#PyareAfzal versus Nawaz Sharif’s speech: And the winner is…
Last night, while Pakistani men were anxiously waiting for the premier’s speech, to be aired at 8pm, the women had a completely different, and might I add ‘dramatic’, agenda to grab hold of the TV remote. Coincidentally, the prime minister’s speech took place at the same time when the series finale of Pyare Afzal – which could safely be dubbed as one of the most widely watched television serials of all time – was to be aired.
On one hand, this diffused the political tension for the fans; on the other, it became a reason for family discords over the TV remote and polarised interests. The air was rife with anticipation and the channel had started a stopwatch countdown for the finale as fans and followers were placing bets on how it would end. Amid all this frenzy, women were seen praying and intending sadqas for a possible happy ending.
Unfortunately for them, the writer, Khalilur Rehman Qamar, was clever enough to know that tragic heroes are always mythologised. Some cinemas even arranged special screening for the finale, which I remember happened only once before, for the Turkish drama serial Ishq-e-Mamnoo that had become exceptionally popular back in 2012. For the local drama industry, the screening of Pyare Afzal was a first.
The final episode erupted unprecedented social media response. The emotional outpour was a mix; fans were mourning the death of their hero and venerating the love saga whereas sarcastic and humorous posts were finding comic relief in the tragic ending. Resilience is the best part of being Pakistani, as we always end up finding happiness in the most unlikely of places and that’s how we refuse to bow down before the shadows of fear and chaos.
There ensued a frenzy of tweets, heartbroken Facebook statuses, sad Instagram posts and other updates on different media platforms.
A Facebook friend in their status mourned,
“Afzal ko kyun mara?”
(Why was Afzal killed?)
“Afzal died!” lamented another.
This was followed by a string of comments where some friends condoled and consoled while others remain bewildered as to who Afzal was. Many were seen naively asking if he belonged to any of the political parties or if he was from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf or Pakistan Awami Tehreek side.
The most hilarious meme, for me, was a confused Nawaz Sharif, clad in his sherwani, asking,
“Imran Khan say baad may baat ho gi, pehlay batao ye Afzal kaun hai?”
(I will talk to Imran later; first tell me, who is this Afzal?)
Twitter witnessed the #PyareAfzal mania as well, with diverse tweets, ranging from regretting the end and celebrating the show to good riddance messages and sarcasm, of course. My favourite tweet was:
— Hamza ~ H.A.K (@Galactico_88) August 12, 2014
Other tweets included:
Nawaz Sharif should resign on Pyaray Afzal's brutal killing. #PyareAfzal
— G H Domki (@GhDomki) August 12, 2014
— Murk☻ (@murkaay) August 12, 2014
— M. JawadUrRehman (@Im_MJH) August 12, 2014
Pyare Afzal could be enlisted among the few dramas which managed to stay unaffected by the curse of tried and tested, safe marketable formulas and succeeded in carving its own niche. Like Humsafar and Zindagi Gulzar Hay, the show had a simple yet relatable storyline. The characterisation was detailed, hence, succeeded in creating the desired impact.
Hamza Ali Abbasi gained a miraculous new screen life. The evolution of Afzal from a lovelorn poet to a Robin Hood gangster was translated effectively by Abbasi. The script was engaging, dialogues were witty and audience instantly fell in love with the Urdu that they only previously heard in the 80s PTV dramas. Many Facebook pages were created to share and admire Pyare Afzal quotes.
The costumes proved to be trendsetters as well. Many women were seen donning short shirts and loose shalwars this Eid. Costumes were not only in accordance with the story and characters but it also lent a distinctive air to the show. Dialogue and costumes were done in a signature Khalilur Rehman style.
Strong and independent female characters made it stand apart from the run of the mill shows. Although it pitted one sister against the other for love interest, it was free from the bechari syndrome. The women were making their own choices and facing the consequences. We might hate Farah for being headstrong and an egotist but we can’t help loving her for her free spirit.
The conflict of unrequited love and bliss of love denied by sheer fate has given some classic stories to the silver screen, like Devdas, Mughal-e-Azam and the likes. The tragic conclusion of Pyare Afzal has wooed millions of hearts and has played its part in the revival of Pakistani drama.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.