There was a strange buzz around this Pakistani serial Zindagi Gulzar Hai. However, after having a bad experience with Hindi TV soap operas, it was hard to gather the courage to watch this new show that was making waves in Indian households. I ended up glancing through the first episode and here’s what happened.
I surrendered to its novelty and fine acting by its lead cast. It is hard to guess why women were attracted to its male lead Zaroon Junaid who was primarily a male chauvinist. There have been many characters like Zaroon in past — men who have set ideas about how women should behave, look or live in the society.
Still, I ended up binge-watching Zindagi Gulzar Hai. One of the reasons for its success was its novelty. There was a drought of mature characters in our films and serials here. Fawad Khan was a breeze of fresh air, as cliched as it may sound. So, watching Fawad Khan, a man in his early 30s, playing a mature character with so many layers, nuances and subtlety, it is hard not to admire him. There was a certain charm about his acting. He played the character with utmost finesse and sophistication. Zaroon was well etched, developed and mature character taken from a novel of the same name by Umera Ahmad. The story also has a strong female lead.
However, the show would have been mediocre if not for the presence of Fawad Khan. He lends a certain old-world charm to the character. For years, there have been new versions of Jane Austen’s old-world romances, watching women swooning over the character of Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice. With Zaroon, we finally had our very own Mr Darcy laced with grace and sophistication. No other contemporary actor on television provided that.
One of the objectives of cinema and television is to provide an escape from the monotony of daily life. Zindagi Gulzar Hai was a great escape for the audience. It reinvigorated romance genre like no other Hindi show did in many years. Contemporary Indian films and shows do not hold a candle to this Pakistani soap opera.
There is no wonder then, the show went on to garner huge appreciation in Arab and European countries. You can easily watch Fawad’s other performances in serials including Dastaan and Hamsafar to tide you over a hectic day.
On the other hand, with Zindagi Gulzar Hai, you get a vast wealth of your own culture comprising all that – tehzeeb, grace and use of Urdu language. Filmmakers here busy entering 100-crore club rather than delving into the vast ocean of our own culture.
When Zindagi Gulzar Hai aired here, Fawad had an unmatched novelty until he became famous and producers and filmmakers wanted a piece of his success. The plans to turn him into a star material were in place. From acting opposite Sonam Kapoor in Khoobsurat to becoming Karan Johar’s favourite actor, he had a dream run till geopolitical realities of India and Pakistan asserted themselves.
Bollywood has turned into a factory producing stars, models and style icons. With Fawad, we had a rare opportunity to watch magic unfolding on screen with his sheer acting ability and abundance of old world charm.