Saw Zindagi Gulzar Hai recently. Urdu serial, based in Pakistan. It was quite good. Slow compared to your typical Netflix series.
Maybe a bit of spoilers ahead.
The most important thing was that it was a little different. The language, setting, culture and customs, etc. were what made it interesting for me. I liked the way the parent characters are shown. Particularly liked the father of the girls. The actor was quite good.
The hero and heroine were good. Fawad Khan has acted quite well. Also, the banter between the youngest daughter of the three and her step-brother was quite good. I think both of them understood the demands of those 4-5 scenes and I just couldn’t stop laughing. The brother was able to show ‘I am oblivious to the fact that I am getting on your nerves’ and his sister was too cute to handle in those scenes. So much like your own younger sister who behaves as if you are her naughty younger brother and she would stand none of your nonsense if only she could help it. I would have loved to see more of them.
Normally, I don’t watch Hindi serials. Those are too phony. At least that is my perception. The actors are pathetic and drama is artificial. I must say here that I don’t mean English serials are necessarily better. But I don’t think I have seen any Hindi Marathi series in recent years. No, not even Hawaa Yeu Dya.
That reminds me of a time when I was at Mongini’s last year buying a cake. This is a true story. The guy behind the counter- who looked like a well educated manager kept looking at overhead small screen TV. I ordered the cake and while he was packaging the parcel, I too ended up watching the TV. The scene was something like this: a lady who looks somewhat washed out due to the color of her eyes is talking to a gentleman. The manager asks me what to write on the cake. The heroine interrupts saying that she is aware for some time of the hero’s attention, a girl always knows; however she is sorry but she couldn’t reciprocate; and she has tried to avoid it but can no longer keep the truth from him because she knows in her heart that his love for her is real; but she must tell the truth that she couldn’t love him back because she is actually a snake who has taken a form of a human for revenge. Then the manager asks me if I want anything else while loud drum music accompanies three close up shots of the heroine’s face one after another, the camera traveling fast before coming to a sudden halt on her face. Nice face. The hero looks as if he has suddenly realized that he forgot to write code for a boundary condition and now the build and tests are going to fail. The manager gives me the cake parcel and I give him the card. Then the hero smiles to himself as if he realizes that he also forgot to enable the feature flag and so the code wouldn’t be enabled and the build wouldn’t fail. The manager leisurely picks up another card swipe machine because the first machine’s batteries are down. The heroine’s is looking at the hero and wondering why he is grinning in that half witted manner. The hero broadens the smile and asks if that is the only reason. She says yes but if he doesn’t believe it then take a look and she looks purposefully at the mirror. There are now two reflections: one is our hero and the other is a cobra moving its tail. I think that it would have been impossible for me to tell a female cobra from a male one in the wild. I also notice that the mirror is quite large, and as I enter my card PIN I guess that it’s possibly larger than the ones they have in corporate office washrooms. I wonder why they have placed such a mirror in their living room and if it is even hygienic to do so. The hero looks at her reflection, looks back at her and smiles again. She is thinking she now doesn’t know how to get rid of this weirdo when he even more purposefully looks at the mirror and now there are two cobras there. Faulty mirror, I think, when the hero tells her that he is also a cobra. It makes sense then, I think, the mirror is alright. I collect the cake and walk out of the shop because I fear that if I stay there any longer I might start frothing from my mouth. As I am leaving another person there says that it is a repeat telecast of the earlier night’s episode and the manager agrees.
Well, humor aside, every bit of the story is true including the store manager. But if this is wholesome entertainment, it is not for me. Also, one of the things I have come to hate most in Hindi Marathi serials is the loudness of it all. The dialogs and situations are so dull that they need intrusive and loud music to add effect. And another thing I absolutely can’t stand on TV is the jokes. Please bear in mind that this is my perception and based on very little data. I would love to be pleasantly surprised.
So when a couple of more people forcefully recommended Zindagi Gulzar Hai, I ended up starting it. Of course, with low expectations. A couple of episodes in, I was finding it slow. But it was not nonsense and at least a few things like Urdu were interesting. And I continued. Some things are a bit stretched and I would have loved the number of episodes reduced by better script but overall it was good.
In the end, the mother of the girls feels vindicated. Life, for her, evens out. She has some nice mature dialogs. But the dialogs don’t feel superficial. For example, in one scene when the heroine says that it is because their situation has improved, people have changed and have started respecting them, her mother says, possibly that is why people want to improve their situation. Dialogs such as this interest me. It is not the complete and universal truth maybe. But it is so deep rooted or intrinsic part of the story, and for the story duration it is an universal truth. However, coming back to vindication, I think while there are situations when life evens out and everyone feels vindicated, it is even more so in micro than in macro perception. And that is what matters.
Also, Kashaf, the heroin, takes her time to come out of her shell and alter her outlook. I think that is because people get conditioned by various factors like money, insecurity. The heroine is quite insecure and defensive because she has seen bad days and while this part takes a lot of time in the series than I would have liked, I can understand that is was important. Also, she has acted well in romantic scenes. A few episodes at the start did not give me that impression- that she would be good in those scenes. Urdu is nice; it is so soft. Just to note here that I like Urdu pronunciations of Mohd. Rafi, Dilip Kumar, Naseeruddin Shah and Lata. I did not understand all the words but the writing was definitely good and while I think the series could have been shorter by 5-10 episodes, I was never disconnected while watching it.
Recommended; if a little long series.
A nice scene: Mujhe Toot Jaane Se Khauf Aata hain.