The hugely anticipated story of Alif will be aired very soon on local TV networks. But will we be as enthralled with Momina’s “mujhe zaat kyun nahi milti” moment as we were with Fifi’s?
Shehr-e-Zaat (SeZ) is that annoying older sister for Alif, who sets the benchmark too high and then the younger ones have to constantly listen to, “Apni behn se hi kuch seekh lo” from their parents.
Well, let’s hope we’re not forced to turn into an annoying version of our parents when Alif airs.
While I’m not a huge fan of pitting any two projects against each other, Alif’s comparison to Shehr-e-Zaat is almost unavoidable. There are too many similarities between the two to save Alif from the undue pressure of meeting, if not beating, the stellar project that was Shehr-e-Zaat. Both the shows have been written by Umera Ahmed. Both the shows portray spiritual journey of a person lost in his/her own narcissistic world. And both use a form of art – sculpting in case of SeZ and calligraphy in case of Alif – as an integral plot point.
Then what is it that sets Alif apart from SeZ?
The multiple storylines, the hype, the stellar cast, and the stunning locations!
Unfortunately, or fortunately, a large portion of the audience has read Alif. Hell, they’ve even taken to quoting Alif’s dialogues at any given opportunity. Such is the craze. Now, the only thing that makers need to do, is to not only meet that craze, but also amplify it further.
The three teasers released till now seem to have achieved the desired effect, but is that effect similar to what Shehr-e-Zaat’s promo created?
SeZ’s promos were more intense than Alif
Apart from Manzar Sehbhai’s “Tou phir intezaar karo Qalb-e-Momin” in the first promo and “Woh sharaqat bardasht nahi karta” in the third teaser, none of the dialogues have been able to give me goose bumps. Whereas in case of Shehr-e-Zaat, every single frame, music, and dialogue in the promo was intriguing, intense, and truly spiritual. It was clear from the get-go that we’re talking about love beyond the realms of this world.
The teasers for Alif are cinematically amazing, but they lack the raw intensity that SeZ’s teasers had. Let’s hope the show itself proves otherwise.
The Abida factor is missing in Alif
You know what truly made SeZ stand apart? Abida Parveen’s soul-searching vocals and that haunting music which did more to explain the gravity of the situation than any dialogue ever can. Sarmad Khoosat hit a master stroke by using Yaar ko Humne as the OST, and if that wasn’t enough, he used tracks from the entire album, Raqs-e-Bismal, at various integral occasions making them memorable and truly soul-touching.
Alif’s OST is yet to release, but will Shuja Hyder and Momina Mustehsan be able to top the delight that was listening to Abida’s “Kahin aashiq niaz ki soorat…” as Mohib’s character came to terms with Fifi’s obsession with another man, all the while inadvertently depicting his own obsession with her.
Personally, I always felt if someone redid (in terms of music not composition) Abida Parveen’s Tune Deewana Banaya then it would suit Alif perfectly.
SPOILER ALERT COMING UP – BE WARNED!
Lack of “the moment of realisation” in Alif
Whoever has read Alif will agree that Momin doesn’t have that ONE moment of realisation where he goes, “Oh god, what have I done with my life?” He sees a gradual downfall, and then that downfall too is very short-lived.
What is that definitive moment where Qalb-e-Momin becomes a true momin?
Is it when his grandfather dies? Is it when he’s selling his grandfather’s paintings? Is it when his sponsors ditch him? Is it when he sees Momina Sultan for who she really is during that all-important press conference? Or is it when he finds out the truth about Husn-e-Jahan?
I couldn’t really tell.
In Shehr-e-Zaat, Falak sees her true self and the frivolousness of this world for the very first time when she goes to meet the other woman in Salman’s life. The scene might be problematic on many levels, but what the makers showed was pretty convincing.
Here was this gorgeous young woman, clad in green sari, being rejected by her husband for a middle-aged, slightly burly, woman. It didn’t make sense to the audience, neither did it make sense to Falak. She was shaken to the core. And the audience felt that.
Alif has a love story and light-hearted scenes which SeZ didn’t
There are a lot of people who still haven’t watched SeZ because they consider it too heavy for their liking. There’s no comic relief and neither is there any conventional love story. But in Alif you get both.
Let’s just say that the romantic inside you will be served well. Apart from that, watch out for Shakoor and his shenanigans for a good laugh. Surely Alif is something that the masses will be more accepting of as compared to Shehr-e-Zaat.
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Alif lacks a dramatic breakdown
Raise your hand if it was Mahira Khan’s “Mujhe zaat kyun nahi milti” which completely sold SeZ to you! That breakdown scene gives you the chills no matter how many times you watch it. In Alif, Momina Sultan is too strong and too busy to afford a breakdown and Momin has a meltdown of sorts after he confronts Sultan, but it’s a mellow one as compared to Falak’s.
But breakdowns are not always loud and outwardly, and the characters in Alif are full of inward battles. Let’s see how well the actors portray those demons that are gnawing away at their soul.
Alif isn’t preachy
Now, SeZ wasn’t preachy to the point of being annoying either, but Naani (Samina Peerzada) sometimes got a bit too carried away with her comments on Falak’s dressing. Unfortunately, her critique on Fifi’s dressing or staying out late for a friend’s mehndi implied that any girl who doesn’t dress modestly, or enjoys her life, is automatically an outcast and will never find peace.
We do see slut-shaming in Alif, as girls with midriff baring saris and tattoos are shown as the evil beings while our two female protagonists keep their modesty in check with big dupattas. But what Alif doesn’t have, is a character out rightly terming any art form or wardrobe choice a gunnah. Umera Ahmed’s story has kept the focus on intention, which is a refreshing change.
Alif has a far more engaging storyline
There is mystery. There is romance. There is friendship. There is sibling love. There is glamour. The story promises to be a show that has a plethora of flavours, which will keep you hooked. You’d want to know what exactly happened with Husn-e-Jahan. You’d want to know if Momina will ever be able to truly love and respect herself. You’d want to know when Qalb-e-Momin’s path will cross with Momina’s. You’d want to know a lot of things.
In SeZ there wasn’t any untold story hanging out at the back. It focused on Falak and her journey only.
On the other hand, Alif’s story depicts the journeys of Talha, Husn-e-Jahan, Qalb-e-Momin, and Momina Sultan. The former was a simple story with brilliant execution and latter can truly be a heart wrenching saga if executed with the finesse it deserves.