For most of its run Alif aired in the same timeslot as the massively popular Mere Paas Tum Ho, but it still managed to create a loyal fan base due to its heart-wrenching storyline, slick production, and superb performances. The television show concluded last night with its storyline coming full circle, and here we take a look back at what made this Sufi-themed show such a spectacularly different viewing experience.
The equation between Allah and mankind
Throughout its narrative, Alif kept pressing on the question: What exactly is the relationship between man and Allah? Piece by piece, the answer fell into place. The drama followed two periods – past and present – without confusing the viewers. The credit for tying these two threads of the narrative together goes to director Haseeb Hasan and of course, its acclaimed writer Umera Ahmad. With each important plot reveal, they ensured that they gave just enough to keep the viewers engaged in the gripping teleplay while retaining the aura of mystery surrounding its principle characters.
Rich characters, engaging storyline
On the surface, Alif appears to be the story of director Qalb-e-Momin and actress Momina Sultan, but peel the layers a bit more, and you will find its narrative was deeply imbued with Islamic Sufi-philosophy as it explored the journey of its characters.
One of the reasons why the show managed to retain its grip on the audience was because of the deft manner in which the web of crisscrossing character story-arcs handled. As a viewer, one never felt the narrative was muddled despite having so much on its plate. Whether it was Momina’s life story or Sultan’s connection with Husn-e-Jahan – all the separate storylines had something to conribute towards the central message and theme of the plot.
Perhaps the most influential character in the drama was that of Abdul Ala, Momin’s grandfather. He loved Momin when he was a child and it was because of his challenge that Momin, in his adult life, created his most ambitious project, Alif. It not only changed the course of his life but also made him cross paths with Momina Sultan. The way their connections were slowly revealed is something you can only experience while watching the play. Words would never be able to do justice to their journey.
Hamza Ali Abbasi and Sajal Aly were phenomenal as Qalb-e-Momin and Momina Sultan, respectively. There were times when neither of them said a word yet conveyed emotions perfectly just with their facial expressions and eye movements. Besides the two, the rest of the performers were equally exceptional. Lubna Aslam, Hina Ashfaq, Fareeha Raza, Saif-e-Hassan, Musaddiq Malik, Yashma Gill and Sadaf Kanwal – all played a crucial role in the drama and did complete justice to their characters.
Joining them were senior thespians Manzar Sehbai and Saleem Mairaj, who connected the threads of Momin’s past with his present. And of course, how could we ever forget Kubra Khan, Ahsan Khan and Pehlaj Hassan? The three actors, who were the key part of the show’s flashbacks, made sure that the these sequences never got boring. Even with their relatively limited screen-time, these talented performers left a huge impact on the viewers.
Credit also must be given to the play’s production team for drawing an eclectic pool of suitably-cast actors and to director Haseeb Hassan for steering their talents in the right direction.
Final verdict: Magical
There are very few dramas that touch the topic of spirituality, and even fewer dramas that manage to do so effortlessly. Alif was one of those rare ones. You could give the cast and crew all the awards in the world, but truth be told, there is no award show worthy of Alif’s appreciation. For Alif was not just a drama; it was a life-influencing experience for many of its viewers.