Detective John Luther is unable to trace the whereabouts of a young hostage Callum Aldrich when he is jailed for his illegal acts as a police officer. Years later, Callum and other hostages are brutally murdered and the serial killer teases Luther for fun.
Luther was a critically acclaimed detective series by BBC that concluded in 2019 after five seasons. The show was widely praised for its crime screenwriting, direction, and performances of Idris Elba as detective John Luther and Ruth Wilson as Alice Morgan.
It is a difficult task to continue the story of a television series into a film due to limitations in the screen length. There is also a certainty that the development of the existing characters and their arcs from the television series will suffocate in the film when connected to the main plotline. Alas, this is precisely what happened with ‘Luther: The Fallen Sun‘.
The usual dynamics of Luther’s storytelling looks visibly compromised. The biggest spine-breaker is the story that is rotten, stereotypical, and carries plenty of repeated content. The whole plotline is extremely predictable. Luther tries his sources to help him break the jail and of course, it is certain to happen. The new officer DCI Odette, played by very talented Cynthia Erivo, replaces Luther and takes him completely wrong but then trusts him, and then fights together, is a whole new level of an overbaked script of a super action film.
Luther television series was known for impressive suspense. Regrettably, there is no element of suspense about who the antagonist is. We the audience are exposed in the beginning that Andy Serkis is a serial killer. And absolutely gutted about his hair.
Maybe it makes sense but for me, it is strange that the serial killer planned for the victims to commit suicides from the top of various buildings but no surveillance monitored more than one hostage scene from the top.
I am also confused about Luther’s fate in the final 15 minutes. After the job is done, Luther gets handcuffed but ends up in a safe house. Which means Luther does not go to jail. Is that so? He broke the jail. He was shamed for his crimes as an officer. Is he pardoned by the law or what? We observed angry media backlash at the beginning in favor of his arrest.
‘Luther: The Fallen Sun’ is easily the weakest Luther project so far. Yes, Idris Elba as Luther never disappoints but the rest. Looking at the development in the final scene, Luther’s sequel surely is considered. And I hope that part outdo this because this is a disappointing film overall.
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“The modern-day journalists and the media professionals would not have even imagined the difficulties and the hiccups that I and other reporters of my generation had endured during the 1950s and onwards.”
The cricketing journey of the author is not about the history of Pakistan cricket but international cricket. It is a passion that leads you to eternal respect that you earn after a love affair with the game.
Far More Than A Game is divided into thirty chapters that are spread over almost 300 pages. Most of the details are the author’s first-hand experience due to the nature of this book being autobiographic with an assistance of a few national and international books.
The reading of this book is easy, comprehensive, punched detailing with straight incidents from different timelines, and with complete liberty of his opinions.
This autobiography is pretty personal and perhaps I can say the book is a rollercoaster ride about Qamar Ahmed’s life. By latter, I mean that he is totally open to all the parallels if he feels to speak about and thinks of no consequence about a series of questions he may be asked about his life. And I liked the nature of his openness that describes his personality and the autobiography being put to the best use of it. The reader won’t feel the sensationalism of the literature but the admittance about his life that he moved on but were vital to being written in the book.
The author depicted his disappointment in General Zia-ul-Haq’s leadership which was so disturbing to him that he refused to shake hands at a party. There is an entire chapter (no.22) about the two incidents that soured his relationship with Imran Khan. The writing of this chapter clearly indicates an agitation that should be addressed to the reader due to the fact that this eighteen-page chapter is surprisingly the lengthiest of all the chapters he wrote along with another chapter about his first-class career. I do not question the author’s motive but I am writing my honest observation about the writing of the book that this particular chapter was stretched as compared to the other interesting chapters that required more detailing than this. If this chapter had eighteen pages of details, then I reckon that a chapter about the road trip from London to Pakistan (no.14) deserves a separate book.
There are several personal accounts that help in shaping the authenticity of an autobiography. In one chapter (no.9), he writes about a life that was wasted in college because his parents wanted him to pursue a career in science rather than wanting him to choose his own career. An octogenarian passes an important piece of information to the readers about his younghood that his life decisions were made by his parents that succumb to a traditional parental syndrome in South Asia which has been emotionally attached in this region for quite a long time. Deciding about the life of a kid is understood but someone who passes his childhood and enters into college hood has the right to make his/her own decisions. The author addressed this matter, advocated liberty, and encouraged the readers to follow their passion rather than a silly tradition.
There was a French girl he was seeing in 1965 who was in England to learn the English language (no.11). Only a few paragraphs were written about her but nothing much. I liked the idea of keeping it short just like a brief series of meeting in life. It is like a gust of wind that blew from one direction towards the other once in life. It is a special mention of interest people at old age remember despite the time has passed around fifty years to that.
“Never for one moment as a schoolboy then I had even the slightest of inkling of what the destiny had in store for us and what was to come which would not only change the life of my family and that of many others and that of the country itself which would influence also the course of history.”
