When the promos of “Safar Tamam Hua” went on air, the first thing to capture viewer interest was the casting. Bringing the sweet-looking pair of Ali Rehman Khan and Madiha Imam together for the first time, this immediately pushed the show into the “priority-watch” league. Add Samina Ahmed, Syed Jibran, Saife Hasan and Haaris Waheed to the cast and the show is one of intrigue. Based on the novel by Rahat Jabeen and directed by Sheherazade Sheikh, the first episode aired on March 16. So how did it fare? Let’s discuss!
In the first episode, we are introduced to a diverse, mish-mash sort of family. Rija is the first character we encounter, one with some visible cognitive disabilities, very innocent and naïve in her behavior. Rija is raised by Khala (Samina Ahmed), a woman with two sons of her own, Jamal (Syed Jibran) and Sami (Ali Rehman Khan), as Rija’s father has left the family and remarried. She also raises Anoushey (Madiha Imam), her other brother’s daughter, a man who lives with them, but is a musician who was heavily involved with “tawaif culture” and continues to remain there emotionally and mentally. Rija, Anoushey and Sami are all very close, the two doting on Rija as siblings. Anoushey and Sami are in love, though they haven’t properly confessed their feelings to one another – but it seems to be clear to both where they stand. Enter Danish (Haaris Waheed), another cousin, who is close to the family as well and also dotes on Rija. Danish appears to be a nice guy, but he is a potential third wheel in the Anoushey-Sami relationship.
So where is the conflict? The conflict appears in the form of Jamal, a man who is outwardly “conservative,” scolding Rija (with some physical anger) for coming in front of his male friends and verbally thrashing Sami and Anoushey after catching them holding hands. However, internally, things appear to be different. Jamal seems to be of questionable character, a slimy sort of character who makes Anoushey uncomfortable with his lecherous gaze, not even sparing Rija as she innocently has a water fight with Sami. What’s great here is that Anoushey isn’t dim on noticing these behaviors and not only does she attempt to shield Rija from it, but also confides in Sami that Jamal makes her uncomfortable.
Looking at this family at surface-value, they seem to be lacking one major thing – a patriarch. Whether it’s Khala, who is raising 2 of her own children plus two children of her two brothers, or Danish, who lives with his mother, a father-figure is very much lacking in this drama – with the exception of Anoushey’s father, who is deemed an unacceptable influence due to his “hobbies.” Still, Anoushey’s father appears to be a kind-hearted man overall, but is it his influence that has impacted Jamal’s negative behavior and perception towards women? It’s an interesting concept if that’s actually where the story is headed. Those who have read the novel would be more aware as to where the story is headed.
Overall, the first episode is interesting enough, if not giving off a feeling of “déjà vu.” Representation of neurodiverse characters appears to be the latest “trend” these days (as seen with “Phaans,” “Aulaad,”), which is a good thing generally to have representation. But are these characters being presented accurately and in a way that isn’t stereotypical? That’s where it becomes questionable. We will have to wait for the show to progress more for further commentary there though. Ali Rehman Khan and Madiha Imam’s pairing is easy on the eyes and the two share nice chemistry. At this (early) point, their characters are both also very likable, so it’s easy to root for them. The cast has done a good job and with the exception of Syed Jibran as Jamal, everyone appears to be playing “nice” roles, so it’s too early to tell where the story is headed. While the show doesn’t appear to offer anything strikingly new, the presentation is appealing, along with the cast. This is off to a good start.