A Sajal Aly starrer is always a big deal. A Yumna Zaidi starrer is always a big deal. Put both of these actresses together with Azaan Sami Khan, not only the son of Adnan Sami Khan and Zeba Bakhtiar, but also an incredibly talented music composer and singer in his own right, and this is the recipe for a superhit drama. Seemi Raheel, Laila Wasti, Sohail Sameer, Uzma Hassan, Adnan Samad Khan and others play prominent roles in “Ishq E Laa” as well, which has been written by Qaisera Hayat and directed by Amin Iqbal.
In episode 1, we are introduced to Azlan (Azaan Sami Khan), a young businessman who is making strides not only nationally, but internationally. He is in a relationship with Shanaya (Sajal Aly), a young news anchor who is career-driven, brave and willing to travel far and wide to help others. Sajal Aly not only looks beautiful, but she is such a natural in this role and Shanaya immediately wins the audience over. On the other end, we are introduced to Azka (Yumna Zaidi), a character who receives a more lengthy story etch in this episode. Azka dreams of being a doctor and fulfilling her father’s wishes and is supported by her mother, Khadija (Seemi Raheel). However, Azka has a sister-in-law, Kanwal (Uzma Hassan), who wishes to get her married off to her cousin, Abid, who is brilliantly played by Adnan Samad Khan. Abid appears to be a villainous character, but interestingly so. Sultan (Sohail Sameer), Azka’s brother, loves and supports Azka, but for how long? Sultan works as a house chef and it’s revealed that he works for Azlan’s family. When Sultan is injured, Azka is sent to cover his duties – which brings Azka and Azlan face to face when he finds a hair in his food.
Overall, the first episode is thoroughly enjoyable with some truly stellar performances from everyone involved. Sajal Aly and Yumna Zaidi are a sight for sore eyes, both actresses proving their star power and acting prowess the moment they appear on-screen. Azaan Sami Khan does a decent job, but isn’t given much scope to perform in this episode, so it remains to be seen how he is as a performer. If we move to discuss negatives, there’s only one glaring negative that comes to mind and that is…the entire first 6 minutes of the episode. It’s always wonderful to see Nadeem, but for what reason are viewers treated to a professor preaching about “Ishq”? Why are these sequences necessary and how are they even relevant? As a starting point, these scenes do dull down the proceedings, though after that 6 minute point, the show rages forward, pulling the audience in with its interesting story, great performances and beautiful cinematography.
The highlight of the episode is the relationship both Shanaya and Azka share with their mothers. It’s beautiful to see how, despite being from starkly different backgrounds, both young ladies have the support of their mothers who not only defend them, but also encourage them to follow their dreams. While Shanaya has been raised to be an independent mother’s independent daughter, fearless and headstrong, Azka’s mother knows hardship through her life struggles and wants a better future for her her innocent, hard-working daughter. Both Laila Wasti and Seemi Raheel have done a wonderful job in their roles so far.
What’s great about “Ishq E Laa,” after one episode of course, is that the storyline has not been revealed in the OST, which is generally the norm. While we are aware of the relationship between Azlan and Shanaya and are aware that Azlan and Azka will interact through his family’s association with her brother – and their own negative encounter -, it’s not clear how these storylines will come to intersect. This is a great thing, because it leaves a lot of room for speculation, excitement and even surprise. So far, “Ishq E Laa” is off to a strong start with its leading ladies truly the backbone of the show, infusing life into their on-screen characters. This is a show viewers will wait anxiously for each week.