Book Review: The Temp by Michelle Frances

temp 1Looking for suspenseful stories with strong female characters who are not breathing down each other’s neck all the time, Michelle Frances’ The Temp is for you.

For me, the main attraction of this book is its cover (a lady working on her laptop at a workplace) and the title. Not only that, I also like the synopsis. (Side note: I always go through the synopsis to get a little insight about the story before purchasing a book.)

Apparently, it appears a thriller with undertones of domestic drama where talented young woman is looking to replace a successful older woman. The narrative is told from the perspectives of two women: Carrie and Emma who have different views of each other but there is one constant in their life, Adrian, of course for different reasons.

Carrie, in her 40s, has a successful career as a producer of television programmes. She comes across a very strong, confident and smart lady in her domain. Her husband Adrian is also an award winning screenwriter in the television industry. They are content in their professional and personal lives but life takes an unusual turn which completely jolts them.

As a couple, Carrie and Adrian decide not to have children; primarily because they both want to focus on their career. However, fate has something else stored for them; Carrie gets pregnant and the problem arises when she chooses to keep the baby, and this puts her relationship with her husband off balance.

Moreover, they are prepared to start a new show which needs time and with this pregnancy, Adrian and her friend as well as managing director of Hawks Pictures Liz suggest to hire a replacement for few months. This is where Emma enters as a temp who is intelligent; and despite coming from a well off family, she has always struggled to be the daughter on whom her parents can be proud of. What is interesting is that Carrie never wants Emma to be employed as her replacement.

the tempBeing pregnant, Carrie cannot stay in the office for long duration due to pain and dizziness. Insanity and jealousy run rampage on Carrie’s part especially when Adrian, Liz and everyone in the office are all praise about Emma’s work.  The last nail in the coffin for Carrie is the birth of her newborn baby boy Rory. Her baby keeps her busy all the time and since she has no support from Adrian, she begins to drift away from her husband and her colleagues. As a consequence, she feels isolated and subconsciously put all the blame on Emma. Carrie does not realise that this is all work of her creative mind (pun intended).

British-based author Frances has established herself as a mature, knowing and new voice in the genre of psychological thriller with her bestseller The Girlfriend. Her debut novel took on the issues of unforgiveable lies and twisted relationships. Her second book deals with the relationships caught in the crossfire of all scheming and manipulation.

I do understand that the author has shown some sort of conflict between two female protagonists. Also, the book cover gives an impression to the reader of Emma being conniving who wants to usurp Carrie’s life, which is why both women will compete over Carrie’s husband Adrian. Clearly, this is not all! The book offers much more to the reader’s delight.

If you want to read full review, the link is https://www.dawn.com/news/1471385

 

 

 

Jealousy Can Ruin Healthy Relationship

othelloOthello is one of the classics of William Shakespeare. What I like most about this play is the theme of jealousy depicted in the play, and is still relevant in the modern world.

Othello is a great and wise man, except for his blindness of thought and the rashness of action caused by his jealousy. He becomes angry when he sees a very small possibility of his wife, Desdemona’s infidelity.

Also, Roderigo is jealous of Othello’s marriage with Desdemona and he is blinded by his obsessive passion for Desdemona. However, it is Othello’s jealousy that brings about the destruction and tragedy in his otherwise happily married life.

The other theme more prominent is the psychological manipulation of Iago. He is the one who instigates Othello against his wife and loyal friend Cassio.

The foundation of healthy relationship is based on trust and sincerity. There is no room of jealousy in a stable relation. Jealousy is powerful. It can ruin relationships and make good, well-meaning people act in ways they never imagined like the heroic character of Othello.

Jealousy can make spouses abusive or in extreme cases, a killer. It’s important that partners should have open communication so that no one dares to sow the seed of jealousy or create misunderstanding in their relation.

Khaani: A Tale Of Love And Repentance

 

Khaani 2

Few days ago, I binge watched Pakistani drama ‘Khaani’. To my surprise, the story was a true delight. What stood out was Feroz Khan’s performance as Mir Hadi. The story revolves around Hadi who killed Khaani’s brother Sarim in a heated moment. The only mistake Sarim made that he came in Mir Hadi’s way which made him furious and within a second Hadi took out his gun and shot Sarim. After that Khaani registered FIR against Mir Hadi but due to influential background of his father, he got away with the murder. In the meantime Hadi felt in love with Khaani because she showed him courage and didn’t waver in front of him.

