With the first episode itself, “Pyari Mona” set the stage for a light-hearted show meant to encourage meaningful discourse. Starring Sanam Jung in the lead role, the show highlights the discrimination and judgement faced by those who don’t fit in the standard model of “healthy.” The show also stars Sabeeka Imam, Adeel Hussain, Uzma Beg, Adnan Jaffar, Muhammad Hanbal, Shaheen Khan and, later, Mashal Khan. The story has been written by Haseeb Ahmed and directed by Ali Hassan.
In episode 4, Mona (Sanam Jung) now has her family meet Irfan (Muhammad Hanbal) in an effort to distract them from their matchmaking with Yawar. However, in a chance encounter, Mona winds up helping Yawar and his son at the park, winning Yawar’s praise and admiration on a personal level. Mona and Yawar strike up an unlikely friendship….but will it turn into more? Meanwhile, Irfan spends time in Karachi with Mona’s family. The visit is an awkward one with Babar (Adeel Hussain) and Shaista (Uzma Beg) openly body shaming and mocking Irfan. Irfan earns major points as a character here with his respectful way of handling all of this, only caring for Mona’s happiness. At this point, Mona has two suitors – Yawar and Irfan. Both men seem to care for Mona and are interested in her, but who is the man Mona will ultimately wind up with? What’s refreshing about these characters is the “humanness” of them, their reactions natural and relatable.
There are also beautiful moments shared between Samia (Sabeeka Imam) and Mona as they speak about their childhood and Samia expresses the pressure she has had to deal with from their mother. This is how sisters are. Sisters may bicker, yell at one another, but at the end of the day, they also rely on one another. In a television world where we constantly see sisters scheming and plotting against one another, it’s great to see a loving, realistic bond. Likewise with Mona’s father, Khalid, played wonderfully by Adnan Jaffar, and his relationship with his daughters. This is a father who has better things to do in life than criticize his daughters, rather he sincerely cares about their well-being, emotionally, physically and mentally.
If there are problems with episode 4, it’s that the city-hopping is giving the audience whiplash. The coming and goings of the characters between Lahore and Karachi is as though they are driving thirty minutes to a nearby café. Yawar, a single parent, makes several day trips to Lahore from Karachi within one episode. Mona hops onto a plane to Lahore for an interview without even informing anyone but her father. Irfan visits Karachi to find Mona has already left, hanging out in Karachi aimlessly before flying back to Lahore. The changing of location isn’t necessarily adding anything to the story, so one has to wonder why it’s such an important part of the canvas. Perhaps it will make more sense later on, but for now, it’s mildly jolting and almost feels to be an issue with editing.
There isn’t any one performance here to praise. Of course, Sanam Jung is the life and soul of the show, portraying a character like so many we know in real life. Sanam, Adnan Jaffar, Muhammad Hanbal, Uzma Beg, Sabeeka Imam and, of course, Adeel Hussain are all excellent in their roles. “Pyari Mona” leaves us wanting more each week and waiting excitedly for the next episode. This one is worthwhile!