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EUROPEAN PERK AND HISTORY LESSON
Far More Than A Game is a fascinating read for more than one reason but the most significant point to consider reading this life story is that the author was one of those few Pakistanis who got European, especially a British exposure to a socioeconomic life that fetched a lot of international diversity. Living a life in a multicultural country develops individualism and helps in socializing with people from different diversity. So that worldly experience fetched a lot of stories and incidents that happened with the author.
And then the author belongs to the greatest generation who experienced the partition of India. A lifetime that the next generations can neither feel nor imagine the suffering. So his personal account from the earlier chapters is a source of real history that the readers are unable to find in the books that are provided by their academic authorities.
The book starts with a sorry tale of partition and his childhood memories in the first chapter followed by a gripping narrative of his family’s migration from Chapra to Hyderabad. There are two chapters that are history lessons, one is about Hyderabad city and the other is about his ancestors, a knowledge that was treasured to him by his uncle from Mairwa, a city in Bihar state.
One of the luxuries in the field of journalism is meeting important people from different walks of life, and so did the author. Qamar Ahmed missed no chance detail in separate chapters about his once-in-a-lifetime moments when he met Kerry Packer (no.15), Sir Don Bradman (no.16), and Nelson Mandela (no.21). Touring India was mostly personal for Qamar Ahmed due to his origins. But he holds the distinction to have met with the Indian film industry’s greats. Imagine people in those times like the author getting the honor of meeting the great Raj Kapoor at his residence where along with the Kapoors, they also get to meet Dilip Kumar. Meeting two of the biggest superstars of the golden age at the same place is surely one of the best memories of a lifetime.
Far More Than A Game is not only about history and the people he met in his lifetime, it is also about some very serious highlights that were needed to be addressed that occurred in the last chapters of the book. One was about Salim Malik and the kind of world he entered to regret for life.
There is a special place for Indian cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar in his heart and the twentieth chapter is dedicated to him to talk about some situations which may have gone unheard of. It was shocking to understand that Sunny was stopped by the MCC staff twice to enter the Lord’s cricket ground. The details about these incidents are covered in the chapter.
The twenty-eighth chapter is full of funny and priceless moments that the readers will read with keen interest. I like a few of his moments like the historic moment of South Africa’s re-entry into international cricket, his brawl with a mugger, mistakenly calling Alec Stewart ‘Hansie’, a cricket manager asking to sacrifice a black sheep, and many more. If I was sitting along with the author when he called Alec Stewart ‘Hansie’, I would have seriously couldn’t stop myself from laughing my ass out. It was a really funny and ‘innocent’ blunder.
Arranging and compiling chapters in a book, especially in autobiographies are very vital. I have read a few autobiographies and being a bibliophile, I have this idea that there are two different arts involved in shaping and publishing a book; one is writing it as a whole, and the other is giving the whole writing the best possible finishing in a way that reader is captivated to read a life story.
I will be a little critical here about the arrangement of the chapters. As per my reading experience, Far More Than A Game didn’t conclude fittingly. I think the thirtieth and the second-last chapter where he wrote about the evolution of sports journalism and the use of technology, would have been the perfect end with a personal message or some inspiring words for the readers.
“When checking out to proceed to Calcutta (Kolkata) for the sixth and final test of the ongoing series between Pakistan and India, I requested the receptionist at the hotel for my bill.
The reception officials gave me a pleasing smile to say: “No bill Sir, we know who you are. We have been told by Dr. Hari about you that this was your house before you left for Pakistan as a schoolboy.””
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The first three chapters in the book highlight in detail about his childhood, migration, and painful history. And then in the next chapter, he remembers his return to India. That fourth chapter needed to be distanced from the previous chapters and arranged in the middle of the reading.
With a gap of a few chapters and crossing the time to the late 1970s, this reunion moment would have melted the emotions more. It is my opinion that talking about the reunion in just the fourth chapter of the book was way too soon. The editor or compiler of the publishing company should have considered giving the sentimental feel to the reader by arranging this chapter somewhere far from the earliest details.
The fourth chapter has an amazing detailing of reuniting, giving the readers a staunch view that partition gave us a lot of painful stories and reunions of a lifetime. Imagine if hatred had its say and those landlords had killed Qamar and his family? There would be no story to tell us, there would be no legacy of cricket journalism and broadcasting, and there would be no reunions or faith in humanity to hope from those tragedies.
“Far More Than A Game” is the anatomy of cricket journalism, a pocket dictionary to the evolution of cricket, a time-traveling diary that settles nowhere but gives you an experience of a lifetime. A cricketing life to celebrate, thank you so much for your lifetime contribution and service to this beautiful game.
“I always believed that if you are good with people they are good with you and in turn respect you for what you do. That is how I thought a journalist should be when dealing with a story or with people related to it.”
Trevor Bingley is a rookie housesitter who is assigned to a high-tech mansion for a few days but to his bad luck, a bee begins to circulate around him and enters the property. After the owners hand over their place to Trevor and leave, the latter struggles to get rid of the bee that jeopardizes his work.
