‘Ishq Tamasha’ — the highs and lows of Arham’s character

Arham is a finely developed character with some ideal traits to it such as a big heart, sensitivity and loyalty

‘Ishq Tamasha’ is a HUM TV drama serial currently running on air. Written by Misbah Naureen and directed by Danish Nawaz, ‘Ishq Tamasha’ blends mournful situations and humorous dialogues and becomes a treat to watch. Its real goodness lies in its unpredictable story incorporating scenes which keep the viewers’ curiosity piqued.

While all the characters of this drama serial have various shades which make them seem close to real life, the character under consideration in this article is that of ‘Arham’ played by Faizan Khawaja. The reason why it is the only character being discussed here is because of its ineluctable significance in the story, for almost all the actions stem from this specific character’s actions, be it his falling in love, be it his staring at the girl in the hospital, causing his brother to believe that he is after his brother’s beloved, be it his sending of the gifts which causes Mirha to be degraded in her aunt’s eyes, be it his rejection which will move the story forward. On the whole, the entire story seems to be revolving around Arham’s character. This character seems to be one of its kind, for Arham is neither a spoiled young man, nor an effeminate guy. A very fine balance exists in his personality. This guy interested in biking and hanging out with his friends is at the same time shy, reserved and gives due respect to his elder brother and his aunt, with whom he lives and whose consent is very important to him in every step he takes. Arham, who is introduced to the viewers as a careless bloke, later presents himself as a person very beautiful at heart, who can do anything for his beloved. This is depicted through the gifts he regularly sends to the girl he has fallen in love with, Rushna, played by Kinza Hashmi in a manner no other actress could have played.

Arham, a character which is supposed to be unattractive has been played by Faizan Khawaja with no work on his facial make-up. The actor, a very fine-looking gentleman with admirable performances in ‘Masoom’, ‘Rubaru’ and ‘Aik Nayi Cinderella’ has been placed in the character’s position as he is, and it is only through the insulting dialogues hurled at him that the viewers are made to believe that he is not good looking

The other side of the character lies in the fact that it becomes a reflection of a very common attribute of the society, that of judging people by their outer appearances. Arham’s character when becomes a target of it, tells how the act of judging people by their looks is not perpetrated against females only, but also males. In Pakistani dramas, we usually come across women who are held culpable for not very good looks and are made victims of insults, violence and at times, complete ignorance as well. Arham’s character takes the idea to a general level and in a very unbiased manner, portrays the bad act of which both the genders become a target. This happens to Arham when the girl with whom he develops a relation on mobile phone meets him in person, ridicules his facial features and eventually, refuses to marry him.

One directorial flaw, however, related to the presentation of this character is this: Arham, a character which is supposed to be unattractive has been played by Faizan Khawaja with no work on his facial make-up. The actor, a very fine-looking gentleman with admirable performances in ‘Masoom’, ‘Rubaru’ and ‘Aik Nayi Cinderella’ has been placed in the character’s position as he is, and it is only through the insulting dialogues hurled at him that the viewers are made to believe that he is not good looking. This mistake on the part of the director inclines people to unconsciously form a bad opinion of the actor’s physical appearance and make them think that for a role like this, the choice of the director is fine. The actor could have been made to look ugly if that was what the writer had intended. For example, a scar or a blotch could have been shown on his face such as one on Ranveer Singh’s face in the film ‘Padmaavat’ in which he plays a villain. Other examples of unattractive characters with hardwork on their facial looks are of the burnt woman in the last story of the series ‘Aakhri Station’, of Jinaan Hussain’s distorted face in the telefilm ‘Koji’, and of Maria Wasti’s deliberately made dusky complexion in drama serial ‘Kallo’.

In Faizan Khawaja’s comparison has been placed Junaid Khan, an equally handsome actor from our Pakistani drama industry. But in order to make the comparison conspicuous, nothing has been done. Two actors, both good looking have been chosen, with only an idea presented that one is good looking and one is not, which the viewers receive through the dialogues.

While Faizan Khawaja plays his character marvellously and wins the viewers’ hearts with his charming smile, his soft style of speaking romantic dialogues and his mischievous yet unharmful actions as a loved, younger brother of Junaid Khan, the director exhibits an unfair treatment by putting an actor as he is in a position of an ugly character without any hardwork on his facial appearance. What happens as a result is that the lesson which the writer has been trying to give, that of not judging people by their appearances, is turned upside down and fails to reach us. On an unconscious level, the viewers are made to imbibe the fact that not only the character, but also the actor is not good looking because the director has chosen him as he is for this specific role. This might turn out to be damaging for the actor’s career, with whose appearance a label may get attached of being a non-hero figure. In the modern times where more and more efforts are being made to become non-judgemental and look into the hearts of people instead of at their faces and remove the binaries of black and white or good and bad, this treatment with an actor sabotages the endeavours of a nation that is trying to keep up with the good attributes being adopted worldwide.

Arham is a finely developed character with some ideal traits to it such as a big heart, sensitivity and loyalty. In its creation and its performance, it seems to be perfect, but one does feel at times as if more work could have been done on its presentation, making it completely flawless.

Published in Daily Times, April 18th 2018.