For those who have followed Wajahat Rauf’s career as a director, his latest offering Raqs e Bismil is nothing short of a pleasant surprise. The director behind comedy flicks Karachi Se Lahore, Lahore Se Aagay and Chhalawa returned to TV after four years, and couldn’t have chosen a better script than Raqs e Bismil that is anything, but comedy. Hashim Nadeem’s serious script had everything a good director would want in a comeback project and Wajahat Rauf must thank his wife Shazia for opting for it, instead of going for another run of the mill stuff. With perfect casting, a fast-paced storyline, and a topic that is closer to reality, Raqs e Bismil is here to stay.
Pir Qudrat Ullah Shah (Mahmood Aslam) has two sons, Moosa (Imran Ashraf) and Eesa (Momin Saqib); while the former is hot-headed, the latter is smiling most of the time. However, the two have so much loyalty in their ‘pure’ blood that when they find out that their first cousin Sakina (Anoushay Abbasi) has run away with her boyfriend (Taha Humayun), they storm the place just in time to stop the Nikaah and ‘rescue’ a damsel who doesn’t want to be rescued. Back home, Pir sahib decides to get Sakina married to his younger son Eesa, to which her widowed mother (Javeria Abbasi) agrees since she doesn’t have any place else to go. Just before her Nikaah, Sakina tells Moosa that she hopes that he also falls in love and doesn’t end up with that person, a fate that she is being subject to, due to him. Moosa does meet the lady of her dreams during a bus ride and instantly falls in love with the burqa-clad beauty (Sarah Khan) who saves him from getting beaten in a bus brawl.
The Good – Keeping it simple remains the most effective way to reach the masses!
The highlight of Raqs e Bismil is the performances of all the actors, especially in the first episode where the characters are established. Imran Ashraf’s Moosa is as different from his other on-air character Adam in Mushk as chalk and cheese; Moosa being hot-headed and uncouth, whereas Adam being soft-spoken and refined. He plays the Pir’s son to perfection, one who has eyes on his father’s throne and doesn’t want to be distracted by worldly things. His meeting with a burqa-clad lady played by Sarah Khan that too in a bus, is something that doesn’t happen in our dramas, making it all the more interesting.
Bulbulay famed Mahmood Aslam is the other surprise package for he plays a Pir here, and through his towering presence makes the viewers notice him and just him in whichever scene he is present. As the patriarch of his ‘Syed’ family, he runs his house with an iron fist, losing his cool when something rebellious takes place, and it does in the first episode. Nida Mumtaz plays his wife and mother to both Imran Ashraf and Momin Saqib, who play dutiful sons perfectly. Momin Saqib looks different and better from his character in Be Adab and it would have been great had this play aired before his actual TV debut, because mature performances on debut are rare and remembered for a long time.
Seeing half-sisters Javeria Abbasi and Anoushay Abbasi play mother and daughter on-screen is a delight since both the actresses are a joy to watch. Be it the scene where Javeria’s Khadija asks Moosa to spare her daughter’s life or the one where the two women talk about the upcoming marriage and its consequences, their performance is too good to ignore. Everyone knows Javeria’s potential for she has done all kinds of roles in her illustrious career; it’s about time that director start considering Anoushay for better and bigger roles, because she is one of the few actresses who can make an impact with their powerful performances, rather than be cast on their popularity on social media and be themselves.
The Bad – It’s hard to find faults with a flawless production
Except for the scene where parents of Kamran (Taha Humayun) beg him to leave the city for the time being, everything else was flawless. The moulvi in the opening scene could have spoken less but that was intelligently used to create suspense otherwise, it would have been a simple scene. Blurring the gun due to channel policy looks childish in this day and age where the kids have access to YouTube, and if they search for a gun there, not showing that on-screen makes the producer and the channel look backward. Also, the fight sequence looks way too real, something for which we will first have to educate the audience who still clap when the bad guys fall all around from a mere slap than stand their ground and be shocked.
The Verdict – Raqs e Bismil takes you back in the golden era of PTV
With no exterior shot of a building between scenes, no slow-motion technique to extend the duration or dialogues that seemed unrealistic, Raqs e Bismil takes you back into the 1980s when everything that was done on screen had a meaning or was related to a bigger picture. Even the breaks were timed to give the audience a breather, which is something other directors should learn from Wajahat Rauf. Credit must be given to producer Shazia Wajahat for managing so many A list actors – from Iman Ashraf to Mahmood Aslam, Sarah Khan to Nida Mumtaz, and Anoushay Abbasi to Javeria Abbasi – and then giving each of them a couple of prominent scenes in the first episode.
The combination of Hashim Nadeem’s powerful dialogues, Wajahat Rauf’s excellent execution, and Shazia Wajahat’s production is quite deadly, and one wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t team up again after this powerful drama. Due to Wajahat’s elevated music sense, the OST is worth remembering and the background score is in sync with the scenes, a rarity on our TV. Raqs e Bismil will get interesting with the second episode where Imran Ashraf’s Moosa will meet his unnamed savior, and their story will move forward. Will Sakina’s ‘curse’ make Moosa’s life miserable or will he find true love and become a changed man, that’s something the viewers are looking forward to.