Pehchan ~ Episode 17 Review


Pehchan ~

With knowledge and self-discovery, with recognition and identification, with knowing who you are, with pehchan comes pain and hurt. A pain that much more intensified because it is inflicted by those closest to you. Ap41 hurt that leaves no visible marks but scars the soul forever. Her mother, brother, even his susralis, everybody and their uncle’s izzat is threatened by Laila’s transgressions. In all their blithering and blabbering, their main aur meri izzat concerns, not one person has stopped to ask Laila what went wrong. Nobody sat down with her and invited her to open up. But then why should they? Where was the need? Isn’t it enough that her majazi khuda has labelled her a hooker, a slut. Bas! Laila is in the wrong. No arguments no questions – case closed. Even a murderer is assumed innocent till proven guilty, but Laila’s crime is worse. She dared to walk out – with no intention of ever returning.

What Bee Gul illustrates ever so brilliantly is how much of our bharam is tied up in inanimate objects – p71Mansoor’s daulat and his bara ghar. The importance we place on symbols – her husband’s naam and the chaardiwari of his house. It is Laila’s rejection of these status symbols, the markers of societal honor, that has her khandaan up in arms. Girls wait for such accha rishtas, ameer loag and suljha hua larka,  her mother had told her way back when, and now here was this ingrate upping and leaving, rejecting the comfort and security these bring her. Not a thought did she  spare to what it would do to her “loved” ones. How this ameer and suljha hua larka toyed with Laila’s  sense of self and izzat holds no weight. She is merely a na-samajh na-shukri larki.

While her family reels under the import of Laila’s harkats, Laila herself has gone beyond offering any explanations or defending herself. p21Why should she? Who’s asking? Who’s listening? Where are the judge and jury? Her guilt was automatically assumed the minute she crossed the gate of her husband’s house. Not this time, but the first time, when she had stepped out to open up her business. What happened after was merely a confirmation her guilt in Mansoor and the duniya walas’ eyes. The hesitation she had once felt, whether her makeup would be taken wrongly, is now gone. The Laila of today has no problems looking her reflection straight in the eye and wearing her lipstick. All these taweez and murabbas, her mother and brother’s selfish pleas are not going to stand in her way. Her mind is made up. This her life and it is her choice that matters. Her as yet nameless daughter will not grow up to be like the Laila of old, she will have this new Laila as her role model.

Laila’s journey thus far has been very distressing, she has suffered p71every step of the way, but what lies ahead is probably more difficult. From hereon it is no longer about her khandaanduniya and duniya waley, it is about her and her choices… and who is to say which choice is the right one. Sa’di wants to marry her, but did he really ask her or was he taking her separation as an indication of her willingness? And, if she does marry with him then is it because she is on the rebound or because she genuinely cares for him? Wouldn’t her marriage prove everybody’s suspicions right? The alternative would be to be by herself, as Kuku advises her, and enjoy her new found freedom.

Unlike her self-centered family members, in Kuku and Mrs. Khan Laila has two very dear friends. p51Both support her and offer their unconditional love and help. What stands out though is that both these women represent two very difficult schools of thought. Mrs. Khan is a stand-in for the well meaning, well-intentioned friends we all have in our lives, they support you, but their love for gossip supersedes everything. Moreover, though they talk the talk, and preach the walk, they will seldom if ever be seen walking the walk themselves. Mrs. Khan may talk smack about her husband, but she will never leave him. For her it is a no-brainer that Laila should marry Sa’di. A woman needs the security of her husband’s name, is her mantra and the reason why she continues to live with a man she claims to loathe. Kuku, on the other hand, tells Laila the exact opposite. Why do you need a man, she tells the younger girl, learn from my mistakes. But, had she been given the option, would living life alone be Kuku’s number one choice?

Meray shareek-e hayat mujh se
ruh o dil ka milap kar lo
mere sachey aansoon se tum
apne dil ko paak kar lo
kuch aisa sacha milap kar lo
meray shareek-e hayat mujh se…

Why is it that both of Laila’s choices, marriage or living alone, seem to be compromises? p91And this not just true in Laila’s case, this is the dilemma that our culture imposes on all women. From the day she is born a girl is taught the value of compromising, of molding herself to first her parents’ and later her husband and in-laws’ lifestyles and choices. Why is it that a desi male never hears something similar, ever? If a woman chooses to live life alone, then why do we as a culture judge her? Why do we automatically assume she is alone not by choice but because she was jilted by someone, or because she wasn’t lucky enough to land an accha rishta?  Why does Mrs. Khan feel compelled to continue a sham of a marriage and why does Kuku set a second place at the dinner table. Is it too much to hope for and expect that somewhere out there is a man, secure enough to let a woman walk alongside him, both their heads held high, sharing their lives as shareek-e hayats?

Week after week Bee Gul leaves me awestruck with her insight. I try but I know my words don’t do an iota of justice to the depth of this deceptively simple story. Khalid Sahab, on the other hand, does remarkable justice to her words. Under his able guidance, and Naveed Malik’s cinematography every frame looks like a painting come to life, and every scene speaks volumes. The actors for their part shine in their beautifully etched characters.

Team Pehchan, take a bow and then come back for a second one!

Written by SZ~

Pehchan ~ Episode 17 (For alternate links click here)

8 replies

  1. Excellent review… Always thoughtful..

    I loved how Laila wasnt giving any explanations or justifications when aunty ji was pressurizing her from left,right and centre.. Nothing comes more than self respect and the way she sshhhed her bhaiyaa was epic..

