Shehr-e Zaat – Episode 8 Review

Why is it that even after having gotten her heart’s desire, Salman, Falak still feels unfulfilled? She was very familiar with his boorishness, so why does Salman’s attitude bother her now? Though she had earlier assured Salman that her love would be enough for the two of them, why is she now yearning for more? Why is she haunted by doubts and misgivings? Why is she now annoyed with him and his mood swings? What is that indefinable something that still remains elusive?

The clue to understanding Falak’s dilemma lies in naani’s gentle reprimand: do not make Salman into something he’s not; do not turn a mere mortal into divinity. He cannot give you all that you want, he cannot be all that you want. Salman is after all only human, warts and all, do not go look for perfection in him – he is not and cannot be perfect, that is an attribute reserved only for God. It is only to Falak’s infatuated eyes that he appears flawless and special – otherwise he is as flawed and as ordinary as anybody else around her.

For Falak, naani’s gentle rebukes and Rushna’s well-meaning advice all fall on deaf ears. Asghar Gondvi’s exquisite lyrics give voice beautifully to Falak’s silent response to all these mashwaras: They who admonish me have not seen the one who is my haasil-e imaan; they have not seen my beloved the way I have. No matter how much other beauty might be around me, everything pales  when compared to one sight of my beloved. The particular use of this poetry, referring to the poet’s ecstatic description of the Beloved’s beauty and his love for the Beloved – God, to highlight Falak’s mindset, aptly reiterate naani’s earlier reproof, Falak has equated Salman with divinity, put him on a pedestal and made him the master of her destiny. Lovely use of esoteric poetry in the background to substantiate the difference between majazi and haqeeqi, adding so much more depth to the onscreen narrative and tying up so many threads, without long preachy dialogues. Excellently done!

Suffice it to say, Falak dances to Salman’s tune. One clumsy apology, one word of semi-praise from Salman is enough to raise her to the seventh heaven, and his temper tantrums fling her in to the deepest and darkest of abysses. Having lost all sense of self, so desperate is Falak that she is willing to go to any length to get Salman’s love, including stooping as low as requesting the maid to bring her a taweez and dhaga, which would ostensibly keep Salman tied to her.

What Falak fails to realize is that while she is driving herself into a frenzy over Salman, there is so much else around her that she blithely takes for granted. Though she doesn’t she see it that way, there is so much to be thankful for in her life. Rather than offering shukranas, for all the blessings which she’s been showered with so generously, Falak takes it all in her stride as her due right. But again as naani points out to her daughter, there is an eventual hisaab for everything. All israaf, luxuries, over indulgences, useless expenses, all have to be accounted for; be they rich or poor, all are equally answerable for their actions, words, and deeds.

Though both mother and daughter laugh off naani’s words, one is left with a disquieting feeling that despite their easy dismissal, the day of reckoning is not as far as many of us might think it to be. Even though the servants feel they are only ones who are to be held accountable, it is actually the same for everyone across the board. In the eyes of God all are equal, whether one walks on foot or travels in a chauffeur driven car, all are same, all held to the same standards.

Shehr-e Zaat continues to mesmerize, enchant, and enthrall. Each episode opens up new avenues of reflection, taking us all a step further along the path as we make the metaphorical journey from wujood to zaat, compelling an inward  consideration of who we were, who we’ve become, and where do we go from here – truly a connoisseur’s delight. All actors are doing complete justice to their very complex characters. The technical and creative crews deserve applause for their efforts. Above all, kudos to Umera and Sarmad, the writer and the narrator, you guys keep hitting it out of the park every week!

Do I need to say I’m in love?

Written by SZ~

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