This article is meant for those who have followed Amaan & Aina’s journey with trepidation, love and anxiety. Read because you feel for the story, just like the author. Don’t forget to grab your chai ka cup!
YDM has kept us hooked for long. I wish it would let us off the hook now.
A few weeks ago; around the time when Aina and Amaan’s toxic marriage had just taken off, I saw myself surrounded by around eight people as I sat watching Yeh Dil Mera on my laptop. My khala, who was visiting us, was perched atop the night stand and two of my sisters – who don’t even follow the show – kept asking why Amaan was being such a meanie.
Such was the pull of the show.
Few weeks later, I find my sister saying, “Haan poora show nahi dekha. Important points dekh liye thay.”
Important points? Will we be asked to give an exam on YDM?
The dilemma of Yeh Dil Mera is that it pulls you in, but the repetition of dialogues, plot twists that are not exactly plot twists, and magical reappearance of beards and disappearance of logic pushes you right out. But annoying viewers, such as me, like to torture themselves.
We will justify every single flaw; be it Aina and Amaan’s abrupt change in relationship dynamics or Aina’s utterly pointless quest for clues to protect her father. We will satisfy ourselves that this is how psychological thrillers work. Remember, Big Little Lies? It seemed slow too in the beginning. We will promise ourselves that the next episode is going to be IT.
And I use “we” here because I’m not the only one suffering from an unhealthy attachment with Yeh Dil Mera. My mum’s my partner in crime. I remember her saying, in the episode when Amaan shouts on Aina for the first time after their engagement, “Ab maza ayega”.
A few episodes later, as Aina struggled to grasp the concept that there was something utterly wrong with her husband and pranced off with him to Darya Baagh for their pointless honeymoon, my mother again looked at me with shiny eyes and reiterated, “Dekhna ab shuru hoga maza”.
The last time she said the same was when Aina discovered Amaan’s homage to his parents, in the form of tombstones, and her only parent, in the form of a red cross on his picture. As Mir and Ali whispered away their dialogues, my mother creeped up to me and claimed, “ASAL maza tou ab shuru hoga!”
And this was the 26th episode.
My question is: What sort of “maza” are we waiting for? Aur woh maza aa kyun nahi raha?
And here I fall back on the reasoning I gave in my previous review: Expectations.
The combination of Sajal Ali, Ahad Raza Mir, Adnan Siddiqui, writer Farhat Ishtiaq, and a new genre. O to the M to the G! Such was the reaction.
Then the channel really oversold Yeh Dil Mera claiming it to be a never-seen-before thriller. They still can’t decide on the genre by the way. It has gone from a romantic thriller, revenge drama, a saga of a woman stuck between two important men in her life, to murder mystery, and the latest revelation is, that it’s a psychological thriller.
Trust me; my failed attempt at bunking school in my O-levels was WAY more thrilling than Yeh Dil Mera. My heart was nearing my epiglottis. With YDM, the most it does is attempts to lurch, but then stays put as it realizes that everything is going according to the initial prediction.
Keyword here being: Prediction.
Not a single plot development has made me go “Haye Allah”. And whose fault is that?
The man who edited the teasers.
Lord, the popularity YDM’s Editor is getting since day one is unheard of. Young man (or old) you deserve a salute.
First, he managed to make the teasers give a ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ vibe, with the help of the writer of course, who wrote that Rice-Biryani office scene. Then he went, “Wait, that might not get the job done, so let me reveal the entire story – of mind you a “thriller” – in the next 100 teasers.”
Here’s a list of things that were revealed in YDM’s teasers:
- Amaan and Aina are childhood buddies. This piece of information should have remained a secret!! I cannot stress on this enough. In the not-so-important honeymoon sequence, when Amaan reminisces about his good times with Aina, the audience went, “Dude we know that already. Please move on” and, unfortunately, that was my reaction to every single revelation in YDM.
- Mira Sethi plays Sajal’s mother and she gets killed off at the train station as she’s trying to run off with her daughter. They tried to blur it, but my eyesight is too damn good, which in this case ruined the “thrill” for me.
- Somebody tries to assault Zarnish Khan’s character, which we know is Amaan’s mother, which again hints as to why Ahad (Amaan) has that crazy revenge look about him since the very first episode.
- Aina sees her mom being killed, therefore, she’s a little loony too. This revelation came courtesy Bua gee’s emotional pronouncement, “Bachi ke saamnay maan ko maar diya” in one of the very many promos.
- Aina seeks to find the ultimate truth as she revisits the area where it all began and runs about, giving tough competition to Usain Bolt.
- Mir Farooq is the reason behind all the madness and murders. How did we reach this conclusion? Because only an antagonist can sport a moustache as killer as his. Also, Adnan Siddiqui was kind enough to let his Instagram followers know that he is playing an extremely dark character. Thanks to him, Amaan’s parents’ murder scene got a lukewarm “finally” rather than a “Holy hell! Agha Jaan is a murderer” as a reaction.
