Sanam Saeed’s Ek Kasak Rah Gayee her weakest acting job so far

Directed by Dilawar Malik, Sanam Saeed is Paras, daughter of a maulvi who died when she was very young. After completing her education she joins an NGO, headed by Bia (Hina Bayat) who is quite fond of her. Paras lives with her sister and her mother (Naila Jaffrey) along with her religious minded taya, Javed Sheikh and his family.

Needless to say her uncle’s family objects to Paras working and keeping late hours. She does not pay attention to these objections and continues working and speaking where she feels her taya and his family are being unjust towards her family.

Meanwhile Bia’s brother, Shehryar played by Mikaal Zulfikar (he looks more like Hina Bayat’s son, anyway…) runs his own business and has a girlfriend Rania. Rania’s father is not happy with their relationship due to some inexplicable reason.

after a couple of episodes it is discovered that Shehryar has a kidney problem and unsurprisingly Paras is the perfect match to donate a kidney to him. Shehryar marries Paras leaving Rania devastated who attempts suicide and Shehryar then secretly marries her.

Frankly, the serial is badly directed, the roles are poorly sketched and is marred by half-hearted acting. Sanam as Paras is particularly unconvincing, from an outspoken, independent, clear-headed woman she becomes a passive, tolerant, dependent spouse which was quite off-putting. There is no chemistry between her and Mikaal, making her choice of working in Ek Kasak Rah Gayee as her weakest role so far.


Sanam Saeed in Kadurat


Sanam essays a dark role in Kudurat (malice, resentment) and showcases her diverse talent with great relish. As Mina, daughter of a businessman Mahmood (Deepak Perwani), she particularly enjoys tormenting her step-family whom her father acquires after he remarried when Mina’s mother dies. Never reconciling to the fact that there are others who will be sharing her father’s affections, she enlists the help of her friend Shaheen, whom she met when she was studying at a hostel, to torture her step-family that includes step-mother Attiqa (an unconvincing Angeline Malik), step-sister Alina and step-brother Asad. In the beginning they are quite childish when Mina ruins Alina’s birthday celebration initially when she disappears from the house with Shaheen and walks late into the party and then goes on to fake-faint thus diverting everyone’s attention towards her.

Their plans become further sinister when Mina sabotages the relationship of Alina with her fiancé and then contrives a situation in which her father has no choice but to marry her friend Shaheen. After this things go out of control when Mina becomes the victim of Shaheen’s evil designs. But by then nobody is ready to believe Mina and she gets herself into big trouble. Penned by Zoha Hassan, who had earlier written my all time favourite serial Harjaee on Indus TV and starring Atiqa Odho and Faisal Qureshi, has written Mina as a mostly dark role. Sanam Saeed holds her own against the star cast and is convincing when she is at a vulnerable point in her life. As such she does not have a romantic interest but her main love interest is her father who cannot give her full attention so she diverts her attention to various men that surround her but is unable to commit any of them.

Sanam Saeed had earlier played a negative role in Daam, the possessive sister Aamina Sheikh drama and that also was the debut of the Pakistani John Abraham Adeel Hussain in 2010. Sanam played the role of Aamina’s sister in law who manages to marry Adeel Hussain after she breaks up with her fiancé for a flimsy reason. Her marriage to Adeel Hussain is miserable because of her complexes and insecurities. She was fairly subdued here but in Kudurat she fully and successfully channels her dark side.


THE episode’s title sequence opens with a view of Gotham City-like place with shadowy skyscrapers looming in the background and ambulances racing by with sirens wailing. The camera then pans to a burly host clad in a military combat vest, with stubble and sunglasses, hands on his hips, standing next to a large bullseye.

This is not the trailer of a Batman movie nor of the Anil Kapoor-helmed TV show 24 but one of several non-fictional crime shows currently running on Pakistani news channels. The hosts of these shows identify so-called social evil in any city, carry out their own investigation and inform the police, who are happy to carry out a raid.

In a recent episode the show’s team stopped college students coming from what was described as a brothel in an apartment block, threatened to expose their wrongdoings to their parents and run their footage on TV. The scared boys handed their mobile phones to the host who proceeded to note the phone numbers of people running the brothel. The host also conducts SWOT-style raids with policemen in tow. At the end of each episode the host admonishes the public for keeping silent and urges them to speak up against evildoers lurking in their mohallas.

Coupled with themes that tap into the moral panic alongside the bizarre — such as mobile text messages are leading young people astray and stealing real hair from graveyards for hair transplants — announced by hyper-excited voiceovers and graphics, all these elements make for vivid visuals and charged drama. The anchorpersons claim their shows are a platform for the common man to obtain justice, whereas for detractors these shows are perpetuating vigilante justice.

