The much-awaited drama Pehli Si Muhabbat premiered over the weekend after drawing tremendous hype for various reasons. One, Sheheryar Munawar and Maya Ali’s comeback on television after a long time. Two, one of Pakistan’s leading fashion designers Hassan Sheheryar Yasin (HSY) making his acting debut. Three, high expectations because of Anjum Shehzad helming the director’s hat. From its packaging, it’s all gloss but that may be just what the doctor prescribed.
The plot unfolds with two households in Hyderabad, Sindh. Rakshi (Maya Ali) is raised by her father Faizullah (Shabbir Jaan). A parallel track features Yasmeen (Saba Faisal) who has two sons Akram (HSY) and Aslam (Sheheryar Munawar). Aslam has been living with his grandmother in Karachi for some time. Yasmeen forces him to come back to his hometown Hyderabad as she fixes his engagement with her niece who also lives in Karachi in the same house as Aslam.
Rakshi gets the biggest shock of her life when Faizullah introduces her to his young new wife Nargis (Rabia Butt). Things go sour when Akram and the neighbourhood get suspicious of Faizullah’s marriage. They raise their concerns and ask him to prove the innocence of his wife, who we assume, was once a prostitute. After getting a befitting reply, Akram, along with his group of colony mates, attacks and stones Faizullah’s home in his absence. Aslam intervenes in the situation and asks them to stop or it would turn out to be a police case. Finally, in a filmy yet dreamy sequence, Aslam and Rakshi meet in the weirdest of situations.
Sheheryar Munawar comes up with a good performance. He is natural and effortless and carries out his part with conviction. Maya Ali does well; she is at ease with her character. Her clothes, hair, eyeliner, dupatta, kolhapuri shoes, jewelry, and bangles were on point irrespective of any situation. The duo has natural chemistry that translates well on the screen and makes for a promising start of a blooming romance, which is one of the major highlights of the drama.
Hassan Sheheryar Yasin, for a first-timer, does exceedingly well as an actor, however, it does seem like he’s trying a bit too hard to do justice to the character. But these are things one works on with experience which we are sure HSY will. Rabia Butt is the highlight of the episode! She gives an outstanding performance and plays her character so effortlessly, not to forget how expressive she is with her eyes which just brings more life to the character. We are really looking forward to her acting in the upcoming episodes. Veterans Shabbir Jan and Saba Faisal play their roles as well as they always have; true to the character with great delivery and expressions. Nausheen Shah was also there.
The initial few minutes set the tempo and establish the characters. But things go downhill because of a cliché plot that doesn’t have much to offer. We have been subjected to such stories in the past numerous times. Also, the episode doesn’t really have a lot of ‘wow’ moments. Lastly, there were a couple of things that came across as strange.
When the entire neighbourhood questions and protests outside Faizullah’s house, that was pointless. He has legally married a woman and no matter what her background may be, no matter how close-knit the colony may be, nobody can really question a “sharai nikkah” but then we can’t ignore how much we generally love to poke our nose in someone else’s business.
The scene in which Aslam asks Akram to let him stay in Karachi and complete his studies here, his request is denied just because he can’t stay at his to-be in-law’s house anymore? That’s a little strange since it is also his nani’s house.
In another scene why was Nargis being interviewed by the women of the community “mohallay ki aunties” who have no right to do so? Yes, this might still be a norm in some areas of our country but to such extremes? Doesn’t seem right. Also, the execution of this particular scene had StarPlus vibes to it; exaggerated and sensationalised.
The USP of Pehli Si Mohabbat is the performances by the lead actors and the scintillating chemistry they share. As for the first episode, it’s a lackluster start. Nonetheless, we hope that the upcoming episodes will offer enough substance to keep the viewers hooked. The drama airs every Saturday at 8pm on ARY Digital.