliation for all the impractical reasons and betterment of womenfolk!

In the end, why is it that it’s always women who end up being on the weaker side and the one who has to always make compromises in Pakistani dramas ?

What makes you watch Shehr e Zaat so far (Two choices allowed)

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Published July 8, 2012 on www.ApnaHub.ca 

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