- Oh, and the promos also revealed that Adnan Siddique’s character has a secret mistress, and the list of revelations goes on.
It is safe to say that Yeh Dil Mera’s team stabbed themselves…multiple times.
If revealing the entire plot in the initial teasers wasn’t enough, the rest is revealed week-by-week through next episode’s promos, leaving almost nothing new for the actual episode. As a result, the next week’s promo almost always gets more hype than the episode itself.
Add to it the writer and director’s love for repetition of scenes and dialogues, and you reach a self-sabotage level that is unmatched.
The captain of our Repetition Ship, of course, is Natty Khala!
“BAAJI ki maut kaise hui?” she asks herself, her tortured husband, and her dead father’s 20 years old brand new diary. Her repetitive dialogues give us maut. I wouldn’t mind the makers giving the khala screen space. In fact, I’m all for developing solid side characters because the show shouldn’t be propelled entirely by the main leads. But at least give the khala new clues to discuss in new settings. Our Khala solved the entire mystery without moving a muscle. She sits in her shiny little living room, and long-forgotten letters, email from Amaan, and epiphanies fall right into her lap.
Aina, meri jaan, is also a regular offender. Initially, she couldn’t stop harping about how she “feels safe” around Amaan. So much so that even I started feeling safe in his creepy presence. Then in the middle she kept wondering, for 10 episodes straight, about Amaan’s weird behavior. Agreed that the moment she would decide to take a solid step against him, he would decide to have one of his fits and the loving wife would resurface. The writer did justify Aina deciding to overlook Amaan’s issues but in today’s impatient world, we wanted her to act than to just sit and ponder.
The toxic dinner table talks made regular appearances as well; together with the two-legged biryani. If nothing else, we can safely say that Aina and Amaan stayed true to their love for biryani expressed during the controversial office interview. Now, these talks may seem repetitive on the surface, but they were slowly moving the plot forward. Amaan hinting toward Agha Jaan’s second marriage, asking Aina to seek Bua jee, stopping her from snooping, and finally admitting that he doesn’t deserve a positive soul like Aina – all this happened during those toxic talks. Maybe, these talks didn’t have to “look” so similar. The visual similarity gave an illusion that their relationship was at a standstill when it really wasn’t.
Then the number of times we’ve seen Agha Jaan and Ali Bux walk stealthily around that fountain, which happens to be in the middle of the living room, and tell each other, “Amaan bohat khatarnaak hai”, “Amaan tou bara shaatir hai”, “Humne Amaan ko halka le liya, woh tou bohat chalaak hai”.
Please borrow some brain cells from Amaan and save us the misery.
We’ve seen his chalaakian, you don’t need to spell it out for us. Talk about your revenge plan instead, because honestly I’m having doubts on Mir Farooq being a cold blooded mastermind. And no, his daughter being held captive (at least in his mind) by Amaan is not a good enough reason for him to behave like a headless chicken.
As we speak of headless chickens, Aina’s gorgeous face surfaces promptly to the forefront of our minds.
“Mein apne Agha Jaan ki begunaahi ke saboot la kar tumhare moonh pe maroongi,” Aina claims time and time again. We almost believe her, because Sajal Ali delivers the same set of dialogues for the hundredth time extremely convincingly. But the logical side of the brain peeps in and asks: How is she going to prove that her father DIDN’T murder the people she has no clue of, in a place she has no clue of, and at a time she has no recollection of.
I understand that the writer wanted Aina to take charge. After 24 episodes of being manipulated by her father and her husband, that is exactly what we wanted too. In fact, this should’ve happened half way through the story, in the 15th episode.
Half the story should’ve been about Amaan’s revenge and the other half should’ve belonged to Aina’s quest for truth and the redemption arc for Amaan, especially when there wasn’t much to establish or reveal in the first half.
The swift change of authority, from Amaan to Aina, should have been the midway turning point and not made Aina look like a bratty kid refusing to use her brain.
The burden of proof is always on the person who has made the accusation. In this case, it is Amaan. She should have asked him to prove it, while she did her own secret investigation. And why would she have even thought of investigating the matter? Because in the basement, Amaan reminds her that “Hum bachpan ke dost hain aur tum jhoolay se gir gayi thi”. THAT mention of jhoola should’ve been the trigger and convinced her to begin finding clues at Darya Baagh. This would’ve also added meaning to their creepy honeymoon, which now looks like a waste of episodes.
It is understandable that initially she was distraught and decided to stay back because no daughter wishes to tell her father that, “You know what? My husband thinks you killed his parents.” She thinks Amaan is crazy, her father innocent, and she must stay with her crazy husband to stop him from harming her saint-like father. It all made sense till here, but her claim, “Mein saboot dhoondogi”, is where I lost the plot.
