By Maliha Rehman
Why would one want to watch a nearly two and a half hour long telefilm? It was a thought that came to mind when 7th Sky Entertainment began rolling out teasers to their telefilm Ruposh a few weeks prior to its TV launch.
The teasers were hard to miss – it was very evidently one of the production company’s prime projects and the teasers constantly airing on Geo Entertainment were calculated to generate hype amongst the audience. It was also conjectured that with Haroon Kadwani, the son of 7th Sky Productions’ Abdullah Kadwani, playing the male lead, the production company was bound to go full throttle with promoting the telefilm.
Also, the production company, ruling the roost with their sky-high viewership ratings all through the past two years, tends to market their prime products with great gusto. Only recently, their drama Khuda aur Mohabbat 3 benefitted greatly through aggressive marketing and regular teasers. Each YouTube record was celebrated with grand announcements on social media. The same promotional machinery was applied to Ruposh.
But marketing can only generate curiosity – would audiences sit and watch a long telefilm which, based on the teasers, was going to be an angsty, heavily emotional ride charting the travails endured by young love? Evidently, they did.
Nearly two weeks following its release, the YouTube viewership charts indicate that whopping millions of people have sat and invested more than two hours of their time into watching Ruposh. The telefilm crossed the 50 million views mark in two weeks and has raked in a total of 382 million views across all digital platforms including TikTok. Instagram and YouTube.
The OST by Wajhi Farooki has its own fan-following, with more than 15 million views.
There is nothing particularly new about Ruposh’s storyline – it’s a good old fashioned college romance ridden with ups and downs. There is a hero burdened by the emotional baggage of his past, a heroine who is pure at heart, some loyal friends, a few bad people here and there, some music, a few fights, the whole shebang. It’s a story that we’re all familiar with – but it’s also a story that hadn’t been told on Pakistani TV before.
At a time when cinemas had been shut down for nearly two years, Ruposh delivered on unabashed filmy-ness. Think all the romances that used to be huge hits back in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s, the college love stories that would be all the rage – Ruposh is cut from the same fabric. A few tweaks here and there, and it could have been a movie for the cinema screen but Pakistani cinema is barely afloat right now while TV’s popularity has trebled. Besides, TV is a playing field that 7th Sky Entertainment is very familiar with and one where they tend to score high. Why would they take a risk with cinema when they could win ratings on TV?
Ruposh’s very young, good-looking cast had its own appeal. At a time when veritably all popular TV heroes and heroines are in their late 20’s or even, 30’s, here was a young lead pair; fresh, starry-eyed, raring to go. We’ve seen 30-somethings enact college students far too many times but Haroon Kadwani and Kinza Hashmi genuinely looked the part.
Having said this, there were points where both actors could have performed better, some heavily emotional scenes that could have been ironed out with more subtle acting rather than a profusion of tears. Nevertheless, both young actors held their own in characters that were replete with arcs. These weren’t performances that would win awards – but they showed potential. Kinza can play the young, dewy-eyed girl very well and fans have been Tweeting ‘Crush Updated’ alongside Haroon Kadwani’s picture. Again, in a field thronged by middle-aged heroes, a young early 20-something is refreshing.
But while Ruposh may have been a success, it also propelled a few disgruntled observers to shout out ‘nepotism’. Could Haroon Kadwani’s acting have had been highlighted with such a prime project had it not been for his family background? Perhaps not. The same criticism can be directed towards hundreds of actors around the world who follow the footsteps of their famous parents and are more easily able to launch into careers of their own thanks to their surnames. Now that he is out in the spotlight, though, Haroon will have to prove his mettle. The scrutiny on him is quite intense and should he falter, the criticism can be brutal. While a famous surname is a blessing, it also has its burdens.
So far, so good. Ruposh brings forward two actors that, with a bit of brushing up, are very promising. It also may have started off a trend where telefilms don’t have to be limited to stories of war and patriotic brouhaha. Instead, they can simply bring a whiff of old-school cinema to TV screens.
It’s why people watched Ruposh. Two hours 21 minutes of entertainment and romance, saved for a weekend night – preferably with some popcorn at hand!