Zindagi Gulzar Hai: I’m not impressed

Published: December 19, 2012
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Sanam Saeed is focused on stepping one foot in front of the other despite the odds weighing down on her, holding her back, who pens the miseries of her life with self-deprecating honesty. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

Sanam Saeed is focused on stepping one foot in front of the other despite the odds weighing down on her, holding her back, who pens the miseries of her life with self-deprecating honesty. PHOTO: PUBLICITY Sanam Saeed is focused on stepping one foot in front of the other despite the odds weighing down on her, holding her back, who pens the miseries of her life with self-deprecating honesty.
PHOTO: PUBLICITY

After receiving countless amounts of messages from my friends to watch the new drama serial, Zindagi Gulzar Hai, I finally spared some time to catch up with the few episodes that have aired so far.

Given the hype surrounding the show, I wasn’t surprised when from the outset, a similar plot was introduced- a plotline that serves the basis for many Pakistani TV series.

It reminded me of the serial, Humsafar.

No, not because the same actor is acting in this drama, though I have to admit it certainly added to the likeness of the two drama serials. It is primarily because, both the serials show an affluent matriarchal family in which the woman, especially the mother, wields unusual authority and teeters on the brink of transgression.

In Zindagi Gulzar Hai, Zaroon’s mother is successful in her affairs and makes a show of it by unduly criticising her husband. In dealing with familial affairs, however, she is often careless and mindless. She is snobbish and does not like being questioned.

The children go about their daily lives, not bound any limitation whatsoever. When someone frowns down upon this, one of the parents shrugs it off in a way that suggests that their children are mature adults.

Yet, the daughter will be seen brazenly wearing a shirt that reads, “Little Miss Jihad“. But that has little to do with the drama. The T-shirt is a story in itself.

On the contrary, we have the lower middle class family that is striving to reach the top.

My concern, however, is not the lower middle class. This, if anything, is portrayed aptly and follows standards of other shows in which there is a sincerity with which the middle class is dealt with. Perhaps it is easier to infuse emotions when we find ourselves confined to a certain lifestyle, and from which we only wish to escape.

Sanam Saeed has played well the role of Kashaf, a girl from a middle class family who is being crushed between the emotional distress of having an uncooperative father and joining an elite university, where she meets her insecurities.

It is easier to deliver a dialogue that makes the viewer feel the character’s pain. It is a challenge, however, to deliver a dialogue that is meant as light-hearted jest. If done wrong, it could make the viewer furrow his brow or make him shake his head with disapproval or both.

There were a couple times when the dialogue was too over the top: the admission result day when Zaroon and his friends mock the girl who outshone Zaroon; the drive back to his home; the scene in which Zaroon’s sister is pestering him to drop her off to a friend’s, and so on. The depiction of ‘spoiled rich kids’ seems a little overdone.

Let’s just say, in those two episodes I watched, my brow furrowed and my head shook with disapproval quite a few times. I understand that it is important to use slang in conversation, but throwing “yaar” in every scene is unnecessary and irksome.

The elite family structure, portrayed in Zindagi Gulzar Hai, is depicted as self-righteous with complete disregard to principles. It is portrayed in such an extreme way that it almost looks unrealistic. Coupled with mediocre acting skills on behalf of a few actors, particularly Mehreen Raheel and Ayesha Omar, it becomes completely unbelievable and at times hilarious. There is little truth in the acting- a truth that so easily lends itself to Sanam Saeed, as she slips into the character of a young girl.

Having said as much, the actors mirroring the typical middle-class Pakistani roles are redeeming the show for me, especially when it comes to the aesthetics. Kashaf is shown dressed in very plain clothes and so are his sisters and mother. Unlike many other dramas where lower middle class girls are caked in makeup, this one shows a very soft, realistic image of the sisters.

Samina Pirzada does not disappoint. Where she can play the role of a rich, glamorously vengeful woman, she also does justice to her role of a government school principal and stressed mother who sacrifices all she can for the best of her children. However, she is not shown to be suppressed, which is great. She has a soft motherly aura, but is also a determined (and at times stern) woman who likes to make her own decisions.

Let’s hope the next few episodes of this show reveal a deeper theme and hook me in. I have unending faith in the Pakistani drama industry and I know that the actors in this show have the capacity to put on something really special.

izzah.khan

Izzah Khan

An English and communication studies student at the University of California who loves reading regional fiction and cooking.

