After the success of “Sang E Mar Mar,” director Saife Hassan and writer Mustafa Afridi return again with the second in the series, “Sang E Mah.” Starring Nauman Ejaz, Sania Saeed, Samiya Mumtaz, Atif Aslam, Omair Rana, Hania Amir, Zaviyaar Nauman Ejaz, Hassan Noman, Najiba Faiz and others, “Sang e Mah” touches upon the topic of “gagh,” a tribal custom (rarely practiced) where a man shoots bullets at the gate of the object of his affection, marking his territory and “marking” the woman as his own, scaring off any other who wants to come her way. This is a horrific practice which ruins the reputation of the woman and destroys her future. In “Sang E Mah,” we see the episode take off with Sabz Ali, who has already committed the act, and the village now coming together to hold a “jirgah” (meeting) to discuss his actions and think of a suitable punishment with Haji Marjan (Nauman Ejaz) in charge.
Atif Aslam makes his mark as the episode opens with his character, Hikmat. There’s a Shakespearean quality about Hikmat’s role, a young man who lives away from his family, spending time in a graveyard with his friends, speaking to a grave with an air of madness. Who does this grave belong to? This isn’t clear, but what is clear is that Hikmat’s relationship with his family is strained due to his desire to get married – but to whom? There’s a moment where Haji Marjan (Nauman Ejaz) arrives to take Hikmat home, but the young man is stubborn, refusing to leave, and it’s evident that the two men do not get along.
Hilmand (Zaviyaar Nauman Ejaz) is Hikmat’s brother and is in love with Gulmeena (Hania Amir). The two have grown up together as mates, the children of two sisters, Zarsanga (Samiya Mumtaz) and Zarghona (Sania Saeed). However, the sisters have had a falling out with Zarghona indirectly accusing Zarsanga and her family of being the reason for her ruin, the voices who accused and scorned her in the past. As it’s the first episode, this will all be revealed in time, but Zarghona’s character is a fascinating one with an aura of mystery.
Aside from these stories, we are intrigued by Mastaan Singh (Omair Rana), a Sikh man who has been punishing himself for 20 years by living in a religious shrine, dedicating his life to God in the hopes that he will be forgiven for his crimes. His fiancée Harshali has been waiting for these twenty years and it’s heartbreaking watching the two sit together, neither happy nor unable to break the bond they share. What is the crime that Mastaan Singh committed years ago? As the episode draws to a close, we are introduced to Sheherzad (Kubra Khan), a reporter who is interested in learning about Garg and writing a report on it. She decides to accompany one of the company drivers to his village – which is where we assume she will come into contact with Hikmat.
There are a lot of positives within this first episode of “Sang E Mah.” First, like has already been said by many others, it has that “theater” quality to it. This is a story with many angles and the emotions within these characters run deep. These are not shallow characters and their problems are meaningful, affecting not only their lives, but their family’s entire existence. The performances are wonderful, of course. Atif Aslam makes an impressive debut (if we don’t count “Bol”) and truly captures the soul of Hikmat, his anger, his desire and his madness. Omair Rana is as lovable as always as the torn Mastaan Singh, a man struggling internally. Nauman Ejaz is true to himself, a reliable actor who always gives his 100%. Both Sania Saeed and Samiya Mumtaz are powerhouse actresses who leave their mark in any and every role they take upon themselves. And Zaviyaar Nauman Ejaz and Hania Amir are incredibly likable as the young couple in love, planning to fight against their families to be together. Hania Amir is always dependable, but Zaviyaar Nauman Ejaz shines here and proves he’s an actor here to stay.
What’s truly likable about “Sang E Mah” so far is that there’s an “openness” that was not present in “Sang E Mar Mar.” Whether it’s Hilmand, Gumeena or Hikmat these are “children” with more open relationships with their parents. They have the freedom to (subtly) discuss their thoughts and desires. Gulmeena may be afraid of her mother, but it doesn’t stop her from confessing her feelings or attempting to change her mind. Hilmand is hesitant to admit it, but does his best to convince Zarsanga to make amends with her sister for his sake. It’s always a refreshing moment when stories set in tribal areas present a more realistic view where, despite their location, children are still seen sharing relationships with elders.
The relationship between Haji Marjan and Zarsanga is endearing due to how respectful and authentic it feels. This is a couple with love and respect (at least so far), but through their exchange, we do realize that “garg” took place in the village last 30 years ago and stirred up emotions intense enough to remain within Zarsanga. Was Zarghona a victim of “garg,” her image and reputation destroyed by another man’s actions? The first episode has taken off strong and left viewers with a lot of questions – which will be answered with time, but we are enjoying the start of this journey. So far, “Sang E Mah” is stellar!