Hum Kahan Kay Sachay was generating a lot of attention, even before it aired, and rightly so because there are a few things one can’t ignore about the show from the outset. The star studded cast, their new looks along with the soundtrack and background score immediately manage to gain viewers' attention.
The story is an adaptation of Umera Ahmed’s novella of the same name and Farooq Rind’s direction manages to recreate a literary storytelling on screen. From the narrator’s voiceover in the first scene to the cliffhanger in the latest episode, this drama draws you in like a good read. It moves at a rather fast pace to balance the intensity of the story.
There is nothing exceptionally original about the story since Pakistani dramas have woven love triangles, cousin marriage and family politics together to death. However, Hum Kahan Kay Sachay Thay probes below surface and into the complexes, toxicity, and bitterness that characters in such storylines never quite fully express on screen. It manages to get deep into these emotions because the story follows three children into adulthood and the audience doesn’t just watch time lapses, it also becomes privy to the atmosphere and circumstances in which these children begin to imbibe the prejudices of the adults around them.
In fact, the very first scene begins with the narrator warning audiences of the damaging effects that grownups and their conversations can have on children and their growth.
Three cousins Mehreen (Mahira Khan), Mashal (Kubra Khan) and Aswad (Usman Mukhtar) enjoy a happy childhood together, but their wholesome experiences are constantly peppered by Mashal’s mother Shagufta’s (Zainab Qayyum) comparisons of the two girls. Shagufta holds what seems to have become standard and inexplicable resentment for her sister-in-laws and that in turn is projected onto Mehreen. Aswad is spared from this because he might be a potential suitor for Mashal in the future. Therefore, Mashal is raised with a sense of unevenness with Mehreen and entitlement.
Matters become more serious than the occasional jibe when Mehreen’s father (Omair Raina), a government employee, harbours a drug addiction and indulges in hefty corruption at work. Divorce is decided as the only solution, but just as Mehreen and her mother are about to leave the family home, her father passes away. The young girl holds that last glance close to her heart forever.
Shamin Hillali as Mehreen’s nani never lets the girl escape her past. Shagufta and Mashal further this and soon Mehreen becomes unreasonably stigmatised by her late father’s lapses. Her mother is forced to remarry to avoid being lonely or rather a burden, and this leaves Mehreen completely alone and at the mercy of her nani and family. Her only sympathiser is her maternal aunt Saleha, who, coincidentally, is Aswad’s mother.
Mehreen longs for the safety of a loved one and frequently wakes up breathing heavily after seeing her father in a dream. Mahira portrays the bitterness, anxiety, fear and rage with such ease and understandable trauma that it angers one when other characters find her 'unreasonable'. One just can’t help but feel outraged when Mehreen searches for her inhaler and it is revealed to have been purposely hidden by Mashal. The portrayal of the enmity couldn’t be clearer and more dangerous.
Until of course there are whispers of Saleha thinking of Mehreen as a potential match for Aswad. This sets alarms ringing for Shagufta and she immediately attempts to exert influence on the grandmother to prevent this from occurring. Meanwhile, Mashal seems to have been working on this plan for years as her daily calls to Aswad include a strange sense of inexplicable infatuation for him and Mehreen’s constant character assassination. It is interesting to note that while Kubra as Mashal has this strange flirtatiousness in her tone, Usman Mukhtar as Aswad is more or less non-reciprocal. Yet, he is completely blinded by her insight into Mehreen’s life.
One wonders how Aswad believes every word and never cross checks with his mother. But, then Hum Kahan Kay Sachay Thay plays heavily on the symbolism both in its title and of the names Mehreen (sun like), Aswad (black) and Mashal (torch). Aswad, for the most part, doesn’t think much but absorbs all that Mashal emits. He does have some grey shades in terms of hypocrisy when it comes to Mehreen and absolute obedience to his mother in which he agrees to marry Mehreen over Mashal.
In their mutual hatred Mehreen and Mashal constantly attempt to outshine each other, particularly when it comes to Aswad. Kubra portrays that anger and jealously not just physically, but also emotionally. Yet, one can’t feel bad for her because she manages to portray the negative aspect of her character so well that as an audience it is difficult to work past that. It remains to be seen whether Mehreen’s consent for the proposal, which comes with the knowledge that Aswad does not like her, will result in her being able to shine or will she now be eclipsed by the darkness of the hate within both Aswad and herself albeit for different people.
The title of the drama suggests regret and introspection, and I hope that it also leads to corrective action instead of the standard trope of karma.
Zainab Qayyum and Shamim Hillali are the more notable supporting cast members, absolutely firm in their negativity and their selfishness while thinking of themselves as kind and selfless individuals. Huma Nawab as Aswad’s mother always manages to cast an impression in her khala roles and here too there is no reason not to love her.
Hum Kahan Kay Sachay Thay not only benefits from brilliant actors and a strong director, but also styling, particularly that of Mahira and Kubra wardrobes along with their rooms. It was visually so engaging to watch the contrast including the details of the most important but uncredited cast member: the diary.
So far, eight episodes of the drama have aired.