Rehaai ~ Episode 1 Review


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!

photo 2

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~

18 replies

  1. SZ, I was waiting for your review! I saw the promo and was really disturbed by it. I know I cannot watch it with “the baby” around but I am intrigued to find out how Farhat Ishtiaq handles this subject and if she actually presents any solutions.


  2. Nice take SZ. Director, Writer and Actors have indeed done brilliant job… I can’t understand that in this era, young children do still get fascinated by marriage.. Specially the educated ones.. I have seen lower middle-class girls they are so like mast maula or may be those girls haven’t pass through the bitterness of life…
    Whatever the case is… It’s terribly disturbing.. And i was shocked in knowing Chacha Inayat married a 13 old girl.. My goodness..-o_O
    Like you said that who and how gets the Rehaai..i am also keen to know that.


  3. loved your review! and I agree with all your concerns about this story.

    A very bold drama indeed. I am actually really surprised to know that in this day and age stuff like this still happens. Do people really marry off their 12-13 year old daughters? And for what?!?! It’s quite disturbing….

    So 50 years later [assuming that’s how long ago child Shamim was married] the tradition is still going strong makes me sick to my stomach.

    What charm do men find in wanting to marry someone who is their daughter’s age? In the west these men or well in this case, pedophiles are thrown into jail to rot for the rest of their life. Why can’t such rules be implemented in Pakistan?. I am sure there is no religion in the world that promotes such marriages so i dk how they can throw the term “shariah haq” No Shariah says go marry a child so she can bear your child, bc your first wife is infertile?

    I am just interested to know what kind of solution they are going to show and if any how sure are they that this is going to make a difference?

    I cannot stand Munawer Saaed’s character. First he marries a 13 year old at the age of 50. Has a child from her and marries her off at the same age…eww!!
    This is a bit too much to handle…


  4. thank you for that excellent review SZ . I think it was very accurate. Much as I love Samina Peerzada it is all becoming “much of a muchness” with her roles from Nanni to Rafia. I don’t know many people from this background but I guess we have to allow the writer some literary licence , otherwise you are right though a fabulous line it may not be authentic. I liked maria Wasti , who is a very good actress. .
    I am a little confused by Waseem’s characterisation . Nauman Ejaz deserves every award created by man , he is such a fabulous actor …no news there but I the actual character is strange. He does not think of the child as a bride till the develish Chacha suggests it . even then he is very iffy… then suddenly he is for it …. if the girl was say 15 or 14 I could understand but she is shown to be a pre teen ..
    I totally agree with your reservations about showing it prime time …
    It is a very good effort and I think Farhat Ishtiaq and Mehreen Jabbar have made a very brave effort and so far have succeeded in making a compelling first effort for such a tough subject.
    The biggest surprise for me was the discovery that Danish Taimour was an actual actor .For sometime now I have had my doubts but happy day!! It has finally been confirmed. Well done Danish , for looking and actually playing a part seriously .


  5. I have not watched this yet, looks kinda disturbing . I know this is a real issue but watching evil men is getting tiring ie murtaza and women issues aka ZGH.
    I might wait a while and catch up later!
    The other thing I would like to add is I know these marriages were common a long time ago, and it does seem rather distasteful in this day and age …but we also have to remember the age difference between our prophet pbuh and Aisham(ra) was huge ..infact she was a teenager and he was in his 50s. But he was the best of husbands!
    How he treated his wives is what should be followed…not just saying my religion allows me to get a 2nd wife, heir blah blah but don’t emulate him as a good husband. Hypocrisy again.. I think I am already getting enough in two of the dramas I am watching!


  6. After seeing the promo, I had my reservations about watching this drama. Then i saw the team on Jago Pakistan Jago where they discussed the different inspirations behind this story and how it discusses solutions rather than just problems. That is something lacking in pakistani dramas. I am so sick of the rotee dhotee baybus aurat who spends her whole life getting beat up while the audience is made to bear witness to every blow and scream.

    I am scared to watch the next few episodes but i would like to see how this story unfolds so i’ll try to muster up the courage.


    • @Sonia: Indeed, its the solution alongside the highlighting of the problem that is of great interest to me as well … lets see how the story unfolds!


  7. Excellent eye opening drama, with a very gripping pilot episode. Can’t wait to see how this drama progresses! Also, can someone tell me what the word “rehaai” means?


    • @Rani: Agreed a gripping pilot indeed! Rehai means release.. as in release from a prison after having been jailed for a while .. can also be read as freedom depending on the context ..
      Looking forward to hearing more from you as the serial progresses 🙂


  8. Dear SZ. I work for Kashf Foundation and was a part of the conception of this show. I don’t know if you know this but Kashf Foundation has produced this drama show! I loved your review. I wanted to also share the perspective of Kashf Foundation – the idea behind the show is to mainstream the issues of women in Pakistan and also help them find ‘rehaii’ i.e. liberation from these issues. The story is inspired from the many stories of our clients that we have come across in the past 18 years of working with low-income women in Pakistan. I hope you enjoy the rest of the show. Many cliff-hangers are in store!


    • @Zainab: Hey! Thanks for reading and commenting. It is a pleasure to hear from somebody so closely associated with the serial that has all of us thinking and re-thinking. Yes, I had seen the JPJ morning show and fully intended to acknowledge the Kashf Foundation involvement, but after watching the very powerful opening ep all other thoughts flew out the window – my apologies!
      Indeed, Kashf deserves a huge pat on the back for all the very important work they are doing doing in empowering women, one family at a time.
      Looking forward to seeing how the story unfolds, and I hope you will continue reading and commenting, providing us with your behind the scenes perspective 🙂


  9. I cannot see any way to contact you people personally via email ?
    Can this be figured out,, ?

    Anyways,I loved your review.. 🙂


  10. Even though I’m not a mom I shuddered when I saw the promo. I decided not to watch it because it made me so uncomfortable. But then eventually I did watch it. Taboo issues such as these should be raised in our society, it’s forces people to face and talk about these issues.
    Again like you, I worried about the child star. The promo was definitely disturbing. Perhaps, they should shoot scenes extremely randomly or use older women in disturbing scenes (skinny look-alike women, and not show the face?). or take a classy approach.Be subtle.
    God knows how this will unwrap, but I, for one, will definitely watch it.


  11. SZ, your review is written very well!
    I agree with what you said about the abuse in this drama. I gotta admit, I haven’t watched the first episode, just the promo. But it looks too much for me!
    They used a child star for those scenes, that’s horrid 😮
    Love the OST, its sang very well and the words are just right

    Amazing review, again!


    • @Hafsa: Thanks!! Yes the first couple of episodes were shocking indeed, but since then the serial has gotten relatively easy to watch…. I just posted the review for the 8th episode and I hope you will watch and come back and share your thoughts -:)


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