Unsunni – Overview

Unsunni – Overview

Unsunni par my unsunni thoughts!

Well! Unsunni has been on air for a while now and I do not know what it was about the play, but I just did not feel interested enough to watch it. Airing every Monday on PTV Home, written by Khalil ur Rehman Qamar and directed by Ehraz Ali Mirza, Unsunni stars Mehwish Hayat, Junaid Khan, Sajid Hasan, Shamim Hilali amongst others.

Wanting to watch something that could just play in the background while I set upon the task of addressing invitation cards for my brother’s wedding, I thought I would give it a shot. Before I say anything else, let me tell you what made me almost switch off the first episode within the first 5-10 minutes. Not in this particular order but this is what I saw:

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Followed by:

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And then:

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Mehwish Hayat with the pen in her mouth that made me recoil and say ewwww. Pen tip in your mouth or behind your ear or holding your bun together is okay,but like that? Then Junaid Khan’s awful, awful hairstyle. Shahryar Zaidi presented as the flirtatious boss threw me off too as I really like him as an actor and like the fatherly roles he normally does and I personally did not like seeing him like this. Making it worse, he said to Junaid khan what a dashing personality he has who smiled back in all his cheerum glory. I know offices have cubicles but somehow the angle of this one made it seem like a chicken slaughter house. Throw in the odd Turkish music playing in the back – and I honestly do not know why I did not turn off the TV!

Unsunni is the story of Sadaf (Mehwish Hayat) and Yasif (Junaid Khan). I know, duh, you have that figured – bear with me. They knew each other back at university and flashbacks show that Yasif was attracted to Sadaf but she was engaged to her cousin Mukhtar (Sajid Hasan). Mukhtar is 22 years older than her (I know, I sort of gulped at that too) but when his parents died, Sadaf’s parents raised him and then when Sadaf’s father died, Mukhtar felt obliged to step up and help his chachi and cousins as much as he could. He picks and drops them to college and work. Anyways, Sadaf tells Yasif that she is married and he is shocked and backs out of her life.

They meet years later when Yasif begins to work at the bank where Sadaf is already working. He learns that she was only bluffing when she had said earlier that she was married. Apparently he is still in love with her and eventually she begins to have feelings for him too. She shares her feelings with her mother who is appalled at first but things work out well with Mukhtar taking his leave and moving to Dubai before Yasif and Sadaf get married. Trouble begins to brew as Sadaf being ambitious gets promoted at work whereas Yasif is not. She is also transferred to another branch where she meets an old university friend and Yasif keeps hearing what Sadaf has done all day at work from his ‘hum hairstyle jasoos’ teaboy. He begins to grow obsessive and suspicious, which results in him lashing out a couple of times, once even physically. His friends, Danish and Zara begin to worry that he is not all there mentally and seek the advice of a psychiatrist.

The psychiatrist’s advice had to be the most I- don’t- know -what advice I have ever heard! Yasif tells him that when he accuses Sadaf of anything he wants her to yell back at him, hit him etc. The psychiatrist happily passes that piece of advice to Danish who tells Zara who tells Sadaf who at first horrified at the thought – actually slaps him during one of their arguments. All is well now? Ummm, no – Yasif beats her to within an inch of her life and eventually divorces her.

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Hence begins the second half of the drama. Forward five years and we see Yasif arriving in Karachi with his wife Zoya (ZQ) and a son, Danny. He moves into a block of flats where he comes across Sadaf. She apparently lives in the flat right opposite his. We see Sadaf is married to Mukhtar. I was most curious to see the relation between the two and was pleasantly surprised to see one of mutual affection. Next morning, Yasif goes to work – yes, the same branch where Sadaf works. It was evident Yasif was consumed by jealousy when he was married to Sadaf but after the divorce he had a complete breakdown and was ‘treated’ for his mental illness. He still needs to take medication as he begins to lose control quite easily. His marriage with zoya is turbulent as well. Turns out he married her as soon as he divorced Sadaf and whether she was also half crazy or his madness made her crazy or that is just how she deals with him – I do not know.

What follows next is predictable. Yasif for all his ‘I do not want to barbaad Sadaf’s ghar’ is setting out to do just that. Sadaf although at first tries to avoid talking to him or seeing him, begins to be drawn to him again especially after she learns he was unwell and seems to be ‘genuinely’ repentant. Mukhtar is out of town for a couple of days so she spends the days meeting Yasif and talking to him and growing closer to him. Their boss, mutual friends and now respective spouse all learn the truth about them but Yasif and Sadaf seem to be past caring about anyone else but each other. The drama has not ended yet and although it would seem obvious that these two will get married again I am curious to see if that really does happen.

