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What Coke Studio Missed in Atif Aslam’s Tajdar-e-Haram

My grandmother had just died, I was very close to her. She was kinda like my best friend. It was Sehri time in Ramzan, and Sabri Brothers’ Tajdar e Haram was playing on TV. It had tremendous effect on me. It filled me with loss, sadness, then hope, and love.

Speak to any Pakistani, and they would tell you how this Qawwali has made their eyes wet, gave them goose bumps, or evoked strong emotions of love, devotion, and hope.

Tajdar-e-Haram is an emotional roller coaster, and Sabri Brothers steer you skillfully with the help of chants, tabla, harmonium, style, narration, and wonderful fusion of Urdu, Persian, and Arabic verses.

I appreciate Coke Studio​ for trying and would praise Atif Aslam for trying. They were just simply out of their depths.

Not that I am any kind of expert, but generally speaking, In Qawwali there is great emphasis on devotion, poetry, and chanting. Atif Aslam’s piece was missing devotion and chanting.

It had the same poetry as the original Qawwali. But Atif Aslam was unable to put the emphasis on just the right words at the right time. He even failed to pronounce Urdu words properly like ShoQ and Kidhar.

The instruments were great but they were not as beautifully coherent or as artistically incoherent that they would make you swing and sway. A good combination of sounds is not always good music. Pitching at high nodes is not always good singing.

I liked it, and it was beautiful effort to recreate something so beautiful. They just didn’t get it quite perfect and that’s alright too.

Spartacus Season 3 Episode 1 – 6 Review

During last few days I watched Spartacus season 3. So far I have seen the first six episodes. I was waiting for it for long.

Unlike previous season, this season has a very exciting story line of war. There are several surprising plot twists that keep audience interested to know what is going to happen next.

The graphic sexual content was a bit too much for my taste. Some of it was not even necessary and could have been avoided for more tasteful depictions of the Roman culture at that time.

The character of the new villain Marcus Licinius Crassus is perhaps the most interesting character in this season. His character does not considers himself above any men, women, or slaves. He is humble, and victories don’t make him arrogant. This makes him even more dangerous, to him the war is just the war that will offer him not just the glory but much greater victory of earning respect and a place in history. He is wise, cunning, and brave. He has also shown kindness and affection for people around him. So I would say he is a more realistic villain. Or perhaps as he said in his own words “Let the history decide who stands as hero. Let us play our parts”.

The background music this season is not much different than the earlier season. The visual effects are the same, choreography of battle scenes is not as good as it was in the first season but it is more gory, violent, and crude. This crudeness was may be something felt necessary by the makers of the show to depict the horrors of war.

Breaking Bad Season One – First impression

I am watching Breaking Bad. Every one kept recommending Breaking Bad and The Wire, and I don’t know why I kept postponing watching both shows. I watched first few episodes of The Wire, didn’t like it at all and stopped watching. Now I decided to give Breaking bad a chance and finished first season last night.

So far I wouldn’t say that it is a great show. I feel that other people who think that this is a great show, probably liked it because of the tense dramatic situation of main character who is diagnosed with lung cancer. The first season completely revolves around the main character. They took a lot of time explaining the change in the main character’s behavior before he is diagnosed with the fatal illness. The story of main character completely filled up the first season and they did not allow the secondary characters to develop much.

I would say that the direction is fantastic, cinematography is beautiful, Vince Gilligan is brilliant there is no doubt about that. But I don’t think that it is a great show. The story is ordinary, plot is flat, characters are not as strong as they should be.

I am hoping that it might get better in the second season. Let’s see what happens next.

Revival of Pakistani Television Drama

If you like watching traditional PTV school of Drama and were regretting the downfall of PTV, well regret no more. We now have Hum Tv.

What made those Golden age PTV Dramas so wonderful? This is the question asked by every Pakistani Television producer. After the downfall of Pakistan Television Corporation and the emergence of the private television channels. The television producers now had plenty of money and options but were unable to produce popular television serials. They tried every thing to recreate the typical PTV golden age charm. They made simple dramas based on middle class families, they made dramas on the more glamorous lives of the rich and famous, they copied Indian soap operas, they even tried to remake the classics such as ‘Khuda Ki Basti’. But they failed to get attention.

I feel that Hum TV has successfully found the formula. I am not saying that all their dramas are wonderful. No, I don’t think that they have revived the Pakistani TV Drama as yet. But they are on the right track. With the arrival of Momal Productions (Sultana Siddiqui’s production company), Hum TV has presented several high quality dramas, Like Dil Diya Dehleez, Malika, Meray Paas Paas, etc.

Hum TV is also my mother’s favorite television channel, she doesn’t like Star Plus and she is unable to enjoy the Dubai based dramas of Geo TV. She explains that the Golden age PTV dramas were loved because they portrayed the lives of middle class Pakistanis. She feels that today each and every channel is making serials on the lives of Aliens who live in Dubai, dress like Indians, and are just as wealthy as Bill Gates. How could Pakistani audience relate to these stories?

I don’t agree with my mother. For example there is this serial “Dil Diya Dehleez” on Hum TV which is based on the lives of a feudal family and even though the family is based somewhere between NWFP and Punjab but they speak and dress like Urdu speaking people. The women are all dressed up in expensive Saris, Sharara, Gharara and have their faces powedered for a party at all times. Even the maids in their castle speak Bamahavra Urdu. I can not understand such things but according to my mother you need to give them a little free hand to create beautiful scenarios that people could love. But why people can not love a real feudal family? Like there were classic PTV dramas Marvi and Waris that depicted the lives of feudal families quite accurately and people loved those dramas.

I agree with my mother that Dil Diya Dehleez is a wonderful drama. It has nice background music, original soundtrack with some great semi-classical songs such as “kahay ko tu yaad aay sajanya” and “Jhotay teray naina”. I feel that the glamour in this drama is different from what we see on other TV channels and Star Plus. It has nice dialogues, a well written script and since it is based on a best selling novel we know for sure that it has a plot and the director Yasir Nawaz knows exactly how to handle the story. There is that typical Pakistani simplicity in the story. It is a story of Honour, dignity, pride, sacrifice and love. But I think that such stories are common every where. The question is still unanswered, What are the elements necessary to make a great Pakistani Television Drama? I feel that by answering this question we can tell a lot about our National Character.