Love is in the air as the title suggests in Tum Kon Piya. The drama was riding high on the wave of anticipation even before it aired. Tum Kon Piya marks actress Ayeza Khan’s return to the small screen after the blockbuster Pyare Afzal, marriage and motherhood.
It also matches her with Imran Abbas fresh off his own romantic role in Mera Naam Yousuf Hai. Viewers were enticed by this fresh pairing.
However this is desi television, so we must set the boundaries for our romantic entanglements as well as our class dynamics that threaten to pull them apart. In the first episode we are introduced to Elma (Ayeza Khan) who is up at daybreak to indulge in some poetry and all around domestic wizardry.
As the eldest daughter in a motherless family of three girls and a doting dad she naturally has to take responsibility for the home. Her father, Waqar Ali (Qavi Khan in an ill fitting wig) loves her to a fault, often over his other two daughters and to whom he instructs: ”Kuch ghardari sikha dena (teach them some home making skills).” Because of course, that is all a girl needs in this day and age.
A 1970s hangover
Tum Kon Piya is adapted from Maha Malik’s novel of the same name so readers might already be familiar with the story, which has a very strong 70s vibe and not in a good way. There is the rich boy falling in love with poor girl, striking labourers and other family class dynamics.
None of the girls seem to have a life beyond the home and college. This maybe a reflection of some parts of our social reality but that doesn’t create any memorable characters.
The other parallel tracks include the home of Sharafat khala (Hina Bayat) and her children. The eldest Zarbab’s (Ali Abbas) salary sustains the home and is watched like a hawk by his mother. She is none too happy that her daughter Sobia’s friend/her own niece Javeria is all moony-eyed over the boy. Khala decrees that she be kept at a distance from her son, though she has her own soft spot for her youngest son who has her wrapped around his finger.
The drama sees domestic goddess Elma (played by Ayeza Khan) fall for Ramish (played by Imran Abbas), a bleeding heart liberal. Of course they occupy opposing ends of the class spectrum.
Meanwhile, Elma’s father is a hardworking employee at his richer relative's factory. His middle-class status is driven home by his riding a bright blue scooter (which I suspect we have seen before.) He interacts with Ramish Hassan (Imran Abbas), a bleeding heart liberal bent on sharing his father’s wealth with the labourers who created it by promising them backdated bonuses.
All this is very quaint, very 1970s and very yawn inducing. Surely there are more inventive ways to showcase socialist sympathies and the hero as a good guy?
Ho hum, humdrum
Elam’s father is an honest employee and kind-hearted chacha to his nephew. Ramish too respects and loves him dearly. His sudden illness leads Ramish to his home (again, been there done that) where he falls in love at first sight with Elma.
For a change though Elma too holds his gaze so she is not some sharmili larki who can’t deal with budding feelings of love and she says just as much in some very cringe-inducing dialogue. That Ayeza Khan was saying these lines is the only thing that saves them from being a total disaster.
All this dovetails very well to what is becoming something of a rule in dramas these days: ‘Thou may only be romantically inclined to persons who are near relations.’
There is one rule that dramas seem to have set in stone these days: '‘Thou may only be romantically inclined to persons who are near relations.’
This has practically become a commandment for dramas these days. Hence, the romance between Elma and Ramish who are distant relations as well as flirting cousins.
The story has all the ingredients of a Bollywood flick on an overdose of glycerin (told you it’s a 70s throwback): zulm, ziyati, shak. While word of the drama sent girls on Twitter in a hashtag frenzy claiming they didn’t want to watch a depressing play, the team came back to say that they have changed a lot of the screenplay.
Would that then explain the cringe-inducing dialogue? I present Exhibit A:
“Aysa kon sa scale hai jis pe mohabbat ko measure kiya ja sakte hai? Iska matlab hai ki appne kabhi mohabbat nahin ki. Varna aap jante ke jo dil hai na, ye khud ek scale hota hai jis pe khud ba khud sare readings aa jati hai. Appni bhi aur dosron ki bhi.
(Translation: What kind of scale do you use to measure love? That means you have never been in love. Or you would know that the heart has its own scale – one that can measure one's own reading and others' too.)
While Ramish seems to be impressed conceding, “I am speechless.” I am too, but not for the right reasons.
Nothing new is on offer here. The only hope lies in the fact that director Yasir Nawaz has the ability to extract stellar performances and hopefully create visual texture with Naeem Mustafa, the director of photography. That he has a solid cast of actors to work with ups the ante.
Ayeza Khan is beautiful and easily fits into the dutiful daughter role. It is a good role reversal for from her magroor hasina Farah in Pyare Afzal to bholi beti here. She might just be the saving grace.
Imran Abbas is an actor who completely molds himself into the character he plays. He injected soulfulness in his last romantic outing and can probably play this character with his eyes closed. An actor his stature deserves better than just dapper suits and it might benefit him to choose roles that challenge him.
Haven't we had enough of star-crossed lovers? I guess not!
As for the story, the stage is being set for the star-crossed lovers. Ramish’s parents with their firm ideas of class boundaries are less than impressed with son’s socialist tendencies. Khala too, is cross with her niece’s attempts to behkao her simpleton son.
All this spells doom and gloom to follow. Lets just hope that there are some romantic moments and good acting to rise about the sub-par script. If the first episode is any indication, I am hoping that the loud background score can drown out the terrible writing.
Though honestly, I am not holding my breath.
Sadaf Siddique is a freelance writer, avid reader, film and drama enthusiast and sometime drama queen, not necessarily in that order.