I would say that this drama’s strongest point are its dialogues – true. Although having said that, I personally can not digest itnay heavy dialogues as I binge watched the play. Maybe smaller doses for me would have been a better idea. But that is just me – I know there are huge fans of KRQ and for them this drama’s dialogues would have not been a disappointment. There were some lines though such as the whole ‘Zara being Bhabhi and Bhabhi being a mother but then maa ko girlfriend bana diya that literally make me shake my head in confusion and then the kamina and salaa that appeared every two seconds made me want to turn into a recluse for a few days in fear of the words slipping from my mouth too!

But then the direction. The scenes I described at the beginning of my article. The dance sequences at Qudoos Sahab’s (Shahryar Zaidi) parties were cringe worthy. Oh but I was most tickled to see the Dostea TVC aunty (thanks to Zahra Mirza I had a good laugh at that TVC)- dancing here too in her role of Mrs. Qudoos. Maybe that’s why she disappeared later in the episode – the Dostea team swooped her up for the shooting of their TVC! Also, Sadaf and Yasif’s bedroom, the out of place Friends poster in Sadaf’s flat and the cheerleader poster looked very odd. The drama definitely did not seem as if it were shot in today’s times but then it was not trying to pass off as a drama of an older era either so I am not sure why it was made that way. At times I felt that there was not a convincing flow from one scene to the other as some scenes seemed to end abruptly.

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I normally feel nothing for Junaid Khan’s acting or his roles. But I do have to say, for me at least, he has performed really well. Once I got past that awful hairdo, I saw him as a jealous husband who eventually went totally crazy and then when he comes back in Sadaf’s life – he is mentally unstable, selfish, manipulative, pitiful to an extent and I felt him portray all these sides to his personality. I really dislike his character. Obviously Sadaf’s character is not without blame but the way Yasif plays up the emotional blackmail, like at the beach suicide scene made me really despise him. I could not bring myself to give him a free pass thinking he is mentally unstable. Also, we are earlier meant to believe that he moved to her building and work purely by chance whereas later he tells Zoya he planned it all.

Mehwish Hayat surprised me. I saw her in Man jalli and Meray qatil meray dil dar and thought she was a decent actress and then all I saw were her dance promos on tv and her lips. And that’s all I saw in the beginning as well – the lips. But then she emerged and I began to relate to her as Sadaf. I liked how she tried to make her marriage with Mukhtar work and I agree she tried to stay away from Yasif but I think that is what made me keep watching. How does a woman who is trying her best to stay away – finally give in to temptation. I wanted to see whether it was a sudden moment, a sudden chance etc or it would be an eventual play of events and that would make her take that route.

The supporting characters did their bit really well too. Sajid Hasan has always been a favourite and Shamim Hilali is her few scenes was convincing. Zoya’s scenes where she throws the vase and smacks him with the mirror had me gasping in horror but also made me dissolve into giggles! Thankfully Shahryar Zaidi did not dwell in his flirtatious role for long. And then the character of  Farzand Ali – his dialogues delivery and expressions made me think maybe he was meant to be funny and cute but I didn’t feel either. However he seemed to play an important role and tried to keep Yasif and Sadaf away from each other. In fact that’s what I liked about the side characters- Sadaf’s university friend Rizwan, Qudoos Sahab, Farzand Ali all tried to play positive role in their lives, help them when they needed and tried to not encourage Sadaf and Yasif when they tried to get closer to each other. Oh, and of course how can I forget another important character – the tiffin! If Sadaf did not keep needing to remind Yasif to wait while she got her tiffin when he dropped her to work, if their tiffins were not identical and not swapped at lunch time, if Mukhtar did not get Sadaf a new tin – the story could not progress as it did. So ‘tiffin’ performed well too!

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The story in in itself is not exceptional. It is intriguing enough to make you want to see where all this ends up though. I would skip the first few episodes if I knew what the story was and then watch the rest. Whether Sadaf and Yasif are right to be doing what they are doing, whether ‘love knows no reason’ even applies to such a situation where I am not even sure what the lead characters feel is love and whether that gives them a right to be cheating their spouses – is open to each individual’s opinion and interpretation. I do not know what even drew Sadaf to Yasif for his character is not charming at all. He believes she was his ‘first’ love and his ‘first’ wife hence he truly feels he is not wrong in doing all he is doing. Again, superb advice from another psychiatrist that was dished out to Yasif – Sadaf was the cause of his illness and she is the cure for his illness too…go figure!!

I am going to pop in a little disclaimer here – KRQ die hard fans please do not take any part of my review to heart. I often wonder whether I lack this ‘KRQ appreciation gene’ and I do to an extent. Having said that, it was the direction in this play and the extremely cheesy dialogues in the first few episodes that threw me off. After that, I was engrossed enough to watch it till the 25th episode. It definitely is more interesting than a lot more plays on air at the moment but it took a lot of effort to sit through the initial episodes and I wish the director had done a better job for I am sure a lot of people gave up on the play because of those early episodes.

How many of you have watched Unsunni so far? Would love to hear your thoughts!

Kunwal Javid