What doesn't make sense is that each character can see a clear path out of distress but they refuse to take it
What doesn't make sense is that each character can see a clear path out of distress but they refuse to take it

At its heart Mann Mayal is a simple story that shows us that the obstacles we face in life may exist only in our own hearts and minds.

Mannu (Maya Ali) is the naive daughter of a well-to-do family living in Hyderabad. When Mannu’s father hires her friend's older brother Salahuddin (Hamza Ali Abbasi) as her tutor, the latent attraction between them eventually blossoms into love. While Manu is brave and risks everything to be with Salahuddin, he doesn’t have the strength or confidence to ask for her hand because of his family’s inferior social and financial status.

The story so far

Mannu marries Mikail (Gohar Rasheed) but that is only the beginning of the young girl’s problems. Her new husband is beyond reform: he drinks, takes drugs and is addicted to gambling and partying. Even worse, he dislikes Mannu and makes clear he only married her to manipulate his parents.

Meanwhile, Salahuddin joins his friend Ifti’s (Vasay Chaudhry) business in Karachi but he is not made welcome by Ifti’s mean-spirited wife Kuki (Arjumand Rahim). Disgusted by Ifti and Kuki’s neglect and ill treatment of Ifti’s father, Salahuddin resolves to take care of the old man himself. After spending time with Ifti’s father (Talat Hussain), Salahuddin grows in self-confidence and realizes what a mistake he made rejecting Mannu and takes a chance to offer her a reconciliation.

Although Mannu is thinking of separating from the indifferent Mikail, she is still so angry with Salahuddin that she throws his offer back at him and returns to her husband.

As we inch towards the serial's close, Salahuddin inherits a lot of money from Ifti’s father and the story moves on three years. Meanwhile Mannu and Mikail have one son with another child on the way, as Mikail wants to make sure he inherits his father’s wealth.

Highlights

Gohar Rasheed takes to Mikail's negative character in Mann Mayal
Gohar Rasheed takes to Mikail's negative character in Mann Mayal

This is one of the most popular shows on television, riding high on Hamza Ali Abbasi’s huge fan following. Doomed love affairs are always popular fodder and Hum TV has this genre refined to a marketing miracle.

Two exceptionally good-looking people suffering the slings and arrows of cruel fortune always makes for good ratings, it seems.

Gohar Rasheed has also been able to make his mark in this negative role. There is little nuance to Mikail and Gohar has for the most part played this entirely selfish character with a straight, hard-faced attitude that gives the serial a lot of its traction.


Talat Hussain is excellent as the dying father trying to hold on to a few shreds of dignity at the difficult last stage of life. Other plus points: production values are excellent, which one can expect from Hum TV


The other highlights have been Talat Hussain’s excellent portrayal of the dying father trying to hold on to a few shreds of dignity at the difficult last stage of life.

Mann Mayal is beautifully made with all the bright lights and colors at Hum TV’s command. Production values continue to be a plus point with this serial which combined with judicious use of the haunting title track makes this a visual treat.

Drawbacks

The arrival of Aisha Khan's character Jeena will hopefully shake things up in Mann Mayal
The arrival of Aisha Khan's character Jeena will hopefully shake things up in Mann Mayal

It would be much easier to empathize with Mannu and Salahuddin’s difficulties if they actually seemed attracted to each other. While Maya Ali has kept her end of the bargain, Hamza Ali Abbasi seems disconnected for the most part.

There is no doubt that Hamza is a good actor after his stints in Pyarey Afzal and films Waar and Jawani Phir Nahi Aani, but his expressions in Mann Mayal do not convey the pain of loss and separation that a broken heart might suffer. His subdued reactions to what should be painful situations cloud any understanding of his character’s motivations.

However, if he cannot play the wounded lover, he has certainly played the surrogate son to Ifti’s father really well. The onscreen chemistry between Abbasi and Talat Hussain was excellent. If only the same could be said of Vasay Chaudhry’s performance as Ifti. Vasey Chaudhry doesn’t seem to have taken his role seriously at all but Arjumand Rahim managed to make strong impression as Kuki.


Mann Mayal suffers from obvious plot holes. Why does Mannu stick with Mikaal even when her family would support her if she chose to leave? It’s hard to feel sorry for protagonists who have a clear path out of a difficult situation but choose to plunge into it anyway.


The slips and slides of logic in the main story don’t help the empathy quotient either. For example, why does the rude servant Jamal suddenly become a good guy after his patient dies? Why does Mannu never talk to her mother about her problems? And why does Mannu return to a man who has serious character flaws when her family is clearly willing to support her?

It’s hard to feel sorry for protagonists who have a clear path out of a difficult situation but choose to plunge into it anyway.

One of the biggest weaknesses is the complete lack of personality that Mannu’s character suffers from.

While Maya Ali has managed to make Mannu believable and even likable, it is very hard to find anything about her that isn’t generic.

Her main interests in life seem to be the men around her; she has no hobbies, no dislikes or likes; even her one friendship with Rabia is ultimately colored by her link to Salahuddin.

Next week’s promo shows the entry of a new character, Jeena, played by the talented Aisha Khan. This may as well be just the twist to bring some depth to a serial that is riding a wave of massive popularity but lacks the intensity it promised in the first episode.

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