When one thinks of an intense love story, that does not mean sheer misery. Unfortunately, sheer misery is exactly what the audience has been given every step of the way in “Pehli Si Muhabbat.” With 34 episodes down, “Pehli Si Muhabbat” has been through its share of highs and lows, strong episodes and filler episodes, love and hate and now, finally, a leap of 8 years. Starring Shehryar Munawar, Maya Ali, Hassan Sheheryar, Nausheen Shah, Rabia Butt, Paras Masroor, Saleem Mairaj and others, the story has been written by Faiza Iftikhar and directed by Anjum Shahzad.
Post-leap, the audience initially feels a sense of relief to see both Aslam (Shehryar Munawar) and Rakshi (Maya Ali) having moved on with their lives. Could there potentially be a story here – one where human beings can move past their first love and find happiness in the world? Of course not! That’s not possible. So of course now, after a leap of only eight years, Rakshi’s husband – who was probably only ten years older than her – is now dead and she is a widow. Aslam has the love of his sweet, kind, understanding wife Bushra, along with a daughter. Akram (Hassan Shehehryar) and Ishrat (Nausheen Shah) have taken control of the household after Akram and Aslam’s mother’s passing, caring not only for Ahmed, but also Murad’s (Paras Masroor) children. And, in an ironic twist of fate, the love of Ahmed’s life is none other than…..Rakshi’s stepdaughter. Who else could it be? This twist is not only too convenient, but it’s also very cruel.
How much more misery do these families have to endure? It’s tragic watching Akram, a changed man, worried about offending Aslam and doing to Ahmed what he did to Aslam years ago. He takes a backseat, believing the kids should now choose their life partners – which becomes a hard pill to swallow when he realizes the circumstances. Is there any way to make Ahmed happy without hurting Aslam deeply? And what about the sweet, kind, vibrant Bushra who has been supportive through it all? Will she lose her place in Aslam’s life? There has to be some purpose behind Rakshi being a widow – and while Aslam and Rakshi may be the “love story,” as a viewer, I am unwilling to see Bushra trampled over in the process, even accepting Rakshi as Aslam’s second wife. Why? It has become futile hoping for a better ending, but still, one can hope that there’s something else out there. But Rakshi has been miserable, even seeing visions of Zainab post-marriage in a sort of lunacy, and now she is widowed. Where is her happiness? And should that happiness be with Aslam at the cost of another woman’s happiness?
It’s difficult to understand who to root for on this show anymore. It’s simply miserable. We are given a generous dose of misery, misery and more misery with each passing episode with little relief in sight. When will the misery stop? And what’s ironic is that the dialogues are good. The acting is wonderful (baring Maya Ali’s), specifically Shehryar Munawar, Hassan Sheheryar, Uzma Hassan, Paras Masroor and Saleem Mairaj. The production values are high. There isn’t anything wrong with the show as such. It’s simply too sad – and easily ten episodes too long already. As viewers, we tune in to shows to either see reality (Dil Na Umeed Toh Nahi) or well-written tales of love and/or drama. But back-to-back misery cannot be the theme for 40 episodes. It simply cannot.