Now that we know what Rehaai is about, the first episode did an excellent job of setting up the premise, I did not find the second installment as shocking as the first one; perhaps because I was already prepared for the worst. This is not to say though that this episode was not disturbing. No, actually this was much more so, as here the subtext spoke so much louder than the text. Kudos to the story tellers Farhat Ishtiaq and Mehreen Jabbar.
The fact that Akbar’s parents were disturbed by Kulsoom’s age and not because Waseem was remarrying, speaks volumes of how acceptable it is for a man to remarry for the sake of a child. Moreover, if they were truly so disturbed, then instead of all the bluster why not offer to marry Kulsoom to Akbar, since marriage would be the only practical way of protecting her from Waseem and others of his ilk, thus ensuring that she remains unharmed and completes her education. But then I guess its much easier to indulge in hyperbole than to actually take a practical step. Another disturbing sight was that of the topi-clad barey mian sitting on a chair in the background, calmly watching Inayat scold his daughter for playing outside a day before her wedding. This one brilliant shot, capturing the voyeuristic nature of our society, was worth a thousand words. The same thing can be said about the attendees of wedding, particularly the people who acted as witnesses and those who formalized the ceremony – and to think it is people like these who make up the duniya we always worry about pleasing! Earlier, his card playing cronies had also looked on with great interest as Shamim took Inayat to task, but not one spoke up to echo Shamim’s rightful ire. The calm with which they went back to continue their game was almost deafening in its silence. Makes one almost wonder: Did they too look upon their young daughters as cash cows? How many of them had previously participated in similarly nefarious transactions?
Sadly, Shamim’s objections and interjections proved to be ultimately futile as she could not prevent the honi from happening, and the heinous deed was done. Given that our imaginations were already working overtime, I was glad we were spared gory details. While we glossed over Kulsoom’s misery, we were not so lucky with Shamim, as we watched her past come to life vividly with a very menacing Adnan Jilani physically and verbally abusing his child bride. Watching that blast from the past, I could not help but wonder why Shamim didn’t have more children? I have many questions about Shamim’s character and hope we get to see more of her story unfold alongside Kulsoom’s.
In terms of pacing, this was a slower episode in that nothing new really happened. We knew the wedding was going to take place and it did. While I could have done without some of Shamim’s heavy-duty lectures, I did appreciate the time spent on establishing young Kulsoom’s unpreparedness for the monumental changes about to take place in her life. The wedding scene, the exchange between Kulsoom and Waseem, and the conversation she has with her friend, about how she was enjoying all the fuss, was heart wrenching to say the least. Putting aside my personal misgivings, about child actors and the roles they essay, Yashal, the child actor has done an excellent job in conveying all the necessary emotions.
In terms of writing, I like how ground is being prepared to explain why economic independence is the way forward for women like Shamim, Shehnaz and Kulsoom. As things stand now, despite all her protestations, Shamim knows she is totally dependent on Waseem for fulfilling all her needs, down to the very basics of roti, kapra aur makaan. As long as she cannot support herself she remains unempowered, a mere entity whose thoughts, wishes and desires do not count for anything.
So far Rehaai has been Nauman Ijaz and Munawar Saeed’s show as they are in a completely different league here. Before this I used to think of Nauman as a charming man, now he’s my nominee for the lecher of the year award – the manner in which he ogles the poor girl and the way in which he runs his hand over his hair, as he walks out after having accomplished his mission, was just way too ugh. Samina Peerzada is also very good here, her expressions, when she looks back to her past are excellent. But I wish she would now take a break from these kinds of roles. Last week she reminded me of Rafia from Zindagi Gulzar Hai, and today, watching her with the tasbeeh, I had flashbacks of Naani from Shehr-e Zaat. As I was watching and listening to Shamim, I wondered if she had gone back to school after she had Waseem. She sounds way too educated and articulate for a woman who has spent a lifetime within the confines of the chaardivari. The fact that she and Shehnaz both wear perfectly ironed three piece suits, with coordinated shalwar, kameez and dupatta, is a little too pat to be entirely plausible.
Aside from some incongruities, overall this was a gritty and gripping episode with the MJ stamp all over it. I like the way flashbacks are being sparingly used in concert with the present to tell two stories, each filling in details in the other’s timeline. The intimacy of the story is brought to the fore with Khizer’s superb camerawork. Also, really appreciate the fact the background music has been kept to a minimum. From the precaps it seems like we’re leaping forward in time, with a grown up Kulsoom being perceived as a threat by Shehnaz. Will the second wife fulfill Waseem’s desire for an heir? Looking forward to seeing how things pan out here.
Written by SZ~