Bas! Bohot ho gaya! Tum duniya bhar ko batana chahteen theen na ke tum kitni successful ho, business chala sakti ho, theek hai, ab tum apne shohar ka socho… Tumhain tau bas apni hi fikar hai… you just want too much!
Laila! ab tum bacchi nahin rahi ho, bacchi ki maa ho. Khwab dekhna band karo, tum ab is bacchi ki fikar karo. Kal jab yeh bacchi bari ho jaye gi tau phir?
How dare she? How could Laila even think to live her life on her terms? Did she forget she is living in a societal setup where a shareef mashriqi aurat exists solely as a daughter, a sister, a wife or a mother – she has no identity independent of the men in her life. As a daughter she is expected to keep her father’s izzat ki laaj, as a wife it is incumbent upon her to walk the path chosen by her husband, and as a mother her child’s parvarish is solely her responsibility. Neatly compartmentalized as the various phases of her life are, where then is the space for a woman to live for herself, as an individual entity, independent of the men in her life?
If this shareef mashriqi aurat does make the mistake of defying cultural norms, choosing to forge her own path, then its not just the men whose izzat is at stake, the women around take umbrage as well at their beti/bahu’s harkats. What is wrong with her? How dare she turn her back on the thaat and mazey, and the bara ghar and the ameer suljha hua shohar? This is what every girl dreams of, no? And, so is Laila’s mother wrong in wanting and attaining all these things for her only daughter? Why then is her daughter being such a nashukri? Her husband has not asked her to go out and earn a living, why then is she hell bent on making life difficult for herself? Laila’s saas is equally perplexed. If Laila is out working all day, who would look to her beloved son’s nashta and chai? Forget about the fact that nobody’s bothered to name the baby as yet, but mummy and saas sahiba are really concerned about their nameless granddaughter’s tarbiyat. Sab ko pareshan kiya hua hai … Laila ko tau sirf apni hi fikar hai… she just wants too much!
So, where exactly has Laila erred? Does she really want too much? Should she have quietly put up with Mansoor’s silken slights and suave put downs? Should she have allowed him to continue using her as a disposable object, absentmindedly used and easily forgotten? Was it wrong of her to not turn a blind eye to her husband’s infidelity? Was it a mistake on her part to want her husband to treat her as his shareek-e hayat? If expecting a husband to be faithful, to love and respect his wife, to share parental responsibilities, is considered as asking for too much then yes, both her mother and saas were right – Laila was expecting too much.
On the other hand though, if Laila is indeed expecting too much, then isn’t it our fault, our as in our society as a whole? Why do we even bother educating daughters, teaching them elusive concepts like thinking, independence and free will, allowing them to think they are individuals in their own right, that their wishes matter. Why not just go back to the late 19th c, back in the day when women were taught just enough to read religious texts and educated just enough so as to be good wives to their highly qualified husbands. Perhaps, in many ways we are still stuck in the 19th c, as far as social attitudes towards women go, or at least as far as miyan Mansoor’s mindset is concerned.
Nahin ho sakti thi ek divorcee se shaadi! Dekho meri maa kabhi raazi na hoti is shaadi ke liye. Mera ek status hai, social standing hai meri, biwi hoti hai bacche hotey hain social space mein, aur hamein yeh saarey faisley society ke hisaab se karne hotey hain…. tum Laila nahin ho Kuku, samajhne ki koshish karo yaar, pyar tau tumheen se karta hoon na! Main apni biwi se tau pyar nahin kar sakta na … isliye meri jaan tum meri biwi nahin ho … tum tum ho … meri biwi ke naseeb mein Kuku hona kahan hai …tum mein aur us mein bas ye hi farq hai… yeh do alag alag cheezain hain …
Wife and girlfriend – do alag alag cheezain hain. The first one an ornament to be treasured and protected and the other a favorite plaything, jab khel kar dil bhar jaye tab phenk dijiye. His wife has a right to his name whereas the girlfriend has his heart, or so Mansoor claims. What he does not realize is that his words give him away. Do alag alag cheezain. At the end of the day, be it Laila or Kuku, both are merely things for him, things he plays with, things he amuses himself with, inanimate things he does not credit with a heart or feelings.
