Needless to say, these two drama serials – Mann Mayal and Dillagi – are running ruining our lives these days because most of us are obsessed. Saturday nights are spent wondering whether Mohid and Anmol will have a fairy tale ending and Monday nights are spent cursing the day we decided to watch Mann Mayal. Wedged in between, we still watch Udaari (Sunday) but honestly, Sajida and Zebo’s plight has fallen secondary in comparison to the complications in Anmol and Mannu’s lives.
So it’s impossible not to compare.
Anmol is beautiful, strong and independent. She has the will to be the proverbial son that her widowed mother never had. Mannu, on the other hand, is a complete liability. She was a below average student, she brought embarrassment to her parents when she ran away to be with Salahuddin and then she resigned to a life of misery because it was “the right thing to do”. And in a stroke of all strokes, she proclaimed herself cursed or “manhoos” and promised to stay away from Salahuddin if it came with a guarantee of his health and life.
The tears = the ratings
We know that tears equate to ratings and Mannu’s watersheds have ascertained the success of Mann Mayal. But there’s a lot more respect for the writer (Faiza Iftikhar) and director (Nadeem Baig) of Dillagi, who took the risk of narrating the story of an unconventionally strong girl. Kudos to Mehwish Hayat for portraying Anmol so well. On the contrary, it’s hard to say what medication Mann Mayal’s writer (Samira Fazal) and director (Haseeb Hassan) were on when they were writing and then stretching Mann Mayal from 25 episodes to 30+. And what could Maya Ali have possibly been thinking when she agreed to play the most regressive woman in drama history. But then ratings equate to success and success translates to riches and here’s the catch: Humayun Saeed (his wife, actually) are co-producers on both plays. Now that’s quite a win-win!
Mannu is actually from a well-off background and yet she wears an unflattering bechargi that is inexcusable. Anmol, on the other hand, lost her father early in life and is completely self made and though she too is modestly dressed, she wears her strength-her attitude-on her sleeve. Once life and love let her down, Mannu steps on a path of self-destruction and wallows for 30-odd episodes; she whines and weeps constantly and consistently to the point that that you could rename the Weeping Willow after her. Anmol, on the other hand, is fiery and resolute to tackle anything and anyone who comes in her way. Anmol has our vote here too.
Pakistan’s dramas are immensely popular across the board, which is why producers have a responsibility beyond ‘giving the people want they want’, in this case miserable, sobbing heroines. Dramas need to give the masses role models and while Mohid and Anmol rise to all expectations, sadly Salahuddin and Manahil fall with a thud. Ironically, Saba Hamid’s character in Dillagi is as brilliantly etched and portrayed as her character in Mann Mayal is oppressed. And when it comes to the heroes, Dillagi’s besotted, chivalrous and strong Mohid is unquestionably more desirable than Mann Mayal’s indecisive and weak Salahuddin.
So, which play would you vote for?