Our perceptions shape how we make sense of the world around us, how we untangle fact from fiction and distinguish myth from reality. Most of what we perceive as true or right is based on socialized beliefs and culturally accepted norms. It is when there is a deviation from the norm – when people don’t behave the way we expect them to, when events take on an unexpected turn, or when the line separating fantasy and reality gets blurred to the extent it becomes immaterial – that the introspection process begins. Who is right and what is wrong … where do facts end and where does fiction begin … what do we let go off and what do we believe in?
While questioning that which is socially accepted is hard, harder yet is believing in the possibility of perceived impossibility. We say it quite glibly: truth is stranger than fiction, but when push comes to shove taking that final leap of faith, and letting go of the familiar, is not so easy a matter. Add in to this already confused mix a fear of duniya waley and duniya kya kahegi and you have the latest episode of Sannata. Beautifully penned by Saji Gul and exquisitely presented by Kashif Nisar and his team of techies, and some very talented actors, this serial is gaining strength with every episode.
On the issue of where and how to draw the line between fantasy and fact, for Naseeban her lover is as real as can be – she’s seen him, talked to him, and felt his passion for her. But then in the next instant he is gone. What is she to make of this? Should she believe what her heart says – her lover does indeed exist – or should she believes what everybody around her tells her – her mysterious lover was nothing more than a figment of her imagination?
Finding herself at a loss for choices, Naseeban surrenders to what is socially acceptable. She marries her long time fiancé and tries to move on leaving behind all that happened under the tree. Unfortunately for her though, much as she tries to forget the past it keeps coming back to haunt her, sometimes the winds speak to her and at other times a random boy at the dargah. How is she to make sense of this? More importantly, should we as an audience discount this as mere irrationality?
For me, whether Naseeban’s lover is fact or fiction is immaterial. It is entirely possible he is nothing more than Naseeban’s subconscious manifesting itself in a humanly form, allowing her to verbalize her thoughts, offering a way of questioning the staus quo. Whoever he might have been, her mysterious lover gives her something to hold on to, a ray of hope to help Naseeban get through life with someone who seemed to be a complete opposite of what she would’ve liked to have seen in a life partner.
Whoever or whatever this man was he never scared Naseeban. Perhaps unbeknownst to even herself she had already taken that leap of faith, wanting perhaps even seeing a glimpse of possibility in the impossible. Though everybody around questioned Naseeban’s mental facilities and felt spooked by her meetings with the mystery man, the important question here is why weren’t they equally spooked out by the harmful acts of those around them: people who knowingly desecrate nature, shamelessly pollute surroundings and ruthlessly destroy everything in sight, not even sparing the lives of their fellow humans. Why is it that the fear of the unseen scares us but that which is happening right in front our eyes doesn’t?
Juxtaposed against Naseeban’s is Ruqaiyya’s story. Unlike young Naseeban who was fearless and followed her heart, Ruqaiyya finds herself unable to make that leap of faith. Though Azam has clearly spelled out his intentions and the air is cleared between them, Ruqaiyya is held back by her fears. All her life she wanted nothing more than to be free of the suffocating confines of the dark haveli, but now that she is in the big city with the bright lights, she feels blinded by the light around her. Much as Azam sees Pari holding Ruqaiyya back, I wonder if it is not the other way around. Rather than Pari leaning on Ruqaiyya, this visit to the city has made it clear that in many ways Ruqaiyya needs Pari just as much if not more so. Ruqiyya is now using the younger girl as a shield to protect herself from succumbing to all the pleasures that Azam is promising her. If nothing else, life has taught Ruqaiyya that everything good comes with a heavy price. She is not delusional and knows she is much older to Azam. Their match, therefore, would not be looked upon favorably, particularly by Azam’s snobbish mother. I don’t think she would take too kindly to seeing Ruqaiyya installed as the only bahu in her palatial but utterly tasteless house. Hence rather than take a chance on a bright but unknown future Ruqiyya is leaning towards the painful but dearly familiar suffocation and darkness of the dilapidated haveli. Wonder what it would take for Ruqaiyya to take a deep breath and take a plunge into the terrifying, possibly exhilarating unknown.
Completing the triangle of three interrelated stories is Pari’s story. Unlike Ruqaiyya and more like Naseeban and even Husna, Pari is a free spirit. She is uninhibited and her indulgent Ruqiyya apa has spoiled her to no end. Now that she’s overheard Azam and Ruqiyya’s conversation, it will be interesting to see how Pari reacts. From what we’ve seen so far unlike her apa, Pari is not the kind to go down without a fight, nor is she afraid of challenges. Considering the spoiler that is already on the FB page, we know what is to come, but I am intrigued to see how this character evolves. The psychiatrist’s diagnosis of epilepsy confirms what we suspected, the trance like state that Pari entered into at the dargah had less to do with the surroundings and more to do with her medical condition.
This latest episode further solidified the groundwork for changes that are now to come and alter Pari, Ruqiyya and Azam’s lives forever – whether these changes are for the better is yet to be determined. Narrating such a layered story coherently is no easy task and the director is doing a fabulous job of allowing the characters to tell their stories. The actors are doing an amazing job. Yamuna Zaidi is impressive as is Saba Qamar. Nadia Afgan was excellent as Salma when she let loose at Sultana. Her improved relationship with her daughter giving her the courage to finally speak up. The scene where Naseeban comes and congratulates Salma was beautifully done. Danish Taimoor is very understated here, but his Azam is the perfect foil to the more complex characters of Ruqaiyya and Pari. And yes, Sajal Aly is an absolute standout. Her subtly changing expressions and body language were fantastic as Pari got more and more involved with the song playing on TV. Now if only her kaajal could maintain its continuity. Finally a special mention of the DOP Rashid Abbas’ cinematography, Naseeban’s back story would not have been half as gripping as it is without his input. Overall another very strong episode. Clearly I’m hooked …
Written by SZ~