As it plays out, however, these do alag alag cheezain have the last laugh. What Kuku had failed at, Mansoor succeeded in doing for her and that too very melodramatically. After being told her haisiyat in such stark terms, Kuku sees Mansoor for what he is, and after Khurram it was his turn to be boxed out of her life. Laila on the other hand, plays her hand with a lot more subtlety and finesse, she hits him where it hurts the most. She plays the society card back to the man who thought himself a master in using such tactics.Much as he hates her working and stepping all over his I-am-a-mard-hear-me-roar ego, there is not much he can do except stew in silence. But for how long? Today it is his mother, tomorrow it will be the duniya walas giving him taanas for not being able to control his wife.
At the end of the 12th episode we see a very deflated hawa-nikla-hua Mansoor begging Laila to give him a second chance. So far Laila has played the game very smartly and it will be interesting to see how she responds to his plea for forgiveness. Also looking forward to seeing what role Sa’di plays in Laila’s decision. In Sa’di’s eyes Laila sees a glimpse of the naïve romantic girl she used to be and there are hints of a rekindling of interest. But whether this spark will be fanned into a full fledged flame is something only time will tell.
Like Laila, who, thanks to her late father, has stepped on the path to independence, Kuku too is trying to get over Mansoor. He’s out of her life, but erasing him from her heart is a whole other deal. But moping around is not Kuku’s style, so we see her flaunting her over the top jolly self and Mrs. Khan is scandalized at the sight of a red-lipsticked Kuku. As in the past, we again see Mrs. Khan playing the role of the the gossiping duniya waley. Though she talks the talk, Mrs Khan is not one to condone Kuku’s behavior. What she is not seeing here is Kuku’s frenzied animation, the desperate attempts to convince herself of her happiness. Her dreams, of becoming a mother, shattered by her loser husband, her heart smashed into a thousand pieces by her hypocritical lover, this is not a woman who is out partying every night. She might want the world to think so, but I somehow doubt that is the case. Let’s wait and see what the coming weeks have in store for us.
So yes, two very happening, action-packed episodes. There is a lot to be mined here and each scene is laden with meaning and nuance. While talking about scenes, I am at a loss to understand why the narrative seemed choppy in these two episodes. There seemed to be a couple of bridging scenes missing in the previous episode, from where Laila comes to Kuku’s salon to their becoming partners. In this episode too there were a few chopped scenes, for instance mere humdum mere dost was abruptly cut off. Perhaps somebody from the channel could look into why an otherwise brilliantly told story is being messed up with bad editing.
On brilliance, loved how Laila’s three phases of life were visually marked out. From a carefree jeans clad girl, to a newlywed who feels the need to hide herself from the world and perhaps from herself as well. And in this latest phase we see a confident saree clad Laila, she knows who she is – not only a daughter, a wife and a mother, but also the proud owner of Laila’s Kitchen. Her mother might think Laila has forgotten her station in life, but actually she hasn’t. Unlike Kuku, who flaunts the norms and pushes the envelope with her lifestyle, Laila is staying well within her limits. She is still living with her husband in his house, the only difference is that she is now living there on her own terms. Does living life on her own terms make Laila a nashukri, someone who wants too much? But then as Laila asks, if she does not not look out for herself then mera kaun sochey ga mummy? Pertinent questions with no easy black and white answers.
Fabulously done yet again, Bee Gul, Khalid Ahmad and Team Pehchan, take a bow!
Written by SZ~
Pehchan ~ Episode 12 (For alternate links click here)
Pehchan ~ Episode 11 (For alternate links click here)