If ever there was a pair that was meant to be together it was that of Faisal and Ujala. It took them over six years but together they persisted and persevered till they wore down familial resistance and overcame objections to Faisal’s profession, that of an investigative TV journalist. All this because the pair couldn’t imagine living without each other. Now when they were finally married they looked forward to a life where they would share their joys and sorrows, hold each other’s hand and support each other through thick and thin. Theirs was a love strong enough to withstand whatever life threw their way. Or so they had thought before it all went very wrong.
How does Faisal look his wife in the eye and pretend all is well between them. How does he absolve himself of the guilt he feels for putting Ujala in a situation where she’s brutally raped, in front of his very eyes, on their wedding night? How does Ujala pretend to be a blushing bride when all she wants to do is to be left alone, to wash away the marks left on her soul by her rapist.
Mora Piya is not a story of a couple who blame each other for all that went wrong. Rather this is one is a story of a couple so in love they feel guilty for being the cause of the other’s pain and suffering. The soul-searching, the what-ifs drive them crazy: What if Faisal hadn’t gone that night, what if Ujala hadn’t insisted on going with him, what if he had been firmer and not let Ujala come with him, what if Faisal had heeded everybody’s warnings and taken more precautions before leaving home that night, what if he had not been selfish and continued his job, even after Ujala’s dad had cautioned him so many times, what if …..
When everything changed they did too. After the initial bout of self-flagellation they realized they needed to move forward, but how? They could not pretend nothing happened, but to move on they had to first acknowledge something happened, which meant they had to broach this taboo subject, but where would they begin? Could they start the painful healing process without either blaming each other or themselves? How would they purge themselves of the guilt without hurting each other in the process? And, once a tenuous truce was reached, could their already fragile bond bear the weight of an unwanted pregnancy? What kind of pressure would this unexpected news put on not only their strained marriage, but also on their relationship with their extended family, all of whom remained blissfully unaware of the trauma and were thrilled with the news?
These are the kinds of tough questions that Faisal and Ujala face in Mora Piya. Much like in real life these questions do not come with easy answers, if indeed there exist any. Like so many others this too is ostensibly yet another shohar-biwi story. But, unlike others, this does not involve a saas-bahu angle, frothy romance, physical abuse, or the easy resorts to jadoo tona. A mature love story, Mora Piya is a bold, yet sensitive attempt to open up a conversation seldom had in the privacy of our own homes, forget about in the public media. We’d rather not deal with such controversial issues; pretending they don’t exist is much easier.
Once Ujala’s pregnancy is confirmed, the couple are faced with the ethical, moral and emotional dilemma of dealing with this unwanted baby. Faisal, tormented by this constant reminder of his failure to protect his wife, is vehemently opposed to the baby. Ujala, on the other hand, initially in agreement with Faisal, finds it increasingly difficult to consciously make the choice of taking a life. While for most couples these stresses are hard enough to deal with privately, for Faisal, unfortunately, there is no separation between his private and professional life. Ujala’s rapist is one of the crime lords he had done a story on, and Faisal was, therefore, justifiably consumed with the desire for revenge.
Over time Faisal and Ujala grew as a couple, not closer, unfortunately, but away from each other. He is no longer the charmer, the perfect lover of the first few of episodes, this Faisal is a bitter and hard man. Hating his status quo of a relationship with his wife but unwilling to either accept the child or let Ujala go. This is a man angry not only with himself but the world at large. He loves his wife but cannot bring himself to love her child. His dilemma is heart wrenching: How long is he to be punished for behaving like a mortal that he is? When did he ever claim to be a saint? Humans, even the most well-meaning ones are wont to make mistakes and Faisal is no exception.
For her part, Ujala too is no longer the same girl who loved life, wore a constant smile on her face and dressed in bright clothes. This Ujala still smiles, but only on the outside. Like Faisal she too is merely going through the motions. She is a woman torn and tortured. Why is she being asked to choose? How can she pick between the one who completes her and other who is a part of her. She loves both but is now tired, exhausted after flailing and failing in her continued efforts to make them love each other.
From the begining to the end Aamina Shaikh and Adeel Husain are fabulous. First as the young carefree lovebirds and later as the hurting, burdened couple. Both correct in their own perspectives. Faisal said he needed time but did not how much. Similarly, Ujala too has her dilemmas. With both firmly entrenched in their positions, both right and neither wrong, where do they then find, if they ever do, a common meeting ground, is a question that Mora Piya seeks to answer.
What I enjoyed the most about Mora Piya was that rather than resorting to screaming, crying and finger pointing, for once there was an open honest dialogue between a husband and a wife. They talked to each other on equal terms. Both were right and wrong, both progressively getting equally rigid in their stance. Whether one agreed with either Ujala or Faisal, or disagreed with both, there is no denying they were both equally empowered, partners in the truest sense of the word. For writing such a powerful story that deals with a very sensitive, almost taboo, subject, for showing strong characters that stand up for themselves, for challenging the viewers to think differently, and for offering a new point of view, major props should be given to writer Mohsin Ali, screenplay writer and director Anjum Shahzad and the producers, Fizza Ali Meerza and Filmwala Productions.
The sensitivity and the aesthetic sensibility with which this very emotional story was handled is something that is quite a rarity these days. Director Anjum Shahzad resists the temptation to over tell the story and for this he deserves a round of applause. Given the story revolved around the entangled lives of Faisal, Ujala, and Azaan, it was vital these actors come through in order for the viewers to empathize with the characters’ dilemmas, and in that they do not disappoint. Simply put Aamina Sheikh and Adeel Husain are excellent here. We have since seen them as a pair in Silvatein, but Faisal and Ujala were something special. There was an openness, an honesty about their portrayals that we don’t get to see everyday.
When it first started airing, in late 2011, I remember not being that gung ho about Mora Piya and the Adeel Aamina pairing because: a) Geo had obligingly revealed the shocker in their synopsis even before the serial started, and b) because I had very fond memories of Adeel and Aamina as siblings in Daam, but once the story got underway all else was forgotten. The characters’ predicament and their almost impossible options, their very real responses to their circumstances, the choices they made or didn’t make, all had me totally hooked. The chemistry between Adeel and Aamina amped up the emotional quotient of this very well-written deceptively simple, but a very powerful story. The child star Usman Umair was absolutely fantastic as Azan. Supporting them ably were the rest of the cast: Firdaus Jamal, Manzoor Qureshi, Parvin Malik, Ismat Iqbal, and Benita David.
All in all, I count Mora Piya among one of my fave serials in recent times. Despite the fact it was generally dismissed as being too slow and boring I totally fell in love with it once I started watching and in fact it was the first serial I reviewed on a weekly basis. When I started writing this overview, to coincide with the airing on Zindagi, I thought I would write this from memory since I am guilty of having revisited this one quite a few times, but dekh lein … I ended up binge watching all day today, and am now writing this with a huge smile on my face.
I’m not quite sure how a serial with such a serious subject does that, but somehow by the time it ends Mora Piya always leaves me happy. Perhaps it is the fluent translation of the written word into a smooth onscreen narrative, maybe the uplifting message of the story, the faith this couple have in their love for each other, the delicacy with which a very sensitive issue has been addressed, the resilience of the strongly etched characters and the superb actors who became the characters, ya phir the aesthetic sensibility – whatever it might be, bottom line is that Mora Piya works because all elements come together just so, and how beautifully they do so is for you to watch and decide.
There is a lot more that can and should be said with regards to the very compelling story but I leave that for our ensuing discussions. Looking forward to reading your thoughts on Mora Piya /Piya Re.
Written by SZ~
OST~ Mora Piya /Piya Re