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17 Mar

Zindagi Gulzar Hai 16

The story in Zindagi Gulzar Hai is progressing at snail’s pace – I think everyone following it wants ‘the wedding’ to happen - however there are moments in every episode that make the speed acceptable. One can allow concessions in pace because the performances are great and the messages that lie between the lines are important and relevant to women in Pakistan today. In this episode that message points at social disparity and the importance of post, position and class when building relationships (Murtaza is inching his way into Rafia’s life because his daughters are all well-settled and successful) and in proposing new relationships. It’s Zaroon’s mother who brings out the status difference between both households and deems marriage between...
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3 Mar

Lend us a ‘foreign’ hand, will you?

We love to complain about ‘outside influences’ in our cinemas, our TV screens and our music but it’s high time to introspect and fix what’s wrong within. (Published in Dawn Images on Sunday, March 3 2013) The horror! The horror! The shock to see a well-known Indian face on a Pakistani billboard is absolutely scandalous. Reality check: these celebrity faces wouldn’t be so well-known if we, as a nation, weren’t so deliriously besotted with Bollywood! Indian films are released in our cinemas, Indian and Turkish TV serials are put up on our cable channels and Indian songs blare at our weddings where we dance the nights away with Radha, Munni, Sheila and Chikni Chameli. Then why the hue and cry over a...
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2 Mar

Zindagi Gulzar Hai 14

Sanam Saeed and I at Cafe 44, where I interviewed her for Herald recently. Photo: Mallika Abba Finally, an episode devoted purely to Kashaf-Zaroon interaction, with very little of their family woes as interruption. This episode took the story forward with a proposal that we could have guessed was coming. Where and who it would come from was a complete surprise though, and it took Kashaf by surprise as much as it did us. Meanwhile, the moral lesson of the story continued to interweave itself through the drama. Posted in Badin, Kashaf is well endorsed with a lifestyle that she could only have hoped for a year ago. We remember the times when she would walk miles to...
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24 Feb

Zindagi Gulzar Hai: 13

The drama inches ahead in this episode, leaving us a little frustrated with the pace but also giving us more time to ponder upon the message that must infiltrate our minds more than the obsession with the Kashaf-Zaroon love story. One of the cast members, someone I bumped into several weeks ago, confirmed that they would get married (we already know that, right?) and added that there would be no predictable romance. Kashaf and Zaroon will not stop quarreling. Perfect. Now all we have to do is wait. Meanwhile… “We were not inflicted with miseries by society but by our own father.” Kashaf, who has been posted somewhere in Interior Sindh, sums up her inability to forgive her father. She says she...
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8 Feb

An informal chat with Sanam aka Kashaf these days

Met Sanam at Cafe 44 today and she was as down to earth and focused as she was when she started out. From Roxie Hart to Kashaf Murtaza she has shifted gears effortlessly. The industry needs more like her. Why do you think Zindagi Gulzar Hai works? It works because it has Fawad. It works because his fans have their heart throb in it. Plus, my character is a very difficult person and it intrigues them to see him struggling. What do you like about your character? I like that she’s afraid of nothing. She is very conscious of herself, as any girl in her situation would be, but she’s a bold soul to attack her circumstances and her father the way...
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28 Jan

Zindagi Gulzar Hai 9

Last week passed with one question on the mind. Would Zaroon slap Kashaf? I haven’t read the book but those who have (and have been talking about it incessantly) shared that Zaroon does slap Kashaf in Umera Ahmad’s original story. When Kashaf overhears him criticizing and mocking her “middle class mentality” in the college library she confronts him and tears up his notes in fury. She hurls accusations right back at him, calling him a myopic low life who cannot respect others because he has no respect of his own. This is when he slaps her. Or at least in the book he does. We aren’t living in the Medieval times and physically assaulting a lady isn’t something any hero, no matter...
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20 Jan

Zindagi Gulzar Hai: Episode 8

It takes an intelligent balance of story-telling, dialogue and characterization to ensure an effective play and that’s precisely what Zindagi Gulzar Hai is achieving more and more of as it gains momentum. There are enough sob-stories going around; stories that play up oppression and depression but here we have one that is pleasant despite being just as real as the tragedies we are fed on a regular basis. This is a love story between two hot-headed, intensely proud and intelligent people and the way Sultana Siddiqui is spinning it (with fabulous casting), every episode is turning more and more addictive. Will Zaroon slap Kashaf in the next episode? I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Till then, the plot of their...
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8 Dec

Zindagi Gulzar Hai: episode 2

Can Fawad and Sanam replace the Fawad and Mahira magic? The pace of the story picks up with a ‘cute meet’ between Zaroon and Kashaf. He actually nudges her aside when they’re all swarmed around the notice board to see the list of selected students and he makes fun of her name when she’s standing right behind him. Knowing that he will get besotted and that they will fall in love (wishful thinking?) it’ll be interesting to see how this romance unravels. Not that it’ll be simple for Kashaf to fall in love and follow her heart. It’s bad enough – as we are shown in this episode – that she’s been admitted to a co-ed MBA program....
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1 Dec

Zindagi Gulzar Hai: Episode 1

Positioned as the next Humsafar, Hum TV’s latest drama serial - Zindagi Gulzar Hai - premiered to a fairly strong start tonight. ‘Will it be the next Humsafar?’ was the question on everyone’s mind and it was inevitable to not draw comparisons between the stories and the characters of both serials. Though some basic elements may have appeared similar on the surface, there were enough hints that they would surely diverge as the story evolved. Irrespectively, ZGH has the makings of a riveting show. Can Zindagi Gulzar Hai be the next Humsafar? As an adaptation of Umera Ahmed’s popular novel of the same title, Zindagi Gulzar Hai (just like Humsafar) has a fairy tale factor to it. Kashaf...
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