Hadi tried to persuade Khaani into marriage but she refused, causing Hadi to forcefully get betrothed to her. khaaniThis led Khaani and her family to run away. Hadi searched for her everywhere and later found her getting married to her boss, Arham. Mir Hadi kidnapped Khaani on her wedding day, but due to Khaani’s words, he let her go. Hadi realised that he is not good enough for Khaani. Hadi started seeking the meaning behind his feelings. He found tranquility at Sufi shrine which also became his abode. In the end, the case was reopened and this time Hadi declared himself guilty and requested for death penalty.

Feroz Khan has been phenomenal in this drama. Few scenes like when he drops Khaani to her 2-sliders-3house after her abduction and comes back to his own home, he cries badly. Also, the scenes of his quest to find true love and his journey of spirituality are spellbinding. It is heartbreaking to see Hadi helpless in front of his love. Each and every scene of Feroz was magnificent. 

While watching this drama, I felt as I was on an emotional rollercoaster ride. Therefore, if you have no plans on this weekend, I recommend you to watch Khaani. Especially for Feroz Khan and the story. I am sure you will love both.

Sibling’s love-hate relationship

This article has already been published on Geo Vision website. I wrote this article for the website and now sharing a few chunks over here on my blog so that my readers can read. This was a different drama of its time produced by Pakistan Television Industry. 

meri behan maya“Our women are strong but in our serials, they are depicted as fragile and connivers,” states Hasina Moin, an acclaimed writer who has also written some of the epic dramas including Tanhayein, Ankahi and so on. After taking a long break, she started with the serial ‘Meri Behen Maya’; a story of two sisters where you saw the bond of love and support which unfortunately lacks in our dramas now-a-days.

So, what was the main concept behind writing Meri Behen Maya (MBM)? According to Hasina Moin, I feel really hurt to see women cry and wallow over petty issues, and unable to stand up for their rights, this is one of the significant reasons that compel me to resume writing again.

Women face domestic violence, they are harassed outside their homes and are treated as suppressive beings. Hasina Moin asserts that this is not the true picture that we see; she is of the opinion that these women have the potential and strength to uphold all the hardships with courage.

x1080-LeSMoreover, the other idea behind the serial is to defy the wrong depiction of sisters’ relation that promotes only hatred and nothing else. Hasina Moin believes that sisters do not deceive each other; rather they protect each other against the world. In her serial, she projected the positive side of sisterhood. One of the primary reasons to resume writing was to clear misconceptions regarding women, Moin adds.

MBM promoted the love-hate relationship between two sisters who at one moment were seen fighting with each other and at another moment they were sharing interesting stories while munching popcorn.

The portrayal of sisters in this serial was played by two female protagonists who are fearless and lively, and believe in living on their own terms. Annie Jaffri played the character of a younger sister Maya; she is upfront and bold, also expressive and does not conform to anything that she cannot relate to. According to Jaffri, the character is more like me, I am outspoken and love outings, even her family relate to her role.

Whereas Neelam Munir played the role of older sister Zarmeena; she is sensible and tries to cover Maya’s mess. Munir is the complete opposite of her character, and therefore she had to work on her body language, style and the behaviour. Munir shares her experience that to perform it accordingly, she observes her elder sister which helps a lot in understanding her character in the serial.

meri behen 5In replying to the question regarding the ‘look’ in the serial, both Munir and Jaffri say that western attire was more preferred for their characters, the decision was made after having a thorough discussion with the team.

However, when asked about the atmosphere on the sets and how did they find working with each other? Both female protagonists spoke highly of their team and they found it very helpful. Though Jaffri’s association with Azfar Ali is not new as she has also worked in Dreamers with him, so far it’s been good for her. Moreover, the teasing which was seen onscreen of both sisters was only for the serial, quips Munir and Jaffri with a smile; nevertheless on-set they both had a very congenial relationship.

The script was a refreshing one and every actor had performed well. Moin is all praise for the team. She had a very good working relationship with Iqbal Ansari who is also the Project Head of MBM; overall it had been a good experience.

untitledMoin signifies the importance of making children bold and confident, so that no one sabotages their rights and fight for themselves.

Seconding Moin’s opinion, Jaffri also says it is important for young girls to be strong in these times and do not give in. Munir on other hand believes that fathers should avoid second marriage and do not try to impose step-mothers on their children, it leaves a bad impact on the minds of the kids.

In a nutshell, dramas are always a revelation of our society, whether it’s good or bad but these days, where every other drama emphasises more on negative side of our society, Meri Behen Maya highlighted the ups and downs of familial relations.

