Jurm is a step in the right direction but when it comes to this genre, we still have a long way to go
urm, a mini drama series that was aired recently has succeeded in gaining traction. Soon after its release, the thriller series received high ratings and became the talk of town.
The murder mystery, penned by Shah Yasir and directed by Mehreen Jabbar, stands out because of its casting.
It features popular actor Wahaj Ali, in the role of Daniyal Mujeeb who is married to Ayla Nadeem, played by Durre Fishan Saleem. Tooba Siddiqui plays Samia Khan whose role is pivotal in the play. Daniyal’s parents, Mujeeb and Shahana, are played by veteran actors Mohammed Ehtesham-ud Din and Atiqa Odho.
The play opens by showing a lovey-dovey newly married couple, Daniyal and Ayla, who are going out to celebrate Ayla’s birthday. What begins as a romantic night out for the two of them turns into a complete nightmare when their car is hijacked by a couple of armed men in masks. What transpires is a series of unexpected events, meant to keep the viewer hooked till the end.
Mehreen Jabbar is an experienced director but this genre seems to be unchartered territory for her. Judging by the end product, she seems to be at the helm of the ship but a bit out of her depth.
Intensity and suspense are the mainstay of thrillers. A miss here is as good as a mile. While, to its credit, Jurm attempts to cast some pertinent issues in a new light, the production lacks suspense. That is why, it drags out and ceases to be ‘thrilling’ after a point.
On top of that, the story is not convincing. Some of the characters get on your nerves. Shahana, played by Atiqa Odho, is one of them. It appears that not a lot of attention was paid to characterization. The acting is mediocre at best.
The story keeps moving back and forth but fails to gather momentum. In an effort to make the acting low-key and believable, the writer-director duo has had to make some compromises on the storyline and that shows.
The result is a half-baked story with half-baked characters, some of whom seem to be sleepwalking through their roles.
It must be admitted that producing a great thriller is not an easy feat. Thrillers and mysteries often come with layered, sometimes, overlapping storylines. There is a lot of to-and-fro involved, through all of which the playwright has to sustain the interest of the viewers.
The litmus test for a thriller is that the audience should be anxiously waiting for the mystery to unfold. Regular twists and turns in the story should keep them hooked.
It is obvious that this genre needs massive research, lots of nail-biting suspense and plenty of edge-of-the-seat moments. That cannot happen without a synchronicity in dialogues, storyline and direction.
There are many directorial oversights. For instance, music could have been used to build up tension as the plot unfolded. But music was conspicuously missing, leaving the viewers staring vacuously at the screens, even during some tense and exciting moments.
There is a silver lining though; Jurm attempts to embrace a new way of storytelling and embraces a genre that we rarely get to see in our drama serials.
The cherry on top is the fact that this genre has been explored with some new faces including Tooba Siddiqui; Maha Hassan, a budding journalist and vlogger; and Tazeen Hussain, who plays Ayla’s mother.
The acting, story and direction leave a lot to be desired and somehow, the series just does not click with the viewer.
The play has a very urbane and stylised look. In terms of art direction, it lacks the rawness and edginess that is a hallmark of murder mysteries and thrillers.
The characters should have been more believable. For instance, Zhalay Sarhadi, who plays Zakia, a driver’s wife, appears to be a bit too sophisticated for the role. Only a couple of minutes into the play, Odho’s character begins grating on one’s nerves.
Wahaj Ali, the new chocolate boy on the block who is flying high after the success of Tairay Bin, stands out in the series. But somehow, the chemistry between his character and Ayla seems to be missing. The plot suffers on account of its monotonous predictability.
Maha Hassan, who features as Ashley Victor, also fails to leave a mark. Again, her character has not been developed properly. The transformation at the end is a bit too sudden and feels rushed.
Had the genre been properly researched, music used effectively and the characters properly fleshed out, Jurm had the potential to look much better. Mehreen Jabbar needs to dabble more in this genre, and Yasir needs to polish his storytelling skills. The execution of the story leaves a lot to be desired.
All in all, Jurm is a good attempt in the right direction but our drama industry still has a long way to go. The production lacks the punch and pizzazz of a mystery. While it is doing well in terms of rating, it fails to hit the bull’s eye. We are almost there though. Better luck next time.
The writer is an educationist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.