Man vs. Bee is a fresh idea for a comedy. This is like someone showed up in a meeting with a plan that, to everyone’s surprise, works and suits well. No forced representation, no lovemaking, just an old-school comedy. Rowan Atkinson as usual displayed his slapstick magic that ages well with the audience. There is still Mr. Bean inside him that teases him to present his usual misfortunes. And the impressive part is that nothing looks unnatural, no portion of the jeopardizing moment is forced at all. The timing of the unfortunate incidents one after one defines a person’s worst Monday to begin with.
Another element of superb writing is the application of old-age or simply non-rich people struggling to settle themselves in a lifestyle that is so unusual and futuristic to them. The complexity of living in a high-tech residence is really well written. The exaggeration is sublime. The problems Trevor senses never end from the first day, it is the hardship of understanding such rich domesticity that leads to misfortunes, not only the bee.
Perhaps Trevor could have gotten rid of the troubling bee if it was a simple apartment. But then, the application of realism gets compromised for the sake of fun and laughter. Man vs. Bee does defy logic that questions realism. A few questions and Man vs. Bee cannot help escaping from the plotholes or obviousness. When the bee made Trevor break the first showpiece, why didn’t he inform the owners? Fine, he panics, and he recently got the job. But when he takes the dog to the vet, why doesn’t he inquire about catching a bee? And who in the right state of mind will detonate in the residence? Perhaps he gets so lost that he cared nothing and even puts the house on fire? Maybe this is an exaggeration to its peak but certainly, logic failed for the sake of comedy. I just felt that these are some portions where the writing and humor looked compromised.
One questionable part of writing was not killing the bee in the microwave when he had the chance. This can be theorized from several angles like sympathy with a living creature after spending some time with it for good or bad reasons, or being foolish by forgetting to close the glass sliding door, etc.
I think it was a smart move to divide a simple comedy into a maximum of 12-minute episodes. Maybe Trevor’s battle with the bee would have looked boring or silly if this was a one-hour film. But in any case, I believe that Man vs. Bee makes you think about those small moments that build nerves if you take this way too seriously. It was just a bee that happened to enter with Trevor and made the mess. Perfect timing for misfortunes and embarrassment that offers the finest displays of remorse and distress none other than Rowan Atkinson can master around.
A very funny take on mistakes, Man vs. Bee has a remarkable discomfort to laugh at.
Once upon a time, there was a radio and television presenter in Britain back in the 1960s. He began to host BBC‘s Top Of The Pops and became a well-known celebrity. In the 1970s, he was known to fix any of children’s desires and wishes in the show, Jim’ll Fix It. On the show, he would receive thousands and thousands of letters, and he would attend a few of these and read it to the audience. The letters were full of children writing to him to grant their wishes. And he didn’t break their hearts; on the contrary, he won them.
Already establishing himself as the British messiah, the hospitals sought his help to raise money for good. And he listened to their calls and believe it or not, he raised around £40 million in charity. This is a massive number to raise in those times. His reputation was cemented to be a Godly man who is humble, the most respected, the dearest, and the kindest to everyone.
Wherever he went, people would gather around, wait for his glimpse for hours, take autographs, take pictures, and feel blessed that he kissed them. He befriended the former British premier Margaret Thatcher and the Royal Family. He became some cult, some saint. He became their national hero who served the country once in the great war and then contributed to philanthropy throughout his life.
And then one day, he died. The British media was mourning, and the general public was mourning. His followers forwarded their prays, and goodbyes and many came to the memorial service to have a glimpse of the coffin where he lies. He was people’s servant. They all believed that Lord took his life, a soul departed to conclude an era of dedication to put the public in staunch grief or melancholy. But what they didn’t realize was that his death was actually Lord’s act of goodwill to put a halt to the horror he implanted in scores of British lives that they never realized or got to know about in more than fifty years.
Almost a year after his death, plenty of reports surfaced, and a thorough investigation that involved police and the media concluded to the nation’s utter shock that he had sexually abused/assaulted more than four hundred people, mostly underaged, as young as five. London’s Metropolitan Police (Met) began Operation Yewtree to investigate the allegations and concluded with a report that counted the victims to be more than five hundred. The Guardian claimed in 2014 that the number of his victims was more than one thousand. That man was Jimmy Savile.
A few years ago, when I came to know about who Jimmy Savile was, I was stunned to realize that he abused most of those children during his time at the BBC and the National Health Service (NHS); how come no one raised the concerns or doubts about his mysterious personal life. How come Jimmy Savile never got caught in fifty years?
I had the curiosity to know the right and convincing answers to my years-old questions. Thankfully, Netflix decided to commission a two-part documentary about that sex predator, Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story. And by watching this show, I got a lot of insiders about this psycho. The documentary has plenty of footage that depicts his charms and charisma that were hiding his heinous saga for decades.
