Hum Tum Hasn’t Just Scratched The Surface, It’s Here To Make Changes In The Way We Dream Up Our Heros & Heroines – Neha, Adam, Maha, Sarmad Inspired Every Step of The Way!
Change can be whispered in near-silent phrases like Maha, or be loudly opinionated like Neha. It doesn’t matter how it comes, but it’s coming, and that is what matters. Writer Saima Akram Chaudhry and director Danish Nawaz seemed to hold our hand at one point, gently guiding us towards Sarmad & Maha’s near traditional (but not quite) love story and then, handed us a loud, thundering wakeup call with Neha and Adam’s Vespa inspired, Chemistry-laden, quick-witted ahem … love story?
It is with great respect that I applaud team Hum Tum for stepping out of the comfort zone of our drama viewers to gift us a story that resonated with so many young people – those who live near Maha & Sarmad lives (or aspire to), and those who are inspired by Neha and Adam (or perhaps, glimpse a shadow of themselves onscreen?)
Hum Tum gave women and men reason to clear the misconceptions society loves to bind them in. Women look good in the kitchen, grandparents and TikTok do not reside in the same world, daughters in law can’t change things around the house, they must blend in with the new ways of the family, and girls can’t be really good at Chemistry, or Karate, or IT or … drive a Vespa. But more importantly, what really touched my heart was how all these concepts blended in with a finer sensitivity – women can have dominating husbands like Qutub, but still have a mind of their own, and fathers like Sultan might not be up to much in the financial contribution department, or a typical fatherly role, but wives like Haleema can still try to keep a semblance of self-respect for them.
Hum Tum cannot be treated superficially. It is not a drama JUST about liberated men and women, the dynamism of old age, or relationship messages from young and old – it is about all of these and more – it is about portraying a society in change and how to handle that change with the respect, cultural upbringing, values and tradition that makes it so much deeper than merely a surface scratch.
But More On That As We Dissect Performances First
First comes first. If anyone tells me Ramsha Khan was overacting, I will beg to differ. I absolutely loved Ramsha’s take on Neha, her forthrightness, her quest for competition and always wanting to come out on top, her underlying desire to always shine in her father’s eyes guided many of her actions as well as her cut-throat sense of competition – all the qualities that made us love her, also defied her gender norms – safe to say, even the liberals among us would have been a tad uncomfortable with her independent thought process.
If I had a problem with Neha, it was not in how Ramsha performed her, but rather, in her cold disregard of Adam once she knew of his romantic inclinations towards her. No one should have to deal with that, girl or boy. But since Neha’s character was under the magnifying glass, remember, a woman driving a Vespa for the first time, etc, etc, etc? We expected her to be flawless, here too because you know why? She was representing us – a multitude of Pakistani women and what we aspired to be. But soon as I was about to criticize the story writer for turning my practical heroine into a heartless heartbreaker, the tables turned, and she learned how to love, that too, with her father’s consent – What a sweet marriage between tradition and modernity. What more do we want?
For me, Ramsha carried the drama and her interactions with Adam aka Ahad Raza Mir were the highlight of my Ramazan evenings! But you know who else carried the story, on his very broad shoulders? Yes, it was no other than our very own Sarmad (bhai) aka Junaid Khan! Not only did I absolutely fall in love with his ability to take on subtle comedy but also Sarah Khan’s understated performance gave the two of them a ‘crazy kinda love’ feels that I bet many were swooning over off-screen! Not just that, but Sarmad’s kitchen exploits gave me hope, both Adam and Sarmad’s housekeeping skills made me smile with a “yes! that’s what I want all young men to be like”, and the fact that young girls loved this refreshing new hero along with his blatant culinary skills was well worth the winds of change I hope I see in future heroes too!
Hum Tum cast has made a case for teamwork which is a great example. From Ahad’s first attempt at comedy, (I admit he seemed to falter a bit in the beginning), but picked up pace as we went along, to Mili’s aka Aina Asif’s Karate love and Sacha’s aka Anoosheh Rania Khan’s IT escapades, the drama checked all the performance boxes. Mohammad Ahmed as dada was a breath of fresh air and his camaraderie with both Sacha and Neha was so very endearing. Professor Qutub aka Adnan Jaffer’s understated yet assertive dad persona, Ulfat’s aka Arjumand Rahim’s scattered cooking attempts Haleema aka Munazza Arif’s forgetfulness, and Sultan’s aka Farhan Ally Agha’s gambling addiction went down well with the story. In fact, everything gelled together with super glue-like strength, thanks to the pen behind the story and of course, the director.
More On The Story
It is hard to keep audiences engaged in Ramazan, when you have to churn out daily episodes, that too, with heightened competition as 3 dramas compete for air time and audience attention and retention! But Saima Akram Chaudhry made sure her characters kept us riveted, engaged, and anticipating what will happen next. Will Neha and Adam make it or break it, will Sarim leave the scene gracefully or be forced out, will Maha be able to fit into the Sultan household, and will Ulfat keep suffering in silence?
