Gender role reversals and a ‘hate-to-love story’ laced with comical fights and brilliantly done characters define Hum TV’s Hum Tum. Coming from the writer-director duo Saima Akram Chaudhry and Danish Nawaz who gave us Chupke Chupke last Ramadan, Hum Tum is, in all actuality, “a modern, humorous and very ‘21st Century’” series, as the Hum TV YouTube channel defines it.
It is the refreshingly imaginative character development intertwined with social messaging that makes it worth-watching. The three Qutub Mahal ki Shehzadiyan, as the stern Professor Qutub Ud Din (Adnan Jaffar) calls his daughters; Maha (Sara Khan), Neha (Ramsha Khan) and Sasha (Anoosheh Rania Khan) are extremely street smart and confident sisters who are also academically inclined and excelling due to their intelligence.
Maha is a calorie-conscious yogi and a student of psychology, Neha is rebellion-driven and a Chemistry genius, and Sasha is an expert hacker. Yet, much to the chagrin of their father, they are far from the disciplined homemakers-in-the-making who would allow him to hold his head high. Continuously feeling burdened in the absence of a son, he does not waste any opportunity to berate his wife, Ulfat (Arjumand Rahim), especially about the brought up of their daughters.
Being the butt of her husband’s criticism has left Ulfat annoyed and sulking for the most part. The girls find solace with their free-spirited and loving TikToker grandfather (Mohammed Ahmed), a.k.a. Daddoo Handsome – his TikTok handle! Daddoo is the sisters’ partner-in-crime and quite ardently censures any stereotypes in favour of his family, especially his grand-daughters, including those put across by his son.
At the very height of smashing gender stereotypes in Hum Tum are the sughrapey ki misaal brothers, Sarmad (Junaid Khan) and Adam (Ahad Raza Mir) living next door. It’s the lack of chauvinism that make the two so endearing. They are their mother Haleema’s (Munazzah Arif) household help, are great cooks and dote over their younger sister Mili (Aina Asif) boasting of no egos in ironing her clothes or fixing her hair.
Sarmad excels at cooking and owns the restaurant Sarmad Kay Chatkharey, would not go near course books even if his life depended on it and is maddeningly in love with Maha. Adam is almost OCD about cleanliness, respects Professor Qutub like the father he never had yet hates Neha with a passion, a brilliant Chemistry student, is caring and intelligent yet annoyed easily.
On the other hand, their father Sultan (Farhan Ally Agha) is the personification of societal pressures – an educated yet habitual bettor, who hates any form of work, basks in the fact that he has two sons and keeps reminding his childhood friend Professor Qutub about the latter’s burden of three daughters. There is nothing that Sultan cannot find faults with, selfishly demands money from his sons, is never thankful nor appreciative nor respectful towards anyone and plays no role in supporting his family.
Rather it was Haleema who brought the children up by catering office lunches. Perhaps it was this Halima and Sultan reference from Ertugrul that the writer wanted to drive home keeping the fallacies of the Pakistani society in perspective.
A highly contrasting yet another stereotypical character in the Sultan household is Tamanna Naani (Uzma Baig), with an online matchmaking business. Tamanna Naani is tapori-tongued, obsessed with finding popat larkiyan for her boys, yet all of the couples that she has helped match either get divorced or are mismatched to start off with.
The series explores a number of societal themes that deem change comically and lightheartedly through its characters. The impact stern parenting has on children in the form of Neha’s rebellion and the careless lengths she is willing to go to, to get what she wants; how societal pressure forces parents to look away from reality when considering suitors for their daughters; how people frustrated with themselves like Sultan end up being caustic towards those around them; Adam’s outburst at street harassment; how the birth of a daughter is not the mother’s fault etc.
It will be interesting to see Ulfat’s character coming out from being sandwiched in the middle, trying to keep a balance between her husband’s polar personality and her daughters’ demands to stand her own ground.
Besides the storyline, the soundtrack is catchy with vocals by Ali Zafar and Damiya Farooq and interesting lyrics penned in typical rom-com style by Qamar Nashad. Some performances may feel overdone at times, especially those by the child stars; yet overall the social messages that the writer seems to want to drive home are very well executed by the actors.