The beauty of Pakistani dramas and the reason viewers come back (and tune in from different countries) is because their storylines are to the point, direction is crisp and beautifully presented. Over the last few years though, the trend of creating bankable stories and then stretching them out to cash in on TRPs has been at an all-time high. “Aik Sitam Aur,” starring Anmol Baloch and Usama Khan in lead roles, supported by Sajid Hasan, Rubina Ashraf, Maria Wasti, Salman Saeed, Srha Asghar and others, has been written by Rehana Aftab and directed by Ilyas Kashmiri. This is a story that sensitively touched upon remarriage and the sensitivity with which relationships are built….until the past couple of weeks.
Over the past two weeks, the story began going downhill, putting too much emphasis on the toxic Sufiyaan (Salman Saeed). While the leads continued to get limited screen time, viewers have been treated to long sequence with Sufiyaan driving, pacing back and forth, loitering outside dhaabas, sitting at the mechanic, plotting murder, stealing and really, just turning into a downright bad person. While it’s believable that the son of his parents would wind up this way, selfish and self serving, do we really need to watch him for half the episode? To make things worse, Zainab (Maria Wasti) and Ushna (Anmol Baloch) suddenly dropped their brains on the street while shopping and began defending Sufiyaan and Zainab’s brothers, the same brothers who mistreated Zainab for years and only recently blackmailed her as well. Why have two otherwise outspoken and intelligent women suddenly lost their minds in order to create conflict between Naima (Rubina Ashraf) and Zainab? And coming to Naima, why has the show’s most sensible character suddenly become an overgrown child? This woman, who has always been so dignified and kind, is suddenly whining for attention (as if we’ve forgotten how Shehroze and Wahab used to work out of city), acting jealous of any attention either Shehroze or Wahab shower upon Zainab or Ushna. While Naima is right to feel betrayed by Zainab’s behavior towards her brothers (it really IS ungrateful), her behavior otherwise is uncalled for.
Fortunately, by episode 46, things do manage to turn themselves around. Naima finally comes around and accepts that Shehroze (Usama Khan) is dedicated to Ushna and relents for his happiness. Meanwhile, Sufiyaan is now plotting Ushna’s murder for leading him on and then betraying him…..which is as unhinged as it gets. While the older actors (Sajid, Maria and Rubina) are all wonderful, it’s Usama Khan and Anmol Baloch who are keeping audiences hooked to “Aik Sitam Aur” despite its recent spate of subpar episodes. The Ushna-Shehroze scenes after their wedding date is fixed is incredibly sweet and their characters have had such a great journey from enemies to now being a couple in love. One only wishes that the focus had remained on their love story rather than this Sufiyaan and family angle, which has only lowered the quality of what should have been an otherwise excellent show.