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I had a Dumpukht – Aatish-e-Ishq marathon last night and I must say, I’m quite impressed. Things certainly are picking up for Pakistani TV as there is diversity in the type of stories that are coming forward. However, it’s not just how interesting this A-Plus serial is but also the fact that it’s been made very well. Let me narrow it down to four reasons why I’m watching the show and why you should too.

1. The story

First and foremost, the story of Dumpukht is unusual. Nine episodes in, love and marriage seems to be the point of focus in this as well but the setting in which this story is being played out is different and takes us inside a world which is quite far away from us. The play revolves around the lives of two families, who are in conflict with each other because of the difference in their religious beliefs. One family is a staunch follower of a Pir sahab, and they consider his word to be the word of God. The other family doesn’t believe in the power of pirs and taweezein (amulets) but is also very religious. The son of the former and the daughter of the latter fall in love and are divided by rituals and superstitions. It’s really interesting how Dumpukht is questioning the concept of pirs and their mureeds and how sometimes people blindly believe anything they are told. It shows the hypocrisy of the pir and his lifestyle and how he is maintaining his lavish lifestyle by playing with people’s innocence and ignorance.

2. Characterization 

Most other plays don’t understand the concept of realism because they paint their characters in either black or white. If someone is doing something wrong then they are evil, and those who are good will be perfect. That’s not how it works in real life. Good people also do bad things sometimes and vice versa. Thankfully, Dumpukht is redefining that. In the play, you see the pir manipulating people but he never comes across as evil. You can see him suffering and fighting his own demons which makes us able to sympathize with his grief as well.

3. Acting

The play has a stellar cast, with the likes of Noman Ejaz, Sonia Mishal, Saman Ansari, Asma Abbas, Saqib Sumeer, Saba Faisal and Bilal Abbas, and what a fantastic job they all are doing. Noman Ejaz is convincing as he slips in and out of his pir avatar, leaving the audience wondering whether that was the same man or not once. Asma Abbas has control over each and every expression and does it so naturally that you don’t even realize that she’s acting. However, for me it’s Saba Faisal who’s the true hero, in terms of her character as well as her acting. She’s termed as the ‘bad woman’ by the other family because she had a love marriage and chose to divorce her husband when he brought home a second wife. She’s very calm and forgiving, and Saba does justice to the role.

4. Technical skill

While generally, things are getting better in terms of cinematography, it’s the editing of Dumpukht that caught our attention. The scenes are well connected together and they enhance the storytelling. It’s a Pakistani problem to keep lengthy scenes in TV shows, therefore we don’t blame the play for that, but even then, the scenes are a decent length that don’t make you want to pull your hair out.

Verdict: Dumpukht – Aatish-e-Ishq is a wonderful surprise and quite gripping. It’s written well and the thought behind it is also intelligent. If you’re looking for someone to challenge religious stereotypes, then this play is doing that for you.