Thirteen weeks in Preet Na Kariyo Koi continues to soar!
Looking up at the colorful kites Ilyas so loved to fly, young Goshi too thought she was the mistress of her own destiny, soaring freely in the open skies hoping to become one with the glowing sun. Kis ki kiya majal thi jo Shagufta Shehzadi ko koi kuch keh sakey. But that was then. Those were the misconceptions of a young immature girl.
As a mature woman, Shagufta knows better. The illusion of a kite flying free in the sky is just that – an illusion. It might appear to surge towards the sky of its own free will, but in reality its direction and destination is determined by he who controls the string. It moves as commanded. It might rebel and push, but…
Forget about living life freely on her terms, she has it worse than those kites she grew up around. The kite of Shagufta’s life is manipulated by not one but two controllers, Shams, the love of her life, and Suleri, the bane of her life, both pulling her equally in opposite directions. All she had ever wanted was to be with her beloved, but Shams never cared for her the way she had convinced herself he did. For him she was a means to an end. Suleri sahab ne kaha shadi kar lo and us ne kar li. It was just that simple for him.
For Shagufta, however, it was never as cut and dried. She loved Shams and that was that. Shams, on the other hand, is too busy being in love with himself and his goal, to be a politician, which is the be-all and end-all of his existence. Hence, for him to now be told khidmat tau khidmat hoti and what does it have to do with uhdas has certainly gotten Shams’ blood boiling. And in this game of egos and wills between the kingmaker and the wanna-be king, Shagufta gets played again. All those year she spent doing everything Shams told her to do, bent over backwards to accommodate Suleri’s demands on her time, all for naught. For both these men she might as well be a kite, useful only when it can flies as per their desire, otherwise just useless paper.
But this by no means should be taken to infer that Shagufta has turned into some sobbing hysterical woman. No, she is Shagufta Shehzadi and Shagufta Shehzadi does not cry. That will happen later if it at all does. For now, Shagufta is too busy dealing with all these crises at a time she thought would be the happiest moment of her life – her husband home and their little family complete. But she had miscalculated.
Unlike his wife, Shams spent the past 17 years imagining a very different scenario, one that did not include playing happy houses with Shagufta or playing Daddy to a teenage daughter. No he was looking forward to playing politics, sitting at the same table as Suleri sahab, as his equal. But, he forgot. He might think he is smarter than her, but as it turns out he is just as gullible as his wife. Suleri has been playing them both for so long, why would he give up now? Now, after he had invested so much in Shagufta?
Shams looks and sounds like a pea brain but does that make him one? Methinks yes. His decision to challenge Suleri by running as a candidate from Gujranwala, his hometown, is a shaky one to begin with, but to make an alliance with his brother Mushtaq? Really? Shams, I knew you weren’t the brightest bulb on the block, but this dim? Now this is what I would call jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. Running away from Suleri to…. Mushtaq?? I guess some people really need to have the lesson hammered into their heads before they get it.
But khair, in all of this the one person who will finally get to have a home and a husband to call her own is Zarina. But again, is Shams still as great a catch as he was 17 years ago, sans a politician wife and a teenaged daughter? She might get away from the zulm of Mushtaq and his wife/her sister but then is Shagufta going to treat her any better? Whether Shams really cares for either of his wives is a whole other matter, but as far as Zarina is concerned Shagufta will always see her as an arch rival. So yeah, a lot of fireworks over the course of the next few weeks.
And totally lost in all this garbar between the adults is Noori. It is hard enough to compete with a father in jail, but now that he is out, it is heart wrenching to see the young girl still playing second fiddle to her father’s political aspirations. If dealing with an emotionally unavailable father is not bad enough she also has to bear the brunt of her mother’s residual guilt, of her college days and the lies she told her family and all that she put them through. It’s a good thing that she has Rumi who helps her deal with her family’s less than savory background.
Where Rumi is cheering her on for now, I wonder how he and his family will react when they find out Noori is none other than the politician Shagufta and notorious criminal Shams’ daughter. I cannot even begin to comprehend the psychological harm such public humiliation and rejection would do to an already stressed out young adult. I don’t think either of her parent’s have ever stopped to think of the kind of emotional trauma this girl has and is going through.
Had Noori known about Bhola or Ilyas, I’m pretty sure she would’ve loved to have asked them for pointers on how to deal with social ostracization. As was obvious even in that quick exchange between the two men, they are still nowhere near over what Goshi’s marriage did to them. I enjoyed the seamless manner in which this track was woven back into the story.
Was Shams worth all the trouble that she put her family, her daughter and herself through? Shagufta has not yet allowed this question to enter her conscious mind, but I am sure niggles of doubt are gradually making themselves heard. That look in the mirror, when she was taking off her politician’s garb, spoke volumes. She was bone-tired, ready to give it all up. But her masters, those who pull her strings, are not ready to let go as yet. Keep flying, therefore, she must.
It’s been thirteen weeks and Preet is yet to lag or sag. Amna Mufti’s writing continues to surprise with every twist and turn, but it is all done so skilfully that it never seem forced. Everything that has happened so far has done so very organically. All characters are beautifully colored in various shades of grey and their personalities are very skilfully drawn out. Though at the heart of it all this is a story about a girl’s coming of age arc, it would be injustice to describe it as just that. This just as much a story of a man who is as simple as he is complicated. And making these two dance at his whim is the puppet master, Suleri.
If last year it was Nauman Ijaz as Bhatti sahab in Jackson Heights, then this year it has to be Rehan Sheikh as Suleri who steals the whole kit and kaboodle. He is simply fabulous! Love the way he delivers his lines, each word, be it Persian or Urdu or English or Seraiki, is beautifully inflected and pitched just so. Each expression, each facial tic, body language everything about him conveys malice with a capital M.
Ahsan Khan is another one who is shining very bright here; he has Shams Siyal down pat. I seriously hope that after this he will not go back to doing the same old stuff and continue to stretch himself as an actor with similarly different characters. Hira has done her homework and it shows. Her scenes with both Ahsan Khan and Rehan Sheikh carried a lot of impact. There are time when she wavers but overall she is doing justice to her beautifully written character. Noor Khan works well as the troubled Noori. Among the rest of the cast, I enjoyed Saman Ansari’s scene while feeding the crows. Infact that whole moment was fabulous; written with the kind of dark humor that Amna does so well, and that little snippet of Mushtaq trimming his beard was so authentic and true to the context the story in which the story is set.
My one and only huge complaint is yet again about the makeup. Hira, no matter how ugly her glasses and however many strands of grey she has painted on, does not look like a woman in her late 30s. Bhola, on the other hand, seems to have grown up overnight into a man who does not look to be in his late 2os/early 30s. Other than that, and Zarina’s strangely colored purple grey hair, everything else is gelling really well. A huge round of applause for Ehtesham, the director, for ensuring that none of the nuances of this very complex story got lost in translation, and for getting such fab performances from his actors.
All in all, Preet is a very engaging socio-political thriller and I am hooked!
Written by SZ~