Another development which seems out of plot is Amaan’s sudden change of heart.
He seems like a completely new person after the big reveal. He’s sassy and he has suddenly realized that he can’t see his lovely wife cry or sleep hungry. When this is exactly what he’s been doing since the day they got married – making her cry not the latter. He has been pretty particular about keeping his wife well-fed, which often reminds me of the evil witch in Hansel & Gretel.
So when Amaan said, “Kabhi nahi chahta tha ke tumse mohabbat karoon, per karta hoon” my response was a mere “Hain”.
How and when did Amaan fall in love with Aina?
Yes, he was really concerned when he got to know about Aina’s nightmares for the first time. Yes, he decided not to marry Aina when she tells him that she thinks of him as her “muhafiz” the day he brings her home probably to physically assault her. And yes, he thinks to himself that Aina is “maasoom” and doesn’t deserve a father like Mir Farooq.
But nowhere was the audience made to believe that he had fallen in love. It was either guilt or care for another human, or at most his childhood friend, nothing else. If he truly loved Aina he would’ve put a stop to the emotional abuse.
He was willing to alter his revenge plan by refusing to marry Aina right? Then he could’ve easily come up with another plan to hurt Mir Farooq without using her as a pawn.
Anyway, makers did a disservice to the love story by handling it so carelessly.
First, they cut their initial courtship period out and we saw them jumping directly from boss-employee to GF-BF dynamic. Then they decided to include all their toxic fights and not enough scenes to establish that Amaan is head over heels in love with her.
Amaan’s monologues should’ve been an essential part of the narrative. If the makers argue that they couldn’t reveal what Amaan was thinking because that was the mystery then sorry to say, that hasn’t been dealt properly.
The lack of clarity on Amaan’s part hasn’t intrigued us. It has left us clueless.
As we grope around to find answers to all the unanswered questions, Yeh Dil Mera continues to move at its glacial pace. It has kept me hooked, no doubt about that, otherwise why would I still be watching it, but it surely isn’t a crowd-pleaser.
And why is that?
If you look at the current favourites – Sabaat, Pyaar Ke Sadqey, and Ishqiya – all of them have four things in common: A brand new on-screen pair, female-centric stories, an eccentric – supposedly strong – female lead, and more focus on the love story than anything else.
In my previous review, I spoke on length about how Sajal Ali and Ahad Raza Mir brought a lot of audience, but also alienated a considerable chunk. Ali and Mir may bring the best out of each other, but they’re just ‘too together’ for our audience who calls for a PEMRA notice to report on-screen PDA but happily laps up on-screen physical abuse. We are a nation that goes crazy for on screen couples – currently Yumna Zaidi and Bilal Abbas come to mind – only to find them charm-less and overrated if they dare to sign another project together. It has happened to the best. Fawad Khan and Sanam Baloch’s first project, Dastaan, is considered a classic but Akbari Aur Asghari and Kuch Pyaar ka Pagalpan – both directed by the brilliant Haissam Hussain – got a lukewarm response.
We are an audience that is easily bored and, dare I say, feels ashamed of making stars.
Secondly, the audience is done with sobbing Sadias, so when Aina sheds tears; many people go “not again”. Going from a sheltered life to fighting her own demons and living with an emotionally abusive partner, Aina has every reason to cry. But sadly, our drama audience has been made to consider tears a determinant of weakness, when they’re clearly not.
I would have loved Aina to ditch the men, find a job, and live independently, but then that would’ve been me and not Aina, who has been conditioned to love unconditionally.
Our Aina isn’t eccentric and that’s the bitter truth.
She is your modern day girl, who is dealing with childhood trauma in a subtle and sensible way. She goes to a therapist and that’s about it. She’s not fun and crazy like Mehjabeen and Rumi, which makes Aina less likable for our entertainment-starved audience.
Speaking of a lack of a proper love story, yes it could’ve been developed nicely instead of relying solely on Mir and Ali’s magical chemistry, but we have to admit that Yeh Dil Mera is not about a boy falling in love with a girl. It is about a boy witnessing his family’s murder and how it has impacted his entire life, psyche, and personality.
Which brings us to the last point: Yeh Dil Mera is, essentially, Amaan’s story. It is not a female-centric story and since most of our target audience is largely female, they were probably unable to connect with the male protagonist. Hence, we often see people nitpicking on either YDM’s plot or pace.
All that said, there is one thing that has pleased everyone in YDM and those are the performances.
Sajal Ali nails each and every scene. It is unfortunate that there hasn’t been much to nail yet. Over here, I must confess that while Yeh Dil Mera needed Sajal Ali, Ali did not need Yeh Dil Mera. Her breakdowns are so effortless it seems she’s actually experiencing the pain of Aina. Ali has this magical ability to make you live the character. She is THAT effortless. She doesn’t act. She becomes the character she plays.
