Pinjra started off as Asiya’s story, a young carefree girl who yearned to fly the open skies, freed from the encumbrances of familial dos and donts. But not all wishes come true. A long-standing spat between Mubashir, her brother, and Ranga, scion of another feudal family in the area, grew to a point where through no doing of her own Asiya was forced to become a vani and sent to a literal pinjra, the Mazari’s haveli, where she like a caged bird is at the mercy of others’ whims. Her life no longer her own.
What make this one hat ke is that this is not just Asiya’s sob story. At its core Pinjra is the story of a corrupt societal system. A system unafraid of preying on its own, those very same people who play a part in sustaining it. After having being sprung from prison Mubashir may look like he is a free man but is he really? Thanks to the ruling of the panchayat, of which he is a member, he can only look on helplessly as his family pays the heavy price for a murder he didn’t quite commit. His daughter, his sister, his mother, his wife… He is as much a victim, as much in a pinjra as his sister is.
On the other side of the equation, guarding the metaphorical pinjra is Jannat Bibi. A woman like no other she is power personified. So complete is her hold on not just the panchayat but also the family, that her own dead son lay unburied for several days till the time she deemed it okay to do so. Jaidad = izzat for Bibi. Nothing, not even her only daughter’s happiness matters when it comes to such matters. How could she allow her khanadani jaidad to go away into some stranger’s hands? And because she dared defy her, along with Asiya Nazo too is a prisoner. That her tragedy is known to everybody but is deliberately forgotten only serves to underscore the absolute power wielded by the gatekeepers of the pinjra. All this done right under the nose of the law.
No matter how fearful Bibi’s hold might be, that she continues to not only survive but actually thrive is testament to the support she receives from those around her. For every person victimized there are just as many bystanders who revel in such barbarous games. Zulekha for one. She may be a bystander today but not for long. She very much sees herself as the next Bibi in making. Her power games, not on full display as yet, can easily be discerned in her interactions with her husband Jahanzeb. And in a ploy to make her position even stronger she is planning a rishta between her sister and her brother-in-law Shahzeb.
For a household so firmly ensconsed in the archaic feudal mindset Shahzeb’s entry promises to rattle more than a few pinjras. Not as easily pliable as his older siblings and with a very different worldview it will be interesting to see how much change, if at all, he can bring to the prevailing rural feudal set up. His efforts to usher in modern ideas – education for the peasants – versus the traditional mindset – if educated peasants will no longer serve – is sure to raise Bibi’s ire but the fact that he is her ladla sets up for an interesting dynamic.
Five weeks in Pinjra is turning out to be quite the thriller. Having tuned into this one almost on a whim I am now into this story and look forward to seeing the direction this story takes and how these characters evolve with time. The question of Asiya’s nikah, hua tau kis se hua, has been kept deliciously ambigious and adds to the dramatic tension. So far I have been pleasantly surprised by the skilful writing and the way Imran Nazir has managed to weave in so much yet not allowing the story to become a laundry list of issues.
Kashif Nisar’s direction is fabulous as always. I am enjoying the fluency of the narrative and the pace at which events are unfolding. Things happen in each episode but there is never a feeling of being rushed. It is good to see the ease with which various layers are being revealed, one track at a time. I liked how Nazo’s story was introduced and then Sakina’s back story. Given the premise of the story and the horrible publicity design I had been afraid of this turning into an OTT sobfest but so far, apart from one over long scene of Asiya crying for her mother, the melodrama has been handled pretty well.
Writing and direction aside, much of Pinjra would not work were it not for Samina Ahmed’s amazing performance as Jannat Bibi. She is seriously menacing. The scene in which she laughs while Sheedo danced on hot coals chilled me to the core. Kiran Haq is another one who is really good here. Hassan Niazi, Yumna Zaidi, Aymi Khan, Hasan Ahmed, all are playing their characters well. Daniyal Raheal made his entry as Shahzeb and it was worth the wait.
The promo for the next episode holds out the promise that Shahzeb is not going to wait long before he starts asking the hard questions and pushes for changes. Will be interesting to see how long before Bibi forgets he is her favorite son!
Overall, despite my ongoing issues with the makeup and the electric blue haveli set, along with all its OTT interior decor, I am happily on board with this one. Ab APlus walo please better not mess with this one!
Written by SZ~