Known to be an avid Pakistani drama follower, I take pride in the quality of production, direction and acting skills exhibited by my fellow citizens associated with the TV industry. Needless to say, our television content is very strong. Be it script developers like Haseena Moin, Amjad Islam Amjad, Umera Ahmed and Khalil ur Rehman Qamar or director/producers like Yawar Hayat, Nusrat Thakur, Saira Kazmi, Mehreen Jabber and Sarmad Khoosat or actors like Uzma Gilani, Mehboob Alam, Khalida Riyasat, Fawad Khan and Sajal Aly, they have made a name for themselves and are considered bench marks for excellence in their fields.
As a member of the Pakistani expat community, I take each and every opportunity to stay connected with Pakistan and of course, drama tops the list.
So, excitement levels soared when I heard about a drama with Sarmad Khoosat as the director and a cast boasting Sajal Aly and Marina Khan. The catchy OST added to the anticipation. Though the falling plastic-y leaves in the video were quite cringe worthy, the beat where Imran Abbas gets a slap had a poignant sweet tinge to it and one kept wondering why it’s so satisfying to see the hero getting slapped!
I must say that later in time that slap became the best part of Noor ul Ain.
To be honest, Sarmad Khoosat’s name as director was the biggest draw to the drama. But by the end of the first episode, I was wondering where I had seen this drama before. The treatment, some dialogues, for that matter even some frames rang a strong bell that threw one back to the Rani Mukherjee and Vivick Oberoi blockbuster Saathiya (2002). To be honest, that was not the point which put me off the play as I really liked the film Saathiya and thought to myself that with Sarmad Khoosat’s direction and star cast this project actually looked promising.
Unfortunately, with each passing episode it became increasingly difficult to keep my eyes on the screen for the entire length of the play. Call me old fashioned but I am from the generation where you want makeup to be visible on the female cast and here it was difficult to determine whether Imran Abbas had more makeup on or Sajal Aly? And this remained consistent till the last episode, where even on the hospital bed Imran Abbas’s lips were rosy pink whereas Marina Khan barely had any lipstick on.
Eventually I needed a parallel activity while watching Noor ul Ain, therefore my Candy Crush skills improved multi-fold. There was no other option but to have a parallel activity when you had to view each blade of the fan move in slow motion and look at Sajal Aly make a cup of tea from scratch to sip without any relevance of it to the story whatsoever. The long corridor frames in the last episode and replication of a scene in which four friends are looking for Sajal, if compared to Vivick Oberoi’s search for Rani Mukherjee in Saathiya, also was pointless as, in Saathiya the entire story was built up on that search with past and present frames revealing the story but here it merely served as a drag. There were many loose ends as well, like Noor ul Ain’s sister Sofi’s story, which was built up but left unresolved at the end.
And one more thing: please, please while creating misunderstandings and conspiracies in plays do give some credit to the intelligence of the characters and have mercy on the patience of the viewer. I mean, neither Noor ul Ain nor Khizr ever double check the web of lies knitted by Noor’s friend and Khizir’s ex girl friend, who conveniently and effortlessly tears them apart, and both of them come across as an extremely Low IQ couple. And here’s another thing I’ve never managed to understand: how can you call someone and start talking without even listening to who is on the other end of the line? Reference Sofi’s phone call to Khizer, which his mother receives and obviously doesn’t tell Khizer about it, in fact even manages to delete the message. It was ridiculous to another level.
The one character that had some spark in the entire serial was the chachi, played by Iffat Omar, but even she could not save this Titanic from tragedy. And last but not the least was the lack of chemistry between the lead couple, even more tragic because Noor ul Ain was supposed to be a romantic play. Usually a fantastic performer, Sajal Aly’s blank face persisted throughout the serial and Imran Abbas meticulously matched the expression. Even in the last scene, which was supposed to be all romantic and magical, they miserably failed to strike the chord and it went absolutely bland.
Just to recover from this course of miserable events in the name of a romantic play I had to watch the last scene of Yakeen Ka Safar again.
All in all, my favourite part in the serial was the slap sound effect in the OST!