Hamza Ali Abbasi and Maya Ali bring old school romance back to life in this new serial but will it stay this way?
The general pace of life these days is so fast and turbulent that one has to make a conscious effort to pull the reigns and slow down…enough to park in front of the television and watch a one hour drama serial at the same time every week. Mann Mayal, promoted heavily as the next big thing on television (since Humsafar?) begged for a chance. And so ten minutes into inaugural commercials, when MM actually began, I was very interested.
I also have to admit that Hamza Ali Abbasi was the biggest attraction, to begin with. I haven’t seen Pyare Afzal but have heard and read enough about him to be intrigued. Was he a young, good-looking actor rising on his own steam or was he just another over-hyped superstar. He won awards for Pyare Afzal and made a strong impression in Waar but Abbasi’s role in Jawani Phir Nahi Aani, to be honest, was not challenging enough to enable an evaluation.
The chemistry between Sallu and Mannu is strong but will it stay that way?
Back to Mann Mayal, the first episode began by establishing the premise of the play and introducing its primary characters. There’s Minahil/Mannu (Maya Ali), the leading lady who comes from a well settled and visibly wealthy home. She’s quite a brat (as much as one can be in a conservative household) and has never gotten used to working/studying hard, which is why she fails her exam. Almost half of the first episode is devoted to the announcement of her result. In the other, simpler house is Rabia/Beeya (Aiman Khan), Mannu’s best friend and her brother Salahuddin/Sallu (Hamza Ali Abbasi) who comes across as a deep, no nonsense and yet dependable figure.
This part of the drama is based in Hyderabad but the confusion arises in placing the time and era. The language and treatment is a little archaic, with Mannu punctuating every exclamation with a “Hai Allah!” and people hiding things from her – like her result and her rishta – which was all quite reminiscent of a film from the fifties. Sallu sees Mannu’s face in his text books, again very old fashioned, and the whole set up suggests nothing to place Mann Mayal in this day and age.
Not that there’s anything wrong with an old fashioned romance. The way Mannu and Sallu are attracted to each other is endearing. And both actors hold their own when it comes to performances. Maya Ali may go overboard every now and then but in this ocean of wallflowers and victims, it is refreshing to see a female protagonist who is boisterous and lively and unafraid to speak her mind. And she doesn’t whine or weep, even when she fails. Let’s hope it stays this way. Hamza Ali Abbasi is tailor made for the role of protective and hard working elder brother or hero. He does dominate the screen whenever he makes an appearance and it’s not too difficult to understand why an uncomplicated and simple girl would fall for him. The episode ends with some chemistry and sparks flying off some simple hand holding. It left one looking forward to episode two.
Things will get complicated, of course, and these seemingly straightforward characters will have shades and dimensions to them. It’ll be interesting to see how and where this romance unravels.
– Watch this space for a review of Episode Two