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Mann Mayal episode 1 Review

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Hum TV’s latest offering Mann Mayal has been introduced with a lot of fanfare and the kind of publicity that is usually reserved for Movies but is now the status quo for big budget dramas. The star attraction is of course the return to the small screen of Hamza Ali Abbasi, whose portrayal of Pyarey Afzal has now become iconic. It is to Abbasi’s credit that, despite being one of the brightest stars of the nascent Pakistani film industry. he has not abandoned the medium that helped keep the entertainment industry alive during leaner times. Mann Mayal is produced by Momina Duraid, Samina Humayoon Saeed and Sana Shahnawaz. Written by Samira Fazal and directed by Haseeb Hassan, this serial also stars Maya Ali, Aisha Khan, Gohar Rasheed and Aiman Khan as main characters. The cast boasts not to be missed performers like Saba Hameed, Atiqa Odho, Javed Shaikh, Arjumand Rahim and Vasey Chaudhry in its ranks too.12507256_811430679002302_8164675244181279682_n

Plot or the story so far:

The story revolves around Mannu (Maya Ali) and Salahuddin (Hamza Ali Abbasi) ,who live in a provincial town in Sindh. Mannu is best friends with Salahuddin’s younger sister Beeya and their families share the usual friendliness and trust of neighbors with like minds that comes through years of familiarity. The greatest difference between them is the fact that Mannu’s family is comparatively wealthy and lives together according to tradition with a full quota of relatives, while Salahuddin lives a simple but respectable life with his mother, father and sister. The first episode is taken up with Beeya passing her final exams with an ‘A’ while Mannu much to her own disappointment ends up failing. Beeya has been forced to study hard by her paragon of a brother and this impresses Mannu’s father enough that he asks Salahuddin to tutor Mannu.320x240-DPH

From the first scene it is obvious that Mannu and Salahuddin are wary of each other, almost antagonists, but the audience soon realizes that friction is just a veneer for a simmering attraction that both are trying to suppress. Salahuddin is the most discerning of the pair, a quiet, studious, sensible young man who understands the world well beyond his years. He knows his lack of position and wealth would make any connection difficult and he doesn’t want to be distracted from his own aim to be somebody by a relationship that will only cause him pain. Mannu on the other hand is naïve and not as self-aware, she is attracted to her friend’s straight-laced brother but isn’t sure why. She jumps from one mood to another like a child, trying to attract the attention of her determinedly serious new teacher. Meanwhile Mannu’s family has quietly invited a family to come and see Mannu for a “rishta”. Blissfully unaware, Mannu visits her friend Beeya to make mithai for the coming guests, but ends up studying with Salahuddin again.

The episode ends with a teaser for next week showing Gohar Rasheed as Mikaal the prospective rishta.download (45).jpg

Highlights

Director Haseeb Hassan is a stickler for details and it shows in all his projects from Bol Meri Machli to Dayar e Dil. Mann Mayal has some wonderfully authentic settings and is beautifully shot with the kind of lighting and ambience which invites the audience into the character’s little world. Haseeb Hassan often gives a distant, third person perspective to his work but for this intense love story there is a lot more warmth and intimacy in the way this drama has been made. For a first episode this was remarkably slick; relationships, fault lines and most importantly the main protagonist’s attraction for each other were nicely established without clumsy dialogues and forced situations. Full credit is due to Samira Fazal, for providing a fast paced script which not only sets the scene but moves the story forward.

Despite some strong echoes of Pyarey Afzal in this episode, Hamza Ali Abbasi has managed to delineate Salahuddin from the first moment on screen. Modest, middleclass background notwithstanding, Salahuddin is not Afzal. Abbasi manages to make a strong impression in this first episode, his powerful screen presence and strong, controlled performance promise great things ahead for this serial. Maya Ali has done an excellent job: her enunciation is under control and despite Mannu’s almost quicksilver changes of mood and argumentative nature; she has given the character just the right amount of vulnerability to be likable .So far Ali has controlled the “bholi larki” vibe enough that Salahuddin’s attraction to her seems feasible.

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The main leads and indeed the entire cast share an easy chemistry, making every interaction seem natural and normal. In typical Samira Fazal style all of the characters have a role to play and are not treated as “special effects “to keep the background interesting. The Mothers, Fathers, Chachis, Phupo and even cousin Tipu have their own unique characters and are anything but generic. Mannu’s father in particular is sure to become a firm favourite with the younger crowd,(especially the girls ) who probably wish their parents were enlightened enough to find them a  handsome, young tutor like Salahuddin..

Critique

The most obvious critique is that the whole episode seems a little too familiar , the sets , the wardrobe, the atmosphere of a provincial town , the friendly terms between families of different means and the relationship between Mannu , Beeya and Salahuddin all come a little too close to the Pyarey Afzal aesthetic. hopefully that is superficial and the next episode teaser does seem to dispel it, but it is too powerful an image to ignore till then. Similarly the way Mannu sneaks out at night to visit a Mazar to pray for success in her exams was very reminiscent of Sadqay Tumharey.

