Here’s what makes ‘O Rungreza’ so special

Film & Drama   October 17, 2017
The star cast of 'O Rungreza' fit in their roles like jewels in a perfectly crafted finery.

Hum Television’s drama serial “O Rungreza” is a smash success. Starring Sajjal Ali and Bilal Abbas as the main lead, this play is directed by Kashif Nisar and written by Saji Gul.

It has raked in a high of 4.7 TRPs, while Sajal and Bilal have gained a cult following as a pair on social media. So, what has turned O Rungreza into a success?

The song: 

Composed by Sahir Ali Bagga, penned down by Saji Gul, the soundtrack is one of the top most played OSTs for dramas on Pakistani music streaming sites, such as Patari.

The song is a beautiful, melodious fusion from the original melody of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Amir Khusrau’s words. It has been transformed into a modern version of both these classics for the drama and beautifully compliments the drama’s essence and ethos. Sajal Ali also lend her voice to this song and is gaining acclaim for her talents as a songstress.

The cast and characters:

Sajal Ali as Sassi: Sajal is perfect as the belligerent, rebellious, firecracker who makes no apologies about who she is. She is rash and abrasive at times but also wishes the best for the people around her.

Her greatest heartbreak is the disappointment caused by her father, Khayam Saani (Noman Ijaz). He was her ideal and his anger with her in trying to stop her from becoming an image of his muse, Sonia Jehan (Sana Fakhar).

While heartbreak and struggle sends her into an abyss of self-pity for a while, she re-emerges, continues to fight back and would not be harnessed at any cost. Sassi is at odds with society and this becomes one of the biggest reasons why O Rungreza is a critical success: despite her slightly unhinged moments and choices, she is more real in her struggle to the audiences than any other female character on screen right now.

Sajal’s mad cackles, little frolics and sullen stares give more life to Sassi and make her lovable as well as thought-provoking.

Bilal Abbas as Qasim: Qasim is the soft-spoken, demure, fearful cousin of Sassi – who is hopelessly in love with her. He is often depicted as a weak character but in the recent episodes, he shows remarkable strength – by walking away from a situation that was almost actually given to him on a platter.

Talking about the character, Bilal said, “I am able to connect with many people who are like Qasim now – I have a better understanding of his kind of personalities now that I have played him. He is trying to survive in a house where everyone is so self-obsessed.”

Noman Ijaz as Khayyam Saani:  There isn’t much that can be said in addition to what Noman Ijaz does in whatever role he is in: he is par excellence. His conflicted yet arrogant depiction of Khayaam is completely on point. There is, like always, no false note in his performance. As Khayaam, we see in him a man that is both flawed and confused. From his mannerisms to his dialogs, Khayam creates a commanding statement about the double standards in society.

Irsa Ghazal as Mumtaz: This is a difficult role for any actress and Irsa’s strongest moments are her emotional breakdowns. Her heartbreaking portrayal of a woman wronged as well as someone who is completely aware yet deliberately trying to hold a marriage together that has so clearly fallen apart is heart-rending.

Sana Fakhar as Sonia Jehan: Sonia is not a one-dimensional muse. Her struggle with her secretary, her conflict with her ex-husband and her complicated relationship with Khayaam are all extremely interesting and well-thought-out as well as well-portrayed characters. Sana essays this role beautifully and combines the emptiness and nihilism of her job’s pitfalls with the endearing reality of her humanity.

Omair Rana as Wajeeh Kamal: Slightly diabolical, mostly mean and brutally realistic, Omair creates a fearful avatar in Wajeeh Kamal. He states the obvious without sugar-coating it, he shatters Sassi’s dreams yet gives her hope. There is a tantalizing madness in this plotline between him and Sassi – which Omair’s dark and engrossing persona aligns perfectly with Wajeeh Kamal.

The script and direction:

Saji Gul, who has written darker and intense plays before, has written a beautiful and powerful script where dialogs depict philosophies and comment on the more critical themes of male hypocrisy and the pitfalls of a patriarchal value system.

The dialogs are funny and light even during difficult moments and Sassi’s character has a very different beat compared to the rest of the heroines we see on television.

Pakistani dramas are always under fire for creating sexist, misogynist scripts and roles for women – so it is a refreshing change for a drama to expose the male hypocrisy for a change and speak from a non-misogynist point of view.

“The idea is not to condone revolt – the idea is to explain that a in a value-based society, the value system applies to everyone. To men, to women. You see in the drama that men get away with breaking these values or flouting these codes much easily than women,” Saji Gul says about O Rungreza.

Kashif Nisar, who directed the play, has talked about how they have given a powerful message in the play in beautiful colors of song and dance and romance. His capabilities as a director are highlighted in how seamlessly he is able to incorporate the song and the background score into powerful moments perfectly. There is great attention to detail and despite a creative set design and costume design, the focus is always the characters and the dialog.

This not only makes O Rungreza a visual treat but also magical. Nisar balances this fantastical world with gritty moments and understands the crucial balance between the exposition of the ugliness of the male hypocrisy and the beauty and strength of disseminating the message itself.