Humsafar, based on Farhat Ishtiaq’s novel of the same name, tells the story of Ashar, who under circumstances beyond his control is forced to marry his first cousin Khirad. With nothing to connect them in terms of upbringing and outlook, Ashar finds himself pigeonholed in a marriage, adjusting to which gets tougher by the day. Khirad, on the other hand, is forced to cope with a double loss — the death of her mother who compelled her to marry Ashar before she died and the constant helplessness she feels stuck in a marriage with a man who is a virtual stranger.
Complicating matters is the presence of Ashar’s best friend Sarah who, deeply in love with him, goes out of control and even slits her wrist when she learns that Ashar is being forced to marry another, though he doesn’t really reciprocate the feelings she has for him.
Much like Zaroon in Zindagi… the plot of Humsafar largely revolves around Fawad’s Ashar. And there is a lot that connects the two — like Zaroon, Ashar is well read and well bred and modern in his world view. Ashar is a good son and a great friend, always ready to put the interests of others before his own, even if that means being forced into a marriage that he is unhappy in. But unlike Zaroon, whose thoughts and actions were coloured with a chauvinistic streak, Ashar goes out of his way to make things comfortable for the woman he’s been forced to marry. From trying to engage in small talk with her that she rewards with monosyllabes to whipping up cups of coffee that they sip together silently, Ashar is the man any woman would want to have as her partner… caring and compassionate, even when life, as he knows it, has hit a roadblock. And when Fawad, er, Ashar looks at Khirad with those puppy eyes, love isn’t really the same again.
Complementing Ashar is Khirad (Mahira Khan). Mousy and reserved at first, Khirad has now gradually learnt to voice how she feels, even as she struggles to share her life — and her bed — with a man, who despite being her cousin, she doesn’t know at all. What Ashar mistakes as Khirad’s coldness and detachment is actually revealed to be the pain she feels being thrust into his life against his will.
Sarah (Naveen Waqar), the other major player in Humsafar, is a stubborn woman who is determined to make Ashar her own even though she knows he doesn’t really love her. An attention seeker who easily flies off the handle, Sarah is the one who complicates the already precarious dynamics between Ashar and Khirad.
Fawad Khan is the reason why most (women, particularly) tune in to Humsafar. Smart and suave, Fawad makes Ashar an extension of himself, lighting up the screen with that smile that crinkles his eyes. Fawad ensures that you feel Ashar’s angst even as he struggles to bring about a semblance of normality in his life. And yes, that baritone still has the power to hook you.
Fawad and Mahira as a pair are refreshing, their subtle chemistry making you root for this couple who, though distant and detached now, make you want to believe that they will end up together. No wonder the two are a hit pair on the Pakistani small screen and have swept up quite a few ‘hit jodi’ awards together.
The plot and pace of Humsafar is a huge plus. Just 26 episodes long, the makers ensure that each episode packs in enough to make you want to look forward to the next day.
The side players — Ashar’s dad, Sarah’s mom, Ashar’s colleagues…. — are all well cast, each doing his or her bit to keep the plot engaging.
Our only grouse: Can there be a little less rona dhona please? For that there is always the daily Indian soap!
--The Telegraph, Calcutta