Pinjra ~ Episodes 4 & 5 Review

16325417_10155721051738662_520030048_oPinjra 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~

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33 replies

  1. Excellent review. Pinjra is indeed going amazing. I am liking the way story is being unfold bit by bit n that too in interesting way.. Just like Aaisya we also look forward to khala sheeda for more insight stories … And talking about her.. My goodness that scene was brutal… SA gave me goosebumps by making her dance on coal and then laughing like maniac.. I thought she will make aasiya dance on her mothers death to avenge her dance on ranga death.. Lol.. Meand my typical dramatic thinking.. Yumna is v good here as masoom but someone with thinking brain.. Daniyal Raheel was waqai worth waiting.. Maaan he looks so mature.. At first i thoought aasiya wanted someone like DR when she imagined him in first epi never knew she actually liked him.. Would be interesting how he turns the table of this feudal family..

    Sister story was such an unexpected turn..i quite liked it.. And tell me briefly why zulekha wanted a chor in Jahan’s heart.. So that she can liberty to do whatever she want.. She n her maid are khatarnak.. Even Jannat bibi is biased towards her bhateeje..

    Everyone is doing remarkably well.. But SA stoles the show…just too good

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    • @Rehmat: Glad you’re on board with this one!

      LOL! Please dont give Bibi any more ideas! She is cruel enough on her own merit and thinks up of some really off ways to torture people .. when Sheeda started dancing i thought ok chalo shes unhappy but not like shes being asked to stand on her head or something and then lol and behold she kicked her chillam- uff! kiya aurat hai!

      And that maid! Uff did you see her giving those sideways looks to all those around her .. totally a shaitan ki chaili… ab lets see what happens next .. So happy DR has made his entry .. I know you are a fellow fan of his .. so looking forward to seeing more of his character develop.

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  2. Great review, as always! 🙂

    These two episodes did a good job with moving the plot forward, and introducing a couple of new characters in a very organic way that didn’t interfere with the story-telling. I honestly was not expecting Pinjra to be very good, so I’m surprised at how well this show is chugging along.

    I’m particularly impressed with Asiya who still has a sort of wide-eyed innocence about her despite the total horror of her current situation. You also get the sense that she’s not as delicate and mazloom as the other characters think she is. She’s a survivor and you can sort of see the wheels in her brain turning as she tries to work out her place in the Mazari haveli.

    It’s also interesting how this show highlights a thing that’s sometimes lost in social message programming: women are victims, yes, but it’s often other women perpetuating the system too. Jannat Bibi, Zulekha and even Kausar are all complicit in the horrible things happening to the other women in that household, while the men in the household are mostly passive and reacting to the situation. Also, I’ve been saying the name ‘Zulekha” wrong my whole life until now!

    I was kind of mean to Mubasshir last week, but wow, that man lived in a house full of interesting, competent women, and he’s lost them. All of them. I’m curious if he’ll be motivated to bring Asiya back home, and never mind the consequences because he’s completely alone and isolated now.

    Finally, I like that Shahzeb might shake things up a bit, since this is what we expect from foreign-educated zamindar types who have actual backbones and stuff, no? 😉 But I don’t like that this sets up a fairly obvious Shahzeb-Asiya-Jehanzeb triangle. (Also, sheesh, all it took was one look at Asiya to change Jehanzeb’s mind about her? I mean, has he taken a good look at his own wife yet, lol?)

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    • @RK: So glad you are enjoying this one and not maaroing me dandas for wasting your time 😉
      Haina! I too am liking the fluency with which the writer and director are telling this story .. so much like SeMM just a few weeks ago #UffTheTraumaOfTodaysEp!
      Re: Mubashir … hmm will be interesting to see how this character develops but something tells me he though he might gear up some strength later – much later- after Shahzeb eggs him on, but even then I dont think he will have the gumption to take on Bibi, as in look her in the eye and say Im taking my sister home .. look at the way he just stood there looking while his sister wailed her heart out …

      Re: Asiya: Yes! Rehmat too commmeted on this aspect .. I like that her spirit is damaged but not broken as yet .. I loved hearing the hope in her voice when she asked about who she was nikah-ed to… and dont you just love how we are being kept in the dark about who she is married to …

      Haha!! I see the sneaky ref to apna Wali-Man 😉 Yes, ostensible similarities but I think this W’s character graph will be focused on rattling the pinjras rather than being caught between the vani and the wife .. uff that W had such potential and he talked such a fine talk but alas .. didnt do diddly squat for anybody really ..
      Yes, the potential for the triangle is there but remember Z bibi is very much there as the fourth angle as well so methinks that J bhai will have to be satisfied with lusting in his heart.. And yes what a piece of work he is! Bas one glimpse of the clean face and he’s interested … slips right in to the stereotypical debauched feudal slot recently left vacant by the death of his brother …but I think Z knows her husband is a weak man and I think thats why she has bardaasht kar-oed him for so long.. his palpable interest in A has given her yet more stuff to hold over his head and she will no doubt use this when it comes time for her to get him to do something underhanded and nefarious for her …

      So far so good … ab lets see where this goes and I really hope it stays the course #StillUpsetAboutSeMM :/

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      • Oh no. I was all excited because today is SeMM day, but I haven’t watched the latest installment yet, and you’re scaring me a bit.

