Unlike every week, when I sign off with acknowledging Umera, Sarmad and team SeZ for a job well-done, I would like to begin this week with a heartfelt thank you to all involved with the project. Beginning with 7th Sky and MD Productions, Momina Duraid, Umera Ahmed, Sarmad Khoosat, to the technical crew, the creative team, the editing team, to Khizar Idrees, and of course last but not the least, the absolutely brilliant cast – muchas gracias!!
Why a thank you? Thank you because team SeZ has made us think, reflect, and ponder… for sixteen weeks now they have been holding up the mirror and compelling us to re-evaluate our thoughts, words, and deeds. Week after week, as Falak has journeyed from wujood to zaat, we have been right alongside her in this quest to find some solace, some solutions, to questions that almost all of us have asked at some point or other in our lives: Why me? Why now? Why this? Why that? What have I done wrong? Why am I being punished?
Shehr-e Zaat has beautifully highlighted that answers do not lie outside of ourselves, they are infact within us, all that is required is a realization of error of our ways, and then asking for forgiveness. It is not about guilt but about acknowledging mistakes. It is easier to assign responsibility on extenuating circumstances rather than owning up to the stark reality that it is us, we ourselves, who have to shoulder the blame for deluding ourselves into forgetting the difference between majazi and haqiqi, between faani and baaqi, between social friends, to whom we give so much time, and the Real Friend, for whom we cannot find even a moment to spare.
What we are being shown here is that it not about shunning all and retreating inwards, rather it is about ascetic spiritualism as was highlighted last week. It is about being able to find the right balance between deen and duniya, recognizing the distinction between zaroorat and khawhish and chaah, and about owning up to personal responsibility. This is the path that Falak is now trying to tread, a middle ground between what naani is teaching her now and what Mehrunissa had taught her before.
After Falak, it was now Mehrunissa’s turn to see her true reflection in the mirror – stripped of all social trappings, this was not the confident socialite we had seen all along. This was an anguished and tormented Mehrunissa, a gorgeous butterfly whose shiny wings had been cruelly pulled apart, by those very people to whom she had given so much of herself. Blamed by her daughter, reprimanded by her husband, chided by her mother, and cruelly gossiped about among her friends, Mehrunissa ultimately was forced to awaken from her slumber in the wee hours of the night, and listen to that which her khaali makaan had been telling her all along. Hina Bayat, I am gobsmacked…
This penultimate episode has left me speechless. I am still recovering from the impact of the beauty and intensity of all that we saw today. Ostensibly a slower episode there was so much simmering just below the surface, setting it up beautifully for a memorable finale. Falak has now started emerging out of the darkness of her past. In some ways she is like a newborn child, beginning with a fresh slate, learning anew how to forge a relationship with her Creator. There are many things that children are taught as prescriptive rituals – reading the Quran, offering namaz – once the child has “learnt” them, people tend to move on thinking their job is done. The wuzu scene was very moving, the guileless manner in Falak looks to the young girl to teach her the correct way was so moving, and so telling in many ways. This is so not the same girl we met fourteen fifteen weeks ago, the one whom I had affectionately nicknamed flighty Falak, the girl who wore red lipstick and high heels and brightly colored designer wear- this is a new woman altogether, one learning to live all over again – excellent stuff by Mahira Khan.
Speaking of the differences, the earlier Falak was a very confident girl, and interestingly enough the Falak we saw today is also a confident girl, the biggest difference though, lies in that earlier she derived her confidence, or rather her arrogance, from her looks and her social status, whereas this Falak draws strength from within herself, from her new found relationship with God. It is this faith that gives her the courage to face up to the mess of her marriage, try to figure it out on her own rather than hiding behind her parents, or letting Salman make the final call, or getting a divorce. While her parents push for divorce, it is surely the easiest way out, this mature Falak weighs naani’s advice against that of her parents and then forges her own path. Rather than wondering about could’ve and should’ve she decides to take the bull by the horns and go confront Salman and figure out for herself what she wants, a move away from the original novella, empowering Falak more so than in the original – I am intrigued to see how the end will play out.
The confrontation between Falak and Tabinda was beyond brilliant. Without resorting to anything overt, it was superb the way Sarmad and Nadia underscored the myriads of ways in which the coarse Tabinda was the antithesis of the cultured Falak. The messed bedroom (my OCD self was very perturbed), Tabinda’s crude lingo, her body language, her drinking soda straight from the bottle, all went a long way towards nullifying her Wayfarers and designer duds and blow-dried hair. Clearly glitzy packaging cannot transform the real Tabinda. But does it really matter anymore that Tabinda is uncouth and crass?
Nadia Afgan is an very talented actress and a beautiful woman, and I think its high time producers showed some imagination and initiative and looked beyond outdated and narrowly constructed societal stereotypes for heroines. Girl, I have my fingers crossed for you!
In what was a lovely episode overall, the best scene had to be one where Falak read the Quran. I am often harsh on the editors, but today the layering of Falak’s stumbling reading of the Quran with naani’s reading and then that overlayed with naani’s explanations was just magnificent. Add to this Mahira’s facial and Samina Peerzada’s vocal expressions and the overall impact was just wow! I was in tears and had goosebumps all over – sheer brilliance!!
As if I haven’t said this a thousand times before already, let me reiterate it one more time: I love Shehr-e Zaat!!
Written by SZ~