“Pakistan is our country and we have to help our people,” says Sherry, the burly host of a crime show. “The poor have nowhere to go and police can do only so much. The people trust us more. They first get in touch with the media as they feel that we are effective in solving their problems.” Sharea Faisal SP Ali Asif, who has been featured in some crime shows, also concurs with Sherry’s view. “There is a [negative] perception of law enforcement agencies but when they see us on television, the medium is such that it confirms that we have indeed done a [positive] job in the form of raids and arrests. It reinstates the public’s faith in the police.”

He may have a point. But the issue is that the shows are going further, as a member of the editorial committee at a TV channel points out, and many of these anchorpersons are blurring the lines between crime shows and policing which is a problem.

“Robberies are a common occurrence. So should one carry out one’s own investigation, nab the culprit and douse him with petrol and burn him alive?” wonders Wusutullah Khan, broadcast journalist and columnist.

“These shows have become the prosecutor, court and judge. This means the police and the government should be disbanded. Raising an issue is a news channel’s job but taking the law into one’s own hands is not.”

Khan is unimpressed with the argument that these shows are quite popular. “Who is deciding what the viewer likes and dislikes and how it is being measured. A few hundred telemeters in a population of 180 million are a faulty way of measurement. If these shows are so popular then why is it that when one goes to social gatherings people express their disdain for these shows? Why are these likes not being expressed on the social media? And if the hosts say that they receive appreciative calls then they need to tell us how many critical calls they receive. Are these not parameters for viewers’ likes and dislikes?”

Khan also points to an ironic situation in this debate: “Instead of confronting the police why they have not been able to eradicate a crime in their locality, the hosts instead express their thanks to the police for letting their team tag along. It seems the police were so innocent that they had no idea what was happening in their area till these hosts showed up!”

Another important aspect of such shows is that they highlight police and crime show team barging into people’s houses without warrants. “How can you do this? When will this stop?”

First published in Dawn newspaper on January 14, 2014

A lovely tribute to folk singer Reshma


Raat Gaye

PTV Home

On November 23 Saturday, Syed Wasi Shah host of Raat Gaye, a well-produced cultural and literary late night show on PTV Home, paid tribute to the beloved folk singer Reshma.

For Reshma’s tribute Syed Wasi Shah invited an erudite and musically sound gentleman (his name unfortunately I am forgetting at the moment) and who was closely associated with Khwaja Khurshid Anwar, the ace film music director. A folk singer Farah Lal and her group of musicians were also invited to the show. In between Wasi Shah also placed phone calls to singers and music connoisseurs who paid tribute to the recently deceased singer.

According to the gentleman one of Reshma’s distinctive musical quality was her khola-dhula singing. Also the musicians had to follow her singing tempo unlike the other way round hence it was a challenge to sing with her. Wasi Shah also narrated the legendary story of Reshma’s discovery. Salim Gilani of Radio Pakistan found her singing in the streets of Karachi with her band of fellow nomads; Reshma belonged to a gypsy clan from Bikaner in Rajasthan, and her singing mesmerized Salim Gilani. He then found her singing about two years later at a shrine and the rest they say is history. In between the conversation, were clips of her interview and singing from PTV archives, which were a joy to hear and listen.

Both Wasi Shah and the gentleman spoke of Reshma’s simplicity that remained unspoiled despite the fact that she had travelled the world and rubbed shoulders with powerful leaders and politicians. Actress Reshma, ghazal singer Tahira Syed and folk singer Babar Niazi shared their sentiments via phone about Reshma. Tahira Syed said that her mother Malika Pukhraj was quite fond of Reshma and would often invite her home to sing for her. Babar Niazi, son of folk singer Tufail Niazi, also spoke fondly of Reshma and her staying over along with her toddler son at their home and evenings were filled with her singing. He then hummed a tukra or probably a Maand changing the entire mood of the show. Farah Lal also hummed along. Wasi Shah then requested Farah Lal to sing such pieces but with minimum music accompaniment and its then this talented singer’s vocal proficiency came out and made the listening experience magical.

Unfortunately, there are no clips available of the program, nor of Reshma’s interview, however I have gathered a couple of links to some of her famous numbers such as Akhiyaan Nu Rehn De, Goriye Mein Jana Pardes, Lambi Judaai and Ve Main Chori Chori Teray Naal, Meri Humjoliyan.

