First things first – let me begin with a standing ovation for Samina Peerzada – what a performance! Her portrayal of Rafia, a woman who’s finally decided that she’s had enough of her husband’s bluster, is absolutely fabulous. Though Rafia never found the wherewithal to fight for her own rights, anxieties about her daughters’ futures give her the strength to go against a lifetime of social conditioning and take a stand against her verbally abusive husband. She is hurt and pained by Murtaza’s ongoing tirade against tumhari jaisi auratein, but remains steady in her resolve to not give in to his demands, be they about her daughters’ education, their rishtas, or about somebody else’s daughter’s admission. Go Rafia!
Alongside Rafia, Kashaf is another character that has really been developed well by the writer, director, and the actor. Much like a coconut, Kashaf is hard and rough on the outside; she has no problems in giving the metaphorical finger to the guys in her university, be it the arrogant Zaroon or the more thoughtful Osama, and does not think twice before telling off her father – this angry young girl is no wilting wallflower. But on the other hand, the private Kashaf is very soft, much like the inside of the coconut. Offhand comments like “you’re weird,” get to to her and affect her. Publicly she hides her insecurities behind a tough exterior, but the minute she walks into her house, her shield disappears and we see a more human Kashaf pop out. With all the various shades to her character, sensitive but surly, soft but abrasive, Kashaf is a tough nut to crack, but Sanam Saeed is doing complete justice to her role. Loving her here!
Completing Rafia’s family are Sidra and Shehnila. Both Mansha and Sana are doing a great job here. Usually siblings don’t get much to do in our serials and are there for an obligatory scene or two. Here, however, we actually get to see the very warm bonding between the mother and her three daughters. The way they offer their silent support to their mother is beautiful. Sidra is the daughter who shares her mother’s pain, calms the younger sister, and smilingly puts up with Kashaf’s constant complaints about everything and nothing. In many ways then Sidra is the one holding the family together – the rock that everyone looks to for support – I hope we continue seeing more of her. Mansha Pasha is great as Sidra!
Moving from Kashaf’s relatively more functional family, to Zaroon’s completely dysfunctional one – this track is still not cutting it with me. Fawad is great, yes we know that, but even Fawad with all his fabulousness cannot sell Zaroon to me. His double standards are just plain annoying. I would understand his concern for his sister if he was himself sitting at home waiting for her, but since this was so not the case, his lecture seemed out of place. I could have swallowed that, but then it turns out he’s looking out for her not because he cares, but out of concern for image and servants’ gossip – say what?? He can flirt all he wants with Asmara and the other women (sorry I refuse to call them pretty girls), but that’s somehow rationalized under the rubric of “friendship”?! Wah Zaroon! What fabulous double standards you have – not impressed!
While on Zaroon and his family’s characterization, why is it that all of Zaroon’s family seem to have come alive the day the serial started. Its as if they have no back stories and everything that’s happening here is taking place for the first time. In the last episode, Junaid’s surprise at his wife’s unannounced trip was difficult to comprehend They’ve lived together for so long, why was he so taken aback? Similarly Zaroon’s questioning his mother about her trip was strange. Hadn’t this happened before as well? Same thing with Junaid criticizing Sara’s inappropriate clothes. In this episode too, Zaroon getting mad about his sister’s later arrival seemed overdone. Surely they must’ve had these arguments many times before?
Apart from this peeve, it is interesting to see how the Zaroon-Kashaf track is being gradually built up. Despite their protestations to the contrary, both are intrigued by each other. The furtive sidelong glances and the check on each other’s activities is slowly being unfolded. The Osama -Kashaf scene and Zaroon’s response to their conversation was very played out. Shehryar, I was happy to say, came across much better here. I think a big reason for that was that this was one of the most natural scenes in an otherwise contrived university life story. It also helps that unlike our gum-chewing hero, Osama actually looks the part of a university student. While Shehryar was convincing, Asmara just continued to be her annoying clingy Zaarrrooon self – how can he even stand her?! Mehreen, you’re lovely and so much better than these roles – please enough already!!
Overall, this latest episode was a mixed bag for me – getting there, but not quite there yet. We are still in the character development phase, so not much happened in terms of moving the narrative forward. I really wish the pace picks up and we have less repetition, particularly in the Zaroon-Asmara and the Rafia-Murtaza scenes. Murtaza sending the friend to Rafia’s office was a good touch, but that scene went on forever. We later heard him talk about this incident with his second wife, and then rehash it all over again Rafia – wow, how much can this guy talk?! Like Kashaf, I hope he takes the very broad hint and gets that he’s no longer welcome there. While a lot of time is being spent on developing Kashaf’s side of the story, Zaroon’s track is still flailing around. Not sure why the writer and director were content with leaving Junaid, Ghazala, Sara, and Asmara’s character so underdeveloped and uni-dimensional, particularly when Kashaf’s track is so well-etched out, but all I can say is that this imbalance is now beginning to grate. What could have been a great episode, because of Samina and Sanam’s fabulous performance, turned out to be nothing more than an average outing, which is a shame.
Here’s to hoping that next Friday’s installment is relatively more gulzar!
Written by SZ~
A very humble request to Momina Duraid/MD Productions’ Wardrobe Incharge: If you’re reading this, could you please ensure that we never see this caftan again – its been around the block quite a few times now – thank you!