Aaye thay sabhi tarah ke jalwey mere aage
main ne magar aye deeda-ye hairan nahin dekha;
Zahid ne mera haasil-e imaan nahin dekha
rukh par teri zulfon ko pareeshan nahin dekha
About three or so years ago, a beautifully delusional Falak sat pretty in her bedroom, secure in her love for Salman. Even as everybody around cautioned her about her choice, warned her that in her obsession for him she was attributing qualities to Salman that he did not possess. He was not the epitome of perfection that she was making him out to be. Naani reprimanded her that she was turning a mere mortal into divinity – he could not give her all that she wanted, neither could he be all that she wanted. At that time, however, Falak had easily swatted away those pesky rebukes and naani’s naseehats; her silent response to all these unsolicited mushwaras: They who admonish me have not seen him, he who is my haasil-e imaan; they have not seen my beloved the way I have. No matter how much other beauty there is around me, I see none of it; everything pales in comparison to one glimpse of my beloved.
Fast forward to today, all those long-forgotten thoughts came crashing back, hitting Falak like a tidal wave, as she came face to face with her rival, Tabinda. Here it was, the ultimate truth staring her in the face. It didn’t matter who Tabinda was, what her physical appearance was, what her social status was, nothing was important, nothing mattered. What mattered was that Tabinda mattered to Salman. Salman had become today what Falak had been three years ago – blinded, infatuated, led to see things and appreciate qualities that perhaps do not exist in the person standing before her. Excellent placement of Asghar Gondvi’s kalaam, magnificently sung by Abida Parveen, first in episode 8 and then today, to highlight the stark change in Falak’s predicament.
Stunned by the magnitude of this discovery, hit by the force of the truth reflected in the mirror called Tabinda, Falak appeared to be at a loss for words, all she could do was to stagger out of the office. Haunted by echoes of the faqir’s long forgotten words, trying desperately to wash off all the grime that seemed to be sticking to every part of her body, Falak began to transform inwardly. That one look in the mirror had done for her what years of naani’s naseehats could not do. She realized for herself how helpless humans actually are, we might think we know it all and do it all, but ultimately it all boils down to that one benevolent glance from the ultimate Beloved. For Falak, the journey, from wujood to zaat, had begun.
Kya kya hua hangaam-e junoon yeh nahin maloom
kuch hosh jo aaya toh gareeban nahin dekha
Evolutions/transitions, call it what you may, are by their very nature difficult, more so here, in Falak’s case. This is not about the changing of a job, or a house, or a lifestyle, this is about Falak taking stock of her entire life and realizing that everything she once held to be true is based on a flawed understanding of the whole picture. In reality she is smaller than even the smallest of specks, a mere nothing. As Falak begins to see glimpses of the profundity which had eluded her before, she is overwhelmed, overcome by a feeling of nothingness, filled with a sense off utter loneliness, not knowing where to turn, and whom to seek guidance from – so much to take in and so much to re-evaluate. Falak, who’s never had to deal with anything of this magnitude cannot deal with this and suffers a nervous breakdown. This situation, that Falak finds herself in, is it merely her mother’s fault, or is it the whole social set up that we live in that causes us to obfuscate the Truth and spend an entire lifetime deluding ourselves. Important questions, beautifully posed.
Once the introspective process begins, Falak cannot but help question what went wrong where. The scene, about the mard being a darwaza, and how it is the woman who hands him the power over her soul, her self-esteem, her entire sense of being, was beautifully done. Mahira Khan was exceptional in this episode, her silent confrontation with Nadia Afgan, the shower scene, her breakdown, her dead-eyed look in the hospital and later, as if a light bulb had been turned off inside of her, were all applause worthy moments for me. The particular scene, sitting by the pond, where she is ostensibly talking to Mehrunnisa, but perhaps more just talking to herself, caught as she is a maelstrom of emotions, was simply exquisite. Mehrunnisa’s perturbed expressions, as her formerly flighty daughter went on and on, about things that Mehrunnisa herself was at a loss to understand, were outstanding. Hina Bayat has been fabulous throughout, her confrontation with Mikaal, in the hospital, was amazing, but her scenes with Mahira and Samina Peerzada are something else altogether. The chemistry between this talented trio is lip-smackingly delicious.
The final scene, where Mehrunnisa brings naani to see Falak, was wow – just wow! I’ve watched this scene, ending with the shot of the three women standing in silhouette, quite a few times now and I get goose bumps every time. I’m not a huge fan of voice-overs, but for once I was completely sold. The juxtapostioning of the dil ajeeb shai hai naani lines with the shot of a teary-eyed Falak, as she slowly got up to meet naani, who waited with her arms outstretched, while Mehrunnisa looked on lovingly, was such a brilliant way to end an exceptional installment. Kudos to Khizar Idrees, Sarmad, Mahira, Hina, Samina, and the techies involved – what a gem of a scene!
While this is primarily Falak’s story, it is also the story of all those around her, not only her supporters, her parents, naani, Rushna, and Hamza, but as much a story of those who place obstacles in her path as well – Salman, aka the darwaza, being the biggest one. Mikaal is simply superb, not to mention unquestionably drool-worthy, as the arrogant, uncaring, unfeeling husband who has zero qualms discussing a divorce while his wife recovers from a nervous breakdown. There is absolutely no remorse in his expressions as he cold-bloodedly informs his parents he has done no wrong. Similarly there is not even an iota of guilt in Tabinda’s body language, first in her meeting with Falak and later in her nonchalant phone call with Salman. Though Nadia Afgan is spot on as the uncouth Tabinda, my problem is that I find her too adorable to be annoyed with her as shohar chor, chalak aurat. Sigh! I guess I’ll just try a bit harder to hate her the next time I see her as Tabinda.
After all this, do I need to say that every week I find myself a little bit more in love with Shehr-e Zaat? Umera Ahmed and Sarmad Khoosat, take bow!
Written by SZ~