The episode is well made and captures the audience’s attention throughout however for the cynical  Mannu’s character is a very recognizable cliché .The way she jumps about knocking into people, sneaking out at night to visit a Mazar, her stubborn, “stand your ground” nature and quick comebacks, are a stock persona we see in every third drama. It really is to Maya Ali’s credit that she has made this character a lot more authentic than she deserves. Isn’t it time the audience was treated to a better, more authentic vision of girlhood than this? As the serial progresses, perhaps Mannu may also reach some level of nuance beyond the expected.

Conclusion

So far this drama seems to be bring back HUMTV to more family oriented viewing. The recent fervor at Hum TV to make dramas like Sangat and Gul e Rana which glamourize rapists may thankfully have abated. http://images.dawn.com/news/1174079

This is a well-made drama worth watching, anyone who sees the first episode cannot fail to want to see the next. If Mann Mayal can manage to steer clear of obvious clichés, it has the potential to be not only a blockbuster, or a  “must watch “ but something iconic, all the ingredients are there  The best part is that writer Samira Fazal has said in a previous interview http://images.dawn.com/news/1174655 that the drama is just 24 episodes and won’t be stretched to death like so many good stories.maxresdefault

By Sadaf Haider

This post first appeared in Dawn Images

For those curious about the name change from Tera Ghum aur Hum to Mann Mayal , this original interview of KRQ conducted By sadaf Siddiqu and Sadaf Haider might be of interest

 

 

21 Comments »

  1. Hi Sadaf, thank you so much for these reviews. I am from Sri Lanka and even though some words are quite familiar I don’t understand most of the dialogues. I watch an episode of Maan Mayal and then come here to read your reviews! And it helps alot.
    So thank you so much again! Hope to discuss more points later when Im much familiar with the story!

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  2. Your review is very good Sadaf. This is the first serial of Hamza Ali Abbasi that I am watching – I watched the first episode that is. It was really FAB. I’ve watched it twice already. And not many serials have that re-watch quality these days. I do hope it does not drag and become another Aitraz or something similar. But kuch to acha aaya TV par warna nothing good is on air.

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    • I think that is exactly the majority opinion ! Yes it may be lok a bit derivitive at first glance but really we are all so straved for a good serial that we are all more than willing to give it a chance . Geo has totally given up ,( I think Mujhay kuch kehna hai is a fluke of nature ) ARY has become the “Fahad Mustapha humiliates people for money ” channel and till this HUM has been on a “rapists are cute spree”
      so what else is there ?

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      • I think this horrible game show on Friday and Sunday has just destroyed our cherished weekend slot that used to have good dramas. Geo is all for saas, bahu, mazloom maa, and whatever happened to their casting abilities? Even if you can stomach the stories, the acting is terrible. And dont get me started on Gulerana – there should be a nationwide campaign to shut off the tv when it comes. Phir bhi kisi lo nahin aqal aani.

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        • Lol , Totally agree about the “horrible” game show … It is demeaning at so many levels ! AND yes Geo is just full of abused Mazloom women .. But umeed par dunya zind hai … Geo and ARY and HUM , Aplua etc are bound to have something up their sleeves for this season !

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  3. Oh dear, am I the only person who is going to go against the grain?

    @Rads, you aren’t the only person who watch Pyarey Afzal in a quick run through. Looks like Hasseb Hassan watched it too, taking copious notes all the while. And yes, Hamza Ali Abbasi pretty much has three stock expressions that he keeps using and reusing. Not much range there, am afraid. Pyarey Afzal worked in no small part because of Khalil sahib’s writing

    This seems to be a copy paste of PA as well as you pointed out Sadaf, Sadkay Tumharey. It’s very reminiscent of both those dramas without the originality and heft in the writing. Didn’t Khalil sahib say he was working on Tera Ghum Aur Hum, which was the original name of the drama?

    This episode seemed sooo long. It could have easily been trimmed. Maya Ali was good, Hamza was umm…like Rads said a three-expression wonder. Everything seems to have been seen before so no marks for originality. Honestly, I don’t even think they have the chemistry. So I guess I am the only one raining on this parade….

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    • Partys of one or …. for that matter two always welcome . You have point a strong point about the copy paste issues . I had a lot of Deja Vu , especially as the cast was familiar ..Saba Hameed and the guy who played Farah’s dad is now Salahuddin’s Father in this … I also found the conversations very reminiscent of the KRQ style . The beginning had me shouting Dastan .. but when the whole family wakes NMannu up it sure looked like acsene from Aunn Zara … After watching so many serials perhaps it just cannot be so different is the only excuse I can come up with . I do seem to remember people thinking Alvida reminded them of Bin Roye and then it turned out to be completely different . So I am going to give this a chance , a good chance .
      Hmm I am going to repast that interview we did with KRQ and you are quite right .. that was one of the projects he mentioned … curiouser and curiouser … You know a friend mentioned this earlier and I was so but I never really took notice .
      I wonder what that is about ? Good catch MM !!

