Pakistani dramas are generally made following one of two paths – either to inform/educate in some way while also entertaining (such as “Kuch Ankahi”) or simply to entertain (such as “Tere Bin”). Generally speaking, we know which category a show falls into. Then we have shows like “Mujhe Pyaar Hua Tha,” a show which doesn’t appear to have any real aim or motivation. Does it educate in any way? No. Does it entertain? Certainly not. And yet, with a cast including Wahaj Ali, Hania Amir, Zaviyaar Nauman Ejaz, Shahood Alvi, Salma Hassan, Shaheen Khan, Noor Ul Hassan and Rabya Kulsoom, it’s impossible for a lover of Pakistani dramas to look away. Written by Sidra Seher Imran and directed by Badar Mehmood, “Mujhe Pyaar Hua Tha” has been losing fans in recent weeks.
Episode 17, despite being an absolutely miserable episode, does manage to hook viewers for a few scenes – Wahaj Ali’s performance, Rabya Kulsoom’s performance and Shahood Alvi’s performance. In this episode, after finding out about Maheer’s (Hania Amir) “affair” with Areeb (Zaviyaar Nauman Ejaz) and Saad (Wahaj Ali) ending up in jail, Neelo’s (Rabya Kulssom) to-be father-in-law calls off the wedding. Already in a tense state, Saad’s father has a heart attack and passes away. Is this an irritating twist? Yes, but at the same time, it’s also mildly understandable in this scenario. How much grief can one man take? This man has been holding up this entire family, two households, all on his own. After his father’s death, understandably so, the house is not only engulfed in sadness – but also the blame game.
Neelo does not mince words when she, already having turned against Maheer for her behavior, blames Maheer for her father’s death. While Neelo’s outburst is hurtful and she says things that one could term as unbecoming or “crazy,” does anyone really blame her? Neelo has just lost her father, a man she was very close to, due to the constant problems her family has been facing – problems which have all been caused by Maheer. Rabya Kulsoom’s angry attack is brilliant, the viewer feeling the rage and grief that Neelo is going through with this performance. This is an underrated actress who deserves more front-and-center roles. Of course, the way the scene has been presented, we are supposed to see Neelo as the “bad guy” for how she speaks to Maheer – but is she?
Any way which we spin it in a desire to be kind, Maheer’s interactions with Areeb, despite being married to Saad, are the reason for the family’s grief. Maheer, of course, is simply continuing her Masoom “maine kya kiya hai?” (what have I done?) act with her mother supporting her. One could excuse Maheer by saying she hasn’t actually encouraged Areeb, rather her friends and mother have influenced her. But does Maheer not have a mind of her own? Is she incapable of blocking Areeb’s number? Did she need to physically visit Areeb in the hospital at a time when Saad was in jail? Why has she taken so long, so many months of being married to Saad, to get over a man she knew for 5 days? Has she ever committed to her marriage like she claims to have done? The answer is no. She has not.
There’s a brilliant scene where Shahood Alvi, as Maheer’s father, lays it out for Maheer. He states that whatever is in Maheer’s heart, she has committed a sin by keeping in touch with Areeb in any form. He spells it out that Areeb’s family is responsible for his paralysis, they are responsible for Saad’s jail visit and now for his brother’s death. Maheer betrayed her family the moment she decided to brood over her lost love Areeb instead of standing tall with her family and protecting them from Areeb and his family. This is basic loyalty from a young woman who loves her family. But Maheer…..”Maheer ko pyaar hua tha, ikraar hua tha.”
Aside from Rabya Kulsoom, Wahaj Ali’s performance is wonderful in this episode. Saad has not only lost his father, but now finds himself the head of the family, taking on a heavy burden. The moment where Saad breaks down in the car is a dark place to be in and Wahaj enacts this scene with such sincerity that it brings us as viewers to tears.
There are obviously positives in “Mujhe Pyaar Hua Tha,” but its greatest weakness is that its lead characters are not likable. We do not like Areeb. We do not like Maheer. We like Saad, but his doormat behavior is exhausting and, quite honestly, we’re sick of it. The only acceptable ending, at this point, would involve Maheer being alone and Saad finding a happy ending with someone else. Would this show actually take that route though? That’s the question.