The two parts are smartly divided. The first part gives the audience thought about Jimmy Savile as the ever-caring servant of children who appeals to granting their wishes and also gives an insider about how Jimmy Savile rose to prominence to a magnitude where he saw himself in the company of the most powerful politicians. In the second part, the filmmakers try to locate the signs where Jimmy Savile came close to being caught.
The documentary’s biggest success is convincing its audience that Jimmy Savile successfully manipulated and made a fool out of the entire nation. There is numerous footage in the show where Jimmy, in the interview, is asked about the personal, sexual, and emotional aspects of his private life. And Jimmy, in response, speaks a tone and uses such one-liners that the audience takes him lightly and believes to be his usual jokes. This documentary proves that Jimmy was the smartest not to be caught. He had all the answers, he was quick wit. And he had the propensity to tackle any given question and reply without wasting a second and that too shamelessly. He was so powerful that it never mattered if he will ever be caught. He knew he was the authority. If anyone complained, no one would believe a word against him.
My jaw kept dropping and dropping when I observed with rage that he was giving all the clues and referring to his listeners about the things he did horrible all these decades but the audience was laughing and assuming as if he was joking. Especially when he joked that his case comes up next Thursday.
Who would have believed him? He was the master of deception. He had influence, he was an inspiration to the British for what he did in philanthropy. No one would ever believe that he can stoop that low to possibly force the girls as young as eight to have sex with him, someone who was close friends with the Royal Family and Margaret Thatcher.
Although the documentary has tried its best to give its audience a feeling of deception from this disgusting pervert, I sense that this documentary unintentionally gave a lot of insider about his humanitarian efforts. The reason why I am saying this is because the most reckoning part of Jimmy Savile’s life in brutal crimes was when he died. The post-death revelation on Britain and the rest of the world is hardly half an hour in the show. And due to such an incredibly less number of minutes, the makers and researchers couldn’t do justice to the broader detailing of the investigation at length.
Yes, the documentary was successful in setting a tone in which the viewers, especially those who didn’t know who that pedophile was, developed a genuine feeling of hatred by the end of the first episode. But the makers focused on his social contribution pretty much. Through this documentary, I was eager to watch more about his post-death events when Met began to receive complaints that led to investigations. I was more interested to watch some of those kids in their adulthood narrating their horror incident with Jimmy Savile. I wanted the makers to adopt no holds barred just like Jimmy Savile did all his life.
In every capacity, this Netflix documentary has raised global awareness and addressed the threat. It was the technology that almost caught him. The doubts and allegations were bundling when he decided to depart. I feel Jimmy Savile was unluckily so lucky to escape from all the penalties and punishment. He would be laughing in his grave that he left the world unpunished after all the crimes he committed.
So who is responsible for creating Jimmy Savile out of Sir James Wilson Vincent Savile? (Yes, he was knighted in 1990). I firmly believe that the Thatcher government and the BBC are to be fully blamed. They surely had some idea. I refuse to believe that no one in the BBC or in the Thatcher government ever built a doubt or raised eyebrows about his offenses. I have read on the internet that he assaulted and raped many children and adults in television dressing rooms, hospitals, schools, children’s homes, and his caravan.
Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story is a reminder of the disgraced that depicts one of Britain’s darkest chapters that inflicts an eternal regret about the irresponsibility of the higher commands who chose to stay silent, see no evil hear no evil, and also preferred not to address the elephant in the room.
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Bhutto’s leadership in Pakistan has always been a talking point whenever the country’s political history has been reflected. During the entire political fiasco the country has suffered, it is worth observing that Zulfikar’s political career was confronted with three of the four military phases. Under Ayub Khan, Bhutto was the Foreign Minister. Yahya Khan handed over his presidency and his government to Bhutto after the fall of East Pakistan. Zia-ul-Haq was Bhutto’s second Chief of Army Staff who later became the reason for his death.
Zulfikar’s political legacy and fresh memories of reading the previous book on Bhutto-Zia prompted me to read Qayyum Nizami’s political analysis of the PPP’s prime era and the memoir of Bhutto in the shape of almost a 500-page book, ‘Jo Dekha Jo Suna’ (What I Saw, What I Heard).
WRITING STYLE AND DETAILING
Although, a book with such lengthy detailing does not really buy me as a reader as I feel that the author has heavily sugar-coated Bhutto’s heroics and overpraised him. I adore Bhutto’s style of addressing and his leadership, the man had the courage to raise his voice against the military dictatorship and address eye-to-eye with the United States. But the flaw is in the style of writing that makes ‘Jo Dekha Jo Suna’ look like some propaganda project.
On page.192, there is a detailed chronological timeline of the Bhutto government’s activities. In these pages, I noticed that a lot of times Bhutto government got loans from Saudi Arabia, the United States, Russia, etc. Why the author doesn’t explain the reason for asking for loans? Pakistan in 2022 still continues the tradition of receiving loans from the IMF and other countries but this history book should have highlighted, why Pakistan was receiving loans fifty years ago.
