Pehchan ~ Episode 19 Review


Up until yesterday every time I watched one of our mazloom surat aansoo bahati heroines, putting up with her abusive in-laws and/or living in abject misery with her naam nehad sar[ka]taj, I would always wonder ke in larkiyon ko problem kiya hai … why don’t they just walk out? In many cases these girls would be shown as educated but still when it came to suffering they were right there, crying their eyes out, alongside their uneducated counterparts. So yes, for me as a viewer it was/is very frustrating to watch 90% of our Pakistani dramas, precisely ’cause of this reason.

Why do we as a culture deem marriage to be the be-all and end- all of a girl’s existence, so much so that we force her to stay put in an abusive relationship? Divorces are hard no doubt, but aren’t they a better and brighter alternative to what the said girl is going through in her marriage?I have many friends who were once divorced, but are now leading happy lives, some remain single while others have since remarried. Whatever the reasons behind their failed marriages, they are unanimous in their agreement that they are much happier now and glad they made the decision to end a painful relationship. Why weren’t women, like my friends, ever depicted in our dramas, I often wondered.

What Pehchan does ever so brilliantly is that it not only takes us behind the ornate doors of ameer logon ka bara ghar, affording us a rare, unvarnished closeup of  various forms of emotional and physical abuse, all rationalized under the guise of a marriage, but it also goes on to depict the painful aftermath of a young girl’s shattered dreams. We see the raw, stark reality of Laila’s life when she shuns her suljha hua ameer but abusive and philandering shohar and fights her way out of the gilded cage. Yes, my once divorced friends are comfortably settled today, but the emotional price they’ve paid for this peace of mind is something that is almost never mentioned. What we are now seeing Laila go through is a phase seldom discussed in our society, be it in our living rooms, or our literature, or in our TV dramas. This be-izzati, brought upon by a girl on her family, is something we talk about in hushed tones. Un ki beti apna ghar chor kar aa gayi hai. Mind you, it’s always un ki beti never hamari beti – but obviously hamarey shareef gharanon main aisa nahin hota.

It is this kind of social gossip and duplicitous familial pressure that causes Laila’s mother to wish she had had a son instead. But then is her son any better? Where was he when his mother needed support? Even now he’s sitting abroad, manipulating his mother via phone calls. Why should he feel the need to come deal with issues in person? Regardless, of his erring ways, as the “man” of the family bhaiya feels entitled to dictate how his sister should live her life. And here, though she tells off Laila even as she is wiping away her tears, Mummy ji is as much to blame as the absent but ever present bhaiya. She is as much a part of the problem as Mansoor’s mother or our newest entrant Sa’di’s mother.

This fear, of lack of social support, is what that forces so many girls to stay in an unhappy marriage. We talk about educating girls, teaching them to stand up for themselves, but then when they do as Laila is doing, we, as a society, force her to question and regret her choices. The solution, as underscored here, lies not merely in educating our daughters but in empowering them; by listening to them rather than begining the conversation with tumhara dimagh kharab ho gaya hai … larkiyan tau aisey shoharon ke khwab dekhti hain … loag kiya kahenge… ending with the all too familiar: kash tum larki na hotein

With familial support no longer an option, Laila turns to her friends – Mrs. Khan, Kuku and Sa’di. Here, Mrs. Khan and Kuku represent Laila’s two options – re-marry or stay single. Sa’di makes remarriage sound like an attractive choice but then is marrying him really the right decision? Unwilling to let Laila walk away that easily, as he sees it, Mansoor has once again resorted to same old carrot and stick approach. Laila is all too familiar with her husband’s tactics but she needs to talk through her choices, she is in need of a sounding board. She turns to Sa’di, but in a brilliantly written, very telling moment he too shows his colors. He is open-minded enough to marry a divorced mother, but Mansoor is a topic that will always remain off limits. Were she to marry Sa’di, Laila would have to erase her past pretending it never happened. Her emotional baggage would be hers alone, but as Sa’di’s wife, his familial obligations and responsibilities would be Laila’s burden to share as well. But then the alternative is to live life as a single woman. Does Laila want to become another Kuku? Why are there only either/or answers to her questions? Were the poets who write reams upon reams extolling the virtues of a soul-mate all wrong? If not, then where was her shareek-e hayat?

Much as we, as an audience, would like a fairy-tale ending for Laila and Sa’di, or prefer to see Laila as a successful single businesswoman, the way things stand now, it seems that there are no easy or quick solutions to her problems. Laila will eventually be fine and make peace with her past, like my friends today, but in the interim I hope she remembers to keep her head held high. All roads lead to home and Laila has just taken the first step of many towards hers.

Written by SZ~

Pehchan ~ Episode 19 (For alternate links, click here)

7 replies

  1. @SZ thats what Pehchan does brilliatly – raising all the right questions.
    I was intrigued by mrs khans question: can we still love someone even though we dont like them any more? Is it even possible? And is that why Laila keeps falling in Mansoors jhansa? Finding any excuse to forgive him and give him another chance even though hes hurt her time and time again.
    Btw Where was kuku this week?
    And cant belive there was another anniversary and the baby is still as tiny as ever if not tinier. Thumbelina needs to grow!!


