A story of identity and betrayal: Shanaas comes close to the classic Pakistani dramas of the 80s

A story of identity and betrayal: Shanaas comes close to the classic Pakistani dramas of the 80s

With a talented cast and a very skilled creative team, this drama should be on your watch-list.
16 Oct, 2023

Shanaas is an enthralling drama that tells a complex story of identity, betrayal, and a young woman’s quest to determine who she is. A drama by Q&K Productions in association with Multiverse Entertainment, Shanaas was aired on Green Entertainment. At its heart is Aneesa, played brilliantly by Hajra Yamin, who discovers that she was adopted by her parents Mahrukh (Sania Saeed) and Mir Jalal (Shahzad Nawaz), setting in motion an emotional and suspenseful journey spanning 22 episodes.

As Aneesa delves into her past to uncover the truth about her biological parents, she encounters a range of characters connected to her history. Along this turbulent path, she faces betrayals from those close to her, leaving her questioning her own identity. Unwavering support comes from her fiancé Ramis (Arez Ahmed) and the ever-reliable Mahrukh.

This support, however, is not without its unique tribulations faced by each character. Ramis’ love for Aneesa is tested by his overprotective mother as well as the circumstances surrounding the past of Aneesa’s biological mother, bringing him close to a brush or two with death.

Mahrukh too is confronted by her own demons, now knowing that she is not the only ‘mother’ in Aneesa’s life; she is figuring out where she is placed in the orbit that was once entirely her own. On the other hand, Mir Jalal who started off as calm and collected, is slowly beginning to lose his grip on the situation, cutting a sorry figure, and finding himself lost, alone, and unable to place his trust in what he thinks he knows.

One of the most special features of the series is Shamim Hilaly’s understated performance. A callous and cold grandmother who refused to accept Aneesa wholeheartedly, she has the family’s ‘reputation’ to protect and no amount of ‘love’ and emotion can come in the way of that. One almost feels sorry for her, but then again it’s hard to tell if she can redeem herself.

The exceptional performances of the cast, including Yasra Rizvi (Aneesa’s Maria Khala) and Adnan Shah Tipu, add depth to the story. Yamin and Saeed particularly stand out with their portrayals.

Delving into the topics of adoption, religious supremacism, and class differences, Shanaas offers a thought-provoking narrative crafted by writer Adarsh Ayaz, as it gradually reveals this family’s many once-buried secrets to its intrepid progeny who will stop at nothing to find it who she is and where she came from.

The drama’s production quality is superior, evident in its meticulous set design, wardrobe selection, lighting, makeup, and editing. These elements enhance the viewing experience and contribute to the show’s visual appeal. The drama’s soundtrack, ‘Khamoshi’, is exceptional and in many ways matches the rhythm of the story, which is part emotion, part suspense. Sung by singer-songwriter Sami Khan, ‘Khamoshi’ sets the tone for Aneesa’s journey, with its many ups and downs, ultimately peaking into a reveal of sorts.

Rizvi’s direction strikes a perfect balance between a fast-paced narrative and moments of introspection that are critical to understanding the characters in this family and the tangled choices they have made over decades. She skillfully brings out raw emotions from the cast, giving them space to fully explore their characters’ complexities.

Shanaas wrapped up last week with its 22nd episode, combining a compelling storyline with exceptional acting and high production standards, taking its viewers on an emotional rollercoaster as they explore the intricate web of family secrets and Aneesa’s journey of self-discovery. With a talented cast and a very skilled creative team, Shanaas comes pretty close to the classic Pakistani television dramas of the 1980s. Must watch at least once!

Overall rating: 3.5/5