Bhutto was, without a doubt, a great leader but the author being his disciple has glorified Bhutto and made me think if I was reading a biography of God but not Bhutto. Almost every turn of a page has dramatic praises for him. There is literally a line on page.176 where the author compares Bhutto’s martyrdom with Hussain’s by writing that “Pakistan and third world countries regret Bhutto’s martyrdom just like Islamic world regrets with Hussain’s.”
And then there are various incidents or statements that make you think if the authenticity compromises. The author writes on page.119 about one night during the times of Pakistan military and government officials’ humiliating surrender before the Indian Army, Bhutto’s daughter Benazir enters her father’s room and notices that he is lying on the floor instead of in bed. When she asks the reason then Bhutto replies, “How can I sleep on the bed when 90,000 soldiers sleep on the floor of Indian camps?” Maybe this reads very inspiring to the other readers but I feel as if this is a reel incident but not real.
On page.38, the author states that former Indian Prime Minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri, died of a heart attack. He didn’t bother to clarify that Shastri’s death is still a mystery despite the reason for his passing being announced to be a heart attack. But the author finds it more important to inform the readers that the-then Foreign Secretary Aziz Ahmed called Shastri a bastard.
‘Jo Dekha Jo Suna’ is not really full of a disciple glossing his party and the leader in its entirety, there are many pages that are either of some critical significance or heartwarming. I really liked reading about the relationship between Bhutto and his wife, Nusrat. In the earliest pages, there is a chapter where Nusrat Bhutto gives details about how she and Zulfikar came to know each other and tied the knot. In the middle of the book, a chapter reflects on the entire meeting of Nusrat and Benazir with Bhutto in prison a day before he was hanged, and that was pretty heart-boiling to read, picturizing and imagining how things would have gone between these Bhuttos.
‘Jo Dekha Jo Suna’ also offers to read Bhutto’s memorable speeches that are stretched to around fifty pages. The book has documented a lot of letters that Bhutto father and daughter wrote to the author and vice versa. There, also, are letters by famous British philosopher Bertrand Russell to different global leaders of that time praising Bhutto and sharing his point of view about his political vision. There also are over a hundred rare pictures of Bhutto, Benazir, and Qayyum Nizami during various political events.
One of the last chapters of the book covers politicians, journalists, and people from other fields of work briefing their own ‘What they saw, What they heard’ to the readers. Some events and incidents are interesting.
Qayyum Nizami is a veteran politician and columnist who played an important role in Bhutto’s party. He had close political relations with both Bhutto and Benazir. ‘Jo Dekha Jo Suna’ is his extensive insider about the struggling times of his leader and the party.
The motive for reading the book is that the reader acquires knowledge. Bibliophiles cannot remember every word or page of the book they read but naturally, our brain has the obvious capacity to store at least one to twenty percent of the information that is collected from the book. By reading ‘Jo Dekha Jo Suna’, it doesn’t matter whether I liked reading this book or not, I get some clues and rough ideas about the existence of the party, the Bhutto administration, and the political conflicts of his time, and that is what is valuable for me.
Malory Towers is a children’s television show by CBBC and is set in the post-World War in Britain. The show is about Darrell Rivers who is sent to the all-girls boarding school, Malory Towers, where she befriends and struggles to learn life lessons with them. She gets into trouble and faces challenges in maintaining discipline but with a group of good company, she and her friends help out each other and grace their younghood.
As it is obvious by the title, Malory Towers is based on Enid Blyton‘s set of six novels with the same title. Each of the books is based on Darrel’s year of term she attended in the boarding school. Therefore, I assume that the first two seasons that are released are based on the first two books because each of the seasons is based on Darrel’s first and second terms. That also means that the show may progress to complete the remaining books in the next four seasons.
And the show has all the qualities to complete six seasons because of its details about the characters, lush camera work, and very thoughtful structure of episodes each focusing on something interesting about the life of the young girls in Malory Towers, the events that may have been traced from the books. The show is a feel-good coming-of-age light-heart period drama. The writing of the show convincingly depicts the problems the young girls face like anger issues, tolerance, manners, etc.
The show covers a lot of thought that develops an interest in a coming-of-age children’s drama like the school’s financial crisis, the loyalty of veteran staff, girls being superstitious and getting afraid of scary expectations, silly pranks, care for the animals, girls trying to impress their parents and willing not to disappoint them at all, competing against other schools, bullying, entomophobia, reading private letters, and a few more. In short, the mood or the enthusiasm of the viewers will not get punctured.
Some episodes flourish well. I liked the episode ‘The Slap’ that was carefully written and very much thought was implied on both Gwendoline and Darrell. Darrell is the central character with temper issues, the reason she was dropped from the previous school. Gwen is the bad news, the troublemaker who is always on Darrell’s nerves. Darrell slaps Gwen and their chemistry gets intense. Gwendoline’s character has been well taken care of as compared to Darrel Rivers. As much as the viewer hates the character, her being jealous, rude, and playing politics makes more sense.
