While the recently concluded drama Ashk on Geo was trashed by the viewers for reasons as varied as repetition of Fawad Khan’s role as a brooding husband to being long-winded to inappropriately showing a married man living with his girlfriend, I however found the following redeeming points in Ashk:
- The title song sung Ashk Hai ya Ishq Hai by Sajjad Ali was haunting and captured the angst of someone caught between being alive or dead.
- The character of Mehru played ably by film star Resham was inspiring: for here was this woman who stuck to her ground for wanting to marry Bilal, a man below her caste and class.
- The character of Rohail (Fawad Khan): a modern day Muslim man who drinks beer behind his mother’s back and hits the pub with his buddies and is mostly unapologetic about it. More importantly he is not shown as this evil person who stereotypically drinks and sleeps with his girlfriend even though he is married. His was a nuanced character who was basically a decent guy and had normal flaws like other men.
- The character of Zaibu (Neelam Muneer) who gets back at her husband by apparently having an affair.
- The depiction of the mazar (mausoleum) culture as patronized by all classes in the hinterlands of Punjab was also novel since our prime time dramas penned by the likes of Umera Ahmed condemns this folksy brand of Islam, not appreciating the fact that this mazar culture was a pioneer of Sufi Islam in the Indian Subcontinent.
- The attachment of Malik’s family especially his daughters Zaibu and Mehru to their long-time servants Ajjoo and Deenga was endearing and touching.
- The lush cinematography capturing the contours of a village filled with lovely green farmland, the sunsets and the sunrises, the typical havelis and the mazar. All this made it a visual treat.