“Ashk”: A star studded disappointment

Published: August 1, 2012

Overall, Ashk has been a huge disappointment for me. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

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.

After director Sarmad Khoosat’s mega hit, “Humsafar“, expectations had rocketed, and “Ashk” was supposed to be ‘the one’ – the season’s best of the best.

So what actually transpired when the serial actually started?

Here are my top picks for the highs and the lows of “Ashk“!

The highs!

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 lows!

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.

Hareem.Ahmed

Hareem Ahmed

A passionate reviewer and critic of dramas and soaps who blogs at dramapakistani.net./

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • joinzaheer

    so beautifully been put in words… yeah it does…Recommend

  • Awans

    Well the most interesting Drama right now is Sirat E Mustaqeem a production of Express Entertainment and is pretty famous as well but no one is covering that drama at all. Please write some Article on Sirat e Mustaqeem as well as my family After Hamsafar enjoy Sirat e Mustaqeem the most.

    Here are all the episodes until now of this Drama.

    http://www.awazfun.pk/drama/home/428/Sirat-E-MustaqimRecommend

  • Hareem

    @ Awans

    I have read some very interesting reviews of Sirat-e-Mustaqeem written by my colleague and fellow blogger. You can check them out here:

    http://www.dramapakistani.net/category/exptv/stm/Recommend

  • Ayaaz

    @Awans:
    if you visit dramapakistani.net you will be able to find not only review of Sirat-e-mustaqeem, everyone of its episodes and also other serials on air as well. you can also leave your comments there :)

    by the way excellent review. thankyou! I hope the producers, the actors, the directors get a little wake up call because this drama highlights how far our society has come to tolerate certain things on our screen, extremely valgular dialogues that render the viewer speechless, making it the least family friendly drama, characters getting drunk and smoking it up like its the most normal thing to do. someone please give these producers a little shake.Recommend

  • Mahi

    Resham should QUIT acting!Recommend

  • Huma

    shehr e zaat is good. but its not only with ashk… all the dramas need to stop or severely limit their promos…. takes away all the anticipation… also they need to stop with the “coming up next” between ads…. ruins the whole drama… you already know whats going to happen! very annoying!Recommend

  • Moeed

    zard mausam and bilqees kaur are the best dramas on air these days.

    soha’s character in bilquees kaur is a a true pakistani modern girl……. confident, independent, and boldRecommend

  • sara

    I think the writer was high when he wrote the script. It is totally non-nonsensical! the characters are very weak/with completely undefined personalities. Resham is supposed to be a role model daughter and sister yet her goal in life is to reject every proposal that comes her way so her father is left so dejected that he is forced to marry her choice. When her sister gets trapped into a marriage with Fawad, she makes no effort to clear the air or own up to her actions and happily throws her sister under the bus. The sister is a whole different story altogether, I think sahe is supposed to be bubbly/impulsive but comes across as a deranged individual with the mental capacity of a 3 year old. The dad is supposed to be a level-headed character but shows no such trait when fawad shows interest in the younger daughter, and in fact accuses his daughter of trapping fawad… yeah talk about maturity and trust. The editing of the drama is non-existent. In today’s episode, there is a 2 minute scene of resham sitting on the ja-namaz with music playing in the background- the scene serves no purpose at all and there is the lonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnng and painful scene when fawad wakes up and notices that his young bride is missing and proceeds to look all over the apartment(something he could have easily told her when he found her, but instead the viewers are shown the entire painful sequence of him opening and shutting doors)
    EPIC EPIC FAILLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL
    Sarmad we all LOVE you and humbly request you to be more selective with your teams. you are obviously a really nice guy who can’t say no to anyone, so just hire a manager and let him do that for you.Recommend

  • Saim Ali

    Dramas based on trues stories are ones that touches people’s real life. depicting an individual’s slice of life activities help the producers in endorsing their brands (dramas) easily. If someone misses to watch a particular episode, he/ she may easily watch it as various options are being provided these days.Recommend

  • http://www.cbs.com asbeth

    Well written and well researched article addressed everything about the serial which I and many others were concerned about especially the weak scripting of the drama and characters drinking, felt like this is’nt a Pakistani drama. Kudos 2 ur observation about the title track giving away any hints about the coming episodes. Their are plus point of Ashk like its camerawork by DoP Khizar idrees, Sarmad’s direction trying to get something out of this weak story drama as well as Fawad Khan charisma but they cannot save a serial which’s real problem are writers that wrote it namely Faysal Manzoor [Head of production who also conceived it] and Zafar Mairaj. Recommend