Ab Kar Meri Rafugari, scripted by Saira Riaz, directed by Adnan Wai Qureshi and produced by iDream Entertainment, opened its account last week on ARY Digital. Revolving around the raisons d’être of 99.99% of our drama serials – izzat, beti, pyar, shuk, and shaadi– there is nothing here that’s not been seen before, but the fact that it boasts an interesting blend of old and new faces had me checking out the first two episodes.
Rafugari, starts off as a story about Maida, a seedhi saadhi, kuch sharmili si kuch sehmi si, girl who has been brought up by a widowed mother, Ayesha, in a household consisting of two uncles and their wives and children. Because she is a single parent, Ayesha wants nothing more than to see her only daughter settled in her lifetime. Maida, being the obedient daughter that she is, understands her mother’s anxiety and is happy to go along with her plans and does not seem to aspire to much more in life, unlike her other cousins. Taban and Zofishan.
Zahida and Mujahid’s two daughters Taban and Zofishan are nothing like their quiet, understated cousin – quite the opposite in fact. Taban is very beautiful, an extrovert, a high on life kind of a person, and Zofi, her sister is an outgoing girl, who is a brilliant student. Rounding out their family is a younger brother.
Where Zahida is an understanding woman and supports her widowed sister-in-law, Samina, Maida’s other chachi, is a loud and overbearing woman. Samina is the kind who never fails to find faults in everybody else but remains willfully blind to the shortcomings of those closest to her – Shakeel, her son, for one.
Shakeel is a total loser, a wastrel who feels the whole world owes him something. Foul mouthed, hot-tempered and quick to jump off the handle, this guy is the kind of acts first and thinks later. And in all this he is egged on by his sadqay wari going mom, who thinks the sun rises and sets on her son, and for whom she has already picked out a girl from among those in the family. That the girl in question might reject her beloved son’s rishta or that the said girl’s parents might have an objection to Shakeel is a thought she keeps firmly at bay.
Even as the ladies of the household are busy looking for a rishta for Maida, they are all very mindful of the fact that the men of their family are very old school in their thinking and will not deign to get their daughters married outside of their khandan, a fact that Samina gleefully rubs in the face of guests who unknowingly come to their house for rishta purposes. And it’s not just that this family is conservative only on matters of honor and marriages, even the girls’ outings, other than for academic purposes, need to be approved by elders. Taban’s dad, is particularly strict in such matters.
Living on the other side of the metaphorical tracks, brought up in a starkly opposite familial setting, Jazib is the only son of elderly parents, both of whom suffer from ill-health, thus their desire to see him married. The guy in question is in no rush to comply – till he sees Taban. Then, forgotten are his plans of higher education and career etc, now all he can think of is Taban. Unlike her parents, Jazib’s parents don’t have any issues with a khandan ki bahu, etc, and are infact thrilled to hear he is ready to get married. Unfortunately, though, Jazib’s happiness is short-lived as Mujahid sahab refuses to be persuaded and is quick to reject this hi-fi rishta.
Two episodes in, even as the narrative has moved along appreciably, the writing needs a lot of tightening up in that the same things are being reiterated in different ways, and some of the scenes, the rishta ones in particular seem to stretch forever. Also, at times dialogues are very old fashioned and bookish, to say nothing of melodramatic, which might read well but sound quite off when spoken out loud.
Of the actors, the seniors, particularly Shamim Hilali, are always a pleasure to watch. Among the younger lot, Daniyal Raheal is good as Jazib,but he looks too old to play a college student. I get that Ushna Shah and Mariam Ansari are supposed to be happy go lucky girls at this point, but their chirpy-ness needs to be reigned in a bit. Ali Safina is playing the bad guy here and he has the lingo and body language down pat, but his Shakeel too is over exaggerated, teetering very close to a caricature. Why the need to overstate what is already stated quite clearly in script? Standing out amidst the hyperbole is Mira Sethi’s very controlled performance as the seedhi sadhi, soft spoken Maida.
As is obvious by this quick synopsis there is nothing that is exceptional about this one. What happens next can be easily discerned from the various teasers and if you need still more, then the novel, with the same name and written by same person who adapted it for TV, is easily available online. This then begs the question: Why? Why no original scripts? Why this dependence on stories already in circulation? Granted patriarchy and patriarchal honor are huge issues in a society like ours, but surely these are not the only problems Pakistanis are faced with? Have we no more equally real and relevant stories left to tell? Perhaps the marketing teams need to research a bit more?
And on marketing, could someone please explain the need for promos that highlight scenes depicting physical abuse. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, check this out:
As it is there is a marked increase of violence in our serials, and that too becoming more and more explicit, but to then exploit it like this, by using it to promote a serial sends out completely the wrong message. What is the point of a story that shows violence in order to condemn it later, if the promos are using those scenes for precisely the opposite purpose? Do we really want to live in a society where violence is used as a means to sell a particular product? If not, then why are we perpetuating and promoting violence like this? What does it say about us as a people if we are expected to be enticed by explicit acts of violence?
Overall, though this is nothing to write home about, it is an alright watch, if you are looking to for something to binge-watch with your hand on the fast forward button.
Written by SZ~
Ab Kar Meri Rafugari ~ Hassan Hayat Khan ~ OST