Radd Review – Refreshing or Lackluster

Radd Review – Refreshing or Lackluster

Writer: Sanam Mehdi Zaryab
Director: Ahmed Bhatti
Producer: iDream Entertainment
Channel: ARY Digital
Schedule: Every Wednesday & Thursday at 8 pm

The opening episodes of the drama serial Radd, even though slow-paced, guaranteed that it is bound to be a ‘commercial hit’. Our producers and directors understand the formulas needed to reach the masses and are using them well. This trend is prevalent among the 3 leading entertainment channels. Flawless production quality and fan following of leading actors are often utilized to garner public attention. All commercial elements are integrated to ensure that these dramas effectively capture public attention.

It appears that Indian viewers are also significantly influencing the way Pakistani producers conceive dramas. The treatment given to these dramas has changed particularly on the channels that prioritize commercialism over other aspects of drama-making. This trend, driven by profit-driven motives, often undermines the essence of quality storytelling, diluting the depth and authenticity of narratives in favor of superficial tactics aimed solely at garnering mass appeal.

Radd Characters & Story So Far

In these four weeks, most of the characters have been introduced in detail, while a few have yet to make an appearance. The plot revolves around 3 main characters and their households. Radd is essentially a love triangle involving characters that have complicated circumstances.

The relationship dynamics between Zain (Arsalan Naseer), Emaan (Hiba Bukhari), and Salaar (Shehryar Munawar) were shown with clarity in these 4 episodes. Emaan’s first impressions of both these characters and how these impressions changed were covered through various scenes that highlighted different aspects of the personalities of all these characters. While Emaan and Zain’s lives are like an open book, there is a lot about Salaar that the viewers do not know yet. Salaar’s track has an element of mystery which I find as the only aspect of the drama that might give me a reason to tune into it every week.

Radd Review - Refreshing or Lackluster

Zain and Emaan’s households are littered with clichés. Zain comes from an affluent family, and is the only son, the apple of everyone’s eye; his life is uncomplicated and almost perfect. The nand/bhabi scenario involving his mother and phupo stands out as an extremely clichéd one. Emaan, on the other hand, does not come from an affluent background, even though her outfits and the décor in her house suggest otherwise! She is the strong, independent, breadwinner daughter we have seen on our screens before as well. Her character reminds me of Ushna Shah’s character from Habs. The big difference however is that she does not have an insecure parent!

Salaar comes from an affluent background but after being blamed for his mother’s tragic death, he has had to live a life different from others around him. While overtly he is a caring and sensitive individual, certain aspects of his personality make you wonder if he is so. He comes with baggage and is head over heels in love with Emaan. The promos of the drama suggest that his character is perhaps going to take a completely different turn as the story unfolds but the plotline available online tells a different story!

Radd Performances

Performances play a vital role in making or breaking a serial! The producers made a wise choice by casting Hiba Bukhari and Arslan Naseer, who have a dedicated fan base. Despite their notable presence in the entertainment industry, their performances are lacking in terms of acting talent. While they have managed to perform fairly well, they have once again failed to add the kind of spark to their respective characters that would truly leave an impression. The fact that both these actors continuously get leading roles in prime-time drama goes to show that their popularity is the determining factor and not their potential as performers.

Radd Review - Refreshing or Lackluster

Shehryar Munawar is another actor whose performance is most often one-dimensional. The fact that he is playing a character that, so far, does not require much definitely helps. It is rather interesting that all these three leading actors have the same set of ‘limited’ skills as performers.

Syed Mohammad Ahmed’s acting skills are always impressive but he is yet again playing a role which he has played at least twice before, in Betiyan and Kuch Ankahi. This entire track is clichéd to the core; a single father struggling to keep his daughters’ in-laws happy! There are some moments which could have been far more heart-warming had they not been shot in a less filmi and more realistic manner. The susral issues being faced by the daughters as well as Paras Masroor’s casting offer nothing new. Yamina Peerzada could have chosen a better role for her comeback to dramas.

Radd Review - Refreshing or Lackluster

Dania Enwer is one of those rare supporting actors who manage to make their presence felt every single time. She is an impressive performer who ensures that every single gesture and moment counts. Among the supporting actors, her character stands out mainly due to her performance. Ismat Zaidi looks graceful on-screen and her character is pleasant as well but there are some contradictions too. Asma Abbas is another actress who looks great in Radd but her character, so far, is unremarkable and run-of-the-mill.

Visuals & Background Score

The ever-present loud background score throughout these 4 episodes proved to be distracting and irritating. It failed to serve its intended purpose of enhancing the scenes for the most part. I had to constantly adjust the volume because otherwise, the scenes with the background score were too loud. In the absence of the background score, the dialogues were barely audible with the same volume.

The sluggish pacing of most of the scenes affected the entertainment and engagement value of these episodes. This treatment given to the scenes would have made more sense if this was a musical and not a serial!

There has been a deliberate effort to make the scenes visually pleasing at times at the cost of originality. The overall make-up, dressing, and sets coupled with the filters aim to give each episode a visually pleasing look. I must say that the production design of the drama fails to accurately reflect the socioeconomic backgrounds of the middle-class characters. This seems to be a norm nowadays.

Jamil’s house for instance has some modern touches, too many wall hangings, and overall an appearance that does not go well with the people who are running that house. Similarly, Emaan’s house is too modern and looks ‘expensive’. I had to constantly remind myself that these individuals were actually struggling with finances and did not even own a car! The whole scenario reminded me of Jaan-e-Jahan where, as a viewer, I constantly had to remind myself that Mahnoor and Gulzaib were struggling financially!

As someone who seeks substance in entertainment, I find myself increasingly disillusioned by this shift toward prioritizing commercial gain over originality. Unfortunately, those producers and channels that dare to experiment do not get the ratings. For instance dramas such as Khushbo Mein Basay Khat and Stand Up Girl did not get the same attention as dramas such as Mein, Ishq Murshid, and Jaan-e-Jahan. Khaie was one of the rare recent dramas that seamlessly blended quality content with commercial appeal.

If the entire story of the drama as narrated on social media is correct then I am wondering who gave that story away! As viewers, we may find ourselves torn between the temptation to uncover plot details and the desire to experience the story as intended by its creators. Ultimately, the responsibility lies with all involved parties to uphold the integrity of the storytelling process and respect the anticipation and excitement of the audience.

Overall, sitting through the four episodes of Radd was challenging due to the poor treatment given to the script, subpar performances by leading actors, and cliched scenarios. One can only hope that it gets better in the next few weeks with the potential for character development, plot twists, and the introduction of new characters.