Mera Naam Yousuf Hai ~ Episode 18 Review

MHYH

The past three four reviews have all discussed patriarchy and its  attendant evils, domestic violence being one of the several other equally ugly presentations. In reading the various characters that populate the visually bright but emotionally dark world of Mera Naam Yousuf Hai we’ve seen the hows of why an ossified system like ours not only exists but thrives, and identified those responsible for the perpetuation of this skewed societal setup, one which is heavily skewed towards those in a position of power, be it economic and/or social. So deeply embedded are notions of izzatnaam, ghar, khandan, loag, duniya, that often times even those who want to protest the system end up repeated and reiterating the status quo.

Highlighting social evils, underlining religious hypocrisies, pointing out prevalent double standards, holding up the mirror to evidence collective responsibility for all that is wrong, this is all well and good, but after this depressing scenario should we take the moral to be that change can/will never happen?

Are we destined to only hear lambay lecture aur josheeli taqreerein? In ka kiya faida? Kya hum yahan nahin rehte? Kiya hamein nahin pata ke kahan kahan kiya kharabi hai? Tau phir sirf batein or n’arey hi kyon? Kiya tabdeeli kabhi nahin ayegi? Hum kab dekhenge…  woh din … jab taaj uchhaley jayen ge?

Where many dejected cynics might shake their heads and walk away, to give them credit Khalil ur Rehman Qamar and Mehreen Jabbar offer us an alternative way of thinking, a way out of this morass. Rather than talking in broad macro terms – m’ashra badal dena, naya nizam lana – they push for individual responsibility, asking for making micro differences. Instead of waiting for radical change to be foisted on from the outside, why not take charge of the process and usher in change from within, one person, one ghar, one khandan at a time?

When Wajih returned Afia back to her parents she had no other alternative but to become Noor Muhammad’s wife. After all what were her other options? An unmarried single woman living alone without familial support? The concept might sound romantic on principle but a difficult one to practice when pragmatically viewed within Afia’s socio-economic context. Hence she married a man who took particular delight in torturing her, egged on as he was by his sister who had her own axe to grind against her beautiful bhabhi. But that was then.

Twenty some years later, overall desi society might’ve remained the same but there was this one thing that had changed, Afia had evolved. Zulekha would not be raised by a bechari majboor maa. She brought up her daughters with a mind of their own, educated them so they could think critically, empowered them by sharing hard-earned lessons from her past. She tried her level best to protect Zulekha but when push came to shove she couldn’t save her from ending up in Imran Mughees’ bedroom as his bhagori dulhan. At least that’s how it seemed to Afia that night.

Zulekha, however, was not her mother’s daughter for nothing. And for that matter she’d inherited quite a bit of shrewdness from her phupo as well. Not only did she manage to retain her honor and dignity, but also gained an advocate in the smitten Imran Mughees. One night with her hard-hitting truths and he was willing to play her knight in shining armor, albeit kuch dara kuch sehma sa...

Where Afia has faced and continues to face the cruel and harsh realities of patriarchy her daughter is more optimistic. She sees and wills change to happen. One could either dismiss her as naive or perhaps hand it to her for being smart enough to play the games her genteel mother was unable to so many years ago. Whatever it may be and however it happens, there are more than a few signs that the combo of Afia’s tarbiyat and Noor Muhammad’s genes has started to bear fruit. Its not just Zulekha, Wali too has given his share of jhatkas – she to her phupo and he to his dad.

Going by all that we had seen of him so far, Wali had not really impressed as someone who’d ever had a single independent thought – it was either his dad or Tehmina who had done this job for him. But seeing how he’d been used by his father and phupo served as a real eye opener for him. Afia’s slap and ghar nikala did the rest.  It was like a blind man seeing for the first time. End result: khushkhabri for his mother and for his father, not quite.

By not allowing herself to lose hope, pushing as and when and where possible, Afia was able to bring about change. It maybe too late for her and Noor Muhammad, but for her children the time is right and it is now. Wali has seen the error of his ways, and Zulekha, no matter what her marital status vis-à-vis Imran Mughees, is in a position to make her own life choices.

And on life choices, fighting against not just the world outside but the world within as well is tearing Madiha apart. On the one hand she wants to protect her sense of self but then on the other there is Yousuf. It was fabulous to see her holding her own, refusing t cave into pressure from not just Nudrat and Wajih, but also from her own brother. Whether its pleading Yousuf’s case or looking out for her happiness, both parties seem blissfully unaware that Madiha is not an object to be given over to somebody at will. Both need to see she is fully capable of making her own choice – even one as painful as saying no to someone who’s always been her first option.

