Mehwish Hayat’s Enaaya is on YouTube now but is it as good as the trailer?
Mehwish Hayat starrer web series Enaaya by Wajahut Rauf just released on Eros Now’s website. Even though the website is subscription based, the first episode for the series hit YouTube straight after its release to obviously make the audience crave for more. Other than Mehwish Hayat, we also get to see some of the finest actors from the drama world like Azfar Rehman, Asad Siddiqui, Faryal Mehmood, Rabab Hashim, and Waqar Godhra. It is nice to see Pakistan finally stepping into the world of web series on a bigger scale, but the narrative is still quite lost somewhere.
The story revolves around Enaaya (Mehwish Hayat), who comes from a broken but rich home and studies in university. She has big dreams and also thinks that feminism has made it difficult for people to connect AND it’s boring, mmm … okay. Her best friend Mariam, played by Rabab Hashim, is a fun-loving, quirky girl like Enaaya. Jimmy’s (played by Azfar) manner of introduction suggested that he is the second lead in the series. His band members include Rasikh, played by Asad Siddiqui and Mikoo, played by Waqar Godhra.
The narrative pace is very smooth in the first episode; every character is introduced and the storyline unfolds steadily. However, the plot is quite clichéd and the trailer and first episode almost reveal the narrative for the entire series. Jimmy is in a relationship with a super annoying and insecure girlfriend Faryal; Hint, Hint! (This already set the scene for him to eventually end up with Enaaya). And of course, they would end up winning the competition, they are participating in. As you can imagine, the story is not unpredictable and that takes the charm out of future episodes. Also, the series is intended to target the youth and the same youth has already witnessed this narrative played out many times in Indian and American dramas and web series; again, the novelty of an original plot is compromised.
The Dialogues, Performances and Production
What caught my attention most was that the writer, Wajahut Rauf, made the most of not having any censorship barriers; the script was riddled with curse words. However, only audiences comfortable with such language will find it to their taste. For the rest, it will be an unwelcome, raw introduction to a new genre. The viewers need to be eased into the web series culture. Digital broadcasting sets a certain tone and pace; a bit different from TV series. So please let’s just get that sorted before we subject the audience to an onslaught of swear words and inappropriate language.
I wasn’t quite convinced with the acting performances of almost every actor, perhaps because I have been watching them perform roles that match their acting capabilities in TV shows, and this genre just seemed mis-matched for almost the entire cast. Exceptions being Asad and Rabab who seemed to fit in well and comfortably in the role of university students.
Production design is vibrant and full of life, which helped overshadow some of the not-so-great points of the series. Colors and outfits too are very well-matched and make everyone look almost quite the age they are supposed to be (That can be questionable sometimes and you will agree, e.g. when college kay din just don’t end for over-age actors and actresses). The background score could have been a little lighter. It distracted me at times from onscreen events so much so, that the scene lost its meaning or escaped impact due to a heavy soundtrack. I can understand that there must’ve been some issues with sound recording, but Asad Siddiqui should not have been handed a dubbed audio that also slipped at some points; obviously losing originality.
Another major drawback with Enaaya is that all the episodes are released on Eros Now’s website which requires a paid subscription. Coming from someone who has been following web series since a long time, I don’t think this is going to be a plus point. They might gain some paid subscribers, but the audience which has just been introduced to the world of web series should’ve been served a more accessible channel as a first. Accessibility is prime in the success of a new digital launch to a relatively new audience.
In summary, although the trailer had me hyped, the series left me disappointed. There is great scope for improvement. Enaaya is a first in Pakistan’s entry into the digital web series world. Change is always good, and we have to start somewhere.
With all its glam, glitter, Enaaya is paving the way for other directors and producers to invest in future web series. Web series is the new future of drama and Indian web series are watched much more compared to their counterparts. Perhaps Enaaya will set the pace for bigger and better shows to come. For now, though, it sure is a FLIP in the digital world in Pakistan. However we need more digital content to gain more audience and be HIP about it.