By Maliha Rehman
It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book, and also a very successful one: a story starting off with romantic sparks flying at a desi wedding, aptly set against the backdrop of fairy lights and colorful bling. Girl meets boy, there is music and dancing and a few not very subtle dialogues hint at the love story that will unfold hereon.
It’s a beginning that works for Big Bang Entertainment’s drama Mujhe Pyaar Hua Tha (MPHT) airing on ARY Digital, the Hania Aaamir-Wahaj Ali-Zaviyar Naumaan Ijaz starrer that is likely to be watched avidly not just because of its cast but also because we all love a well-conceived love triangle. Provided, of course, that MPHT’s love triangle will be a well-developed one.
Hania Aamir is Maheer, a straightforward, good-hearted girl whose first cousin is getting married. She is an only child but also living in the same house as her and her parents are her paternal uncle and his family. This paternal uncle has a son – Saad, played by Wahaj Ali – who is madly in love with Maheer. Saad drives her back and forth to her cousin’s house, enjoys listening to her tantrums and is willing to go the extra mile to make her happy. His sister, enacted by Rabya Kulsoom, knows how he feels and constantly teases him about it. One expects Saad to eventually confess his feelings to Maheer but putting a spanner in the works will be Areeb – Zaviyar Naumaan Ijaz – who has just met Maheer at the wedding and appears to be besotted by her. Saad, watching the few interactions between Maheer and Areeb, is already getting jealous. There’s likely to be a clash, soon.
It’s not a new beginning to a story at all but it hooks you. The very good-looking cast helps, as does the pretty wedding-wear and the music. Having said this, MPHT can hardly rely on wedding festivities to take the story onwards in successive episodes. Hopefully, the plot should be able to move into interesting directions, with well-developed characters and a strong script.
While there are certain storylines that TV dramas almost always tend to follow, it is character development and dialogues that set a story apart. Attention to details also help and one hopes that director Badar Mehmood has kept this in mind. Why, for instance, does Areeb’s character sing and strum his guitar in such an obviously fake way? Also, how can Maheer be in la-la-land, not being able to realize that her cousin is in love with her despite him throwing about plenty of obvious hints?
Also, I am tired of TV dramas relying so frequently on cousin romances. The cousin is an easy suitor to zone on, simply because the female lead usually belongs to a conservative household. Her friends are restricted to females and the only male that she frequently interacts with ends up being her cousin. The romantic angle can be built based on these interactions. It is, nevertheless, a tired, hackneyed angle – and one replete with biological issues in the real world given that cousin marriages are more likely to lead to offspring with abnormalities. One wishes that we could set aside the cousin, letting him fall in love with girls that aren’t related to him, and look towards other male leads for the naïve, restriction-bound Pakistani drama heroine.
Having said this, maybe Maheer won’t fall for her cousin Saad at all. The past tense ‘tha’ in the drama’s title could possibly hint at Saad falling in and then out of love with his cousin. Hopefully, the drama will delve towards new territory rather than rely on the same plot that we have seen a trillion times before. One can also rely on some strong performances. One can also hope – against hope – for a story that doesn’t drag.
MPHT, in this initial episode, is packaged in shiny candy foil. Hopefully, this could be a romance that we’ll end up enjoying.