in the 23rd episode, and that’s not okay.
How would I describe my relationship status with HUM TV Drama Aangan? Complicated! Extremely and utterly complicated. I wish to commit with it fully, but then there are Thursdays when I miss the date with my supposed boo, not because it isn’t available on YouTube – which also is a huge setback – but simply because I don’t feel like dragging myself through a series of scenes that are performed brilliantly, but seem disjointed. There was even a time period of four weeks where I completely ghosted Aangan. I am ashamed.
But should I really be?
Isn’t the show supposed to hook me on so badly, that it leaves me with no choice, but to cross the days off my calendar until the next episode? Shouldn’t it be engaging enough that if I miss the regular episode, I make the effort to catch up with at least ONE of the seven repeat telecasts?
When Hum TV proudly tweeted, “You can watch Hum TV Drama Aangan ONLY on your television screens” back in December, they alienated more than half of their audience.
But then loyal Pakistani drama fans, although disgruntled, made sure their Thursday nights were free.
Five months in, and Hum TV Drama Aangan has failed to capture the audience’s interest like Cheekh and Ranjha Ranjha Kardi.
And that’s surprising, because the show has everything going for it. The performances are stellar. The cast so good looking that you don’t mind the cheesy romance. To top it all, the sets look stunning thanks to a million lanterns burning away in the background in a fairly poor household and the flowing dupattas of the leading ladies, which seem to have a life of their own. The chemistry between both the leading pairs – Chammi and Jameel, and Jameel and Aaliya – is palpable. Also, the whole idea of a compassionate female protagonist, Aaliya, wanting to live her life on her own terms is commendable.
So, then what is it that doesn’t click?
The story telling.
Aangan promised to be a heart-wrenching ballad but it turned out to be a lullaby. According to the novel, audience is supposed to root for Jameel (Ahad Raza Mir) and Aaliya (Mawra Hocane) while Chammi (Sajal Ali) continues to pin after Jameel on the side. But what happened instead, was that Chammi became the sole reason people continued with the show. While the rest of the characters looked confused and passive, Sajal depicted Chammi’s struggles aptly even in the 10-minute – sometimes even less than that – screen time she got.
A quick hashtag search on Twitter after every episode reveals what the audience is thinking. Many gave up on the show after Hum TV decided not to upload it on YouTube, the other half quit because of the slow build up and Muhammed Ehtashamuddin – the director’s love for slow-mos, and the rest of them have the following questions on their minds:
Was Mawra Hocane the right choice to play Aaliya?
Up until the 20th episode, this was a recurring discussion under the hashtag.
In my opinion, it is unfair to criticise the actor when it is the character that needs refinement.
Aaliya, even in the novel, is the most positive yet passive character. She knows Israar Mian is being treated unfairly. She realises the pain Chammi is going through. Aaliya is also aware of the fact that her mother is an evil opportunist. And she knows she loves Jameel despite her mind trying to convince her otherwise. But she chooses to remain silent through all that.
That was the writer’s decision, not the actors.
So all Mawra Hocane could really do, was look displeased and tell Jameel bhaiya off for his constant pronouncements of love. While Mawra’s “bhaar mein jaaye aap ki siyasat” could’ve used a bit more anger and emotion, her “tou phir ijazat Israar chacha?” in the latest episode spoke to our soul, which shows that she’s grown as a performer.
Why did they add additional scenes of Chammi and Jameel?
Yes, the scenes weren’t part of the novel, but they were necessary to help us understand the context. They had to establish where Chammi’s unconditional love for Jameel stems from and apart from that, viewing the entire show from Aaliya’s perspective would’ve gotten claustrophobic for the audience. So to all those novel-loyalists yelling, “But they ruined the novel to accommodate a certain jori”: No, they didn’t. They made it palatable and more screen-friendly.
I wish they’d included more scenes of Jameel thinking to himself as well, because he’s one character that we have no idea about. It seems, even he has zero clue about what he wants from his life.
Not really. He’s an amazing performer and we saw that in Sammi, Yakeen Ka Safar and continue to see that in Aangan. His Urdu enunciation isn’t as flawless as it should be, but he covers it up well with his expressions, which are always on point. The problem, again, lies with his character arc. There is no arc. It’s a flat line which gives us zero insight into his thought process.
Why does he have an estranged relationship with his father? Why did he suddenly ditch Chammi? Was it because she seemed stupid to him? How did he fall in love with Aaliya even before he met her?
Is he a flirt, a poet, or a politician?
These are all the questions that are left unanswered. Jameel’s dialogues mostly consist of him taunting his father, flirting with Aaliya, and insulting Chammi. There’s no connection between the three, but there should be. Jameel’s ambivalence should’ve been backed by reason.
Why am I even watching Aangan?
A question that haunts us every single time Kareeman Bua berates Israar Mian. Bua hates the poor guy. We get it. Please move on.
One thing that Aangan has done right, is capitalizing on Ahad and Sajal’s on-screen chemistry.
They light up the screen – be it an emotional scene where he’s consoling Chammi after Maalikan’s death or a hilarious one where she’s torturing him with her poetry and he’s calling her “behaya” to her face. The last three episodes also built the chemistry between Mawra and Ahad’s character, and it was heart wrenching to watch Aaliya walk away from Jameel as he refused to even look at her. Also, the mothers – Uzma Baig as hopeless jethani and Madiha Rizvi as opportunist devrani – are delivering solid performances.
In fact, it’s the performances that are driving Aangan not the story.
In short, Aangan is a beautiful amalgamation of standalone scenes which refuse to blend into each other. As of now, it seems all people used to do in the 40s was look pretty and have intense conversations on the rooftop in the company of a million lanterns. There should have been life in the aangan and we should’ve become a part of it.
Would I suggest you to watch Aangan?
Yes, absolutely, because Aangan, despite its shortcomings, is unique and needs to be appreciated. It is no Dastaan or Yakeen Ka Safar. It is Aangan. One thing that television channels can definitely learn from this is: Don’t ever over-hype your product. Let the audience do that!