Anyone watching the first episode of Dillagi could easily mistake it for the first quarter of a film: there is a thrilling chase sequence in the first few scenes introducing us to a dabang heroine, a snappy script that doesn’t leave the viewer guessing and a fast paced story that keeps the audience riveted. Dillagi is directed by Nadeem Baig, whose Pyarey Afzal and Jawani Phir nahi Aani have firmly cemented his position as one of the best directors in the industry. The script and original story are written by the ever versatile and talented Faiza Iftikhar whose repertoire includes social commentary such as the award winning Roag , Diya Jaley and romantic comedies like the hit AunZara and Aik Naeey Cinderella to name a few. This serial is produced by Shehzad Nasib and Humayoon Saeed and is playing in the prime time Saturday evening spot on ARY Digital.
The story is set in the narrow back streets of Sukkar, interior Sindh, where Anmol (Mehwish Hayat) lives a simple middle class life with her mother (Asma Abbasi) and younger sister (Maryam Ansari). Before passing away Anmol’s father had paid off a debt he owed to local moneylender Kifayat Ali using his home as security, but Anmol’s mother has no proof of the debt repayment so they are an easy mark for fraud. Kifayat Ali engages Mohid (Humayoon Saeed), who specializes in real-estate, and a little goondagardi on the side, to evict Anmol’s family. The clash between Mohid and Anmol is the crux of this story.
Watching the courageous and practical Anmol fight a bag snatcher for her hard earned money and then visit lawyer after lawyer to save her family home was a breath of fresh air. A woman with an actual personality rather than the generic “good girl” persona of every bholi larki we see on screen may come as a jolt for slumbering audiences but it is a much needed wake up call. After Preet na Karyo Koi’s Ghoshi , we have another interesting character to watch. Mehwish Hayat’s performance is magnetic and simply flawless; the audience can see exactly why Mohid is enamored with her in their first meeting. Director Nadeem Baig has sacrificed the usual floodlights on the face, red lipstick and brightly colored clothes that mark our “heroines” for absolute integrity and authenticity. No doubt Mehwish Hayat is a beautiful woman but it is Anmol’s personality which shines in every scene. .
Speaking of strong women, Saba Hamid seems to be gearing up for another unforgettable performance as Mohid’s mother. Mohid‘s mother is another woman who knows her mind and has little time for women who won’t help themselves. She has brought her son up to be both brave and principled but despite having such a mother as a role model, Mohid’s sister (Uzma Hassan) seems to be the weak link in the family. Uzma Hassan is an actress who manages to make any role shine, which only adds to the potential of this serial.
The other end of the equation in this drama is completed by Humayoon Saeed as Mohid. After an absence of a few years from the small screen, Humayoon Saeed looks fresh and has this character perfectly in hand, conveying Mohid’s quiet, powerful personality with understated charm. The down turn of his head as Anmol throws him out of her house for being a “Goonda/Mawali” type and the slow smile of amusement that follows lets the audience know exactly who is in charge of the situation. The chemistry between Saeed and Hayat is electric, they hardly interact but there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that these two belong together. The rest of the cast is rounded out by Imran Ashraf, who provides a few lighter moments as Mohid’s second in command Dastagir.It wouldn’t be a Faiza Iftikhar script without a touch of humour and from the promos it seems as if Dastagir and Anmol’s sister will provide them.
Director Nadeem Baig deserves all the credit for extracting such controlled performances from such a diverse cast of performers and building easy screen chemistry between all of them. He has set up the premise of the entire story with understated finesse while keeping the action moving at an exhilarating speed. The characters’ motivations are understandable without sacrificing nuance and there are no forced, illogical situations to wrack our brains over. In other words the writer, director and cast are all on the same page, so the viewer can actually relax and (gasp!) be entertained instead of chewing over each episode and wondering what is going on in some character’s head as “homework”.
First episodes can be misleading but overall this first episode looks like the real thing, and promises to be the kind of family entertainment we have been missing .The only drawback seems to be an epidemic of slapping. As a rule I don’t like violence and if there has to be a slap, could we just limit it to one slap per serial? When Mohid slaps one of his henchman it is a pivotal, necessary point in the story. With this one action, he manages to manipulate his way into Anmol’s house and at the same time establishes himself as a criminal “thug” in her mind. However with Anmol slapping her unwanted library Romeo earlier in the episode and then a promo for next week showing Mohid slapping the poor guy all over again it seems to cross the line to ridiculous in an otherwise excellent drama. Besides, Mohid looks as if he could just whistle and the poor would be Romeo would fall over, a case of overkill to say the least. I keep thinking back to the “Thapparo wala mazaak “ scene( masterfully played by Mikaal Zulfikaar and Aisha Khan) from the Tarang houseful telefilm Abhi Tho Main Jawan Hoon , which really isn’t the slapstick vibe Dillagi is aiming for . Apart from that this looks like a must watch on everyone’s list.