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

  • nf

    this is so badly writtenRecommend

  • http://www.facebook.com xaeema

    Kashaf is shown dressed in very plain clothes and so are his sisters and mother…kashaf is not a boy i guess , This HIS should be replaced with HER Recommend

  • Working Woman

    I know! One can’t judge the drama based on three episodes only. Let the story develop!Recommend

  • Asmaar Aahemd

    between the lines, she also admired the story n cast…….. :)
    a good serial and will grip everyone in the coming episodes…im sureRecommend

  • M

    completely agree with the affluent family bit being overdone – it’s very unrealistic and very annoying.Recommend

  • http://www.risingkarachi.blogspot.com Nouman Ahmed

    Zindagi Gulzar Hai: I’m impressedRecommend

  • Erum

    First of all, this story is entirely different from humsafar in many aspects because in this Kashaf is shown to have big responsibilities and she hates the XY gender just because of her father whereas Zaroon is shown as a conservative man who doesn’t like the so-called independent women!
    But I think Mehreen Raheel has not put her best in it and Hina Bayat should be replaced with some other actress as she is continuously doing the same roles and we are bored now!Recommend

  • jaani

    “After receiving countless amounts of messages from my friends to watch the new drama serial, Zindagi Gulzar Hai, I finally spared some time to catch up with the few episodes that have aired so far”

    why bloggers always pretend to be reluctant viewer of a show they are writing about. is this a new cool thing or what?? Common’ first you spared some time to watch few episodes then again, spared some time to write a blog about it. and yet you are pretending you have no interest in the show. The blog would have been fine without mentioning the reason, why you begin to watch it. Recommend

  • AQ

    Humsafar:I’m not impressed.
    Ishq-e-Mamnu:I’m not impressed.
    Zindagi Gulzar Hai: I’m not impressed.Recommend

  • http://momnagull.com Momna

    If you know the writing style of Umera Ahmed you can easily catch the theme

    Zindaqi gulzar hai is her one of first 2 or 3 novels
    she always portrays the extreme side of every image
    so do she uses in this play

    The elite family structure, portrayed in Zindagi Gulzar Hai, is depicted as self-righteous with complete disregard to principles. It is portrayed in such an extreme way that it almost looks unrealistic.

    This is Umera Ahmed’s style and I think we should atleast give a writer as much space as he or she can interpret his or her thinking and observation

    I do not agree with the article writer because she is only criticizing the story which is already accepted and applauded by the readers of umera ahmed’ novel Zindagi gulzar haiRecommend

  • madiha

    Spot on!!!! The middle-class family is aptly portrayed…..as far as Mehreen Raheel is concerned: well I have yet to see a project in which she puts her bestRecommend

  • Umair Aslam (IBA)

    @Author:
    don’t you think integrating Little Miss Jihad (The movie) with that very stupid Little Miss Jihad (T-shirt ) is a guff. If you blog you need to be an adept blogger.Recommend

  • Mo!

    This article: NOT IMPRESSED!!Recommend

  • A.Haseeb

    bakwass ! these dramas actually stress your nerves, and block the blood flow through vessel…….watch sitcoms, comedies etc. to stay delight and erase negativity ! ;)Recommend

  • http://thedabbabrigade.wordpress.com RiffyR

    brazenly wearing a shirt that reads, “Little Miss Jihad“.
    Choice of words, anyone?Recommend

  • Javeria Mahmood

    so what if you are not impressed? who cares?Recommend

  • Kashaf

    Yaar kabhi tou khush hojaya karo. Recommend

  • I.

    Oh pleees.
    I think you you wrote this for the sake of writing.HOW CN U POSIBLY JUDG ON TH BASIS OF TWO EPISODES?
    Why are all bloggers on ET who write abt dramas are after hum tv dramas? Lol.
    Express entertainment k dramay,anyone? (=p)Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/896/ayesha-pervez/ Ayesha Pervez

    Dont have the time and patience for dramas but Ill see this one for Fawad Afzal Khan. :) Recommend

  • http://SA SA

    The dramas just picking up…too early to be bored as yet !Recommend

  • Pinky

    Spot on…mehreen raheel cant act at all!
    i guess its her pretty face that lands her the role of rejected bold girl in every play..Recommend

  • arslan

    biased article…simply a Fawad Khan haterRecommend

  • http://yahoo annie

    i m with [email protected] Pervez: Recommend

  • http://yahoo annie

    i think it is bst one jo nai dekhta aus ki kon care krta haRecommend

  • http://syedaabidabokhari.wordpress.com The Only Normal Person Here.