Next time, when she’s looking at a script, I hope she goes for a role like Noor Bano from Ranjha Ranjha Kardi.
In the list of actors who didn’t need YDM but YDM needed them; it is imperative to mention Adnan Siddiqui and Paras Masroor. We saw Masroor spook us out in Sang e Mar Mar. In YDM, he’s a mere sounding board for Mir Farooq and till now has done nothing substantial except for murdering Sahira in style.
And where do I start with how the script hasn’t done justice to Siddique’s acting prowess. He’s amazing in flashbacks and plays a major role in development of the story, but in the present scenario, he’s a mere spectator repeating his age old threat: “Tum jaantay nahi mein kaun hoon?”
If you were as powerfully dangerous as you claim, you wouldn’t be cat-walking inside your home. You’d be out there planning more murders.
Mira Sethi and Zarnish Khan may have minor roles, but they lay the foundation for the entire plot. Khan’s performance, especially in her confrontation with Mir Farooq when he tries to rape her, kept us on the edge. Sethi, melodramatic at times, was brilliant as she eavesdropped on Mir Farooq and Ali Bux. Her consequent shock and outburst made the scene all the more authentic.
And then we have the star of the show: Ahad Raza Mir.
He surely needed Yeh Dil Mera to prove he can go from a charming businessman and a scheming enemy to an abusive husband and now a forlorn lover – all in one show. The only criticism that comes to mind is that his performance is a…performance. In some scenes he’s more theatrical than real, and that doesn’t sit well with a person like me who prefers subtle changes in voice instead of loud expressions. And we know Mir can be effortless when he wants. We saw that when he said, “Mein tou aap ko police mein report kar sakta hoon, aur jo allegations hongi na… ya phir ek press conference karta hoon. Uss mein bhi bara maza ayega.”
Also, when he scolded Dr. Zubia for the first time in Yakeen Ka Safar – that “medical colleges mein common sense ka bhi ek subject hona chahiye” is exactly how I would imagine a real doctor scolding an intern.
Now, the challenge for Mir is to act effortlessly at all times and that will come as soon as he gains command over the language. One can notice Mir stiffen visibly during a longer monologue in Urdu. His fight scenes with Ali were performed brilliantly, but one could tell that expressing anger in Urdu didn’t come naturally to him.
It is the effortlessness that sets great actors like Fawad Khan, Saba Qamar, and Sajal Ali apart from the rest. And that will only come with time.
In the end, what is it that works for Yeh Dil Mera?
Here are all the reasons: Why you should give Yeh Dil Mera a Try?
Despite not being as thrilling as we expected it to be, I love that YDM doesn’t rely on the usual tactics to hook the audience. It successfully portrays how childhood trauma impacts your day to day life. And I think that’s amazing.
Then the male lead has a valid reason for behaving erratic. In most Pakistani shows, men are trash just because they’re men. And that’s a good enough reason.
Amaan, in YDM, despite being manipulative and emotionally abusive, is not trash. There is a reason why Aina loves him so much right? It is safe to assume that apart from his sporadic need to take revenge from Mir Farooq, he treats Aina respectfully and pampers her.
We’ve seen that he cooks for her. Look at us feeling thankful for the bare minimum. But most importantly, he understands that “no means no”. He doesn’t throw a hissy fit when Aina separates her room or asks him to not hold her hand, or shouts at him to leave after her latest breakdown.
It is unfortunate, that we’re praising the fact that Amaan has basic etiquettes, but Pakistani protagonists usually have a total disregard for consent and expect to get bed tea instead of ever making one for their partners. So Amaan is a refreshing change in that regard. Most of Farhat Ishtiaq’s heroes are.
That certainly doesn’t mean that his Dobby-like wounded looks will earn him a soft spot in our, or Aina’s, heart. He can mope around all he wants, but his realization came a little too late.
Now that we’re in the last, and the most interesting, leg of Yeh Dil Mera, we wish that the show was a little crisper. There are no memorable dialogues that we can quote. The show does not have repeat value, but there are a few amazing scenes that we can watch again and again. It is getting the numbers – 6 million views on average on YouTube, topping the charts in UK’s desi TV shows market which is huge, and consistently appearing in the top five highly rated shows of Pakistan in the weekly TRP report. What it has not managed to achieve is an all-out positive word of mouth.
It might be reflective of our audience’s taste. YDM is a fairly fresh concept. And that’s why I can’t fully let the makers off the hook. They could’ve perfected YDM and set a positive trend.
Will I recommend YDM to anyone? Yes, but with a hundred disclaimers.
In short, the curse of expectations has turned a good enough show into something which is being termed “dragged” and “slow” when all it needed was interesting dialogues and a tighter screenplay to become the show of the season.