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.
soharaApril 19, 2015 at 9:23 am
it was an awesome read about Zindegi Gulzaar hai. Your perception about the story is so accurate.
Your intriguing review about the show captivated me so much.
Zindegai is not just a regular drama, it actually depicted the various aspects of lives of different people from different level.
it is the most insightful realistic drama I have ever seen.
Not the lead only, but the whole cast of the show’s brilliant performance made the show so appealing.
rhea sinhaApril 19, 2015 at 10:06 am
Sohara am thrilled you enjoyed the review and thanks a lot for coming here. You know even my husband watched the episodes with me. Like you said it was not a regular show, but depicted so much of everyday life and our struggles. I liked the acting by both the mothers and all actor were cast perfectly. I was really pleasantly surprised at how normal everything was in the show. Thanks for recommending it.
ZainApril 19, 2015 at 11:22 pm
Hello Rhea, great review. You actually described the underlying theme of the show brilliantly. This show was very close to reality and depicts the daily lives of South Asians, the workings of middle class and upper class in our community. Many times, the show makes you question how much independence is ideal as to not neglect your family (as shown by Zaroon’s mother or his sister). Yet we also had Kashaf’s mother working as a school principal and taking care of her daughters’ needs. Kashaf’s mother however was not empowered enough to leave her husband who left her. Zaroon was shown to be a chauvinistic towards Kashaf, however he had also dated many girls before marriage but wanted the “ideal” wife in Kashaf, clearing depicting the mindset of many South Asian men. Also, it’s shown that seeking education will completely change one’s life no matter if dire prospects. The best part of the drama was the background score, the chemistry between the leads, the gradual falling in love and the developing respect between the couple, and few number of episodes.
rhea sinhaApril 20, 2015 at 12:16 am
Hi Zain Thanks a lot for enjoying the review. You have yourself phrased everything wonderfully.
I really liked the fact that both the hero and heroine were flawed. Though Zaroon’s family was open minded, most probably seeing how much harm complete freedom could do, he himself was hypocritical. And Kashaf was shown to be short tempered at times and judgemental. Both mothers and their battles were life like for sure. And such good casting, don’t you think? What you say about seeking education is wonderful.
Really great to read these thoughts from a fan of the show.
Shazia ZaidiApril 20, 2015 at 10:39 am
Hi dear Arwen or Rhea. A perfect review for this drama as it was gripping story of constant struggle of the leads & their emotional maturity. Thanks for liking the Urdu language as it’s my mother tongue. Never ever thought that Urdu is a beautiful language. Any a good review of the serial.
rhea sinhaApril 21, 2015 at 12:32 pm
Hi Shazia thanks a lot for liking the post. So many ghazals and shayari are all in urdu.. it is the language of poetry. The authentic feel where Zaroon’s family used some English words, but Kashaf’s was more traditional was well captured by the language they chose. It was good to watch and fun to share about the show.
fatmaApril 27, 2015 at 6:11 am
Ok now time for you to watch ‘pyarey afzal’ and give a review on that.
its a story of a molvi’s son who falls in love and his unrequited love makes him take desicions with dire consequences for him n his family.
the lead guy hamza acted so sweet he has innocent puppydog eyes. Do watch n review.
rhea sinhaApril 28, 2015 at 1:00 am
Thanks for the suggestion fatma. The story sounds intriguing. Most probably also based on some novel? will definitely give it a try.
LunaApril 18, 2017 at 3:07 pm
I stumbled upon your blog today looking for “Sailaab” and i stayed on and found “Zindagi Gulzar Hai” (ZGH). Your post makes me so happy.
Thanks to Zindagi Channel, Netflix India and Hum TV Youtube Channel, i have watched and re-watched ZGH several times now. I found it intriguing that the leads – Kashaf and Zaroon were so different in their nature and yet so similar in their core that Sir Abrar was right to set them up for a match. While Fawad and Sanam stole the show for me, i want to take a moment and mention Rafia, Kashaf’s mom, played by the illustrious Samina Peerzada who turned in a stellar act as well.
ZGH, for me, is like a collection of life’s learnings. Each episode is so full of depth and richness of details that its impossible not to love this show. Along with Dhoop Kinarey and Tanhaiyan, ZGH will remain my favourite Pakistani Show.
rhea sinhaApril 22, 2017 at 11:01 pm
Hi Luna I also watched on YouTube. This was my first Pakistani show and I was amazed how lifelike the portrayal and setting was. Yes kashaf’s mother with her steady wise learnings and level headedness was very well acted. Many people have recommended dhoop kinare. I plan to watch it someday. Is that also available on youtube or Netflix? Hope you find more to share and enjoyed here! Welcome