Starring Maya Ali, Bilal Ashraf, Behroze Sabzwari, Deepak Perwani, Uzma Beg and others, “Yunhi” has been written by Samira Fazal and directed by Ehtashamuddin. It’s difficult to peg “Yunhi” and put it into a genre, because it’s not entirely transparent as to what it’s attempting to be. There’s almost something hoax-like about “Yunhi,” presenting itself as one thing while being something else entirely. There’s an old-world charm about this show, which is what is keeping repeat viewers coming back – and yet, many have stopped watching. There’s the presentation of complex family relationships taking place in a joint-family setting, which is slightly reminiscent of “Diyar E Dil.” And yet, the script itself lacks the soul that is required of such a show.
The problem with “Yunhi” is that the concept itself is good – two individuals from different backgrounds and upbringings falling in love. This is an “opposites attract” sort of story which means to challenge mindsets and stereotypes. Unfortunately, the way the story has been written is the weakest link. Kim (Maya Ali) has broken up with George and is now entertaining the possibility of two proposals – one from Hamid and the other from Daniyal. While Naveed (Deepak Perwani) expected Kim to reject both proposals, and she does, he does not expect Kim’s decision to marry Dawood (Bilal Ashraf). Why would a woman decide, after a breakup, to immediately marry a man she considers to be a “terrorist” as an experiment? Does this reasoning really hold? This is just another way Kim, as a Pakistani American, has been written illogically. This is also a young woman who rejects Daniyal, because Husna is in love with him and she does not want to overstep. However here, she believes that Dawood is in love with a class fellow as well as recognizing that he is engaged to his cousin. Why then is Dawood’s name the one that she fixates on to “experiment”?
There are high points to “Yunhi” as well. For example, Kim’s bad habits are seen by her conservative relatives as bad habits – but those same habits are not seen as “bad” for her male cousins. For example, Daniyal smoking is seen as acceptable while Kim smoking is seen as a negative trait. Shouldn’t bad habits be bad for all? “Yunhi” is doing a good job exposing South Asian society’s hypocrisy and double standards for males versus females.
This also trickles down to the elderly family members. While Dawood’s family seemed very close-knit initially, as the story moves forward, the narrow-mindedness and judgmental nature of these individuals is coming out. The family was certainly united against Naveed, but now that he has been forgiven, they are turning on one another for materialistic gain. This is another example of their hypocrisy. These are people who will gossip about one another, use harsh words and then turn around and talk sweetly for their own benefit. This family may see Kim as entirely unacceptable, but they will accept her as long as their sons are benefiting with the opportunity to settle abroad. Meanwhile, thoughts for Naveed and Iqbal’s union continue to float around, though without action.
Despite all the critiques on Kim’s character and the path she has set out for herself, there’s still something about this character that makes the audience want to watch. We’re complaining and yet, we also cannot abandon the show entirely either. What will happen to Kim? This can be attributed to Maya Ali’s acting, which is oddly endearing despite playing an almost unlikable female lead. The Dawood and Kim union is one that has the audience intrigued, loopholes and wonky writing aside. Bilal Ashraf’s performance in the scene with Kim on the roof is also noteworthy. Quite honestly, if “Yunhi” can work out its flaws and write Kim in a moderately realistic way, “Yunhi” still has a lot of promise – however, by episode 8, that needs to reflect in the writing, which is highly inconsistent at present.