Atif Aslam talks about his first TV series, Sang-e-Mah

The singer and other cast members reflect on the new series based in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan.

By Mahwash Ajaz

Published: Thu 20 Jan 2022, 10:27 AM

Last updated: Thu 20 Jan 2022, 4:33 PM

When Momina Duraid and Mustafa Afridi’s previous hit television show Sang-e-Mar Mar (literally translated into ‘marble’ but alludes to a heart of beautiful stone) aired in 2017, it created an impression that wasn’t going away any time soon. With a Shakespearean quality to its narrative and character building, the show was a success amongst audiences and critics alike.

Directed by Saife Hasan, Sang-e-Mar Mar starred Nauman Ijaz, Omair Rana, Sania Saeed and Kubra Khan among others. The same cast returned for the second part of the trilogy of this series (not a sequel but a part of the trilogy nonetheless) called Sang-e-Mah with an additional star cast of Atif Aslam, Hania Aamir and Zaviyar Nauman Ijaz.

The cast sent their responses to City Times telling us how they felt during the shooting of the show which has become a digital and rating success. Kubra Khan, who plays a young journalist wanting to learn about the practice of ‘Gagh’ (a regressive custom that involves a man shooting thrice outside a woman’s house indicating that the woman ‘belongs’ to him).

She weighs in about the working conditions and the message of the show. “The conditions and environment we worked in was really tough, but we stuck together and worked very hard,” the British-Pakistani actress tells us. “Because the cause itself was important as well, I hope that people love the drama and see the hard work that we’ve put in. it’s very close to our hearts and we can only hope that people see it and love it as much as we do.”

Character prep

Since the characters are all based in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan and the actors aren’t originally from the area itself, there was understandably a large amount of preparation required to fulfill these roles.

Zaviyar Nauman Ijaz, Nauman Ijaz’s real life son, who plays the role of Hikmat, a young lovelorn chap, stated, “Observation of the locals was the biggest part of my preparation for the character. You make a character by observing different people and picking up different traits to finally form a whole new character. Then naturally the getup follows which for me was the stubble and moustache.”

Hikmat’s brother, Hilmand is played by noted singer Atif Aslam. This is Atif Aslam’s first television serial. He had once appeared in Shoaib Mansoor’s film Bol opposite Mahira Khan but the Aadat crooner had focused his attention towards singing completely.

Atif Aslam told us what it was like to get into Hilmand’s skin, “Five months of growing a beard, talking to walls and mirrors while rehearsing dialogues and ignoring Atif Aslam. Getting into shalwar kameez made it easy for me to create Hilmand.”

Hikmat’s love interest is played by Hania Aamir. She plays the role of feisty Gulmeena and she said that she was treated like a daughter on the set. “I can't thank my senior colleagues enough who were very supportive throughout,” she says.

“They took time out to help me learn new things and that I think is one of the best things you can do for someone, which is to help them grow and further groom their abilities. Sang-e-Mah has been one incredible journey and I'm so glad I got to be a part of it.”

Showcasing tribal life

Showrunner and producer Momina Duraid, who has had many hits under her name now hopes that the audiences would enjoy and ‘understand the narrative’. She hopes that the audience would ‘keep in mind that the actors have really worked hard to be as authentic as possible, rehearsing days to better their localized accents,” she said.

“The production has gone all the way to create looks and sets and took the execution of the narrative to real locations where shooting was logistically very tough. It’s our humble initiative to try and bring to you a story of the proud and forthright Pukhtoons, set in the jirga system, about an old custom called ‘Ghag’ that many tribal women have become victims to. Alongside the custom of ‘Ghag’, the story also touches upon the very important subject of interfaith harmony. The purpose is to entertain, educate and provide solutions in a heartfelt way.”

Sang-e-Mah airs on Sundays at 8pm on Hum Television Network and is also available on YouTube.

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