Short, precise and to the point; Gunah, the mini-series, is a winner all the way
Gunah was made for viewers who wanted something new. The narrative takes many twists and turns and keeps the readers hooked to their seats till the end.
The six-episode thriller, written by Mohsin Ali and directed by Adnan Sarwar, concluded recently and did not disappoint.
The television show, a recent addition to the growing genre of mini-series in the country, is indicative of an, arguably transformative shift in the domain of entertainment.
Given the budget constraints and an audience that has a sea of content to pick from, the only limiting factor being a stark drop in their attention spans, it makes sense to roll out a mini drama serial.
With shows such as Gunah, which follows in the footstep of Jurm, another thriller that was aired a few months back on another channel, it is clear that local television networks are trying to restructure their content to adapt to a world dominated by OTT platforms; giants such as Netflix and Amazon.
Gunah leaves its mark on the viewers, in part because of its riveting and somewhat novel plotline and in part through the performances delivered by a star-studded cast.
The serial is set in the fictional city of Malikabad, ruled by Malik Hayat Khan played by Sarmad Khoosat. Khoosat excels in the character so that it appears to be tailor-made for him.
Khan is an extremely powerful and influential individual whose wife Gulnoor, played by Juggan Kazim is rumoured to have eloped with Ahmad, her child’s tutor, essayed by the newcomer Ali Raza.
In the beginning, Khan appears unidimensional; the wronged husband who has been abandoned by his wife. It is only when the drama progresses that Khan’s true character is revealed. Several layers of his character are peeled back to bring to the fore who he really is.
When news of Khan’s wife running away with Ahmad spreads, everyone begins gossiping. Malik Hayat does not file an FIR with the police. This, SHO Sabiha, played by Rabia Butt, who has only recently been appointed at Malikabad Police Station finds suspicious. The earlier SHO, transferred away, is shown to be corrupt and one of Malik Hayat’s lackeys.
After a while it is decided that Hayat Khan should marry Gul Meher, the younger sibling of Gul Noor, played by Saba Qamar. It is suggested that after her sister’s alleged elopement, Gul Meher faces social stigma and has little chance of finding a match. It is only fair, the elders decide, that he should marry the younger sister.
She agrees to marry her former brother-in-law. Thereafter unfolds a story that stuns and baffles in equal measure. The narrative moves at a fast pace and the music direction is in step with the story.
It is then revealed that Gul Meher is the actual antagonist of the show. She is portrayed as a cunning and manipulative person who will stop at nothing to get her hands on what she wants.
Saba Qamar is an extremely versatile actress and essays Gul Meher to perfection. She refuses to be stereotyped. She has proved herself time and again with characters she has brought to life on screen.
The contrast is provided by Gul Noor, the runaway sibling. She is the good-as-gold elder sister who has always complied with her parents’ wishes and unlike her sister played the role of the dutiful and obedient daughter.
SHO Sabiha uncovers the mystery of Gul Noor and Ahmad’s disappearance. She is a dedicated policewoman committed to her mission. When Ahmad’s mother approaches her to register an FIR about her missing son, she makes sure the disappearance is brought on record.
The fresh faces lend to Gunah an air of novelty. It is heartening to see that new talent is still making inroads in the industry.
Rabia Butt, a newcomer, manages to hold her own against seasoned actors like Khoosat and Saba Qamar, a hint that the actress has a promising career ahead.
She takes to the role of an upright policewoman, who is disillusioned but still committed to the idea of fairness and justice. The viewers are swept along with her into a world full of mystery and red herrings that keep them on the edge.
One of the standout performances is by Fahad Hashmi in the character of Raheem, one of Malik Hayat Khan’s henchmen. He takes to his character like a fish to water.
Dominated by Indian and other foreign content, our television serials have not managed to make their mark in the world of online streaming platforms. Shorter serials with novel plotlines can appeal to viewers of all kinds.
Those who are tired of the typical serials which are stretched endlessly to garner TRPs can turn to serials like Jurm and Gunaah that are exploring a new way of storytelling that needs to be encouraged.
Both serials have been well received which means there is a market for them. Our drama producers may have stumbled on a golden nugget.
Gunah is the perfect watch if one enjoys mystery and thrillers set in this part of the world. The narrative is fast-paced, the dialogues are crisp and the characters complex.
Watch it for its gripping story, layered characters, decent screenwriting and haunting soundtrack. Watch it for the fantastic performances the actors deliver. Watch it because it is short, precise and to the point. Or watch it to support this genre so we can do away with more of the same.
The writer is an educationist. She can be reached at email@example.com