Ye Dil Mera has caused quite a buzz! “But how can two privileged actors endorse harassment?” Exclaimed a million scandalized voices! Did you see them high five each other and go all “Wah kya romance kiya hai” after the scene? No? Uncle (and aunties) please sit.
Ye Dil Mera aired its first teaser and viewers were in a huff about a lot of content shown there. The teaser certainly managed to ‘tease’ – but where do we go from here?
Should we cancel the entire show before it has even aired and judge the actors who are enacting the characters?
Umm but why? Does anyone judge you for sneakily sucking in your tummy before every picture? That certainly isn’t a body-positive behavior, but you do you!
And in Ye Dil Mera’s case, they aren’t even sneakily sucking in tummies, it’s just that the editor photoshopped them in a way that they look guilty of a crime they haven’t even committed.
Even if you look at the teaser of Ye Dil Mera carefully, you’ll know that they’ve played around with the dialogues. They are certainly not in the correct order. Even the scenes are deceptive. How’d you know she’s communicating with the shady boss via her laptop? How do you know she didn’t give it back to him after he asked her, “Mein aap ko kaisa laga?” How do you know it’s even a work-related interview? She certainly isn’t dressed for one!
Don’t be fooled by Aina’s ‘deer in her headlights’ look. She’s a Farhat Ishtiaq heroine and if you’ve followed her work you’d know that her heroines aren’t meek entities with no identity of their own. They are self-respecting individuals.
“That scene [which everyone is discussing] is certainly not how people have perceived it. It is something totally different and it certainly doesn’t romanticise any sort of harassment,” says Farhat Ishtiaq when asked to confirm if Yeh Dil Mera does indeed feature a not-so-welcome romance.
Her statement made us wonder whether there’s a subplot that shows a boss taking advantage of the power dynamics, and then … in the 30th episode we see the boss’s behavior being rebuked?
“No, there is no such thing,” Ishtiaq denied categorically. “Wait for the show to air and I think within the first few episodes the audience will understand the context of this scene. That entire sequence is not what it seems and there’s a reason behind that. Why else would a girl wear jhumkas to a work interview?”
OMG! Farhat Ishtiaq apart from being a well-known writer is also a mind reader because that was my very next question. Why the nikkah-ready look for a work interview?
“She [the female lead] didn’t just feel like dressing up. There is a backstory to that too, which we can’t unveil in a promo. People, especially on social media, have developed an odd habit of jumping to conclusions. They judge and criticise things before even trying to find the actual truth,” she says resignedly.
Feeling sad for a writer who had taken the decision to step out of her comfort zone and write a romantic thriller, I decided to sway the topic toward the project itself.
“Yeh Dil Mera is a huge risk because no one has really done a romantic thriller on Pakistani television ever before. Similarly, Ahad has taken a huge risk by accepting to do a grey character at an initial stage of his career when he’s mostly known as a chocolatey hero.” She admits. “I am hopeful that the audience will accept him and the project just like they welcomed and appreciated my previous works.”
Looking at the reaction of people, ones who regularly follow Pakistani dramas, the audience is more than ready to welcome Amaan (Ahad Raza Mir) and Aina (Sajal Aly) on their screen in a show that is equal parts romance and thriller.
Is Ye Dil Mera Actually Inspired By Fifty Shades of Grey?!
“It has a lot of romance,” says Ishtiaq and we can’t help but smile, because when Farhat Ishtiaq writes romance, it really IS the giddy sort. Slightly cheesy, but never revolting. Since I had her on call, I had to ask her if she was in any way inspired by Fifty Shades of Grey while writing Yeh Dil Mera?
After sharing a good laugh with me, she says, “Uff no no, it has nothing do with Fifty Shades of Grey. I don’t understand where people brought that from. I’ve been wanting to write this story for quite some time now. It started as a novel, but then I left it in the middle. In one of my meetings with Momina Duraid, I mentioned it and she encouraged me to complete the story, but this time in a script form.”
Before ending the call, I wanted to know how she felt about people calling out makers for portraying problematic (for lack of a better word) behaviors on screen and not just showing them, but also romanticizing them. Unfortunately, I did witness a few young girls thanking the lord for satisfying their “businessman kink” on Twitter and basically saying stuff like “Mera itna romantic interview kab hoga?”
Now that’s worrisome.
Ishtiaq agrees, “Of course people have the write to criticize us if we encourage anything inappropriate like harassment, misogyny or anything else. Being writers, producers of content, we have a huge responsibility toward the people. With my projects such as Udaari and Yakeen Ka Safar I aimed to not only entertain but also educate the audience.”
She quickly clarifies, “But Yeh Dil Mera doesn’t have any social message [so don’t expect that]. It is a pure romantic thriller!”