I liked how the girls are distinguished with their teenage traits, some are scared, some are superstitious, some are witty, clever, sweet and some are bad news. But being bad news also gives you a good insider about why such girls switched to this behavioral attitude. Where did this jealousy or hatred come from? The introduction of poor Ellen Wilson made a strong case where she was struggling to adjust with the other girls who belonged to financially better backgrounds. Even the girls had a difficult time understanding Ellen’s situation and were quite a scene when they gift Ellen some leftovers.
I must not forget to mention and praise such an impressive performance by Daniya Griver as Gwendoline Lacey. She convincingly made every single viewer hate the character and made us wish to see her expelled from the school once and for all. Her physical, mental, and emotional portrayal was an accurate definition of a jealous, selfish, and mean girl.
I haven’t read Malory Towers but I expect the show does justice to the original work. I binged the whole show in one go because the direction and the continuity were compelling. I felt that the show had the same vibes as the children’s shows like CBC‘s Anne With An E and I was right about it. Watching this show was a delightful experience and now I will wait for the next season.
For the audience that is willing to show their children a quality drama, I recommend them to show Malory Towers.
Mary Hussain (Joanna Scanlan) is a British convert who is married to a Pakistani immigrant Ahmed (Nasser Memarzia). Ahmed unexpectedly passes away and leaves the widow isolated in grief. Soon after his death, she finds out that Ahmed secretly had married a French lady Genevieve (Nathalie Richard) with whom Ahmed also has a son.
Okay, first thing! Thank you BBC and BFI to come up with such a heartwarming emotional drama, After Love. Although, I have watched this plot many times in my life, but from the British productional aesthetics, perhaps this means a lot to show a story of two women in different situations, but both being Ahmed’s wives. What was striking about the film is the writing growth that solidifies Mary’s emotional development in the first forty minutes.
There are many touching moments in the film starting from the jawdropping first scene that builds the intensity followed by a one-shot consolation scene of Mary surrounded by lamenting women. Joanna has really given a terrific all-round performance. I am all sold when the directors take special care of small details. There is a scene where Mary in her prayer forgets a verse of Fatiha and tries to remember. It is a brilliant moment to develop theories about this scene. One is she actually forgot the line and felt embarrassed about it. Perhaps Ahmed used to help her remember the lines while praying and she happened to bring that memory back. Or maybe she was a new convert or had recently started to pray and made sense to forget. Or maybe the verse where she stopped had a translation she knew would break her.
I felt it was pretty unnatural on Genevieve not to doubt Mary’s facial shock and silence in the first meeting. Genevieve also didn’t consider a background check on her but rather trust her enough to lend her a copy of the house key. The film is slow-burn but I think the pace could have progressed if the director had considered also picturizing Mary-Ahmed’s happy moments from the past. Despite being a ninety-minute drama, the film was pretty long due to an extremely short plot.
Joanna Scanlan is the heart and soul of this film. This is the first time I have watched her performance and I believe it was a tremendous performance. Her facial expressions were very touching. The film is a quality definition to understand grief, tragedy, and shock. Especially, the elements of emotional surprises blend so well.
After Love also challenges the character to reevaluate the understanding of the religion and test her faith on both bullet incidents. One that she lost her husband and two, she discovered that there was another house and family he kept without her notice. It brings a lot of questions about the plot and Mary’s quest for the answers she never imagined to ask; did Ahmed lie or cheat with Mary? Was Ahmed scared to inform her and maintained the secret? Was Mary the one to lose her temper had Ahmed ever let her know? Because at least the French connection was aware that Ahmed had a wife in Dover and preferred to stay with her. Was religion or the teachings Ahmed had educated Mary were misleading with his deception or an unwanted defense? Was Ahmed to be adjudged amongst one of those thousands of global immigrants who marry a local citizen to get nationalize? It is nowhere propaganda against one nation as the director Aleem Khan himself is a British Pakistani.
After Love is melancholic and a sad tale of losing your beloved and struggling to react to the choices made by the deceased. The plot has made rounds but the detailing and the trajection of hypnosis that carries the burden on the characters is what makes this film a brilliant case study of human affairs.
Tariq Ali’s book ‘The Leopard and the Fox’ was published in 2006 but the inception, of what became a British problem for the broadcasting company tackling with the foreign policy, occurred twenty years back. In mid-1985, BBC’s Head of Drama, Robin Midgley approached Tariq Ali and commissioned him to write a three-part limited series about the trials and execution of Pakistan’s former prime minister and the founder of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. The author agreed and worked on the story for the next few months.
At the beginning of the next year, Tariq Ali had completed his writing. In fact, the discussions went to the next phase about the casting for the political characters where Ziya Mohyeddin and Naseeruddin Shah were opined to play General Zia-ul-Haq and Bhutto respectively. Further discussions suggested that the makers wanted Angelica Huston and Sian Thomas to play Benazir Bhutto and Nusrat Bhutto respectively. But things stood without motion and in a few weeks, the proceedings halted when the hierarchy of BBC took the rounds of reading Tariq’s script in its entirety and asked Tariq to meet and discuss.
