“Ashk”: A star studded disappointment
To claim that “Ashk” (formerly referred to as “Bandhan” throughout Facebook) was one of the most highly-awaited drama serials of this season would be understating the actual hype surrounding it. Avid fans were almost counting minutes to the time the first episode would go on air.
So what actually transpired when the serial actually started?
Here are my top picks for the highs and the lows of “Ashk“!
1 – The cast comprises of a mixture of veteran and novice figures – Fawad Khan, Mehreen Raheel, Neelam Munir, Resham, Seemi Raheel, Syed Yorguc Tipu Shariff, Sohail Sameer, Irfan Khoosat, and Imran Bukhari.
2 – The lead couples are definitely fresh. Even though Fawad Khan and Mehreen Raheel came together in “Dastaan” (on Hum TV), the pairing of Neelam Munir with Fawad Khan and Imran Bukhari, and that of Resham with Sohail Sameer is a first.
3 – Thus far, the characters of ‘Rohail’ (Fawad Khan) and ‘Zaibunnisa’ or ‘Zaibu’ (Neelam Munir) probably have the best on-screen chemistry. Their scenes are the highlight of almost every episode.
4 – The writer, Zafar Mairaj, has tried to address multiple social issues in this serial. The social setup in rural areas, arranged marriages and the issues of getting married to anyone who is in a ‘lower caste’ have been addressed so far.
5 – The portrayal of the relationship between father-daughter and mother-son are heart warming at best.
6 – The cinematography is breathtaking. The shots of rural Punjab indicate commendable camera work.
7 – The drama serial goes beyond typical, regressive stories (read, in-law politics and the likes). The female leads are as empowered as they could be. The issues revolve mainly around the decisions and choices of the characters, featuring such emotions as revenge, responsibility, and complexes.
The characterisation is excellent as it goes beyond the usual black-and-white characters, and attempts to portray real people with genuine problems.
The fact that I am writing this list is sure to get me into the list of those who have the “Humsafar” hangover. Yes, critiquing this serial from any angle touches upon a nerve, and the critics are promptly told that,
‘They don’t like this serial because they are comparing it to “Humsafar“’.
1 –The truth is another Sarmad-directed serial starring Mahira Khan is currently on air (“Shehr-e-Zaat“). It is currently leading the ratings, and is a generally well-liked serial. So it really isn’t a case of a “Humsafar” hangover.
2 – The major issue with this story is the script – the writer has the right ideas, but somehow, it has translated into a drama serial that has very long scenes, characters delivering long, preachy monologues, and severe issues of continuity and editing which sometimes make the story very incoherent, abrupt and hard to follow.
3 – Smoking and drinking – two practices which constitute social vices – are shown to be the norm. It is actually quite alarming to note the way in which characters get drunk in this serial.
4 – The family-unfriendly dialogues are another eyebrow-raiser. Generally, most of the sensitive dialogues (pertaining to marital relationships especially) have been penned crudely and delivered even more poorly.
5 – The song sequences are entirely too much, and almost always come at a time when the viewers want to see more of the story and less of such fillers. Within eight episodes, there have been at least three to four song sequences.
6 – In almost every episode, the main twist is revealed in the promo. It is either that, or the preview is so bland you don’t even feel like watching the episode.
7 – Ironically, even though this is supposed to be a ‘love story’ you cannot really feel anything for the lead couples. Resham and Sohail Sameer sport the same pained expression in almost every scene, and it is extremely hard to imagine that them being in love.
Overall, “Ashk” has been a huge disappointment for me.
Even with so many ingredients in place to categorise it as a mega serial, the shortfall in terms of the story and the script renders most of the episodes banal and boring. There is literally no suspense- the video of the official sound track has all but given away the crucial details of the story. And whatever little anticipation remains was cut short by the promos released by Geo Entertainment.
So even with a director like Sarmad Khoosat and a major production house like 7th Sky Entertainment behind it, the latest Fawad Khan starrer has had avid viewers like me wondering what has gone so terribly wrong in a drama serial with so much potential.
Read more by Hareem here.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.