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  4. Excellent review Sadaf, thank you.

    The 1st episode was a fun watch, but you are right about the familiarity. The entire episode reminded me of Pyaray Afzal, ( the colours, sets, even the cast was the same), & to some extent to Aunn Zara & Sadkay Tumharay.
    Ost is also nice, but Hum tv needs to lower that constant background score. This is their problem with every serial. They cannot seem to fix it.

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    • Thanks for commenting ! I think Sound mixing is another art Pakistanis hav eto lern ! The music at Hum tv always Soars when I least expect it and hurts my ears ! Yes thank you , I was worried That I was being too sentimental by being reminded of so many of my favourite dramas .. yes it was very familiar ..It needs to move on and be different from next week

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  5. Sadaf,

    I love the new format of the review. And very happy to see you have fixed the banner issues- the breadcrumbs of the trending topics were not visible when the banner graphics were in b&w flowers. Now they are and the banner sizes are also proportionate. Is there a place I can write to you at other than the comments forum?

    I will keep my comment short this time- Promising start to MM. Maya was fabulous. I can see that she is a very intelligent actress. In spite of being cast as the same age, she has taken a totally different turn from Farah early days. The lisp is under strict control (I guess its caused by her dental alignment and is not voluntary). I was very moved when she just froze over the computer screen looking up her results. I hope she continues to keep this role on a tight leash and shine more.

    After so much of noise about him, i watched Pyarey Afzal in a quick run through to see what this Hamza Abbasi is all about. What I found may not go well with many of you guys -yeah yeah send rotten tomatoes, anday etc my way- I think he is pretty overrated. On closer observation I found out that he has three stock expressions 1. All purpose Angry face/scowl 2. Anguished Frodo face (aka the Consti***ed face 3. Indulgent Masterji face – with a – arey tum bhi kya yaad karoge type expression. These three expressions are on a perpetual rinse repeat mode. From the sample of well recommended drams that I have seen, I can say for sure that your TV industry has actors head and shoulders above HA. I may not know all their names, but the guy who played the lead in Mol, Fawad Khan, Gohar Rasheed, Noman Ijaz( isnt he the bhatti sahab from Jackson heights – he also was in Durr e shehwar ?), OKB, even Adeel Hussain are just effortless fabulous actors, who dont give out the ‘look I am acting vibe’ all the time. And Hamza abbasi and romance- bhagwan bachaye!

    Similarities to Pyarey Fazal doesnt bother me as much as the look that is so close to DeD. I really hope the director and the DoP divorce themselves from the mood and palette of DeD and move over to brighter colors. Good, aesthetic lighting doesn’t mean that it has to be orange tinted all the time. Soft focusing a financially humble home sometimes reduces the impact. Stark natural colors say so much more I think. Though one thing is an unqualified awesomatic winner – the sound track. What an earworm !

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    • OkThanks for reading Rads . I write for Dawn Images ( so this review had to have this format http://images.dawn.com/authors/20/sadaf-haider
      Normally I write less and in a more flowing style
      Actually no , Everyone is allowed their opinion ,if you dont like Hamza’s acting feel free to say it .
      I like him as an actor but his political views are not to my liking . I have had a few Facebook fights with him and he should know better. I am determined to keep my reviews centered on acting ability not his politics.
      Hmm I can understand where you are coming from on his facial expressions but the character is a very controlled person who is very afraid to letting his feelings reign. He knows his lack of wealth and position makes him the least favored candidate for Mannu’s hand an he suppress his feelings.
      Yes I think Maya is excellent in this episode but I hope that carries on to the others .
      I am so glad the format is better , just working out all this wordpress stuff is such a drag !!! but any help or pointers are much appreciated .

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      • Only thing I would like to see go away is the subtitles for critique/conclusion etc. I am surprised Dawn wants a review organized in a school essay format. Your free flowing format gives a lotmore freedom, though.

        Dont know or care much about HAA’s views on other things. Actors are strange folks – they take themselves too seriously sometimes. I see one recurring theme with HAA – he does the strawman argument very well;)

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  6. Loved your review, Sadaf. Agree about the similarity to Pyarey Afzal and ST. Hamza Ali Abbasi was flawless! Looking forward to next week 🙂

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  7. Your review covers everything Sadaf, brilliant as usual:) I loved this first episode, I don’t mind the familiarity at all. I didn’t watch PA but it did remind me of MNYH a bit. Maya Ali was superb in this first episode. Really looking forward to more.

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