As for the first option in question, rather than being thankful for the well-meaning people in his life and recognizing how much trouble he’s put everybody through, we see him pouting at his mother and slapping his best friend – say what?!? Itney hazaar nakhrey when he’s basically unemployed and mooching off of his parents and best friends! Wah, aisi halat mein tau forget about Zulekha I would advise Madiha also to tell you to go take a hike! Or at the very least make him work for you, girl! How dare he show up at her house and throw her love in her face?!?

All in all this was one heck of an episode – each scene better than the one before. I am loving the delightful blend of humor and pathos, and enjoying how the darkness of the story is offset by the brilliant visuals. The actors, each and everyone is perfectly cast and all appear to be relishing their meaty characters. Above and beyond all else, for me the true hero here is the empowering moral of the story. Rather than being handed the circa 1930’s advice- beta sabar karo, jo Allah ki marzi, tumhari qismat, Allah par yaqeen karo, sab theek ho jayega, ek din tumhare bhi din phir jayenge – we are being shown that in addition to having yaqeen in Allah there needs to be a concerted, honest effort from the human as well.

A few more Afias and Zulekhas, and Madihas and Hajras and Tajis and Imran Mughees-es and Walis – all of whom are far from perfect – and who knows … hum dekhen ge!

Written by SZ~

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13 replies

    • @TSBindra: Hello! lovely to hear from you – its been a while 🙂

      Thank you for reading – glad you enjoyed the review 🙂 Its been a while since we’ve had a drama thats not just raising issues but addressing them proactively as well …
      Since you were here with us during Pehchan, did you feel a similarity in the solutions suggested by the two writers?

      • Yes, I see the similarity but most of the viewers are taking interest only in love angel and cannot see the wood from the trees. They are interested only in the pairings, though I hopefully anticipate an ending similar to Pechaan,

  1. Great review…loved the part about Madiha taking a hike lol… I really hope she has a good answer for Yousuf in the next episode. He is never going to go out of his way for her…he is taking her for granted and I believe she knows that. Also I do believe Yousuf brought a change in Zulekha in making her stand up and fight for her right, but I really hope her way out of this mess is not just by marrying Yousuf…It is high time a Pakistani Drama shows that women are not only accepted in society as someone’s daughter or wife and that she can have her own identity and life independently if she chooses.

    • @Seher: Hey! Thanks – glad you thought it relevant 🙂
      Haina!! Me too! I really hope Madiha tells him go take a hike… I so wanted to do him some harm when I saw the precap.. and that after following an episode where he pretty much just played the I’ve-been-wronged card .. dont want to give out any spoilers (and wrong ones at!)
      but there are pics floating around where Mansha is dolled up as a bride and Imran’s in a sherwani .. :/

      Interesting .. I didn’t really see Yousuf being the reason why Zulekha stood up to fight for herself .. her protest against the two arranged rishtas was already on record before he showed up on her doorstep, but yes, what I would say is that he becomes the catalyst that gets things going and then it becomes like a domino effect .. also she does tell him at his house that she is not sure what love ids or that she is in love with him… more a case of she didnt really know where else to go when she left her house .. after all she couldnt really have gone to her relatives or her friends’ houses in that situation …

      Amen to your last line … we saw this happening in Pehchan and now I’m rooting for a similar ending here as well .. of course you do realize that were that to happen majority of the viewers who are watching this only for the love story and waiting to see terms of who’s gonna pair up with whom .. 🙂

      • Thank you for your reply SZ! I still haven’t been able to watch Pehchan will start soon inshallah. I am watching aur zindagi badalti hain right now and I am so impressed by how emancipated the women in this play are. I love Nadia Jamil but Sania Saeed is even more amazing as Irsa. This play really shows Mehreen Jabbar’s caliber as a prominent director. There are so many sensible plays dil khush hojata hain 😀

  2. Great review,!!! you really explored the brunt of the issue and how we can change. This is also very much in line with our own religion
    Sometimes I wonder when people want change whether it be a different political party or they support a coup to bring change, that is all very well when you don’t agree with policies but when there are fundamental problems and societal issues from the bottom up it is not just about who is leading the country.the lying taxi cab driver, the abusive father, the slandering relative. Are all issues that destroy our morals and relationships.We all have to change ourselves and Want good for others, equality, justice , honesty in all your dealings
    in Islam there is a famous narration from the propher” the ruler is a reflection of the people” so you can keep changing the ruler but there will be no improvement unless the people change and sorry to say this but Pakistan has a lot of problems whether patriarchal or more, the abuse, cheating corruption all starts from the bottom up. People really have to look at themselves and fix from within their families like you said
    You beautifully stated how Afia already started it, so beautifully instilled her values in Zulekha, who will now no way take phupos crap. So yeah the change has begun, however the issue here though was that noor Mohammad married again which made it easier for everyone to go against him and maybe for drama purposes and entertainment it was easier to see him as blacker than black
    What about the fathers who don’t marry again? but still force their daughters, and have horrible relatives to deal with , thinking they get to make every decision for the girl,that’s definitely more common. The girls are just expected to go along with it and take whatever they are dished out.
    But SZ some women are not as courageous as Afia or Zulekha honestly it takes a lot to runaway from home, you usually have to do something really drastic to deal with such antagonist men or repulsive situations and sometimes it’s not that easy. It’s like when your in an abusive marriage,not that easy to walk away.
    I just hope Allah gives these people hidayat, because there are many wonderful men and fathers also who give so much respect to their daughters. Here’s praying for all men to be like that
    Sorry for the very long comment, it was due to your brilliant insightful reading of the play that resonated with me so much