Well, who can say no to a good romance? We all need that sort of escapism now and then. Hallmark movies wouldn’t be an entity if people didn’t love cheesy romance. Let’s just hope Yeh Dil Mera isn’t as basic as those pitiful Christmas movies. And it won’t be, because the likes of Mira Sethi, Ahad Raza Mir, and Sajal Aly won’t sign up for a project that threatens to dent their brand image.
Unfortunately, they had no control over the teasers which have given a pretty rocky start to an otherwise promising show.
The Director’s Take
In addition to the writer, I also spoke with Ahson Talish – the director of Yeh Dil Mera – and he, unlike Farhat Ishtiaq, seems to be enjoying all the negative buzz that the teasers have created.
“That’s what teasers are for,” he exclaims happily, or so I assume, because I certainly can’t hear or see him through a WhatsApp message. “The kind of feedback I got is astonishing as we didn’t know it will really blow out of proportion in this way. So be it, love the controversy. It is giving great hype to the play. The story is completely different from the perspective the “critics” are handling it.”
There, even he confirmed that the story isn’t what the Twiteratti has concluded it to be.
But then again, the question arises: Why release such deceptive teasers?
Referring to the supposed “romance” shown in the teasers, he says, “What cheesy romance? The critics need to not grow up or in case they’ve forgotten, they need to grow young, to revisit that very special feeling of falling in love. I guess they’ve been busy criticizing rather than romanticizing all their life.”
“We had no idea about how deceptive the teaser would be,” he admits. “But at the end of the day, they are called teasers for a reason.”
Okay then, he just attacked a lot of over-critical people such as myself.
When asked, and I quote:
A lot of young people are finding the office interaction romantic when that clearly shouldn’t be the case. Do you agree that even if it’s just a promo it shouldn’t normalize such creepy behavior or that’s just done to generate interest?
His response: “It is romantic. It is romantic. It is romantic.”
And before you go all “Talaaq Talaaq. Talaaq” on Ahson Talish for endorsing a clearly disturbing (as per the promos) interaction between the leads, hear me out.
He knows the context, hence, he found the interaction shown in the promo romantic or maybe he’s referring to the overall show being romantic … or not to sound ageist, but maybe it’s the age?
No, seriously. I showed the teaser to my mother and she giggled. She really did.
We aren’t done yet. Of course, we had to ask him about the upcoming teasers and whether they’ll neutralize the negative press the first promo has received?
“More promos are making way soon, not to neutralise but to tease you guys more.”
Well, he clearly has zero fluffs to give to critics who refuse to make informed decisions. But expecting people to do their research before typing out limited characters of a tweet is too much to ask.
The lesson learned from this debacle
Maybe, make a group of people watch the teaser before rolling it out?
Don’t cancel a show because the teaser shows inappropriate behavior. Joker was killing people, but no one cancelled him? Give our own shows a chance to explain themselves at least.
Let our actors breathe!
You only need to search “Ahad Raza Mir” on Twitter to enter a crazy world which holds two types of people – one who love him to an extent that they don’t find the said office interaction disturbing because their man was sitting there looking all handsome, and another one, which hates him to an extent that they also have an issue with him wearing a turtleneck or being his father’s son.
The poor boy has only made two mistakes – to come from a privileged family (which he had no control over) and become popular overnight because of his performance in Yakeen Ka Safar (which, again, he had no control over). The third mistake (Kokorina) gives me anxiety so let’s not go there. It seems as if the audience can’t seem to forgive themselves for making him popular.
Let actors experiment
Again, people alleging that Ahad’s character seems to be a copy of certain Hollywood characters is absolutely uncalled for. The actor in him is trying to experiment – he went from doing a socio-romantic show and a period play to a youth-oriented drama and a romantic thriller all in two years – why dis him and that too without any solid reason.
Similarly, Sajal Aly, for the past few years, has been very selective with the kind of roles she does. Sassi was unapologetic, Zubia was strength personified, Chammi was fierce, Momina is a silent warrior, and Aina so far seems like a millennial Boo.
If you aren’t well-versed on anything, avoid talking about it
For people who don’t know Farhat Ishtiaq, she has written drama serials such as Udaari – which highlighted child sexual abuse – and Yakeen Ka Safar – which highlighted issues like rape and domestic violence. And never has she ever glorified or pardoned the perpetrators.
Get rid of the herd mentality
I often witness this on Twitter, where opinion leaders point toward a certain issue and then there’s a domino effect. This is great for issues that actually need to be highlighted, but when it comes to entertainment, let people love what they wish to love unless it is absolutely vile.
Don’t make writers (as myself) write an entire thesis where they try to explain and justify a 10-second scene featuring biryani.