Rehaai, the latest offering from MD Productions opened its account with a strong first episode. With Farhat Ishtiaq’s provocative script, Mehreen Jabbar’s bold no-holds barred approach to story-telling, superb camerawork by Khizer Idrees, and great acting from stalwarts like Samina Peerzada, Nauman Ijaz, Munawar Saeed, and Maria Wasti, and the child artist Yashal, it was difficult not be swept away in this rapidly unfolding saga of Shamim and her family.
Rehaai is the story of Shamim, a woman married off when she was barely more than a child. Her brutish son Waseem is married to Shehnaz, a wife he uses as a convenient punching bag anytime he feels the need to vent his frustration, about anything and everything. The opening chapter revolved around Waseem’s increasingly vocal demand for an heir. Though Shehnaz has an unlikely ally in her mother-in-law, there is nonetheless a steady trickle of neighbors who drop in frequently to remind Shamim and Shehnaz of her inability to bear Waseem’s child. Out of all these “well-wishers,” none is more insidious than chacha Inayat, who regularly fans the flames of Waseem’s desire to father a child. It is evident that Inayat is merely using Waseem’s childlessness as a means to further his own end, but the solution he offers is beyond macabre. The episode ended on a stomach churning note with Waseem agreeing to Inayat’s proposal and threatening his mother and wife of dire consequences if they stood in the way of his gaining the object of his desire.
Child marriages, rapes of minors, that take place in the name of marriage, sexual abuse, molestation, and physical, verbal and spousal abuse, all are undeniable facts of our society. Just because we don’t like to talk about them does not mean that these problems do not exist, and so I am really glad to see these issues being addressed in our dramas. That said, I’m not entirely sure if this serial is appropriate for prime time airing, particularly without any advance warning about the bold subject and raw depictions. Moreover, the child artist’s age and the scenes we see in the promos are worrisome. We’ve often discussed the impact that acting out such suggestive scenes would leave on these impressionable minds. The big question here is do we, the audiences, need to have everything spelled out? As a mother, I don’t think I have the courage to sit through the next couple of episodes.
In sharp contrast to the detailed buildup to Waseem’s second marriage, I really enjoyed the way we were shown the blurry details of Shamim’s marriage. The sparingly used flashbacks were much more effective than the spelling out of details in the present. I absolutely loved, loved the scene of the young, unsuspecting Shamim walking away from the swing. The abandoned doll picked up later by the older, world weary Shamim, a silent reminder of an innocent childhood abruptly interrupted by the harsh cruelties of life – brilliant stuff!
Speaking of brilliance, yes there were plenty of sparks here. Nauman Ijaz and Munawar Saeed were fabulous! I don’t think I will ever be able to see Nauman again and not be reminded of this evil man we see here. Samina Peerzada and Maria Wasti were equally impressive, although I must say they looked too clean and too articulate to belong to the social class being depicted here. Shamim’s line, about men resorting to the Shariah when it suited them, was a great one, but again sounded too literary for a woman from that social strata. Also, at times there was a sense of deja vu; Shamim’s mannerisms reminded me so much of Rafia from Zindagi Gulzar Hai. Aside from the more experienced lot, Danish Taimoor was very effective in his very subdued portrayal of the very thoughtful and reflective Akbar. I just wish he would wear less base and kaajal though. Standing out among all these performers was Yashal, the child artist playing Kulsoom. She just broke my heart.
Here, it would be remiss of me to not mention the fabulous OST. The moving lyrics have been penned by Nasir Turabi and set to music by Waqar Ali. It is fabulous to hear Tahira Saeed’s voice again after ages, and Roshaneh Zafar is more than apt partner for her aunt. Loving this one!
Overall, though I enjoyed the first episode and found the narrative very compelling, I honestly don’t know if I will be able to stomach the upcoming gory details… Nonetheless, since I am keen to know how the story pans out and who gets rehaai when and how, I will follow this one off and on. Keeping my fingers crossed for Shamim, Shehnaz and the poor child Kulsoom…
What did you guys think?
Written by SZ~