With 50 years since the fall of Dhaka occurring on December 16, Bangladesh has been the focal point of several dramas and films recently. With “Khel Khel Mein” releasing on the big screen, the telefilm “Hangor” released recently as a telefilm. Meanwhile, both “Jo Bichar Gaye” and now “Khaab Toot Jaatay Hain” are airing on television in the form of miniseries style dramas. While “Jo Bichar Gaye” has been winning praise all around due to its strong content, along with talented star faces, “Khaab Toot Jaatay Hain” has a cast full of character artists such as Ehteshamuddin, Nadeem Baig, Kulsoom Aftab, Saleem Mairaj, Mohammad Ahmed, Noor Ul Hassan and others. Written by Amjad Islam Amjad, the show has been directed by Ehtashamuddin himself who has also produced the show in collaboration with Bilal Ashraf.
Like “Jo Bichar Gaye,” “Khaab Toot Jaatay Hain” is also based on the memoirs of its lead character – in this case, Dr. Syed Sajjad Hussain, the former vice chancellor of Dhaka University. As the first episode begins, we see Sajjad (Ehteshamuddin), a man of Bengali descent, transferred from Rajshahi University to Dhaka University and he immediately realizes he has moved his family into an unstable environment. While one could immediately think “Well, I can only watch one story about the same subject,” the treatment of both shows is different. “Khaab Toot Jaatay Hain” follows the same path, but tells the story from the point of view of a Bengali man – a man who is labeled a traitor after seeming to support a united Pakistan rather than the partition of East and West Pakistan.
These shows are depicting the harsh ground realities that took place during the fall of Dhaka and it’s an interesting – while also horribly tragic – subject. Still, one cannot help hoping things play out well and the drama doesn’t become a narrative of excuses. While this has been a subject untouched by Pakistani entertainment and it’s great to finally see the Pakistani viewpoint, hopefully this is a true depiction and not propaganda. There are a few moments in episode two that make the viewer raise eyebrows – first, the use of camera angles is sloppy in moments as the camera circles around conversing characters. There’s one man in both the daytime and nighttime riot scenes (in episode 2) who is seen chasing the same man in the same location in both scenes, simply a difference of time. Then there’s a moment that sticks out like a sore thumb when an “Indian” complete with tikka declares “Pakistaniyon ki band baja de.” These are small critiquing moments that don’t necessarily impress.
Still, there are more positives than negative so far. The cast is phenomenal and the roles they have been placed in are well-etched and, really, it’s just intelligent casting. Ehtashamuddin is the “star” and it’s difficult to take one’s eyes off him when he’s performing. Also, the production quality, barring some odd direction choices, is top-notch. Again, while one may ask “how can we watch two shows on the same subject,” the bottom line is – shouldn’t we support creativity and quality products put out by our industry? Let’s give this one a chance!