The ‘Mushkil’ good girl, with a spine

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By Maliha Rehman

Saboor Aly is the good girl to the core, in 7th Sky Entertainment’s ‘Mushkil’, currently airing every day at 9 p.m. on Har Pal Geo TV. She’s the good daughter, the dedicated best friend, the innocent girl caught in a web of domestic politics. As the naïve Sameen, she also cries a lot – an absolute prerequisite if one wants to be included in the TV drama ‘good girls’ list.

She’s very convincing, too, helped along by a plot that is currently twisting and turning through an emotional minefield. It’s increasingly evident that 9 p.m. has become a major prime time slot for Pakistani TV and Mushkil, directed by Marina Khan, produced by Abdullah Kadwani and Asad Qureshi, isn’t your lackluster daily soap. The camera-work, sets and motley crew of actors indicate that the drama has been developed and shot along the lines of all other prime time dramas. Fledgling Khushhal Khan is seen for the first time as a male lead, Zainab Shabbir plays Sameen’s manipulative friend and Saife Hassan, Laila Wasti, Behroze Sabzwari and Shagufta Ejaz have been enlisted as the parental figures.

And then there’s Saboor’s Sameen, good-hearted, bearing the taunts of the world, so virtuous that you could place a halo on her head. It must be a refreshing change from her last popular lead role, the immoral Faria from Amanat.

“It is,” Saboor confirms, when I reach out to her. “But even when I play a negative character I mentally condition myself to believe that whatever my character is doing is right. When a person does something wrong, he or she always has a justification for it.”

She continues, “What matters more than anything is the script. The scenes in Mushkil have been written well. The dialogues all connect. I am working for the first time with Marina Khan and she is very focused. Anything illogical or unnecessary is eliminated from the story. If a particular scene doesn’t seem natural, she shoots it differently so that it makes sense. She used to joke with us that she had even started seeing segments of the drama in her dreams!” Saboor laughs.

How was the experience of working opposite Khushhal Khan, who is relatively new to the field? “He’s worked hard and my focus was entirely on making sure that my chemistry with him was good. The TV audience loves a romantic pair with good chemistry,” Saboor says knowingly. “We did often tease him, reminding him to shake off his Pushto accent when he spoke the Urdu dialogues.”

“What I like about Sameen, though, is that while she is good, she’s not completely spineless. She takes a stand when she feels that someone has wronged her, just like a normal person does. She doesn’t silently go on bearing her pain.”

There is a considerable audience watching Mushkil – but so is Saboor’s husband, Ali Ansari. “He teases me that I should be more like Sameen!” she laughs.

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