 

 

 

Reality Over Fantasy

This article has already been published on Geo Vision website. I wrote this article for the website and now sharing a few chunks over here on my blog so that my readers can read. This was a different drama of its time produced by Pakistan Television Industry. 

682581_home_banner“People make a world of their own fantasy, especially girls,” says Zanjabeel Asim Shah the writer of the drama serial ‘Saat Pardon Mein’ (SPM).

Media make stars and ordinary people idolise these superstars. These fans not only follow them blindfolded, they are so crazy that they may even go to any extreme for a mere glimpse of their most loved celebs. Some admirers fantasise spending time with their icons; a dinner date or a ride at seaside is just few to name.

There are some unusual fans that fall in love with their favourite celebrity; nevertheless the scenario gets quite weird if someone is not allowed the outside exposure to the world. Thus, at this time what one will do in this case?

saatAsim opines that a girl more likely to fall in love with the characters of the actors; at times they are so much obsessed in their love that they forget about the reality and this is actually what you will also witness in this serial.

However, every drama is made for a reason; either to portray a particular aspect of the society or to entertain. The reason of SPM is to bring change for the viewers in terms of creativity and presenting a wide canvas, says Noor-ul-Huda Shah, the Project Head of SPM.

She states that Geo TV is a trendsetter channel and it is the only channel that tries to work on content no matter how strong it may sound. There is a dearth of genuine writers but the narration of Zanjabeel in this drama is phenomenal, says Shah.

She further reveals that by this drama, she wants to break the trend of cheap dramas that have destroyed the taste of viewers; her main priority is to give a good drama to the audience.

Moreover, Yasir Nawaz, the director of SPM says, “My motive to direct this play is firstly because of Noor Appa who narrates a story in a way that I cannot resist the temptation and secondly, it has a substantial message.”

x1080-iqrThe hardest part is the delicacy of the subject which needs to be treated well but in order to hook the viewers, the serial has certain entertainment punch that adds a filmy mood to the drama, elaborates Nawaz; in fact it is the demand of time.

Basically, the story revolves around an unusual fan, Darakshande Badar (Sohai Ali Abro), a name so unique but an ordinary girl, who belongs to a small town of Bahawalpur. She is madly in love with a famous drama actor Ahsan Murad (Meekal), who is charming and adorable as chocolaty stars need to be.

x1080-uqDDarakshande lives in a conservative environment where she faces restrictions from her big brother and father. This is one of the reasons that she has made a world of her own fantasy where only love blossoms and everything is sweet and simple, and to win her love she will break all the barriers by running away from her home as well.

Interestingly, the name of the leading character in the drama is rarely heard so why Darakshande? Some names are attached to you for life long, says Asim and this name reminds me of the small girl which inspires me to write this story.

Sohai Ali Abro is the leading face of SPM, and she is doing it first time as main lead. It is not easy to find Darakshande, states Nawaz, we had several auditions after which Abro was selected. She is novice and choosing her was a big risk, though he believes that she has done better and he is satisfied with her performance. Seconding Nawaz, Shah also adds that Abro is the breath of fresh air in the drama.

This is not only the story of crazy fan, there is also an interesting angle to the story and that is Ali Khan who plays the role of Badar Suleman. On the surface, he is a famous producer and friend of Ahsan in the serial but deep down inside, he imagines himself to be a female who is confined in a man’s body.

hqdefaultTransgender is not accepted in our society and many people are against the idea, says Asim. She maintains that it is more or less related to our perceptions, and sometimes considered as a disease.

Doing a role like this needs a lot of guts, it is a very sensitive character, and no one can do better than Ali Khan, emphasises Nawaz. He also adds that Ali Khan was purely chosen on the basis of his acting skills, and there is no other reason of his selection.

“The role of Ali Khan is not a conventional one; and therefore we wanted a performer who can play the role well,” states Shah. Besides, she points out that Ali has an ability to carry the manly looks along with a slight touch of femininity easily.

For Asim, both Nawaz and Shah have high hopes and consider her to be a strong drama writer in her coming days. Asim is happy with the end product and for the viewers, she says that life is not a bed of roses, therefore following fantasy is ridiculous.

Furthermore Nawaz mentions that issues are not shown to ridicule any one, it’s just a reality and he urges people to see in a positive light.

Shah aptly says, “Viewers need to change the perspective towards dramas for the development of society and instead of hiding behind the cover of fantasy, it is more important to see the issues in real picture.”

 

Book Review: Typically Tanya

typically tanya

Photo by the writer

While attending the Karachi book fair in December 2018, I went to one of the book stalls. There I saw a book with yellow bright cover and a girl with red shades and fonts, and I instantly decided to buy the novel.

