Written by Hira Sangi
Our television viewers are seemed to be obsessed with Cinderella stories. Tales with a heroine who is a lot like the famous Disney princess and a hero who looks and acts like Prince Charming are the latest fads. Combine these with a few elements like step mother and sisters and you’ve got yourself a drama that has been deemed hit even before it starts airing.
Now I am not criticising these light love stories, they certainly make for some easy entertainment but watching a Cinderella story filled with glitches that go ignored by the directors and the public alike make me skeptical. One such fairy tale that is in dire need of some scrutiny is ‘Zindagi Gulzar Hai’. Cinderella needs to come out of her childhood grievances and Prince Charming needs to wipe that love sick look off his handsome face and snap back to reality!
So the story started off with Kashaf, the leading character as a chronic pessimist. Her negativity is so infectious even the viewers have started questioning the intentions of the people around them. She is bitter because of the fact that their father abandoned her fanily and married another woman with the hopes that she bears him a son. Fair enough; any daughter who is left alone without the protecting hand of a father would develop a negative attitude towards life. But Kashaf’s pessimism stands out from the rest of the family combined. Even her mother’s kindness and optimism cannot pull out the negativity from Kashaf.
Then we meet Zaroon, the reason why women curse power suppliers when the electricity goes off at eight on Fridays. He is a spoilt, rich and extremely good looking guy who goes around giving girls from his university bouquets and charming them with his devilish smile. Surprisingly, he remembers the birthday of every average to good looking girl in his university.
Finally, the two protagonists meet; negativity collides with unnecessary flirting and all hell breaks loose.
This point in the drama should have been most exciting but all we got was Kashaf’s inner voice pumping her against Zaroon. She kept an eye on what he got other girls on their birthdays even though she was very vocal about her dislike for Zaroon Junaid. I rolled off laughing when I first noticed that both the characters were getting their MBA degree from an arts college.
I visit drama pages often on facebook and on one very popular drama fan page, someone had honestly posted that eighty five percent of the female audience watch ‘Zindagi Gulzar Hai’ just because it cast Fawad Khan.
Surely the makers of this drama were aware that putting Fawad in the lead will make the drama a hit even before it starts to air and that is why a whole episode was squeezed in with a Fawad Khan concert, only Fawad Khan dialogues and everything else surrounding Fawad Khan. As the story came to a standstill and the handsome actor was given one good hour of footage, ‘FK’ fans had a royal ball that week!
There have been points in the drama that show the utter insensitivity of its makers. For one, like many other viewers, I was offended by the text on Sara’s (Ayesha Omer) shirt which read ‘Little Miss Jihad’ and showed a hijab clad woman carrying a bomb on her back. Defenders of the drama say that this was necessary to show Sara’s attitude towards life but the fact remains that her dialogues showed her nature very well. There was no need to drop in the shirt that hurt a lot of sentiments.
Fast forward a few stagnant weeks; Kashaf clears competitive exams and gets allocated in a powerful group. Her success changes the attitudes of the people around her including her father. However, it fails to change Kashaf herself. She is still rigid, not ready to let anyone in her life celebrate her success.
Sure, when you’ve faced every storm in life by your own, you are bound to get rigid but Kashaf fails to hear even her mother’s pleas to soften up. For her, everything good is temporary and instead of basking in the glory she herself attained, she remains uptight, wondering when it will all end.
Zaroon on the other hand has sobered down. He is still devilishly charming but now his charms are focused on Kashaf whom he meets once again and instantly develops a liking for.
Their rendezvous continues for another few episodes and finally Kashaf gives in to the pressure of becoming Mrs Zaroon Junaid. This is where the drama really starts to drag.
For one, the wedding scene was dragged unnecessarily. Zaroon who usually had such a good head on his shoulders looses the ring he was supposed to give to his new bride multiple times! The scene was given a good fifteen minutes of airtime when it was simply not needed.
Their honeymoon period dragged on for another two episodes in which we were shown constant phone calls and Kashaf rejecting all her husband’s advances to get to know her better. It was particularly funny to observe that Zaroon was given ‘shami kebabs’ to eat whenever he visited Kashaf’s family. Even then the poor lad was quick to praise his mother-in-law’s cooking skills!
It was during the Kashaf-Zaroon wedding proposal meetings that the ‘Nazimabad-Defence’ discussions erupted. I haven’t seen the difference or the distance being addressed so ruthlessly and insensitively. It was as if the Nazimabadis were a different breed of people who should never be allowed to dwell in the posh areas surrounding Defence. Surely the utter insensitivity with which this difference was shown was distasteful and irked many fans of the show.
I was particularly amused when it took Zaroon the whole day to drop Kashaf to her mother’s place and return home. It was as if she lived in some far flung area. Those who live in Karachi know very well that it doesn’t take more than half an hour to go from Nazimabad to Defence then why was this unnecessary exaggeration squeezed in?
Now that the honeymoon period has finally ended, brace yourselves for another few episodes in which the couple fights and makes up multiple times. Kashaf will remain rigid, not willing to bend or compromise at anything and Zaroon will just be reduced to being the typical husband we see every day on television screens; one who struggles to keep his mother and wife happy at the same time but somehow not succeeding in his endevours.
Truth be told, this is another one of those ‘rags to riches’ stories with a fantasy overdose that people love to watch. It must be motivating to watch a girl climb up towards success on her own but the leading characters’ attitude can never drive someone towards success. Kashaf still seems as pessimistic as ever and at times it feels she fears that the fact that she is Zaroon’s wife is too good to be true. Like Humsafar, this too is a Cinderella story with a desi twist; a fairytale complete with Prince Charming who sweeps the damsel in distress off her feet to carry her towards happily ever after.