When you know how a story is going to unfold there is very little room for surprise, a kiya baat hai! moment, but this week Pinjra manages to do just that. Kudos to Imran Nazir, Kashif Nisar, Samina Ahmed and Nauman Ijaz for fashioning something different from the same old material.
Last week set the groundwork for the clash between the Mazaris and the Chaudhrys and this episode picked up the narrative and the expect feud happened, and by the end of the hour Bibi had called for a meeting of the panchayat (village elders) to avenge her son’s death.
It is to the writer and director’s credit for opting to show rather than tell, to subtly underscore the control exerted by feudals. The way Bibi summarily dismissed the police FIR and asked for Mubashir to be released was beautifully done. That she was getting him released only to bring him in front of the jirga was clearly understood by all parties concerned. And at the tribal council meeting the corrupt witness was yet another testament to the length Bibi was willing to go to get her desired punishment for her son’s murderer.Even though no part of the country is outside of the purview of law, but such jirgas, panchayats, councils of tribal elders, all continue to exist, right under the nose of the law. At the very least these illegal parallel law courts are testimony to the power and influence of feudalism.
Feudalism thrives in a patriarchal system, but Bibi’s position and power are testament to the fact that social systems would not continue to exist if it was just one group oppressing the other one. Here we see how women too play a part in upholding patriarchy. Just like their male counterparts women too get sucked into the system seduced by the magnetic pull of power. A dictatorial woman like Bibi not only oversees family matters but also commands a seat at the jirga council. Her contemptuous smirk at her late husband’s picture and the way she deals with the police, handles her sons, including the brutish Raga, her insistence on delaying the burial, all point to a woman who is as much a despot as a despot can be. Its her way or the highway.
Bibi’s is the central character so far which is pushing the story ahead. Ranga’s was another character with a very colorful, larger than life presence, but that is now snuffed out. Alongside these, other characters, Zulekha, Jahan, Aasiya, Mubashir, and Ranga’s wife, all are still in the process of shaping up. Of these, Zulekha seems to have potential for interest as she has the makings of another Bibi, given that her husband Jahan seems to be quite oblivious of his wife’s interests and activities. Aasiya, of course will be the other main character since she plays the title role of the vani. Daniyal Raheal’s character is yet to make an appearance.
As compared to the first one, this second episode, sans gratuitous violence and in-your-face symbolism, made for an engrossing watch. The narrative unfolded smoothly, events happened in quick succesion but was all handled so well that it never seemed convenient, forced or fake. I am particularly appreciating how Pinjra not only addresses a relevant issue, but also never loses sight of the fact that at the end of the day the primary purpose of a drama is to entertain, hence we see texture and substance alongside a social message subtly woven in the writing so far.
Taking shape under Kashif Nisar’s direction and Rashid Abbas’ cinematography, Imran Nazir’s story is brought alive by some great acting. Samina Ahmed is simply brilliant as Bibi. Her getup, her accent, her body language, everything is spot on. Her dance, on seeing her son’s dead body, was something else. Similarly in the jail scene she was fab. Nauman Ijaz was simply brilliant as Ranga. I had not realized his was a guest appearance, but wow, what an appearance. He was fab when he was dancing and later with his mother. The little quirks he adds into his characters are superb. Among others, Kiran Haq is doing well as Zulekha and I’m waiting for Yumna Zaidi to get more screen time.
While the storytelling part was really well done, I have to complain about the makeup on the younger ladies. Aasiya, for instance, wakes up in the morning but her hair and makeup game is on point. And, my complaint with over bright sets still remains but now, with the story going well I have reconciled myself to it. The rest, editing is effective, and I appreciate that background score has been toned down and is being used sparingly.
All in all this one I enjoyed. What about you guys?
Written by SZ~