Yaar ko hum ne jaa ba jaa dekha
Kahin zaahir kahin chhupa dekha
Hazrat Shah Niaz
Hairat ma raaz-e do jahan be niaz kard
Een khwab kaar-e daulat-e bedaar mi kunad
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
Na makeen hai nay makaan hai, na zameen hai nay zamaan hai
Dil-e-benawa ne meray, wahan chhawni hai chhaii
Na visaal hai na hijraan, na suroor hai na gham hai
Jise kahiye khwab-e ghaflat, so woh neend mujh ko aayi
Mujhe bekhudi yeh tu ne ….
Hazrat Shah Niaz
Rarely have background songs been used as judiciously as seen in the case of Shehr-e Zaat. A careful piecing together of selections from kalaams of various Sufi poets to highlight the different phases of Falak’s journey – from the realm of the material to that of the spiritual, from temporal to eternal, from faani to baqi, from wujood to zaat – as she goes from being a reflection in the mirror to ultimately becoming the mirror itself, one that reflects the ultimate Beloved – God.
Throughout, I have been calling Shehr-e Zaat a story of mirrors and reflections. Falak, Salman, Hamza, each mirroring the other’s actions and deeds, and each thinking he/she is right and it’s the others who are misguided. Hamza blithely dispensed advice to Falak, oblivious to the fact that he needed to heed some of his own counsel. Initially, Salman appeared to be beyond the inanities of the messy emotion called love, but then fell equally madly, if not more so, in love with the highly unsuitable Tabinda. Falak turned a deaf ear to all those who reproached and set Salman up on a pedestal so high that he appeared almost divine. Madly in love, all three seemingly rational adults appeared to turn into frenzied moths, magnetically drawn to the enticingly bright flame, uncaring of the dire consequences. Dancing to the tune of an unheard melody the moths get closer and closer to the flame until they find their destiny in the arms of the flame. The dance of the moths ceases. Come morning, long after the flame had burned out, all that remain are the ashes. This is where most stories end, with a strong lecture about the consequences of not doing the right thing, not heeding the advice of the elders, not doing this, not doing that…. azaab, azaab, azaab…
The beauty of Umera Ahmed’s Shehr-e Zaat lies in that unlike others, it does not end on a moralizing high note; rather it continues on with the story of the morning-after, holding out hope for all of us Falaks out there. As naani comforts a disconsolate Falak: Abhi waqt nahin guzra beta, namaaz parh, Allah ko yaad kar, Allah kehta hai jab insaan Allah ko yaad karta hai, tau Allah bhi insaan ko yaad karta hai … in short, never too late to beg for forgiveness, to start over…
Apna hi aks pesh-e-nazar dekhte rahe
Aaina rubaru tha jidhar dekhte rahe
The Falak we saw today was like a phoenix rising from its ashes. This new Falak has seen the error of her ways, seen the darkness of her soul reflected in the mirror and is now trying to move forward and find ways to rectify past errors, cleanse her soul, and polish her internal mirror. That’s why she has no bitterness towards Salman, as she tells Rushna, he is as helpless as she was earlier, nor does she have any recriminations for her in-laws, after all it is not their fault that their son is behaving as he is. Woh tau wohi dekh raha hai jo Allah us ko dikhana chah raha hai, wohi kar raha hai jo Allah us se karwana chahta hai…
Given that God is not a physical object that can be found by searching in the nooks and crannies of her house, Falak is running around helter-skelter in her search for Him – going to the faqir’s abandoned hut, asking naani, talking to Rushna, talking to her mother, and later to Hamza. Ostensibly interacting with others, Falak’s conversations are all introspective in nature. The questions she puts to others, the explanations she offers, all are dialogues with her inner self. Whether she realizes it or not Falak is well on her way to find her heart’s desire, after all isn’t her yaar jaa ba jaa, although kahin zaahir kahin chhupa? Your mirror needs just a little bit more of a rub, Falak!
Now that Falak is well on her way to “finding” God, it is interesting to see people around her, her friends and family, becoming distinctly uncomfortable with her refrain of what Allah wants what Allah does and what Allah can do, hence their suggestion that she seek professional help. I look forward to seeing how Falak grows in this process and what kind of a Falak we get to meet at the other end of this inwards journey. Her very poignant conversation with Hamza hints at butterfly that is going to soon emerge from its chrysalis- a butterfly that is not only outwardly gorgeous but glowing inside as well.
The mud scene, which we had been waiting for since the promos, happened, and it was everything and beyond. Falak’s painful desperation, her frenzied rush to expunge all that she sees as having previously done wrong – her unfocused glazed eyes, her initial zombie-like state, and later snapping out of it to lose all semblance of sanity as she desperately dug in the dirty water, trying to find that elusive something – all spoke volumes. While it was Falak who held everybody’s attention, I found it difficult to look away from Mehrunnisa. Hina Bayat had almost no lines, but her body language and expressions said it all. Here is a woman who has everything n more, but all the wealth in the world cannot ease an iota of the pain her daughter is going through. She is a woman so well-versed in the ways of the world, but here she’s completely at loss as to how to deal with this change in her daughter. Its not just Falak who has seen her true reflection – Mehrunnisa too is now standing in front of the unforgiving mirror, compelled to reflect on how and where it all went wrong. Hina Bayat is superb as the increasingly agitated Mehrunnisa.
Mahira Khan. Ever since the very first episode of Shehr-e Zaat aired, the big debate among viewers seems to have been whether Mahira was the correct choice for Falak or not. I think the last couple of episodes should have put an end to that; for those still on the fence I think this episode should definitely do it. After seeing her today as Falak, I watched a clip of Humsafar, and it was like watching two completely different women. Excellently done!!
Today’s episode marked the return of Hamza, what an impact Mohib Mirza has made in a relatively small role. Mansha Pasha also made her presence felt as the very concerned Rushna. Nadia Afgan was fabulous as the sautan, the chhaliya phankti and later spitting it out “very delicately” in a tissue, Tabinda. With her very casual mention of an ex-husband, a murder charge, doing jail time and the “kind” jailor – she had me in splits! What a stark difference between her and the genteel Falak. I’m so glad that the difference between the two women was underscored this way, rather than fixating on Tabinda’s “ugliness.” Mikaal Zulfiqar and Seemi Pasha were great in their scene by the pool.
As for naani, one sincere guzarish: Naani if you’re looking for another nawasi to adopt, can I be the first in line, please?!! LOVE Samina Peerzada, my words will not do her justice, so will not even try!
Yes, another one out of the park from Sarmad & Co. Don’t know how you guys are doing it, but keep at it – love watching every frame of Shehr-e Zaat. Can’t believe only three more weeks to go!
Written by SZ~