I have lost count of how many people had recommended this show before I actually watched the first episode. A series with twenty six episodes each running for close to forty five minutes. I watched the first and binged watched right through the night uptil the end.
The title song, sung by Ali Zafar and Hadiqa Kiani is deep and melodious and sets the mood for the episode.
Based on a book by Umera Ahmed, the television show has the feel of a novel being narrated. Leisurely detailed story telling at times while skips and jumps at others. Not in the slightest bit larger than life, on the contrary, it expertly catches what is our daily life.
Kashaf Murtaza (Sanam Saeed) is a jaded cynical free spirited girl. She lives in her close knit family with her mother and sisters. Having watched her mother struggle hard to provide for her family, while her father provides for his second wife’s family, Kashish no longer believes in happy endings. She resolutely questions allah’s love for her, but firmly holds on to morals and dedicates her life in incessant pursuit of education and career. Her dream is to earn enough to allow some rest for her mother and ensure comfort for her sisters. We watch her soften by love, but remain steadfast at heart.
Zaroon Junaid (Fawad Khan) is an intellectual dreamer. He has lived a life of material comfort, but found himself apart from the crowd. A loner at heart, easy going at times, shallow sometimes. Charming always. His surroundings and a natural keen mind ensure he has always been popular and perfect at what he does. When someone challenges that we watch his reaction, see him make mistakes then learn on the way. With the advantages of birth into a prosperous well educated family, his travails lie in finding himself. His perception of life, his rumniations and convictions are a joy to explore as they unravel before us.
Evolving at each stage of life Zaroon embodies the saying – We do not change, we simply become more ourselves.
What I enjoyed a lot about the show is how it expertly captures the problems relevant to different levels of society. While Kashaf battles a scarcity of security, Zaroon battles emotional needs. The Junaid family members are elegant and at levels complacent, while Murtaza’s are earnest and cautious. Kashaf has to watch her sisters give tuitions, have multiple discussions on what to buy and wait for a special occasion to have biryani. Zaroon gets to be around a mother wrapped in her own world and watch his hot headed sister take rash decisions without considering consequences.
There are a lot of poignant questions asked and debated upon with subtlety. What is the true meaning of a conservative mindset? When is it that one exactly oversteps? Career or family ? When does independence get shadowed by anarchy? Is Tradition orthogonal to feminism? Should you compromise for the one you love?
No sides are taken, no judgements passed. The hero doesn’t have to be heroic, the heroine doesn’t have to be saintly. Characters can be grey. They can make bad choices, act childish or be mature . In other words they are allowed to live a real life and given ample time for internal reflections.
In this regard the story reminds me of the stalwart writer, Premchand. Not always enjoyable, because life is not always enjoyable, but a tale one can identify with. Also the richness of language. Urdu words that I have no idea what exactly mean, but fall on my ears, and create beautiful textured pictures.
The pace is slow bewared. And at times there are jarring gaps, so don’t get too surprised if a lot happens in a single episode.
Catch all of the 26 episodes online on youtube.
In fact, I watched quite a few of the initial episodes impatient to see how the hero and heroine fall in love, but it wasn’t as easy. And that is why this feels like a novel. Not in every page are the hero and heroine together, but the journey of life is surely and certainly drawing them together.
The characters are flawed and believable. Situations relatable. Fighting through life in the quest to figure out what one wants, discovering happiness and companionship on the way, is same for all of us. In varying degrees at various stages of our life we have each gone through moments of defeat that eventually precede some gratifying and satisfying interlude. Zindagi Gulzar Hai superbly manages to capture all this and more.
If you want to see a beautifully crafted sensitive tale, with consistently good acting, this might be your pick for the weekend. Catch the episodes online on youtube.
Picture Credit Google.