The story behind Khuda Aur Mohabbat’s success

November 14, 2021

An intense love story, the mystique of Sufi shrines, a stellar cast or an unprecedented production: what exactly made Geo TV’s Khuda Aur Mohabbat 3 the most-watched drama serial in the history of Pakistan?

In Khuda Aur Mohabbat 3, Feroze Khan and Iqra Aziz delivered undeniably strong performances that will go down in history.
In Khuda Aur Mohabbat 3, Feroze Khan and Iqra Aziz delivered undeniably strong performances that will go down in history.

Thirty nine weeks into an unimaginably successful run and twenty four hours after its final episode aired, Khuda Aur Mohabbat 3 had broken all viewership records. The drama serial’s first episode, which aired on February 12 this year, amassed 54 million views on YouTube and every subsequent episode turned out to be just as massive. KAM3’s popularity has been unwavering, with fans and viewers both finding themselves fixated to the intense love saga between Farhad and Mahi, played by Feroze Khan and Iqra Aziz.

Written by Hashim Nadeem, who also penned the first two successful seasons, and directed by Syed Wajahat Hussain, the story plays with themes of love and spirituality and is hugely set at the shrines and havelis of Multan and Bahawalpur. “Each season of Khuda Aur Mohabbat focuses on a different place of worship,” Hashim Nadeem said in an informal conversation with Instep. “The first two focused on the mosque, this one on shrines, which are very important to the people of this region.”

While love and spirituality are two subjects strong enough to hook an audience across the globe, there has to be much more to the drama’s unprecedented popularity. Far from flawless, and the story did get its fair share of critique (whether it was the disconnect some people felt with the intensity of love Farhad professed to have for Mahi and its relevance to spirituality or the fact that the drama dragged in the second half), it did nevertheless hit the ball out of the park for popularity. Khuda Aur Mohabbat’s TRPs broke all records and its viewership on YouTube has crossed 2 billion, an unimaginable feat for any drama serial.

The story is fairly simple and revolves around a boy, Farhad, who falls madly in love with a young girl, Mahi, who he sees at a wedding he is assigned odd jobs at. Farhad comes from a lower middle class family in Lahore whereas Mahi belongs to a powerful and privileged Pir gharana from Bahawalpur. When it comes to love stories, the social disparity angle is always a popular hook. The more challenging the love, the more people desire a fairy tale ending. Farhad and Mahi’s love, therefore, is doomed from the get-go, but there is another twist in the tale. While Farhad immediately falls in love, Mahi doesn’t; he mistakes Mahi’s kindness and friendship as love and sets off with mixed signals. When he follows her to Bahawalpur, she brushes him off and brutally rejects him, breaking his heart and shattering his soul.

What follows is Farhad’s journey through heartbreak and solace at the shrine, where he finds peace and wisdom under the guidance of the wise old Pir Saeen (played by Noor ul Hassan). A series of confusing incidents convince Farhad’s friends and family as well as Mahi that he’s dead. Mahi is wed to a highly suitable boy, only to be widowed on the night of her wedding, in an attack executed by her brother’s political opponents. During her period of mourning, she realizes where her heart truly is. With both her true love and her husband dead, she resigns to a life of misery.

There is, of course, more to the story than one can outline but what can be quantified is Khuda Aur Mohabbat’s mammoth success.

Abdullah Kadwani, producer of the drama and founder of 7th Sky Entertainment, expressed his views on the serial in an exclusive chat with Instep.

Khuda Aur Mohabbat was filmed during the Corona epidemic, which for us was a very difficult task,” he said. “The serial was created in 2020 and aired in 2021. It was made like a serial film, but it was very difficult to create. 7th Sky Entertainment maintained its tradition of providing high quality content to viewers and that is why Khuda Aur Mohabbat has emerged as a new benchmark in the history of drama. The serial’s more than two billion views on digital media is a major achievement for Geo Television Network and the entertainment industry. We saw how every episode was watched by over 10 million people within the first 10 hours.