Eventually, the meetings failed to reach some agreement and the project was shelved after the script made the big bosses uncomfortable. The fire that was to rise, the spark that was to shine, the flame that was to ignite, all watered down.
WHAT WERE THE ODDS?
The most obvious reason for that the BBC dodged and overlooked the production is the interference of the government who didn’t want to bring their position on the West fighting the Russians in Afghanistan in jeopardy. General Zia was the US’s most valuable ally and airing a limited series about Zia in a negative portrayal would have risen the political eyebrows and questioned their government about their cooperation and commitment.
The American interests came between the productional body, and the environment within the BBC became more political than the upcoming BBC show. This gives an impression that perhaps BBC wanted to air a show that pleases American friends. But they made the mistake of offering the project to Tariq Ali. Maybe because they were not aware of his rebellious nature. Tariq Ali had been in the rallies against the Pakistan military and the US wars in the past. So I refuse to believe that they were not aware of him. It is just an assumption.
But it is quite awkward from the British part that BBC will make a mistake to offer him. Tariq Ali landed on British soil for the very reason of his anti-military nature. His military uncle warned his parents that he will not be able to protect him if he continued his lobby against the military. Therefore, his parents moved him to the UK and admitted him to Exeter College, Oxford to study Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE).
If things were not going in BBC’s way, they could also have changed the writer with a new script draft instead of shelving the project. So I am not sure about the circumstances.
THE BOOK, THE BAD, AND THE UGLINESS
106 scenes in 167 pages were written about the final days of Bhutto. I am believing that all that was written was not at all true but partially fictional. Because if 80% of what is all written in the book is accurate, the book richly deserves to release its television adaptation.
Being a film critic myself, reading a script based on Pakistan’s infamous political event that set the example of the most brutal military dictatorship and authoritative enforcements made me visualize how the military meetings and suppression of the Bhuttos in the book would have made it on the camera. Imagining Rawalpindi aerial shots with the demonstrators clashing with the police, the sound recording of the bullets firing on the roaring protestors, and the sound of tear gas would have given adrenalin if the chosen director would have shot this with meticulous care. Imagine someone like Oliver Stone, Roman Polanksi, or Ridley Scott shooting this demonstration scene.
Bhutto’s parties were written that develop a dubious environment where chess players find corners to establish evil whispers and understand the political game. Whiskey was a common drink in the entire book and it is an open secret that Bhutto was addicted to drinking. The military is portrayed not as a powerful force but puppets who are to follow the orders of the outsiders and change the political environment. The military maintains innocence and tries to convince that they have no ambition in politics. Bhutto has a dark theory since the start of the book that they wanted their head and bottoms out of leadership for purpose.
Reading this book got exciting when the script began to scream where Bhutto was losing his strength as the country’s leader and the military was about to take the advantage of his jaw-dropping speech. The intensity of the story from scene 33 is unusual. The buildup of the military’s takeover and Bhutto’s first two arrests are written exceptionally well. It gives you that horror that you do not ask for while you try to say peace at night and suddenly all hell breaks down. The application of that hell was gripping.
Some references were funny, interesting, and thoughtful. Like Bhutto mentioning Kissinger’s curse, and the wife of a famous politician who stole panties in Marks and Spencers. No name was mentioned in the book as the incident was enough to guess who brought shame with this crime of shoplifting. It was Wali Khan’s wife Nasim Wali Khan who was caught red-handed at Kensington in the late 1970s. There is an interesting guess when the Chief Justice asks the judge if he has a nephew in the army. That would be the author Tariq Ali himself who was a nephew to a military uncle.
The courtroom scenes were pretty short and Bhutto’s episodic speech ran with the change of dates. Here, I expected broader detailing because a story like this humongously demands an enormous courtroom scene where the trials and tribunals make the reader (and the television audience) pessimistic and thoughtful at the same time. A specific courtroom scene edges you to incline on one part of the theory but the book in its entirety is strictly biased towards one side. I feel some portions of writing must have compelled both the leopard and the fox to challenge the goods, the bads, and the ugliness of their characters. I am on Bhutto’s side but as a reader or an observer, I wanted to see both the parties being judged on the same scale, I wanted to see the wrongs of Bhutto and the rights of General Zia too.
I also wanted to realize how the episodes were separated. There is no division of episodes at all. Pretty sure the story didn’t conclude well. I mean the reader knows how the story will end but unfortunately, the technical finishing was missing. After all the buildup of Bhutto’s final days as the leader, the trials, and Zia’s martial law, the story abruptly ended in a jiffy.
The book holds a lot of questions. Reading both the appendices is a must. Because when you read those appendices, a lot of theories and questions give birth. The value of the subject is computed. The assumptions and probabilities from the trials and the military meetings are figured out. The complexity of the global politics that was played in the 1970s, the conflicts that were raised from the West, USSR, Gulf, and the South Asian countries were vast and the talks were unprecedented. Writing aside, a history check is a must.