    The female protagonist is the wrong choice for the role. She doesnt have screen presence at all. Plus, direction is also half hearted.Recommend

  • Asmaar Aahmed

    @ AQ:Im impressed….. :)Recommend

  • Muhammad Nazim

    I am much much impressed by the story slogan which is clearly depicted as ” Shikway Say Shukar Tak”..and i am hopeful this play will be end with some spirtual and moral thoughts…Just try to watch….because that’s the start of story not end…your comments will be highly appreciated when serial finished…so be visionary…..Recommend

  • Waqas

    first world problems?Recommend

  • http://www.risingkarachi.blogspot.com Nouman Ahmed

    @AQ:
    Your comment: We are not impressedRecommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/896/ayesha-pervez/ Ayesha Pervez

    @AQ Its very easy to criticise someones work …. I would love to see a drama written and directed by you … Im sure it will be nicer than Humsafar, right?Recommend

  • Sumaiya

    The novel is really amazing and so is the drama. Zindagi gulzar hai > ishq-e-mamnu’!!! The only thing i don’t get is that why does Zaroon write his diary on his mac in roman urdu :ORecommend

  • anwar suhail

    But that’s Umaira Ahmed’s style. Subtlety is lost on her. Wait for a while and you will hear long speeches and sermons. Kashaf is unappealing.
    However by Pakistani standards, it’s not a bad serial. We don’t need to be hypercritical.
    An average blog..I’ll say. Wonder why the writer bothered on first place.Recommend

  • LalaLand

    This show is regressive and the message contained in it is negative and dangerous. It wants its audience to believe that women who are financially well-off and employed consider that male members of their families should be demeaned and ignored, and display “immoral” and condemnable characteristics. They are shown not to care about their family members views, and are shown to enjoy living individual lifestyles.On the other hand, the financially challenged women are morally correct and display impeccable behaviour.

    I know so many women who are very successful in their professional lives and make wonderful homemakers too, and yes, respect their husbands and keep an eye on their children.

    Ultimately, this drama is going to end with Kashaf marrying Zaroon, living the perfect life of leisure she wanted, giving up her professional prospects, and negating everything she’s been saying about women empowerment. So the message to young women in Pakistan being conveyed is: marry well, and you’re set for life. This is the same rubbish that was being shown in Humsafar as well. Gone are the days of brilliant Pakistani dramas like Tanhaniyan, Dhoop Kinaray etc, which depicted the progressive face of Pakistani women who were, surprise surprise, very traditional too.Recommend

  • I.

    @ Lalaland.”Ultimately, this drama is going to end with Kashaf marrying Zaroon, living the perfect life of leisure she wanted, giving up her professional prospects, and negating everything she’s been saying about women empowerment. So the message to young women in Pakistan being conveyed is: marry well, and you’re set for life.”

    NO KASHAF DOESNT GIVE UP HER CAREER IN THE END.bt simultaneosly balances her family and professional life!i have read th novel..
    have some patience before jumping to POINTLESS conclusions :)Recommend

  • http://www.submaza.com Sana ahmer

    I love it. Fawad khan is so handsome, :) My friends are also a very big fan of him. :–)) we love you fawad from , Mahira,Sania,Javeria and Sana :))Recommend

  • http://gmail.com Iftekhar Khokhar

    The drama, ZGH is a marvellous production!!! The writer, producer, director, actors both males & females), all other off-scene tecnicians, experts etc have played an outstanding role in this drama to create a legendary entertainment for the viewers. It encompasses all segments of our society. It deserves special credit to have depicted violence against women folk of this unfortunate society. I congratulate them all. The actors Fawad Khan, Sanam Saeed & Smina Peerzada deserve special applause. Keep it up. HAM TV deserves all the credit. Recommend

  • jawairia

    why it is changed from actuall that was v impressiveRecommend

  • http://Rollonz.com impressed

    I tell you one thing , I just came home after watching 3D Life of PI and then watched Zindagi Gulzar hay and I enjoyed as much as the movie.nice OST and quality in everything from plot, script and acting.I have problem with only one thing zaroon sister, she is extremely annoying and overacted character. 8/10.Recommend