For a change, Shaista discusses divorced women in her morning show

Shaista Lodhi, morning show host
Channel: Geo

Name of the show: Utho Jago Pakistan

Date of broadcast: October 10, 2013

I was totally caught off guard on Thursday night by the theme of Shaista Lodhi’s (formerly known as Shaista Wahidi) show in which she discussed the trauma a woman undergoes during a divorce. She invited Farah Hussain, a morning show host on ATV who had recently been through a divorce and together the women discussed the issue at length while shedding buckets of tears.

Shaista has been notorious for centering her shows on the elaborate rituals of marriage and setting the trend albeit in an unhealthy manner. Following the herd mentality other morning shows, Nida Pasha on ARY Digital comes to mind, too started to copy the format all hoping to raise their TRPs.

Beginning her career as an announcer for PTV, Farah Hussain’s claim to fame was a drama serial Bandhan and her role as Dil Aapi. In the show she discussed her background, her career paths, challenges of working on a state controlled TV channel, why she quit acting to become homemaker and finally how she ended up as a host for a morning show on ATV.

The subject of divorce came into discussion when Farah Hussain told her about a cybercrime in which a young boy had somehow managed to get her cell number and imitating her voice would call up celebs, politicians, and other high-profile people and started online affairs and procuring expensive gifts using her identity. Farah complained to the FIA, and she said through the efforts of former IG Afzal Ali Shigri, the boy was caught red-handed. She does not say whether she filed a case against him.

Shaista then narrated that she too was maligned on the social media and at a time when she was going through one of the most painful time of her life, her divorce. “We were being legally separated even though we were living apart for quite sometime.” Not taking names, she said that her name was linked to someone and based on those false allegations there were things written on the social media. She said she was grateful that her organization (meaning Geo) took a firm stand and took action (meaning legal notices) against the offenders. As a result the false news on social media were taken off.

But she pointed out a pertinent matter: that of the damage it wreaks on one’s family. Shaista who has three children said that one day she was questioned by her son about these alleged rumors. Another societal flaw she pointed out was just because she and other women appear on TV they are easy targets since some people wrongly believe that they have no family and hence no izzat.

Farah Hussain, now Farah Sadia, spoke about her former husband’s relentless pursuit of her and how she fell for his charms and relented and married him. When amid tears Shaista asked her why she thought her marriage fell apart, Farah blamed it on bad luck.

However later as the show progressed, Farah gave lot more details about the end of her 14-year marriage. It seemed her husband and her in-laws were unhappy with her showbiz career. However her husband did not perhaps have a proper job and they went through tough times and she had no choice but to go back to work to support herself and her two sons. When Farah told her that things were so bad that sometimes she didn’t have money to buy pampers for her babies or even food, Shaista broke down and at this point the show became a tear-fest and felt as if one had intruded into someone’s privacy.

After a while Shaista spoke to her other issues such as the challenges one faces as a divorced woman raising two sons, the stigma of being divorced and the assumption that hosting morning shows means an end to one’s marriage.

Other than her breakdown, which is understandable since she recently was divorced, Shaista was pretty much in control, spoke less and let her guest do the talking. Farah was quite frank but her curious mix of English with smattering of Urdu was most annoying and she would not finish narrating one anecdote when she would jump to another one was surprising considering that as a morning show host she would be aware of such pitfalls.

Links to the show:

Mira Sethi was the best part in Silvatein

Channel: ARY Digital

First broadcast on: February 7, 2013

Cast: Aamina Sheikh as Zeb, Adeel Hussain as Rayyan, Mira Sethi as Natasha, Daniyal Raheel as Bilal or Chotu, Rabia Noreen as Ammi, Mohammed Ahmed as Abbu, Vasay Chaudhry as Meekal, Maheen Rizvi as Muneeze

Writer: Samira Fazal

Director: Shehrezad Sheikh


Sameera Fazal’s last offering Bari Aapa was about the tense relationship between two sisters Zubaida (Savera Nadeem) and Firdous (Arjumand Raheem). Both sisters are married and have grown children yet they never outgrow their sibling rivalry of childhood and it turns into full-blown adult rivalry leading to serious consequences for their families.

Silvatein, is Sameera Fazal’s latest drama serial touching upon the same theme about two sisters whose childhood sibling rivalry turns into adult rivalry except the only difference here is they both end up marrying two brothers and now as bhabhi devrani they both have to negotiate their identity and space in their new household with the younger one Natasha being the more insecure and paranoid for she is married to the less financially off brother Bilal. The older sister Zeb is married to Rayan, a divorcee with a son, who has a flourishing business in the US and as the older brother is regarded highly by his family. Inadvertently Zeb’s position is relatively stronger.

