In desperate times... a new hero often emerges from the ashes of a drama gone wrong.
And this is what is happening with TV drama Mann Mayal.
If anyone was under the impression that Salahuddin (played by Hamza Ali Abbasi) is the hero of Mann Mayal, they are wrong. The last four episodes have seen the rise of a new man, one who can live and love to the fullest. Salahuddin has been relegated to the role of an ineffectual witness, one who sits and listens as the women of Mann Mayal, 'bad girl' Jeena and the bholiest of them all Mannu, slug it out for the crown of Pakistan’s greatest victim.
So who is this mystery man? None other than Salahuddin's faithful butler/chauffeur/office manager/psychologist/love guru Jameel.
In 23 episodes, Salahuddin has not been able to make a solid commitment to anything, be it his work schedule or one of the two women that hover obsessively around him. His purported true love for Mannu lasted as long as Jeena could wheedle a ring out of him and the ring on Jeena’s finger is about as permanent as the froth on his early morning coffee.
Jameel, on the other hand, has a strong bond with his Mannu Baji and is always there to save her from her latest idiotic decision.
While Mannu may be Jameel’s Baji, Jeena surely isn’t.
In a brave attempt to challenge the rigid rules of a zalim samaj the makers of Mann Mayal present to us what I have titled: ”Jameel's epic story of unrequited love for Jeena”.
A very wise man called Ed Sheeran once said that people fall in love in mysterious ways. I agree. All it took for Jameel to fall in love was rubbing Silvadene into Jeena’s completely unburned hand.
With the kind of manly daring Salahuddin has yet to muster, Jameel stakes his claim: putting aside his wife and two children and boldly declaring that he will love Jeena “jee bhar kay” even if she is marrying his boss.
This is just another absurd twist to a story which now looks like a car that ran out of petrol but is being pushed forcibly along the road by its desperate occupants trying to get to some out-of-reach destination.
Salahuddin's household help Jameel has shown the kind of manly daring his boss can't muster. He stakes his claim to Salahuddin's new love Jeena when he bravely rubs Silvadene into Jeena’s completely unburned hand.
It is now abundantly clear that the director did not take the time visualize this story from beginning to end so what might even be legitimate plot turns seem like ad hoc additions to cash in on this drama's popularity.
Meanwhile the cynical are wearily guessing that this just a game Jameel is playing to get an extra episode — oops I mean to catch the villainous Jeena. This is not the first or the last time a bad drama has gained popularity or been stretched beyond its limits (who remembers Shukk?), there is a deep underlying pathology to this whole situation.
However, Jameel does seem to be a hit with Mann Mayal's loyal audience.
And why not? With a main character as ineffectual as Salahuddin, someone with a backbone had to step up. Now we're just waiting for this compelling character to get his own spinoff.