Ishq Murshid Review – Is it Worth the Hype

Writer: Abdul Khaliq Khan
Director: Farooq Rind
Schedule: Sunday 8 pm on Hum TV

Let me start this review with an honest confession, I have started giving Pakistani dramas way more leverage than I did back when I started reviewing dramas and in the past few years. There are several reasons for this shift in perspective, firstly when you are not scrutinizing every single episode; you end up watching these dramas with a viewer’s perspective more than that of a critic only. There is the option of fast-forwarding as well when you are watching a drama on YouTube, which makes it easier to watch and even enjoy some dramas that you would otherwise simply give up on. And to be honest, any dramas fit the bill in a way that there is more to praise than to criticize. Also, in the past, I missed out on many ‘entertaining’ dramas because they failed to impress me in the first few weeks because I was not too willing to lower my expectations from them. Therefore, I always give dramas with some degree of potential another go, Ishq Murshid has proved to be one such drama.

First Impressions

Ishq Murshid is one of those dramas that failed to capture my attention initially mainly due to its fantastical nature. Not only did I find the storyline far from reality, but I also felt that the overall treatment given to the drama lacked authenticity. The feel of the drama goes way beyond ‘filmi’, it is more of a fairytale or the kind of story an animation would center around. Such an experiment could either result in creating magic or wonder for some viewers and others it could simply not work.

After watching the initial two episodes, I felt that the portrayals and execution seemed disconnected from real-life nuances. The overuse of lighting and perhaps filters also made it difficult to take this drama seriously. Ishq Murshid instantly reminded me of Pyar Ke Sadqay because of the treatment given to the script which goes to show that this is Farooq Rind’s signature style.

I also felt that certain supporting actors were not ideally matched to their respective roles. Since this first impression was more disappointing than promising, I decided to tune into this drama once a few more episodes went on air and I had the option to fast forward whenever I felt the need to do so. In this period, Ishq Murshid turned out to be the most-watched drama on Hum TV. It received a lot of attention from the viewers which is evident from the number of views its episodes have been getting on YouTube.

After the 10th episode went on air I decided to revisit a drama I initially gave up on entirely and I am going to be honest, I ended up watching the 10th episode first to decide whether it was enticing enough to catch up on it or not. What caught my attention more than anything else was Bilal Abbas Khan’s phenomenal performance and screen presence coupled with his amazing on-screen chemistry with Durr-e-Fishan.

Ishq Murshid Main Characters

Ishq Murshid is yet another story of a rich and influential young man falling for a girl from a middle-class family. We have watched too many such stories in our dramas lately. However, what sets this story ‘apart’ from the others is that this rich and influential man is not toxic! Yes, that is what I meant by lowering one’s standards 😉 Shahmir Sikandar played impeccably by Bilal Abbas Khan (exceeding expectations) has an interesting background and he is an interesting combination of sensitive, smart, and at times manipulative. This character reminds me of Mahir from Dobara although the circumstances are poles apart Shahmir falls more or less in the same category. He is not a good guy altogether and he is not the bad guy.

Like many other scenarios in the drama, Shahmir’s decision to become Fazal Baksh had to be the most outrageous and hard-to-digest turn in the story. Also, the fact that Shahmir is the son of one of the leading politicians in the country yet no one knows what he looks like is even more impossible to digest. You have to convince yourself that this is a work of fiction and has nothing to do with reality to continue watching the drama.

What makes this track enticing and likable besides all of this is the emotional element of this track which is also over the top at times but somehow always resonates. Apart from this because of the way Bilal Abbas Khan has embraced this character, you cannot help but root for Shahmir. Also, his emotional connection with his mother and now his new-found family makes him a likable character. There have been times when this new connection has also been exaggerated, but that does not make Fazal Baksh less likable.

The female lead of the drama Shibra played by Durr-e-Fishan has some strong positive attributes and also a funny bone. She is ambitious, intelligent, caring and also knows how and where to draw boundaries. However, her sudden ‘closeness’ to Fazal Baksh is the most OTT element of this particular track. I must say that I find Durr-e-Fishan more well-suited for this role than for the one she is playing in Jaisay Aap ki Marzi.

Shibra’s mother and sister’s characters are not the best thing about the drama. The mother’s issue with her husband seems baseless at times and her love for Fazal Baksh is difficult to warm up to. I am certain I am not the only one who is sick of watching sisters who are poles apart and younger sisters who cannot communicate intelligently with their older siblings. Also, the fact that the performances of both the actors involved leave a lot to be desired adds to making their scenes forward-worthy!

Faraz is another character that has a lot going for it but unfortunately, the actor playing the role does not bring much to the table. I am genuinely surprised to see Srha Asghar playing a side role which is nothing more than just that! She has so much potential and deserves meatier roles. She could have done better as the sister and not the friend. Also, it is unfortunate that she is being paired with actors who are not exactly her perfect match!

Zohaib and his mother’s role provide comic relief more than anything else. There are times when you wonder whether this track was even necessary or not! I would like to take this opportunity and request Hira Tareen to stop playing the same role over and over again! She has been typecast so many times that I have lost count. Also, can we please stop showing educated and seemingly enlightened women chasing after men who make it very clear that they are not interested in them?

Shibra’s father’s role on the other hand has been translated on screen convincingly and gracefully by Noor ul Hassan. His bond with Fazal Baksh does not come across as superficial and I find myself dreading the time when he will find out the truth. Shibra is her father’s daughter in every sense possible which makes this character even more important. Ali Gul Mallah is also adorable as the original Fazal Baksh. His on-screen chemistry with Bilal Abbas Khan makes their scenes a treat to watch. This goes to show that even with a little screen time an actor can make a big difference.

Omair Rana’s character does not offer much; it does not have the same screen presence as Shibra’s father. Zarmeena Ikram’s performance comes across as overly staged, lacking the natural spontaneity.

Is it Worth the Hype?

Does Ishq Murshid deserve all the hype it is getting from the viewers in particular? Well, the fact is that even with its over-the-top and unconvincing plot, Ishq Murshid is a light-hearted drama that serves as an escape from the kind of content the viewers have been served in the recent past. The experiment worked for team Ishq Murshid and much of this success rests on Bilal Abbas’ shoulders. The drama’s content could have garnered wider acceptance among viewers had it been promoted as a blend of comedy, fantasy, and romance. A more nuanced impact could have been achieved if certain caricature-like traits of the characters and the performances were toned down.

Are you watching Ishq Murshid? Share your views.

Fatima Awan

Fatima Awan has been a part of reviewit right from its inception. She feels very passionately about Pakistani dramas and loves discussing them in detail. An enthusiastic writer, thinker, and political scientist, constantly trying to look beyond the obvious. Full-time mom.

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