By Sarah Shaukat
A star cast, soulful OST, scenic locations, and a couple of intriguing teasers later, Ishq e Laa premiered its first episode last night, and I for one was surely looking forward to it.
Written by Qaisera Hayat, it is no surprise that the story hints at strong undertones of love, religion, and mysticism. Ishq e Laa opened with Shanaya (Sajal Aly) reciting the translation of the Quran. The director Amin Iqbal seems to believe in taking his time warming up the audience to his show and so we were gradually eased into the episode as one after the other, different characters were introduced.
It was a well-paced episode with wide camera angles occasionally building up the scale. The character introductions were heartwarming. Set in a typical Pakistani household setting, the drama did establish that it will stand out with the individual character arcs. The episode primarily focused on Azka (Yumna Zaidi) and Shayana, both poles apart yet filled with ambition and hope. Azka is riddled with lack of finances but dreams of embarking on a journey that will end with her becoming a doctor. On the other hand, Shayana, fearless and determined, is already on her journey to uncover the truth as a journalist. She is willing to tread dangerous waters, something that is likely to be a point of concern as the story progresses. Sajal and Yumna are both, of course, two of Pakistan’s finest actresses and both were in their element. I don’t doubt that they will work their mettle as the story begins to twist and turn.
We did catch a few glimpses of the debutant Azaan Sami Khan as Azlan. It may be too early to pass judgment but his character did come off as arrogant, high-maintenance, and finicky… Mr.Perfect in his own eyes, if I may. In the initial few scenes in which he is seen, Azaan seems to be fairly at ease with the camera. It will be interesting to see how he holds his own against his two very accomplished leading ladies.
At this point, the three main leads were not seen interacting together. The first episode does indicate at a romance between Shayana and Azlan. Azka and Azlan meet momentarily and it seems to be a shaky start. There’s a fair chance – and the teasers hint at this – that the two will be locking horns in upcoming episodes.
Everyone’s favorite Gulzar a.k.a Adnan Samad Khan is also part of the cast and made an appearance as the floral pattern-loving, evidently good-for-nothing Abid. His character is head over heels in love with Azka, who is definitely way out of his league. The supporting cast includes Azka’s family played by Seemi Raheel (Khadeeja), Sohail Sameer (Sultan), and Uzma Hassan (Kanwal), Azlan’s family including Usman Peerzada and Ghazala Kaifi and Laila Wasti as Shanaya’s mother. It will be interesting to see how every character influences the story as the first episode did establish their importance in the plot instead of merely being used as fillers.
Overall, the episode could be considered a meet and greet of sorts with the plot yet to truly unravel. However, the entire sequence narrated by Nadeem Baig about love and the journey to attain it was an interesting way of explaining the central theme of the drama and in some way preparing us for maybe a sad ending. But let’s just hope I am wrong about this one!
There is always something about the first episode of a drama that gets me excited. It is, after all, an introduction but as the saying goes, the first impression is always the last. There have been several dramas that had a great opening. Take Alif, for example, which took us on a journey and had us invested in the story from the moment we set eyes on young Qalb e Momin bicycling through the picturesque Turkish landscape to deliver his letter. It was a unique concept and coupled with engaging storytelling, the initial first glimpse was calculated to have the audience glued to the screen in awe. That is what I call a fantastic opening.
Did the first episode of Ishq e Laa deliver at par with this metric? Well, maybe not. Does it promise potential? Definitely! In the case of Ishq e Laa, I have mixed feelings and plan on giving this one sometime before making up my mind. It did have my interest piqued enough to watch the second episode.
The drama also, fortunately, doesn’t look like it is going to be the usual TRP guzzler like most other content seen on TV. It’s safe to say that Ishq e Laa won’t offer masala, extra marital affairs, character assassination of the shareef larki, husbands throwing their wives out, second marriages, talaaq on the spot and a mother-in-law presiding over it all, cooking up the next big saazish. From what I can tell, this drama is likely to venture into different directions with its storytelling, relying on a good narrative rather than sensationalism.
The drama critique aside, Sahad fandom has proven their loyalty once again as #SajalAly reigned supreme on Twitter shortly after the first episode. I have been out of touch with Twitter trends but last I checked people no longer get swayed by them. Will this display of affection by a loyal fandom give the show a boost or be only what it is, only time will tell.