The promos of “Shehnai” are immediately striking with their light-hearted feel and have gotten Pakistani drama viewers talking about the show, looking forward to what appears to be a romantic comedy. “Shehnai” stars Affan Waheed and Ramsha Khan in lead roles, supported by a wonderful cast including names like Javed Sheikh, Behroze Sabzwari, Samina Ahmed, Saleem Mairaj, Javeria Abbasi, Nida Mumtaz, Salma Hassan, Zainab Qayyum, Sheheryar Zaidi, Arsalan Faisal, Marium Noor and many more. This drama has been directed by Ahmed Bhatti and written by Radian Shah. As the premiere is a mega-episode, let’s discuss the first two episodes!
A quick summary of the first two episodes would be fairly straightforward: Two families come together for the engagement of their children. Bakht (Ramsha Khan) and Meerab (Affan Waheed) are two individuals who find themselves engaged within 48 hours though both are in love with other people. This is, of course, the basic “main” storyline, but the story is also full of family politics. While Meerab’s family appears to be somewhat sane at this point, Bakht’s family is a circus of sorts. Bakht’s father (Javed Sheikh) has a brother, Azhar (Behroze Sabzwari) and the two brothers live in the house with their mother (Samina Ahmed), sister Munni (Javeria Abbasi), wives (Nida Mumtaz, Zainab Qayyum) and their children. On the occasion of the engagement (we’ll come back to this!), their sister Tooba (Salma Hassan) visits with her husband Kifayat (Saleem Mairaj) and children and other relatives visit as well. This sets the stage for chaos of sorts and its revealed how the rest of the siblings view their eldest (most successful) brother and his wife Ambreen, the group always scheming on how to get their “share” of the inheritance.
It would not be far-fetched to say Ramsha Khan is playing a revamped version of her role from “Ghisi Piti Mohabbat” here. While Bakht is different in ways, it almost feels as though Ramsha shot for these roles side by side, hence shades of Samia have found their way in Bakht. Still, Ramsha Khan is always a treat to watch and is a dependable actor and she is no less here. Bakht may be confident and a woman of today, but she still respects her parents and does not want to let them down – especially considering her boyfriend, Hunain, is unable to send a proposal at present. Unfortunately, her manipulations to chase potential suitors away ends up backfiring when she finds herself engaged to Meerab. Affan Waheed is a favorite, but he spends the first episode mostly deadpan, almost expressionless. Fortunately, by the second episode, he really comes into his own and Meerab, as a character, begins to make sense. Meerab is a people-pleaser and, so, he finds himself jumping through hoops to make others happy – even if that means an engagement that’s making him unhappy. His relationship with Sameera also doesn’t appear to be love, rather it seems as though he’s trying to play “savior” due to her irrational, suicidal personality. Affan performs really well in the second episode as he shows more nuance while playing this role.
Overall, the cast is enjoyable to watch and it’s great to have a more light-hearted drama on air when there are so many shows dealing with heavier issues (which are also greatly appreciated). However, the first episode is not the greatest as it comes across as over-the-top and grating at times, introducing too many characters at once. Subtlety is certainly not a word we’d use to describe the writing here. However, episode two greatly improves in this regard and the characters are more fleshed out, more understandable and are less caricature-like. Still, one has to wonder why the entire family has gathered, some from out of town, for a potential (not even confirmed) engagement? This does feel like a forced plot-line to simply get all these characters under one roof, even though the occasion doesn’t call for it. Still, these family-style dramas tend to be a lot of fun and Ramsha Khan and Affan Waheed share great chemistry in their two scenes together so far, supported by a wonderful supporting cast. We will have to keep watching to see how this show shapes up, but so far, it’s entertaining.