    • @SK: Loved reading your very insightful and well-put comment! You are so right about the root problem not being just about one issue our the other in our society .. its about everything across the board .. and its so much easier to shift the blame on the next person up the food chain rather than taking individual responsibility and begining with ones own self rather than merely pointing fingers ..

      I honestly think that education – read: good education not just ratafication – is the key to success.We need to educate our children, more so the girls, teach them the difference between right and wrong and empower them to think critically and we will see things turn for the better. For sure this is a very slow process and will not happen in time for this generation, but hopefully efforts today will allow the next generation an opportunity to lead happier, healthier lives.

      Also, agree with you about the relative ease with which problems get solved and how easy it is for us to pick out our villains here .. you are right, a real Noor Muhammad would not be as easily thwarted, nor would a real life Wali sudhrofy with just one slap, and not every girl who runs away is lucky enough to end up with shareef men like Yousuf and Wajih – 99.97% of the time such street romeos are good-for-nothing loafers, and I am still very much opposed to the message of that particular plot point and wish Khalil sahab had come up with another way of introducing this pair – but all that aside I am glad that they were able to get the issue and a possible solution across. That they did so while preserving the entertainment value without making it into a long winded lecture/documentary is a huge achievement on part of the entire Team – producers, writer, director, cast, crew, and in fact even the channel … now if only others could follow suit #ifwisheswerehorses

      LOL @ the long comment . look at me!! 😉

      P.S. Sorry for the hassle with posting your comment .. you should be all set now but do let me know if it happens again.

  3. How do you manage to nail it with every review SZ?? Love your insight and understanding of the subtext – it makes it all so worth it! Thank you!!
    Yes, the change comes from the individual – that single cell that multiplies to change it all. And education is the means to that end. Afia was an educated woman but shackled by societal norms and perhaps with little or no support from her mother. But she has been able to provide that support to her daughters and instilled in them the values that give them the confidence to question accepted norms and strive to change their own circumstances. Keep watching – Afia and Zulekha won’t disappoint you 😉

    • @hina khwaha bayat: So so sorry for not taking this long to respond – my apologies! And you are too too kind and generous with your words!

      I know its really late, but I will post my review and will look forward to reading your final thoughts on this serial .. 🙂

  4. @SZ Been very busy lately hence the absence,. I was gonna return to the blog on the next ep.. But after watching the latest ep read this now and I just had to stop everything now and do a wah wah!! Honestly Thoroughly enjoyed this!!..the ep and ur review!.. Cant wait for the next review..
    Yes God help those who help themselves.. We can’t sit back and wait for the man-o-salwa.. I agree with education but I think it’s more about enlightenment and empowerment.. Its about the mindset, and that comes from home.. And perhaps the mother…
    Then we have the Phuppos of this society who exploit their position of power.. She has a daughter who seems fairly… (well dunno what to call it..).. I am really enjoying this balance/imbalance..
    I think this has turned into KUR’s strongest script so far. I can forgive him for his ishq wala love track in the beginning.. I think looking back at it now, if we didn’t have the garam doodh pilao type lines and so forth, it wouldn’t have angered us as much then perhaps… would love to hear your thoughts on his return to ishq wala love talk in the latest episode… in a very different light indeed..
    baqi next review par…

  5. SZ, please write a review on episodes 19 and final 20. I have been waiting for so long to hear your final words on this drama. Thank you.

    • @saidarathor: Thank you so much for reading the reviews and commenting – welcome aboard! My sincerest apologies for not responding to your earlier comments – hopefully will try to get back on track and not make you wait this long again!

      That’s so sweet of you to want to read my take … I know its really late now and nobody will even read it anymore, but I will try my best to have the review up by tonight or tomorrow at the latest.

      Also, you had asked about my take on the dramas of 2014 .. and here it is ..
      https://desirantsnraves.com/2014/12/31/goodbye-2014welcome-2015-2/

      I will do one for 2015 IA at the end of this year ..

      Will look forward to reading your thoughts on the MNYH finale review!

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