In Bari Aapa Firdous’s son is interested in marrying her older sister Zubaida’s daughter but Firdous will have none of it and this leads to confrontation between the two sisters. The narrative also delved into the roles of their husbands and their part in the rivalries which made the viewing of the drama gripping along with outstanding acting by Savera, Arjumand Raheem, Nouman Ejaz.

In Silvatein the conflict between the two sisters draw their husbands with each having to back their wives to maintain peace in their household.

Even though the theme was familiar, the treatment of the drama serial was fresh in terms of subtlety, complexity of characters and natural performances. More importantly, it steered clear from stereotypes, The couples had good chemistry especially Zeb and Rayan but that is also because Adeel and Aamina Sheikh have previously worked together in Daam as brother-sister duo and in Mora Piya as a couple. Mira Sethi, daughter of journalist and Aapas Ki Baat host Najam Sethi and Jugnu Mohsin, editor of Friday times and GT, as Natasha is a revelation. As a neurotic, insecure, reckless sister she completely owned her character and for a debut this was one hell of a confident performance.

Silavatein raised interesting questions. For instance should a person change completely after marriage. This torments Rayan who feels that his wife Zeb has changed way beyond recognition that he wants the old Zeb, the one he met before marriage who according to him was lively, loud and talkative. He feels that this new person is doing things for him that is not genuine and hence feels cheated. Zeb counteracts by saying that it is normal for people to change after marriage and one couldn’t help but agree with this myth or notion or whatever you may call it as one has been conditioned especially a woman has been conditioned to believe that after marriage she has to change.

Even Bilal changes into a quiet, unquestioning husband to Natasha in order to maintain harmony in their relationship. However, this does not bother Natasha as she wants Bilal to be an unquestioning spouse.

Another point raised in the serial was not having children in order to save or prolong a marriage. This again is brought up between Rayan and Zeb who have a complicated relationship. This 24-episode which dragged out a little bit in the end, and had some interesting characters disappear suddenly (Muneeze, the phuppo and Mikaal), was otherwise a better offering.

Ramzan TV Sightings- mostly pathetic and same old

July 2013
Channels: Geo, ARY digital, Abb Takk, Hum2

Inevitably one had to see what the slick self-styled Islamic televangelist Amir Liaquat was up to in his Geo Amaan Ramzan show. Looking dapper in a sherwani, must say his looks and gut are taut even to this day, he goes up to a kid, celebrating her roza khushai, first fast celebration, and asks if her mom made her clothes. The kid said her mother bought it for her. To which Sick Liaquat says with a patronizing tone of course, didn’t you wish your mother had stitched your clothes?!!!

The show has already garnered controversy when in during an episode he played the role of Bilquis Edhi, the humanitarian’s wife who gives away babies for adoption, Prick Liaquat also gave away two babies for adoption. In another episode he invited an Internet singer sensation Tahir Shah and was reportedly obnoxious towards his guest.


On Hum2 Amjad Sabri, who hails from the illustrious family of notable qawwals –the Sabris, tarnished the art when while doing his naqqara he invited youngsters to dance and one of the youngsters ended up doing a nagin naach (snake dance) to a qawwali and other little kids did their Bollywood thumkas. His father Ghulam Farid Sabri and his brother Maqbool Sabri, one of the topmost qawwals of their time, must have been turning in their graves when their scion did this blasphemous act.

ali haider ramzan
Abb Takk, the new entrant in a sea of TV channels, has pop singer now sufi artist Ali Haider, helming a show Ya Rehman Ya Rahim Ramazan. With a pleasant voice, handsome face, donning well-fitted gorgeous sherwanis on his ageless physique, Ali is a wholesome host asking interesting questions from the panel of ulema that come to his show. Blessed with a melodious voice he often sings a religious song along with an accompanying qawwal groups. He takes live calls from callers who are troubled with trivial religious questions and is giving away gifts for answering questions correctly in his show.


JJ aka Junaid Jamshed and Waseem Badami host the Sehri transmission on ARY digital. The first part of the show is all about the self-styled Islamic scholar JJ, his thoughts and explanations about religious matters and as other Islamic scholars who in order to emphasize that they are truly Arabicised, pronouncing the ains in the Arabic fashion, JJ too utters words such as ashiq, arif, abid in an Arab manner except that it is unnecessary and sound pretentious. Not one to let go of his singing voice he regaled his mostly female audience with Naats and Hamds. Scholar sb in his sharaiee dadhee (shariat beard) and solid colored shallu kameez with the shallu also adhering to shariat along with Waseem Badami chat with a panel of Ulema about conceptual religious matters such as Ibadat and take audience’s questions who are more concerned about practical matters for instance what part of namaz to say if one has had an accident and the likes.