After Yakeen Ka Safar ended, Ahad Raza Mir and Sajal Aly fans waited with baited breath for an announcement of the actors’ next projects. When they were cast in an upcoming drama together again (titled Aangan), fans rejoiced. Thus began a year and a half wait, clinging on to each glimpse, tidbit of information and photo leak. When I discovered Daisy Rockwell’s The Women’s Courtyard, the official translation of Aangan by Khadija Mastoor, had hit the shelves, I purchased a copy and devoured it within 48 hours. My excitement for the drama was at an all-time high before Hum TV began airing the show. And finally, after many delays, Aangan began airing.
Straight away, viewers were let down as Hum TV not only refused to upload episodes on YouTube, but actively removed episodes from any site that attempted to upload episodes, making it near impossible for viewers outside Pakistan to watch the show – unless they had a paid subscription. Regardless, viewers managed to catch the show in some capacity. Did the show live up to expectations?
As the show began, I was overjoyed. The writer and director duo seemed to understand the novel well and the story seemed to float off the pages of the book and transpire on the screen exactly as imagined. A cinematic experience, Aangan was not a let-down... until it was. The greatest mistake a team can make, whether it’s television or film, is to let the star guide the story rather than allowing the story to guide the star. With Aangan, the team seemed to make a very specific choice – “Let’s cash in on the popularity of the Ahad-Sajal pairing.” This would have been fine in any other show. The problem here was simply this: The roles Sajal and Ahad were cast in did not share a vast amount of scenes together. The character of Aaliyah (played by Mawra Hocane) is the very heart and soul of the novel, the character that carries the story from beginning to end and the story is essentially about her journey... somehow became sidelined? Her lines and scenes were written in a way that paled in comparison to those of her peers, Ahad and Sajal. While this may have been a treat to Sajal and Ahad fans, this was a great let-down for fans of the book. This is where Aangan lost many viewers.
Coming to the present episodes, the story has moved along and we seem to be nearing the end of the story. Aaliyah (Mawra) is now in Pakistan, while Chammi (Sajal) is back home and adjusting to her life as a divorced woman. With this arc, the story has finally picked up and now that our female leads are no longer sharing frames, both ladies are being given moments to shine. Chammi and Jameel (Ahad) are living under one roof again, sparks are flying and while viewers know exactly where this arc is headed, it’s great to watch the progression of the characters. On the other side, Aaliyah in Pakistan is gaining independence from her mother and learning to maneuver the new world around her. Aaliyah seems to be getting a potential love interest in the form of Shehroze Sabzwari, which should be entertaining to watch.
The viewers were in for a heart-breaking scene this week when Azhar, Aaliyah’s Taaya and Jameel’s father, met his end. It made for a cruel scene, watching Azhar trying to explain to the Hindu mob surrounding him that he is Congressi and one of them – only to be murdered in cold blood. Such is the story of our ancestors, a part of history that can never be erased, only learned from. How many families lost loved ones like this? This is a reality of our past.
I’m glad that Aangan is picking up pace and that the ensemble cast is now, finally, being given equal footing. If only it had been this way from the start, the show would still have an enthusiastic fan base. Regardless, I’m excited to see how the rest of the story unfolds!