After having skimmed through comments on Facebook, I am left to wonder if I am the only one around who still finds Numm to be one of the more engaging and engrossing serials on air these days. Despite the still loud and mismatched background score, some overlong scenes, and below par acting of a few actors, Numm, because of its story, very well-etched characters and excellent acting by seasoned artists, continues to fascinate me. After having focused exclusively on the Mahjabeen-Wali-Neelam track for the past few weeks, this latest episode picked the story from last week and shed more light on the kind of power wielded by Baray Sahab, explaining much about Wali’s frustrations and his inability to break free of the shackles of feudalism.
While it was already established in an earlier episode, via the panchayat scene, that Baray Sahab was considered a leader by the prominent zamindars and elders of the surrounding areas, last week’s episode highlighted the fact that it was not only the rural folk who sought Sikandar Bakht’s counsel, but savvy politicians too came to Baray Sahab with their problems. Even though they were active members of the government and Baray Sahab just another rich feudal, nonetheless it was to him they turned with their complaints about impending agricultural taxes. It was he who calmed their fears, quietly assuring them he would take care of matters in Islamabad.
This week, the celebration at Wali’s house underscored the extent of Baray Sahab’s political influence. Within a matter of days, the shrewd operator had not only managed to get the problematic bills overturned, but accomplished this with such delicacy and finesse that the parties involved never realized they were being played. The barely veiled references to Pakistan being a rentier state, the debate about the dual nationalities of a majority of Pakistani officials, the entrenched older order’s resistance to change, the easy dismissal of the younger generation’s demand for an overhaul of the system, the carefree attitude of these corrupt politicians, as they sat around joking about the buray halat of Pakistan (as if they had no hand in adding to the same), all served as a pithy commentary on the prevalent political situation.
The fact that Baray Sahab exerts so much influence, not only on the local and the provincial level, but as far as Islamabad, sheds light on why it is not so easy for Wali to simply walk away and start a new life. At least as long as he is in Pakistan, there is no easy way out for him, hence his biding his time to leave. From his later conversation with his grandfather it seemed that his marriage to Neelam was a part of his agreement with Baray Sahab. As long as Wali toed the line and produced the requisite heir he would be allowed to take a breath or two of his own free accord.
Though that may have been how Wali understood the arrangement, and Baray Sahab cleverly dangling the PhD carrot in front of him, the fact that his grandfather specifically asked for Wali to be present at the dinner and the way he was seated, as if in front of an examining committee, and the way he was being whetted clearly indicated that Baray Sahab, as well as his cronies, saw Wali as Sikandar Bakht’s heir apparent, in ways not just related to zamindari. That Wali could only look on in disgust, as these elected representatives gloried in their success at having duped the system, laughing about how they would be first ones to jump ship as soon as the tides turned against them, spoke volumes of how different he was from his grandfather at least in this aspect. But then again, even as he spoke big, wasn’t he too contemplating a future abroad? Was he any different from his grandfather and his cronies? An extremely pertinent question, brilliantly posed by the writer.
While he might differ in some ways, in other ways Wali is just like his grandfather. Quick to fly off the handle, he lashed out at Mahjabeen last week, and in all likelihood had a go at Salima again this week (going by how jumpy she was around him), about not keeping track of how Mahjabeen ended up so sick. Unlike his grandfather, however, Wali is not so far gone that he cannot feel remorse. His self-questioning and guilt was quite evident in his 360° turnaround with Mahjabeen. His concern for her health, him rising as a gesture of respect, when she entered the room to meet Neelam’s mother, point to a resurfacing of the old Wali. How long will it be before the darkness overtakes this gentleness remains to be seen.
Meanwhile in Murree, Neelam appears to have mulled over quite a bit about her relationship with Wali. While on the one hand she appears to have grown emotionally and speaks of compromises, on the other hand, one wonders that while she talks like an adult, is she really mature enough to walk the walk? A girl who cannot even share an imaginary friend, how will she share a living breathing husband, not to mention one she has a massive crush on. Seems like Neelam has a few more weeks to ponder over her situation. Meanwhile Wali is busy playing nurse to Mahjabeen, a fact that does not escape Sikandar Bakht’s experienced eye. Ever so gently he reminds Wali yet again about “riding” and inquires if he has any “news.” Wali’s expression says it all. Can Wali manage to strike a balance between his obligations and his desires? Will he ever be able to do right by both, his vani and his wife?
Finally, a huge thank you to whoever was responsible for not torturing us with the OST today. Listening to the beautiful words in Fawad’s sonorous voice was so much more pleasant, although the brooding scenes could’ve easily been shortened. Now if only the background score people could get their act together. In terms of acting, Fawad and Sania continue to excel, and Kanza continues on her faltering path. The actress playing Minahil (sorry still don’t know her name!) is another who makes her scenes such a chore to watch. With pluses outweighing the minuses, I’m still on the Numm bandwagon and enjoying the ride. What about you all?
Written by SZ~
Numm ~ Episode 7