Jannat Se Aagay: Where Ratings Meet Social Messaging, But Did The Drama Succeed On Both Fronts?
– FUCHSIA MAGAZINE
Jannat Se Aagay signed off on our television screens with its final episode aired this weekend and we can’t bid farewell without noting the many firsts that this project ushered into the world of Pakistani dramas.
Jannay Se Aagay is spearheaded by writer Umera Ahmed, directed by Haseeb Hassan, and produced by Abdullah Kadwani and Asad Qureshi under the banner of 7th Sky Entertainment on Geo Entertainment. The stellar cast features Kubra Khan in the role of Jannat Ali Khan, Ramsha Khan as Tabassum, Talha Chahour portraying Farooq, Gohar Rasheed as Noman, Sheheryar Zaidi embodying Abid, Hina Bayat playing Shabana, Faiza Gillani as Sirya, Saboor Aly taking on the character of Zara, Daniya Anwar as Naseem, Sara Ashraf as Andleeb, Aina Asif portraying Aasia, Hoorain Khan as Aima, Ayesha Jahanzaib as Aalia, Aiman Zaman as Chanda, Hamza Tariq as Jibran, and Lubna Aslam as Tasneem.
It’s not the first time that Pakistani drama audiences have witnessed a power cast come together onscreen, the likes of Kubra Khan, Ramsha Khan, Mirza Gohar Rasheed, Saboor Aly and Talha Chahour promised excellence from the get-go. Add to that, writer Umera Ahmed’s pen, director Haseeb Hassan’s skill and Geo Entertainment behind the project, and you’d think the drama was a recipe for sure success.
But hold on, that’s not the only reason it got our attention, (and audiences too). Jannat Se Aagay ripped through a cliched sea of narratives by bringing it all together with an original, out of the box storyline, related in gripping manner, with a cast that fit the characters like a glove.
It is hard in times like these when stories are pulled out of a hat, 20 a day, if not more, promising romance, power couples, comedy, 30 episodes plus sagas stretched into slow-mos, loudly ostentatious OSTs and a story we’ve seen played out umpteen times. That is all that Jannat Se Aagay was not. In that sea of cliches, the makers managed to touch a raw nerve, a story waiting to be told, one that many of us live each day and yet one that had escaped us till now.
So here we go with with why Jannat Se Aagay is THE drama that will, hopefully always stand apart in originality, un-cliched storytelling, two female leads, each with her own super powerful narrative and yes, no traditional hero of sorts – for all those who feel we have no more stories to tell, think again.
Here’s why Jannat Se Aagay disproved that premise.
1. Ordinary People Living Ordinary Lives
Tabassum and Farooq’s life couldn’t be more ordinary. Yet, there was scope for a story there. Tabassum in her unhinged passion to succeed, her ambition, her desire to have more and more and get ahead in life. Farooq, in his ability to stay rooted to the very spot he stands on, and not be swayed by the greatest temptation. Together, this odd couple showed us two sides of a coin – the people who always want more, never satisfied with the small things in life, and those who are totally okay with living life they know it, their dreams as simple as their wants.
You’d think this was an ordinary story, but no. Both Ramsha and Talha played out their characters to the utmost. Talha in his unrelenting love and regard for Tabassum, never leaving her side for a minute even when we, the audience gave up on her. And Tabassum, in marching ahead, daring beyond her wildest dreams, to gather everything she could, by hook or by crook, in sharp, cunning, devious ways. Yet, our hearts went out to both of them, Farooq, for his unfailing loyalty and Tabassum, for her deep dive into a bottomless pit we desperately hoped Farooq would pull her out from, and he did!
Both Talha and Ramsha performed their characters with so much expertise, accurate to the tee, that we couldn’t, even if we wanted to, be less invested in their destiny.
2. Extraordinary People Living Extraordinary Lives
If we were to say that Jannat Se Aagay was a play on two extreme, polar opposite lifestyles, we wouldn’t be wrong. Where Tabassum and Farooq lived simple lives, Jannat and Noman swam in the lap of luxury. From a dream house to a dream lifestyle, Jannat’s career, home, and apparently perfect family seemed the perfect dream come true to people like Tabassum who, on looking from afar, could only see the glassy shine from outside, not the cracks from within.