Not only did the story reveal keep our interests alive but the script was written with a great deal of sensitivity. Not once did I feel that Maha looked down upon women who cooked, in fact, she wanted to better herself and learn. Not once did Sarmad feel inferior to Maha or a victim of the ‘husband complex’ that his wife is more educated than him. Not once did he make her feel she was any less of a woman because her kitchen skills were seriously lacking. Yet, they both wanted to learn in order to better themselves as human beings! The cherry on top for me was how both sets of families respected their parents, Adam and Sarmad attempted to keep the peace with their father, knowing he’s not the breadwinner of the family, in fact, more of a nuisance to have around. Not once did Ulfat make her daughters feel that they must respect their father’s decision, although she sided with them when she felt they were right.
Both households made do with what they had, yet wanted a better future for the younger generation, not suffer in silence. When the professor turned around and told his dad he did nothing wrong by deciding things for him at a young age, it was heartening not to see a grown-up child carry resentment in his heart. It is important to know our parents try to make the best decisions, even if they fail sometimes. Isn’t that what we all try to do in life when it’s our turn to parent? In turn, the professor tried to go one up by giving his daughters the choice to decide on their life partners, When he changed his views on his wife and apologized for his past behaviour, it was a sweet coming around of sorts that taught us we can always let down our pride, improve ourselves and have hope for a better ‘rest of a life’ relationship.
If dada taught us how to have fun in old age, his grandchildren also reminded us that young people need to interact with the older generation. They have a lifetime of fun, and knowledge to offer. And we must not lose this bond in our quest to rush through our life, thinking it is more interesting and fun than theirs. It also gave out a message to older people that you cannot stop living if a loved one has passed away. You will miss them forever but there are many avenues you are yet to walk so don’t give up on life, don’t give in to loneliness, and don’t indulge in self-pity. Be like Dadu Handsome and rock your world!
And Here’s Where The Director Comes In
It’s great to have a wonderful storyteller but if you don’t tell it with all your heart and soul, you would have missed the essence of the story. Remember we used to have storytellers in ancient times, who used to pull quite a crowd telling stories. That’s exactly what a director does. He pulls the crowd together and Danish Nawaz balanced locations, venues, characters, and multiple story twists and plots to give us a wonderfully heart-touching watching experience.
It’s the small things that matter in the bigger picture. A chemistry book falling off the terrace, an interrupted conversation across balconies, a quick interlude into a neighbour’s room to look for a USB without getting caught, a battle scene at the college and a cute meet up at the restaurant, even the family yoga scenes and the girls’ bedroom, with their beds aligned in one straight line and a race for the early morning bathroom, are all minor yet significant parts of the bigger picture that made us feel we were a part of the household.
Following up were performances that were tweaked to portray subtleties, nuances, and the serious interspersed with the humour, the social messaging with the outright comical, so that neither of them go over the top and both hit the right notes – Hum Tum was a superb balancing act put together like the work of a music conductor, hitting the high and the low notes but with a finger on the listeners’ pulse.
However, the million dollar question … did it become a tad too long?
Audiences waited for Adam & Neha to feel the love that Twitter felt right from day one. Drama makers are under extreme pressure to hurry love, yeah? There were times when we felt that the pranks needed to stop and the feelings needed to take over. Did the story leave it too late? Perhaps, one less prank would have been better? One extra episode of the Neha-Adam (dhakka start) romance might have satisfied audiences, after all, we got to see so much more of Sarmad and Maha right? I would say that all’s well that ends well, but yes, an earlier start would have been better.
No drama is perfectly perfect because we are but on a journey to improve, right?
Hum Tum had a journey where the makers had to battle comedy with messaging as well as seeming politically correct. Again, the question of creative license in comedy enters the spotlight and of course, we come to the hacking question. Yes, or no? I see the dada was aware of the consequences and mentioned them later to Sacha. Sacha too, seemed to be aware of her limits, though she did overstep them at times, and are there really any limits in online hacking? I would say that comedy does have a license to be creative but in Pakistan, our dramas signal strong messages, so we have to be careful what we show onscreen. My careless heart resides with the comedy, so I’ll let the audience decide on this one. A few consequences for off-limits actions would have sent out the message for me though.
Now let’s come to Sultan. Betting is a very serious addiction. It can start on a small scale but it can grow to disproportionate levels. Any addiction must be treated. I would have liked Sultan’s family to consider a therapist and try and find a solution to the problem. Perhaps, the solution was Maha’s insistence that Sultan visit the restaurant, perhaps that would work, perhaps it wouldn’t. But the matter definitely needed to be addressed earlier and should not be dismissed the way it had been for so long. Finally, Tamanna Nani aka Uzma Baig failed to strike a chord with her rishta stories. Perhaps we needed a stronger plotline there. Though I certainly enjoyed her dance choreography with the spoon props!
Oh, and a quick note on the very prominent brand placements throughout the show, try to keep it subtle folks, a little goes a long way!
And that’s all, it’s a wrap! Hum Tum is a show I can watch again, be it Sarmad doing a solo dance number in his room, or Maha spilling the tea all over the kitchen counter, Neha beating up the galli kay ghunday or Dadu Handsome shooting a spontaneous TikTok – play on till next Ramazan.
So, with all the laughs and smiling moments, did Hum Tum manage to usher in a Naya Pakistan, or at least, the beginnings of? You tell me!