Why do the Americans want Bhutto’s ass out of the equation as the ruling head? Was the then US government giving orders to the generals in Pakistan? Was Bhutto’s execution necessary? Were the judges involved in the conspiracy?
Anyone can read this book. The book has a simple vocabulary. No strong advanced literature. It is a script, you may imagine as a theatrical play. The Leopard and the Fox is not a history book but a play about history. So you may say that the writing is inspired by true events.
Is reading this story important? See, if you are looking for some answers, you may not get it but reading about this infamous event will give birth to an idea that changed Pakistan’s political situation forever. For those who seek, they can learn a lot of deal about one segment of international politics.
It doesn’t matter if you were or are on the leopard’s side or the fox’s because the painful fact is that between the lines of Bhutto-Zia political rivalry and the interference of the then American government, it was Pakistan as a whole that met social, cultural, political, and economic damages and couldn’t ever recover after that.
The poor father-son duo of Albert Steptoe and Harold Steptoe run a rag-and-bone business while living in Shepherd’s Bush, London. With time, Harold’s desires and aspirations meet Albert’s rigid tendency of accepting change. His naivety irritates Harold and pretends to be ill if the son leaves to live some portion of his life on his own. Dirty ol’ man Albert lies to unsuccessfully avoid the blame for his mischievous blunders. Albert jeopardizes wherever Harold takes him, say cinema, restaurant, party. The best writing lies in the generational conflict of these two characters for eight seasons and they never disappoint at all.
The old BBC classic sitcoms were always known for their rich content, especially a thoughtful theme on which the quality of humor was so delicate and rib-tickling. Steptoe and Son (1962-1974) is an influential and groundbreaking sitcom that made its rounds in British households in the early 1960s, right on time. Because around three million people in Britain were living on the poverty line. So this sitcom was a fit for their sentiments, especially for the Cockneys.
I will not skip mentioning both the leading actors, Wilfrid Brambell and Harry H. Corbett. I mean what better father-son chemistry you will ask for. The generational conflict and comic timing between them were so striking and growing their partnership with the viewers for years being the only two major characters of the show is extremely difficult. Even Sandford and Son needed the assistance of the supporting characters, especially Aunt Esther but the original show remained constrained.
Another significance of this sitcom is its cult status in Britain. Steptoe and Son was easily the first well-known British sitcom about a working-class, describing poor working men living without women in different setups. You can take an example of Ronnie Barker‘s Porridge and Open All Hours in the 1970s or most specifically the greatest British sitcom, Only Fools and Horses. The sitcom’s international influence can be measured by the fact that American tv producer and developer Norman Lear adapted the show and created Red Foxx starred Sanford And Son for NBC. 16 of Steptoe and Son episodes were recreated in the American adaptation. Steptoe & Son helped Norman Lear build his legacy in the 1970s when his developed sitcoms on NBC and CBS dominated the decade.
Had Steptoe & Son never happened, I wonder what the state of comedy would be in both regions. This is easily one of the best British sitcoms I have ever watched.
My favorite Steptoe and Son episodes: 01 – Season.1 – Episode.1 – The Offer 02 – Season.1 – Episode.2 – The Bird 03 – Season.1 – Episode.3 – The Piano 04 – Season.1 – Episode.4 – The Economist 05 – Season.2 – Episode.2 – The Bath 06 – Season.2 – Episode.4 – Sixty-Five Today 07 – Season.2 – Episode.6 – Full House 08 – Season.2 – Episode.7 – Is That Your Horse Outside? 09 – Season.3 – Episode.1 – Homes Fit For Heroes 10 – Season.3 – Episode.2 – The Wooden Overcoats 11 – Season.3 – Episode.4 – Steptoe à la Cart 12 – Season.3 – Episode.5 – Sunday for Seven Days 13 – Season.4 – Episode.2 – Crossed Swords 14 – Season.5 – Episode.1 – A Death in the Family 15 – Season.6 – Episode.1 – Robbery with Violence 16 – Season.6 – Episode.2 – Come Dancing 17 – Season.6 – Episode.3 – Two’s Company 18 – Season.6 – Episode.5 – Without Prejudice 19 – Season.6 – Episode.6 – Pot Black 20 – Season.7 – Episode.3 – Oh, What a Beautiful Mourning 21 – Season.7 – Episode.4 – Live Now, P.A.Y.E. Later 22 – Season.7 – Episode.6 – Divided We Stand 23 – Season.8 – Episode.2 – And So To Bed 24 – Season.8 – Episode.3 – Porn Yesterday 25 – Season.8 – Episode.4 – The Seven Steptoerai 26 – Season.8 – Episode.5 – Upstairs, Downstairs, Upstairs, Downstairs 27 – Season.8 – Episode.6 – Seance in a Wet Rag and Bone Yard