  • AQ

    @Ayesha Pervez:

    Not my field ayesha pervaz, not my field.
    I have every right to criticize any drama show that is on-aired.Recommend

  • unknwn

    To everyone Humsafar also didnt create much hype at the start , it was only till episode 10 or 14 people started watching it and slowly got famous…Recommend

  • Ram

    I had great expectations from this play but it has disappointed me so far. Its not working for me. Two main reasons are the chemistry between players and the superfluous acting. Fawad was not made for this role. Compared to him his friend in University who is also playing in Kahi Ankahi is doing a much better job. Fawad better watch out! Viewers might want to see more of him. Compare to ZGH Kahi Ankahi is actually doing better. They are based on similar themes but acting is much better in that. Things might change but so far this play is a disappointment.

    It was a test for Fawad who looks better in Noir Ad than this play.Recommend

  • Sobia

    Completely agree with your article.
    There was so much hype regarding this drama, but it has failed to impress.
    But I don’t think we should worry, Momina Duraid & Hum tv will throw success party & try to prove to us that it was the biggest hit of the year. The plot always works to make Umera Ahmed happy & they take the audience for a fool.Recommend

  • Sidra Ahmed

    I have lived all my life abroad, and never had any interest in Pakistani television. Then ‘Humsafar’ came along and I was totally enamored; I absolutely loved the dialogues and chemistry between the characters. I had similar hopes for ‘Zindagi Gulzar Hai’ because of Fawad’s presence. However, after watching six episodes, I can conclusively say that this drama is terrible! The storyline is dragging on forever. Basically, all Kashaf does is complain in every episode. Her character is very one-dimensional. I think everyone has done superb acting; however, there needs to be some substance to the storyline as well. I am quitting this drama, but I hope I can find some other Pakistani television show of quality soon. Otherwise, I’ll have to start watching Indian shows and my vocabulary is going to turn into “prumpra”, “prashan”, “pranam”, etc!Recommend

  • Shreky D’ oGre

    @AQ:
    jhalak dikhla ja ? Recommend

  • SOMI

    Todays pakistani dramas r not v gud in stories but sum r gud lyk now a days v r watching zindagi gulzar hay but i dun lyk da the idea abt the words,dat kashaf uses abt ALLAH…jo b shikway hon whatever but usko publically telecast nahi kerna chahye,our stories n dramas shows our culture,our thoughts but being a muslim its not gud k hum apne ALLAH k baray me aise words use kren ya sochen b,agr log sochen b tab b usko is tarah t.v me ya story me nahi use kerna chahye..ab her dramay me ye trend chal nikle ga,her koi phr bakwas kerne lagay ga shikway k naam per.or bol diya jaye ga k drama or uski soch hay..v r muslims n v should b careul abt our words n actions whether its drama or a story…coz dunya me dekhe jate hen drama or dosre kia sochenge k yeh log aisa kehte hen apne ALLAH ko shikway k naam per…phir kia farq reh jaye ga hum me or un hindus me jo apne bhagwan ko bolte rehte hen jab unhe shikwa ya ghussa hota hay……
    plzzzzzzzz think abt it……Recommend

  • neelam malik

    brillient job everyone in ZGH awsomeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.i realy like it and my sis also.goodluck zindagi gulzaar hai.best ,Recommend

  • Amna Awan

    I am quite sick and tired of all those bloggers who have nothing else to do with their time apart from criticizing hit tv shows, and that too without an iota of sense in their comments. If you hate it so much, stop watching it, and please, get a life!Recommend

  • SOMI

    try to “digest”
    the reality amna!Recommend

  • Zarmeen Zubair

    Zindagi gulzar hai – I’m impressed
    This Article – definitely not impressed

    I dont like the pople who can only see negativity in anything. I think it is a very well made serial. The elite class that writer is talking abt is shown fine coz I know this is exactly what happens and I have seen it happening. Somebody also said regarding “shikwa to Allah”. for me it is totally fine coz if you can ask anything from God y cant u complain to him as well. For me it like having a conversation with God where u share everything with God.

    Honestly I’m in love with the Drama. The way Kashaf has been portrayed it is amazing. She has her securities but on the other hand she is a confident girl. At the end of the day it is a serial and writer has the right to divert herself from the realty. Recommend