However, much as we wanted Jannat to have the perfect family, husband, career, we soon realized this is the story of one woman, her unhappy marriage, correction: Happy marriage turned unhappy, and her struggle to now come to terms with a family on whom she was gradually losing her grip?
But, do all successful career women end up like Jannat, we asked? With cheating husbands like Noman?
That was the question on our minds. But then we soon realized, the story is about the plastic, yet unrelenting appeal of morning shows, the media circus that surrounds us, dulls our senses and makes ordinary people like Tabassum fall for extraordinary people like Jannat, desperately wishing and wanting to exchange places with them. Often, this fandom turns recklessly obsessive and requires medical intervention, which, thankfully, Tabassum did get eventually.
3. The World of Ratings and Viral Moments
Such is the competitiveness of the world we live in, from YouTube views to Instagram followers, Spotify stream counts and post reach and engagement that anything that falls short, is not the best, drives our content creators into overdrive mode. How to sensationalize content, get audiences’ attention before the competition does, how to drive views by tweaking reality just a bit, how to exploit a tragedy and convert it into viral clicks is a reality many content creators and makers struggle with.
When does conscience kick in to restrain ourselves from running a story that, if we don’t run, the competition will, when do viewers stop clicking on run-of-the mill, boring headings to sensational, click-bait topics, when did we become this society that relishes on watching or reading up on the inside story of a celebrity divorce rather than a story on Special Olympics, the destruction of a human spirit takes precedence over the triumph of one? But who cares, the celeb divorce is certainly one not to be missed!
Are we, the audience as much a part and reason why media runs sensational content? Who’s the bigger culprit, us or them?
4. Morning Shows And Their Repercussions
While Jannat Se Aagay did point fingers at Morning show hosts and channels as well as the culture that drives them to create the content they do, perhaps we also need to take a long hard look at ourselves. What makes us gravitate towards sensational content? The drama certainly opened up a Pandora’s box of questions. Perhaps more than the scope of the script itself. And that is credit to a story that went above and beyond the many narratives we see amidst us.
Perhaps the scope of the issue at hand – morning shows and their repercussions was so vast that despite wanting to, a single script cannot embrace everything that needs to be addressed in a media landscape that is still in the process of realizing its real power (and responsibility) towards its audience. Nonetheless, although the drama succeeded in asking questions, perhaps it could have thrown out a few more answers too?
For example, how could Jannat have used her influence, media presence to convert the millions watching her into responsible members of society. How she can break that superficial wall around her and let people in on her real life. How can Tabassum still achieve a measure of success in her life, not the fast way, but through striving for higher education, despite being a young mother, thus improving her and her family’s choices in life through sheer hard work and resilience. How Farooq can be that husband and father who would facilitate that progress and allow Tabassum to achieve some if not all of her dreams and make her value her success as well.
5. Portrayal Of Successful Women
Jannat Se Aagay could also have shown how successful career women like Jannat have supportive husbands who happily tend to the children and home as she works her way up the corporate ladder. How Jannat keeps the respect and love alive in her marriage by appreciating her other half, and not relegating him to a second-class citizen in a home where he is an equal. How a woman’s financial contribution to the household can be more than her husband’s, but that does not necessarily a failed marriage make.
But like we said earlier, the drama turned out to be a story about one morning show host, her channel, and one fan who nearly lost all in her pursuit of greater winnings.
6. Expecting Many More Firsts
Luckily, both Jannat & Tabassum were both saved. Yet, we hope that Jannat Se Aagay, the concept, the idea that the story has helped generate, and will give birth to many more firsts on the Pakistani drama horizon. The topic is one that will continue to stay relevant in present times and there are a great deal more conversations to be had, stemming from this very first conversation on media, the battle for ratings and amassing material wealth.
The larger than life world of entertainment and media is, after all, linked up to our mental wellbeing as a society. And if the story is told right, the messages will reach their target, along with the viral views. Killing two birds with one stone is always a great idea. The drama did just that. The final episode, as we speak, has hit 2.4 million views and counting.
How’s that for a story that sends out impactful messages and gets the commercial bandwagon rolling?
Killing two birds with one stone is the secret to powerful content, and Jannat Se Aagay hit the winning formula. Let’s hope we get more stories where material and spiritual find a match, where ratings and messages stay balanced, where one doesn’t need to compromise the other. Thus, only then, we certainly have a winning formula and that’s what content makers the world over are seeking, desperately – Jannat Se Aagay just showed us how!