    • @FA: Aargh! Stupid wordpress! Ate my whole comment!Can’t believe that I have to retype again!! Anyways let me try again :/

      Re: Mrs Khan’s comment: Yes that made me stop and think abt it as well and here’s my take …. When a person consciously decides to stay in an unhappy/abusive marriage, they have to find a way to make their decision sound reasonable, or rationalize it if you may, to only their well-meaning friends, who cant understand why they are opting to stay, but also to themselves, and this is where they try to explain it away as love, as in underneath it all he loves me or that he may not love me but he respects me as the mother of his children or that no matter how he is with me he loves his children … and from what I’ve seen around me, these women no matter what they are outwardly saying are actually all afraid of what would happen to them if they walked away … they would have to not only deal with hostile/insupportive family members, but might also have to fend for themselves economically. Most importantly, though, the husband’s name acts as a kind if chaardiwari around them .. keeping them under the radar, where their lives are not open for scrutiny by all and sundry as is the case with Kuku and now Laila …. so they stay on .. and then after spending a lifetime complaining about their spouses they explain it all away as maybe thats what love is all about … at least thats how I read it … what do you say?

      Re: Laila and Mansoor: I havent seen the precap for the final ep, but from what we have seen so far I dont think Laila is seriously contemplating going back.. but I do think his “apology” made her stop and think, if for a sec, how easy it would be to give in .. no more daants from mummy no more tension of providing for herself and her daughter … after all ppl like Mrs Khan were living such lives weren’t they? Why couldnt she too just settle for less and say shayad yahi pyaar hai … but then remember her convo with her mom where she told her that wanting too much was better than settling for less .. so I dont think shes going back …

      An imp thing that Mansoor’s re-entry brought to light was Sa’di’s attitude, when he cut off Laila midway when she was trying to discuss her dilemma abt Mansoor. Gone was the supportive friend who promised to always be by her side and help her .. in that instant he was just like any other man.. that to me was a quite an eye-opener abt Sa’di! w

      LOL Kuku bechari kaam karne mein busy thii…. ab Mr Khan tau beemar hain, shayad chal chalau ka waqt aa gaya, and Mansoor ko bhi she’s dumped, so ab tau she has to work na! How else is she going to support her expensive designer wardrobe! 😉

      And uff!!! Thumbelina (love the name you’ve given her! ) bechari… I wish Khalid Sb could stop by and explain ke us bechari ke saath kya medical issue hai and why doesn’t anybody seem concerned! #Fikarmand!


      • @SZ oh no!! i hope u remembered everything.. when i loose my comment i end up forgetting everything lol

        Re mrs khan & her love excuse: I agree it was def sounded like more of an excuse. Isnt it funny how both the women were wronged but they r both feeling sorry for their men, yet not willing to forgive. I think Laila is reconsidering, being it the tars khana on his bebasi (much like mr khans bebasi) or whatever. she has fallen in that trap once again.

        ref saadi’s reaction to mansoor’s re-entry: U r right about saadi being just another man, but isnt it also simply being human? someone with feelings.. didnt Laila have a similar reaction when Kuku used to go on and on about Mansoor? One can be as nice as one can be but there are times when it gets too much to handle.. no? magar jo bhi ho, Lailas first marriage will def always remain the sore subject.. abb bechare ki chai ka maza bhi kirkira ho gya.. abb yeh dhuwan sa kahan se uthta hai!!? lol

        i just love the irony in Pehchan. bahadri ka khauf … fear of being brave! .. now this has gotta be the ultimate fear…no? and then this vs Kukus Tanhai ka khauf… Kuku seems to be over her will Laila overcome hers?

        its not just thumbelinas growth issues, but quite few other bloopers in this ep too.. did u notice Saadis candle stand on the table, all lit up, way before he gave it to her? lol


  2. As much as i loved the episode, loved ur review equally.. Something to read constructive and thought provoking..

    @FA i also liked the name Thumbelina.. So apt for our tiny bachi lol.. I guess it was 2nd anniversary after bachi was born.. Haye haye Hope bachi is medically fine LOL… Ok enough of lighter part..

    This episode was very important in terms of showing the real side of Laila’s friends.. Saadi and Mrs Khan.. Scene i loved most was last scene between laila and mrs.khan.. An excellent way of showing Qoul and Fael ka tazaad.. @SZ thats always u have been saying.. Whatever laila went through particualy in todays epi.. That will make her even more strong and making her decisions more independently.. The way laila reacted and rethink on mansoor’s apology.. I think she was meant to do that.. Its her nature.. That cant be change..

    Missed kuku though this week!


    • @Rehmat do u remember Laila saying to her mum on her last anniversary ke mummy pata nahin kitne saal ho gae hain.. abb tou pata nahin aur kitne saal ho gae honge lol


  3. @ FA Lol! I noticed the candle thing too.
    Thumbelina…hahaha..And the empty blanket baby looks like a newborn on their “first” anniversary

    Great review As usual SZ

    I am on the same page with u when it comes to mazloom women dramas. Some dramas are so far from reality in how mazloom and masoom they show these women. Or at least i find it far from reality bcuz i dont understand how can a woman bear this much zulm. But i personally know women who wont leave abusive relationships. And in some cases its best that they dont for thier children’ sake but thAts my opinion.
    Another typical story of these dramas is , two wives. i hate all these dramas now a days two women and one man. It feels like thats what all men do and this is what paki media is doing instilling this fear in women oh make sure ur husband doesnt have a second wife….Soo stupid
    Anyway besides all of thAt i didnt expect laila to get confused like that about mansoor she should know better that mansoor will never change and he doesnt deserve forgiveness. He is just desperate for any woman right now bcuz he doesnt have anyone to fullil his desires.
    I didnt get that sabzi mandi scene at all and all the metaphors that mrs khan was referring to.

    Saadi showed his real colors and probably made it easy for laila to come to a decision.


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