The main leads, Iqra Aziz and Feroze Khan posing with director Wajahat Hussain and producers Abdullah Kadwani and Asad Qureshi.
The main leads, Iqra Aziz and Feroze Khan posing with director Wajahat Hussain and producers Abdullah Kadwani and Asad Qureshi.

“It’s also an honor for Pakistan’s drama industry that Khuda Aur Mohabbat has been trending at the number one position in the neighboring country as well and this serial was also the most liked there. In addition, the serial was very popular all over the world. People also called and commented on the play. This masterpiece serial is unparalleled in the respect that Pakistan has received all over the world and this honor is from God. It is also an honor for us that the cast of this serial was also honored in Turkey. Locally created in Lahore, Bahawalpur, Multan and Karachi, the success of Khuda Aur Mohabbat surpassed even masterpiece serials like Meri Zaat Zara-e-Be-Nishan and Khaani.”

Abdullah Kadwani further added that no compromises were made on the production quality and new benchmarks were set in cinematography, locations, sets, art direction, coalitions etc. A stellar cast was selected for the serial, each and every member of which has gotten overwhelming praise.

“We hope that in the days to come we will present similar high-quality dramas to the audience which will not only entertain the Pakistani people but also make Pakistani dramas more respected and valued all over the world,” he concluded.

The scale of production was indeed the first thing that caught everyone’s attention. The serial was shot at several locations including Karachi, Lahore, Bahawalpur and Multan, at the famous Noor Mahal in Bahawalpur and the various shrines around that area. The landscape was vast, the shots larger than life.

“The success is magical but as a director, I feel there are two things,” explained director Wajahat Hussain. “Our audiences are used to seeing two-dimensional stories and here you had a third dimension. That dimension is different, which is why the audience was interested. Then there was an underlying element of spiritualism that people love; it got more and more intense as the story unfolded. People who previously weren’t watching Pakistani TV started watching KAM3 because of these reasons. The canvas was bigger. The visual was different.

“Then I have to say that the cast was definitely a major hook,” he added. “Each individual cast member brought in their own fan bank. The cast brought it all together.”

While Feroze Khan and Iqra Aziz undeniably delivered performances that will go down in history, even the support cast added value in each and every scene. Especially noteworthy were Hina Bayat, as Jageerdarni jee and Mahi’s mother in law, and Sohail Sameer as Nazim Shah, who excelled as Mahi’s arrogant, entitled and corrupt brother. Going back to the leads, Feroze Khan and Iqra Aziz received unwavering applause for their sensitive portrayals of two complex characters in extremely difficult situations.

“Right from the get-go, when I was signing the project, I had an idea that people would love this project,” Iqra Aziz offered her insights to Instep. “It was a complete package, from the story to the production to the cast and even the channel; it was an amazing team. Everyone worked so intently on the project that it was impossible not to fall in love with it. But I never imagined that it would get this incredible fan following and viewership, from all over the world. This was a big surprise and we have to thank God for making it such a huge success.”

She added, “I’d credit the success to the producers and the director. The producers give finances for any project and I have to say that Abdullah Kadwani and Asad Qureshi did not cut corners at any stage. We shot in multiple locations, at such a big level, that not many people would be willing to invest in that production level. In fact, no one else did. But they did. Wajahat Hussain the director handled the project in an amazing way; it was such a big cast but each and every character got equal focus. I think these two were the pillars of Khuda Aur Mohabbat’s success.”

“Of course, we the actors worked so hard as well,” she smiled in conclusion. “We shot through the year, through an intense winter, and gave the project our heart and soul. At the end it was all worth it.”

Feroze Khan, even before the drama serial had aired, had called it a game changer of sorts, and sure enough, Khuda Aur Mohabbat has raised the bar for TV productions. Let’s see if there’s anything that even follows close in times to come.

The story behind Khuda Aur Mohabbat’s success