    Another scene i justtt loved was when kuku asked laila to learn from herself and then we see kuku setting table of two..beautifully shown.. And gives us to think women needs men in their life for treating them equally, for respecting them even more and all that ‘Shareek e Hayat’ nazam says.. I still dont want laila to get remarried.. Take some little more time, get rid of those unhappy and insulting moments and when she is her real self and she should think about it..

    SZ , your one point about when will our society stop assuming about women that if she is alone, she is by choice ; made some great sense.. Being part of such society i loved to assume about such things but i think Bee Gul just hit the six here and showed some harsh reality.. Was totally taken back.. In this way this drama is making me learn so many things to adopt and change in myself.. Showing things from ‘their’ perspective.. Thank you team Pehchaan!!


    • @Rehmat: Loved how you highlighted some of the best moments of this episode – yes, that bhaiya who was MIA for so many important family events now wanting Laila to behave “properly” ,so that his life could be settled, was just too much — aargh I wanted to muzzle Aunty ji and the bhaiyya ji while I was watching! But here’s another thought, which occurred to me while I was reading your comment, ke bhaiyya ji did not just enter the picture himself. it was Aunty ji who invited him to stick hi taang in other ppl’s matters … and this again goes to show how we women are equally complicit in maintaining the status quo… women who should be kicking and screaming, at the way men are put on a pedestal in our society, are the ones who are actually ensuring that patriarchy never dies out …

      Bee Gul really deserves an award for the way she has highlighted so many issues that many of us have never ever really thought about, or perhaps we are so socialized into this setup that we just don’t question, and when we do question, we forget that we are a part and parcel of the problem as well. You are so right in that we are all equally to blame because we too are so judgmental … and like you every time I watch I walk away a little shaken, its not easy to see yourself in these brilliantly etched characters. And this is precisely where I feel the success of Pehchan lies, pointing out the error of our ways, but without judgement…. Simply brilliant!


  2. SZ wonderful review. SZ you are so right about women the dilemma that our culture too imposes on woman . We are raised that way, but back of my mind I think why we have to follow that ? Why cannot i do what I want to? Two days ago India’s priminster in his speech said to the people that you tell your daughter where are you going ?When are you comming back? So many things the daughter cannot do. Have you (parents of the children) ever ask your son those question? ( he said apney bête se bhi puch liya ker ? That was very impressive for me.)
    Another scene was three ladies talk that was very good . Very few ladies in my country will be doing like this. Bee gull and khalid sab is the best . This the art to touch the delicate subject . One thing I forgot , miss Mr Mansoor in episod .lol.
    I hope Laila don’t marry Sadi . She should think over. Hope to hear from you.


    • @Ranjan: Absolutely, I agree… why exactly do we follow blindly? And I would say perhaps we do so because thats how we’ve been taught since day one, thats how we saw our mom and grandmother’s behave… my mother still freaks out every time she sees my husband rinse his plate to put it in the dishwasher! And no matter how much I try to convince her otherwise. she continues to believe that as the “man of the house” he shouldn’t have to take care of his dirty plates….So, a huge part of our behaviors is social conditioning, and to bring about change in attitudes will take more than one generation.

      Yes, I’ve read bits of that speech, but while I believe this a step in the right direction, I do think social change needs more than mere words. It takes time and genuine commitment to the cause and it begins at home, one home at a time. In that I think this serial here too is a much needed step in the right direction, where at least we are questioning things, we are looking around and not just finding faults in others, but within ourselves. We are the ones who have to change first … so lets hope that we can take home some lessons taught from this serial….

      LOL, you are so right! I too missed our Mr. Mansoor … hate him no doubt, but have to say he does spice it up so much! Sadly Sa’di does not have a similar screen presence 😦

      Yes, I too hope Laila doesnt jump from the frying pan into the fire … Sa’di at times seems like another Khurram in the making, another dreamer/drifter. I just wish Laila happiness, and hope that she arrives at her decision based on whats good for her rather than merely compromising, or marrying Sa’di just to rub it in Mansoor;s face … lets see what the next ep brings us!


  3. Thanks SZ aap me mere man ki baat batadi. My family said the same thing about husband . I was waiting for your reply . Before I go to sleep I said let me see . And here you were thanks again. Bohot acha lagat hai jab apani maan ki baat sunne ko milati hai.


    • @Ranjan: Aww! Sorry it takes me a while to get back but I always do try to respond .. so don’t give up on me 😉

      Haina! Same thing happens at your house too?! See this is exactly why I love what this serial is doing and why I say its not Laila/Kuku/Khurram/Mansoor’s story, it is actually all our stories blended together and presented to us as Pehchan 🙂

      Btw, did you see my response to “mashriqi” question? As I said, I write as I speak so often times I forget that not everybody speaks/writes like crazy ole’ me .. so please never hesitate to ask!


  4. Thanks SZ for prompt reply . I did see the response about ” mashriqi” I am adding it to my word book . Thanks again . Where is everybody ? Miss reading their input .


    • @Ranjan: I guess everybody’s either glued to their TV sets watching whats happening in Islamabad, or just enjoying the last couple of weeks of summer vacations .. hopefully we’ll have everybody back soon 🙂

      Chalo till then you, and Rehmat and I can keep enjoying our discussions 🙂


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