Be warned! This one is an unabashedly biased review – I loved loved loved this episode!
Bee Gul and Khalid Sahab, your efforts are usually acknowledged towards towards the end of the review, but today I want to begin with a standing ovation for you and your Pehchan. Thank you for spelling it out for all to see and learn – this is what good television is all about and this how you do drama right. From writing to directing to lighting, cinematography, background music, production facilities, acting, all gelled perfectly. Wah, wah, bas wah!!!
Everything was pitch perfect. Sans the waterworks and theatrics it was the sheer power of the moment that made me hold my breath. Every gesture, every nuance, all those said and unsaid words, scattered roses and shattered dreams, false hopes and painful slights, wasted tears and silenced screams – every second of the last ten weeks had been gradually building up to this moment. And then when it happened it was nothing less than a shocker. Laila??
Laila, apne baba ki ladli, who read romantic poetry and hoped for a shohar who would be her shareek-e hayat, a partner in every sense of the word. She, whose eyes lit up every time her husband looked at her, one warm word and she would melt. When did that sensitive, delicate girl grow up to be this tough, cynical woman ? Was it when she willed herself to forget the unpleasantness of the night before and greet her husband with a fresh smile the morning after? All those nights she spent waiting up for him, did they get to her? Perhaps it was his blasé acknowledgment of his bechari hysterical dost? Or did that unwarranted dhamki of a divorce serve as the proverbial last straw?
More likely it was not one single act or deed, this new Laila was not born overnight. Every barb, every humiliation, every jhoota dilasa and innumerable sab theek ho jayega lectures, all played their part in stripping off the old Laila’s romantic fantasies. The world was not as warm and vibrant as it had appeared when she was a carefree student. Perhaps it was still as cheerful elsewhere, but from where she stood it seemed as cold and harsh, ugly and unwelcoming, as prison might seem to someone living out a life sentence. No wonder the thought of returning to that torture cell brought tears to her eyes, and why she lingered behind, her legs feeling ever so leaden as she looked up at the imposing facade of the bara ghar, owned by the itne ameer loag.
Little did her mother know that every time she exhorted her daughter to pull herself together, a little bit of the old Laila slipped away. The Laila who now stood in her stead was done shedding tears and expecting others to come to her help. She had learnt her lessons the hard way and was now ready to start living life on her terms. Her daughter would not go through what she undergone. The cycle of abuse had to stop somewhere and in that do-or-die instant Laila stepped into the driving seat.
So subtly, so exquisitely were the tables turned that for once Mansoor was lost for words. Where had his demure, hesitant wife disappeared and who was this woman who treated him like a nobody. All his usual tactics of turning the situation around – Laila tum upset ho … ek shohar honay ki haisiyat se main ne poori koshish ki hai ke tumhen koi takleef na ho – all seemed to fall flat when this stranger turned around and nullified his role in her life. She would become the provider. There was no place for Mansoor in her life.
That shot of a dumbfounded Mansoor sitting on the chair with his hands clasped together, staring confusedly at Laila as she coolly turned around and switched off the lights leaving him bathed in the glow of the spotlight was simply brilliant. Just that
one shot summed up that entire crazy night so well.
Mansoor had been shocked out of his skin when Khurram showed up at his door. When Laila stepped out he expected nothing less than lightning and thunderstorm. What he got instead was akin to falling dew – silent, calm barely there. Come morning, just as the grass was soaking wet from the overnight dew so had Laila’s resolve firmed.
While his wife left him nonplussed, Kuku’s challenge flabbergasted him. Here, he had come to meet her expecting to start off with sweet talk, some smack talk about his wife, a bit of groveling, eventually wearing down Kuku’s defenses like he always did. But winds of change were making themselves felt on this side of his life as well.
After his marriage and particularly after she met Laila, Kuku knew her relationship with Mansoor was over. He was forbidden fruit and if not for her reputation she needed to resist him for Laila’s sake. Alas, dil tau hai dil, dil ka aitebar kya kijeye. No matter how much she might hate him, she is like an addict who can’t stay away. He is the person to whom she turns for help when Khurram tries to pull a fast one on her. For Mansoor that bit of an opening was enough and with Khurram gone he was back to playing happy houses with her. All thoughts of his wife, and later the baby, are as easily set aside as the wedding band he places next to the wallet and keys. This facade, of things being “back to normal,” is rudely torn off when Mansoor walks away without looking back at Kuku. What is her relationship with Mansoor?
The question comes up again when she stands accused in Mansoor’s house, shivering with shock, embarrassment, anger… while Mansoor just stands there … and then he has the nerve to expect things to go “back to normal” again? Kuku, if you give in yet one more time then you’ve lost my vote, girlfriend. And while you are re-defining the parameters of your relationship with Laila’s husband (yes Kuku, repeat that 500 times every half hour) why don’t you also deal with Khurram once and for all? After all the times he’s cheated on you (granted, in different ways) why does he always get a free pass, whereas you get to be dragged by the arm out of your house… Why do you feel so guilty and worthy of punishment when the other culprits, Khurram and Mansoor, take it all in their stride?
Forget about the rest of the world, what is it about our ingrained societal sensibilities that a man, no matter how much of a non-husband he may be, feels it his right to question his wife, but a man expects to and pretty much does walk away scot free? Why do we expect Kuku to resist Mansoor, but explain away Mansoor as a typical philandering husband? He’s the one who comes to Kuku’s house expecting to be dil behlao-ed, he’s the one who arranges their dates, he does the call and stalking, and to top it all of he’s the one who is married and is father to a newborn baby, why then is Kuku deemed irresponsible? Her marriage is a sham, she knows that and Khurram knows it as well. Why then does Kuku feel she has done something wrong… why can’t she rationalize it as easily as Mansoor does? Are women really from Venus and men from Mars, or are these values that we imbibe from our surroundings as we grow? Wonder what choice names would Laila’s mother call Kuku and how she would explain away her suljha hua mature damaad’s behavior? As for what she would say to Laila, well, lets just not even go there.
And yes, on Aunty ji and Ammi ji … if ever there was a pair of samdhans made for each other these ladies would be it. As for Laila’s father, bechare Uncle ji.. I have yet to see a more disenfranchised dad. Agar itni hi fikar thi tau khud fon mila lete, magar nahin biwi kis marz ki dawa hai … The poor man, he has his heart in the right place now if only he could get the rest of his act together as well. Khair, going by the precap it seems like Laila will finally get more than verbal support from her father. Looking forward!
After dragging for 20+ episodes and tons of glycerin, a few baarish scenes, cheekhna chilana, some maar peet thrown in for good measure, and a slew of standard dialogues – ab mera kiya banega, apni beti ka tau khayal kar lejiye, main kahan jaaongi, mujhe ma’af karden– this would’ve been the point where our usual dramas would’ve ended. Taking a very different route, the seemingly slow Pehchan has covered so much ground in only 10 episodes, presumably the half way mark. From hereon I expect the story to take a very different turn, one where both Laila and Kuku now give Mansoor a taste of his own medicine. Perhaps Mrs Khan too would like to join in and get rid of some of her anger by pulling out Mansoor’s hair. As it is he won’t need for anything where I am dispatching him, just need to get a few details finalized. Watch out miyan Mansoor … aap k biwi aur dost tau shayad aap ko ma’af kar bhi dein magar aap ki maut mere haathon likhi jaa chuki hai!
I could ramble on and on, but suffice it to say the actors have all done a magnificent job, doing full justice to a beautifully written and fabulously directed serial. Two thumbs up Team Pehchan!
Written by SZ~