“Rang Mahal,” after a long 92 episodes, has finally come to a close. Starring Sehar Khan, Ali Ansari, Arooba Mirza, Humayun Ashraf, Asim Mehmood and Tanya Hussain in prominent roles, the story has been written by Shafia Khan and directed by Zahid Mehmood. Unfortunately, when it comes down to it, “Rang Mahal” comes across as a missed opportunity – and it’s not the only one. These missed opportunities arrive fairly often in the Pakistani drama industry as a story with potential fails to deliver on a strong message. In “Rang Mahal,” we watched as Mahapara (Sehar Khan) found love with Rayed (Ali Ansari), but then, due to Sohail’s (Humayun Ashraf) advances and Hajra’s (Arooba Mirza) plotting, along with Ami Ji’s scheming of her own, Mahapara’s life is turned upside down. Throughout all this, Mahapara is unable to find support in the one man who claims to love her most of all – Rayed, a man who can’t even trust the woman he “loves.”
Step in Salaar (Asim Mehmood), the man who not only helps her pick up the pieces of her life, but encourages her, supports her and, most of all, trusts her above all else. But Mahapara is Mahapara – not only did she never return those affections, but she has always been as rude as possible to Salaar, never even uttering so much as a “thank you for everything you’ve done for me,” always terming his actions as an “ehsaan.” Why then would viewers, such as myself, root for Salaar and Mahapara’s love story? Well, quite honestly, Salaar has always deserved better as a character and Mahapara has been tedious to watch, creating one mess after another for herself. But the beauty of this relationship remained in the thought – a woman scorned by all who claimed to love her finds love in a man who is not only a true friend to her, but also proves every step along the way that he genuinely loves her and will support her through every hurdle in life, even when he may not agree with her actions. Why would a woman continue to love a man who character assassinates her at every turn (Rayed) and shames her publicly? At some point, one has to self-reflect and realize that this is exactly what a toxic relationship is. The ideal ending would have been for Rayed and Mahapara to apologize to each other for all the mud-slinging, Rayed recognize his mistakes and for the two to genuinely wish each other well while moving on with Salaar and Sara (Tanya Hussain) respectively. This would send a wonderful message to the youth of today, showing that human beings do heal from ill fated relationships and they can move on and find happiness once again. But no, a progressive and intelligent love story is simply not what “Rang Mahal” had in store for us, even though it paraded itself around that way and pretended to follow the route of promoting education and human growth.
In the finale, we witness of commotion of sorts, as if 92 episodes was not sufficient enough time to have ended the show without rushing it. Sohail is randomly murdered by Husna’s friend, his house help an accomplice, a man who has always stood firmly by Sohail’s side. Where did his conscience suddenly pop up from? To top it off, the house help feeds this bizarre story to Rayed about Sohail leaving for Dubai with a girl and stating loudly that they are getting married. Who would buy this story? The icing on the cake is that Hajra identifies Sohail’s dead body – but then forgets to ever inform his family that he’s dead?
Humayun Ashraf’s Sohail has been a pleasure to watch, even if it’s simply to hate him. Humayun’s performance has made Sohail the slimy, snake-like, love-to-hate character that he became and he played it very convincingly. “Ab Dekh Khuda Kya Karta Hai” is the show that put Humayun Ashraf on the map as an actor for me personally, but “Rang Mahal” has really proved that he has a lot to offer this industry. Someone sign him for some good roles now, please. Arooba Mirza has provided great support as the manipulative, egotistical Hajra and her portrayal of this complex character left the audience flip-flopping – are we rooting for her or do we hate her?
Now we come to Rayed and Mahapara, the “love story” of the show. Rayed, in his place, did not wrong Mahapara. He simply didn’t trust her and he believed his family, never making an effort to clarify anything with Mahapara. That’s not a crime – but considering what he and his family put Mahapara through and the fact that he never once attempted to help her, does this classify as true love? Well, apparently so, because Rayed’s medical bills and emotional breakdown were enough to convince Salaar to step out of the way and give room to Rayed. Rayed and his mother, in a ridiculously bullying sort of moment, convince Mahapara to marry Rayed. The two get married and a sweet wedding night scene takes place with Rayed apologizing and trying to win over his bride again. This scene only works because of Ali Ansari’s performance and the sincerity with which he has portrayed this character. Rayed has never been a “bad” guy, but his behavior with Mahapara has been atrocious, so this ending is not as “happy” for viewers as the team probably believes it is. Still, Ali Ansari has done a commendable job with his role.
Finally, we do end up with a sweet moment between Salaar and Sarah, a scene which indicates that Salaar and Sarah will end up together. And quite honestly, all bitterness aside regarding how Mahapara treated Salaar, this is an ideal pair. Mahapara never deserved Salaar and both Sara and Salaar have been good human beings throughout this show. This ending gives the audience some optimism and positivity.
Still, it’s difficult to wrap one’s head around what the message was behind “Rang Mahal.” Move on and then start right where you left off? Forgive those who abused you and go back to normal? What is the message here? “Rang Mahal” had such promise to be on the top 10 list of dramas for 2021, but unfortunately, the content in the last 1/3 of the show let it down completely. This show will be remembered for Asim Mehmood’s brilliant performance as Salaar, a loving, ideal companion and for Humayun Ashraf’s wonderful villainous act as Sohail. The rest? I’ll erase it from memory.