Coming back from the book fair, I began reading this novel but then I shelved it because I didn’t find it interesting. At that time, I was only five pages in and I got bored. However, last weekend, I picked this novel again and honestly I finished it in one go. With few more pages in, the story starts making sense and believe it or not, I actually find it interesting.

To be fair, the story paints a dysfunctional setup which is why I decided to try it one more time. Living in Karachi and being a journalism student myself, it was nice to read about the other side of the bridge, which is surreptitious.

Taha Kehar, an author and journalist, is based in Karachi. Typically Tanya is his second work of fiction. The first I haven’t read it, but this novel revolves around young journalist Tanya Shaukat who is juggling her way through career, love, friends and family in a metropolitan city of Karachi.

typically tanya 1

Photo by the writer

She works in Karachi’s Daily Image newspaper as a sub editor. Her work requires her to edit the news reports filed by journalists or emailed by independent news agencies. She also writes and covers events which is assigned to her by her sleazy city editor Hassan. She is friends with Sonia and Hafiz. There are few tiny problems with her friends; her friend Sonia’s shaadi is called off and partly she blames Tanya for this as the protagonist got intimate with Sonia’s ex fiancé Saad in a drunken state. Whereas, Hafiz is someone who likes her but he is confused in his own emotions.

I also liked how Tanya’s relationship with Khirad (her colleague) developed. Though they are contemporaries, they understand each other very well, more than her friends.  Tanya’s mother is also lovable as she is full of drama and fun.

While reading this story, I felt that the writing is somewhat inspired by Saba Imtiaz’s Karachi You are Killing Me and Moni Mohsin. I like the way Kehar depicts a realistic picture about relationships, friends and workplace. The author has touched a few topics for example workplace harassment by the boss and how Tanya quits; media rule by male dominated scums, a gay man marrying to a woman because of family pressure; the blind love of Insafian for his party, and several others.

The writing is crisp and riveting which do not let you put down the book. Kehar’s knack of describing the mundane routine is exciting and funny. This book is a light read and for all those looking for something to take their minds off for a while, this one will surely not disappoint you.

I will rate this novel 3.5/5.

Book Review: The Picture of Dorian Gray

” There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. Books are well written or badly written.”

Last night, I finished with ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’, and I must say that the quality

dorian-gray

of this novel is nothing short but a masterful work of art.  I closed the book and start contemplating for a few hours as it was mind-boggling to sit back and penned down my thoughts.

Imagine, if you realize that every sin you commit, will leave the ugly scar on your visage, what would you do at that moment?

It begins with a simple realization, and perhaps an obvious one. But, for Dorian, it is completely life-changing. He realizes that beauty is finite. It won’t last forever. It’s like a flower, temporary and splendid. So if you’re a young man whose appearance is your singular quality, then this is some damn scary news. It is scary to even think that people are with you because you are attractive, and they are near to you only for your looks.

The novel is a reflection of life and societal ugliness. The level of cynicism and societal disregard that Wilde’s characters display towards humanity is simply staggering. It is a study of how the sins we commit cannot be hidden, even if we lie to ourselves about that.

There are three main characters: Basil Hallward, Lord Henry Wotton, and Dorian Gray. Basil Hallward is an artist who after painting a picture of Dorian Gray becomes obsessed with him because of his beauty. Dorian then meets a friend of Basil, Lord Henry, and becomes enthralled with Lord Henry’s world view. Dorian Gray, once he becomes aware his portrait will bear the scars of his corruption – thus leaving his actual appearance unstained – feels free to ignore the pious morality.

Mr. Wilde does not elaborate on what vile acts Dorian committed. One is left to their own expansive imaginations to surmise the bulk of what he had done.

With this novel, Oscar Wilde has produced one of the literature’s greatest study of shallowness, vanity, casual cruelty and selfishness.

quote-dorian-gray

There is an underlying side to Wilde’s character Dorian Gray which probably leads to his homosexuality.  This novel was published in 1891, which was the time when Wilde fell in love with Lord Alfred Douglas and started a clandestine affair. Wilde was always persecuted by others and himself for his homosexuality.  Rarely any work of fiction seems to mirror the life of an author.

Despite what this novel implies, one thing is for sure,  youth is an adventurous phase where one’s actions yield to its whims; while maturity enables a person to be introspective of their past deeds.

I would recommend this novel to all those readers who want to read a beautiful fiction with a few moral lessons, here and there, between the lines.

I rate this piece of art 5/5