ISLAMABAD  - Nowadays, there is a fierce competition on television channels to make their dramas as glamorous as possible: High tech special effects, exotic locations, expensive sets, designer-outfits, makeup and styling by professionals, portraying the high-end lifestyle; all in an attempt to dazzle the viewers.
So what makes 'Tanhai' drama unique? Granted all the above mentioned elements are there: Mainly shot in Karachi, the drama has various scenes from Thailand, including the OST video. The glamour element has also been fulfilled by Sohai Ali Abro and Ayesha Omer, the leading ladies who are also professional models. Alongside them is the seasoned actress Saba Hameed. For the female population, there should always be a heartthrob, and that role was handed over to Goher Mumtaz of Jal the band. Yet, the drama's appeal lies closer to home; it takes us inside the lives of a husband and wife, belonging to the upper class society, and shows how one selfish act ruins a marriage and burns the bridges forever. Faiz (Goher) has gone from being a caring, romantic man into a withdrawn, cynical one, all thanks to his wife's infidelity, when she leaves him and their two kids to marry another man, whose looks and status attract her. Although Faiz is equally rich and handsome, his wife (Ayesha) refuses to give up her career and world of parties, to settle at home and raise their kids.
Betrayed by the woman he loves, Faiz erects walls around his heart, but his mother, (Saba), pressurises him into getting remarried to a girl from the lower middle class, Jiya, (Sohai). As expected, Faiz refuses all offers of Jiya to build a life together and Jiya is only a glorified maid to the kids. Upon encouragement from Faiz's mother, Jiya gradually sets out to thaw Faiz's heart. Alas, the path of true love is never smooth and the first wife Arzoo, after learning of his new marriage, becomes jealous and sets out to destroy Faiz and Jiya's newfound trust. To know the rest of the story, you'll have to watch the drama. Meanwhile, I grabbed the opportunity to talk to Mr Fahim Burney and Goher Mumtaz about Tanhai.
Renowned director, producer and fashion designer, Fahim Burney is no novice in the world of television. With a long list of achievements behind him, Burney is highly respected in the industry.
Q. Why did you choose Goher for the role of Faiz?
Fahim: Well, I had 3 or 4 people short-listed for the role of Faiz, and Goher was chosen amongst them. I wanted to use a fresh face, rather than a seasoned actor, whom people are accustomed to. I respect all our actors but I think the industry needs fresh faces and variety. That holds more attraction for the audience.
Q. Did you expect the drama to be such a hit?
Fahim: To be honest, not to this extent. I mean, of course, being a director, I try my best to make sure I have a good script, good cast etc. The whole team gave their best to Tanhai, we had a good working relationship among the crew, and we hoped for the best. I anticipated it doing well, but the response Tanhai has received is overwhelming.
Q. What do you think of Goher's performance in the drama?
Fahim: Goher is not only a talented singer but also a very nice human being. As an actor, he's still learning, so as his teacher, I would give him 7 out of 10 for Tanhai. He is really hard working, and I know he will keep getting better and better. I plan to work with him in the future as well.
Q. How important is the role of the music in a drama?
Fahim: Generally, music is considered important for a movie to be a hit. Dramas don't rely so heavily on music, but nowadays the trend has changed and people expect a good promo song with a video. In this regard, Jal's OST Tanhai was perfect for the drama.
Q. In your opinion, what is the reason 'Tanhai' has appealed to the masses?
Fahim: Tanhai is a complete package, a collage, with the great writer Sarwat Nazir behind it. It has good content, an interesting plot and a concept that is different from the routine. Everybody involved in Tanhai was committed to the project and the result is in front of you!
Q. Is it true that the drama was originally not called "Tanhai" and was changed after Fahim Burney heard your track Tanhai?
Goher: Yes, it's true. When I was signing the contract of this drama, I made Fahim listen to the new songs from Jal's album and he picked 'Tanhai' out of them for the drama. Then later, Fahim told us that the drama was being named Tanhai, after our song. It was great news and I felt humbled that such an experienced and well known director had acknowledged the creativity of Jal's music. ‘Jal’ made an OST, a slower version just for the drama.
Q. What do you think about Sohai's character? Do you believe a woman's real place is at home or should she pursue her career?
Goher: Sohai's character is very powerful, she reflects a lot of women in Pakistan where family values are more important than careers. Personally, I don't mind women working, but they need to balance work and their family responsibilities. The fathers go out and work for their family and if the mother leaves them too, the children are neglected.
Q. Which is more demanding: recording or acting?
Goher: I think acting is tougher and you need a lot more patience. While acting you have to follow the timelines, be disciplined and work as a team. Sometimes you have to wait for your turn to act on set, and compromise on a lot of things. But in music, even if you are sitting for 10 straight hours, recording or producing a song, you hear it there and then.
Q. Why has the drama Tanhai made such an impact?
Goher: Well, I think it’s a mixture of many things:  good storyline, the creative director, talented actors. Music also played an important role. People like the chemistry between Jiya and Faiz. Tanhai was a team-effort; I share its success with all of the team.
Q. What about another serial? Any offers on the table?
GM: Sure, I would love to. Offers have been there from the start, when I started this drama, but I don't want to do 3 or 4 dramas at a time. I want people to relate to my character and would once again like to go for something challenging. It also has to fit into my band's schedule.
So Goher, just between you and me, (and that half of the population reading this paper) whom does Faiz end up with? Jiya or Arzoo?
Goher: (laughing) Oh no, you're not printing any spoilers! You'll have to wait and see, just like everyone else!
The writer is a freelance journalist and can be reached at amina.westminster@yahoo.com.