There are shows that immediately scream quality and promise something innovative, shows like “Kuch Ankahi” and “Pyari Mona,” shows which are a notch above the rest. Then there are shows like “Tere Bin” and “Qalandar,” shows which aren’t necessarily seeking critical praise and approval, but are created to entertain – and entertain they do. And then there are shows like “Mann Aangan,” shows that neither strive for critical acclaim nor seek to solely entertain. These are the shows that present an interesting topic, but don’t necessarily seek to push boundaries. They strive to entertain through (usually) misery-inducing storylines while also allowing the audience to think……as of episode one, that is. “Mann Aangan” stars Anmol Baloch, Mirza Zain Baig, Shazeal Shoukat, Raeed Alam, Seemi Pasha, Imran Aslam and Aliya Ali in prominent roles. The story has been written by Nadia Ahmed and directed by Hisham Syed and Salman Sirhindi.
In episode one, we are introduced to Ramsha (Shazeal Shoukat) and Mahnoor (Anmol Baloch). While Ramsha is the youngest of three sisters, she is immature and has a casual, laid-back outlook towards life. Mahnoor, on the other hand, has finished her education and is working, now ready to provide for her family – and visibly resents the interference of others in their household….specifically that of her brother-in-law, Saqlain (Imran Ashraf). Married to their eldest sister, Areeba (Aliyah Ali), Saqlain took control of the household after his father-in-law’s death, helping their mother (Seemi Pasha) financially and otherwise. This is something Mahnoor’s mother is unable to forget and she holds Saqlain in very high esteem, seeing him as a son, caring for him more than she even cares for her own daughters.
What makes this problematic is that Saqlain is irritable and cannot stomach criticism. He verbally and emotionally abuses his wife at home, making her feel inferior and setting her up to feel indebted to him, always coming to his defense against her sisters. Imran Aslam is honestly perfect for this role, playing this manipulative, calculating role with just the right amount of a “sinister” feel that’s needed. Anmol Baloch is also great as Mahnoor, a smart, independent-minded woman who can see how her household is living under Saqlain’s thumb – and wants to fight back. The relationship between Mahnoor and Ramsha is also sweet, very sister-like in their support of one another.
The story of “Mann Aangan” isn’t particularly innovative. We’ve seen this sort of story before. But the presentation is good and episode one pulls us in immediately. Showing how these young girls are at the mercy of their brother-in-law and how their mother caters to his personality is something many women in South Asian society can relate to. Adding to that, Areeba’s behavior shows how so many women trapped in emotionally abusive relationships have an almost Stockholm syndrome kind of mentality, rewarding their husband’s bad behavior with love and support. It’s not clear where the story will go from here, but it’s off to a good start. It will be interesting to see how Mirza Zain Baig’s character makes his entry and how he fits into the narrative.