        As an aspiring (read: very lazy) writer, watching a story unfold is a thing I find utterly fascinating. Pinjra is setting up in a really interesting way. In particular, I think it’s amazing that they tucked the Mazari sister away for this many episodes, but her entry felt totally natural at the same time. Also, yes, the mystery of who is actually Asiya’s sar ka saeen is interesting, though I feel it’s got to be Jehanzeb, no? I don’t know how she could be nikah-oed to Shahzeb in his absence, for example.

        I don’t really get Z to be honest. On the one hand, she seems to have it out for Jehanzeb because he doesn’t love her as well as she deserved or something. What’s the history there? On the other hand, she also has a thing for Mubashir even though he’s a married man and not exactly aligned with her family.

        Uff, Wali. I need him to get out of my head, lol. I can’t decide if he was a good guy who was just unfortunate enough to be in love with the wrong woman and therefore died trying to protect her, or if he was a total jerk who toyed with the emotions of both his wives only to leave them both high and dry when they needed him the most. If only we could get our hands on the writer’s original script, lol.

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        • Lol! Don’t let me scare you off .. I understand there are others who thought it was quite good .. watch — I’m looking fwd to your take 😁
          I don’t know if A is really nikahed to anybody .. remember when Bibi neatly sidestepped the ques saying ke vani tau bana kar laye hain .. we never got to see the nikah per se so it could be anything and actually if there is no nikah then it’s even more an indication of bibis absolute power and others’ complicity that she can get away by just simply bringing an enemy’s daughter in her house, thus thumbing her nose at the very traditions that she uses to enforce her will ..
          re: Z methinks there is history there, solid history, but we’ll just have to wait it out .. Abhi tau we are on Sakina’s back story .. Sheedo’s feet are still hurting tau ahista ahista suna rahi hai na 😂

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          • Oooo. If she’s not married to any of them, that would be fascinating. She would have actual agency, along with the other women in that house. I’m going to root for that now, lol.

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        • Oh the numm script .. uff it was all mad .. as SS said they never really were given a complete script beforehand and it came piecemeal and then in between there were other issues – dates budgets etc- and then FK signed on for Khoobsurat so he wanted to wrap up and move on .. so basically a big mess ..the writer did comment on the finale review but he could never really explain his side of the story .. bas ab bhool jao 🙂

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          • What a mess indeed! Sania Saeed absolutely deserved better than that disaster of a show!

            And IDK if Khoobsurat was really worth it, but hey, being arm candy in a Disney film obviously made with the female gaze in mind is still a perfectly good Bollywood launch pad, lol.

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            • It was a very smart move methinks .. the character was well within his comfort zone., there was already a built in audience acceptance for him in that kind of a character , thanks to zgh and HS and he did get to play the Prince Charming so it was all good and from there Kapoor & Sons was a great second project .. sad though that we won’t see him there again, for a bit at least . It would’ve been interesting to see his choices and watch how far he was willing to push the envelope.

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    • @RK re Mubashir – yes lost all the interesting, competent women in his house.. and two more in the town.. Sorry but this guy is a total loser lol.. I get bibis power and the system and all but idk I think its the ‘becharapan’ of a man thats annoying me here for a change.. I really wonder what all the women are seeing in him.. a perfect patthhoo perhaps?! lol ..
      I watched this after SeMM and I think I was still in Sang-e-marr marr-ed zone.. and I found myself constantly comparing the two.. vani / khoon baha.. sub se chota beta jannat bibi/shamim ka ladla.. bahar se parh ke aya.. beta parho likho.. u see where I was going with this… bus phir kiya tha I was assuming Asiya was married to jahan.. the entry of Shahzeb and the flashback – i had alarm bells going off.. Please no more aurng and shirin and dastane mor pankh… u can picture the trauma unfold? – moral of the story never watch SeMM and Pinjra back to back.. sorry im making no sense – i blame it on SeMM lol

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  3. @SZ: Ran out of space above!

    Yeah, Khoobsurat was a calculated move and a pretty low risk venture at that. K&S, on the other hand, was a risky proposition that paid off partly because he OWNED that role, and I think it was important to him that he be seen as more than a pretty face In Bollywood. He was literally the best part of a movie that featured more seasoned actors and bigger stars than him.

    I don’t know how he does it, but something about FK’s body language and mannerisms in that movie sold the audience on the character’s big secret long before it was revealed. That ability to disappear completely into a character is unusual, IMO, and especially for an actor who doesn’t necessarily have all the formal training of some of his peers. A film critic friend of mine said “Fawad Khan may well turn out to be one of God’s great jokes on the rest of mankind. He looks like that, and he can act like that? (Movie in-joke alert, but in the interest of fairness, maybe he has a small nose?)” 😉

    I’m not especially sad the Bollywood thing is over for him though. That might be because I’m so down on much of Bollywood for so many reasons. I’m guessing that he’s created enough buzz around himself that it won’t matter and fans on that side of the border will just lap up whatever he appears in next.

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    • Lol! He got a nose job done a while ago 😂
      Yes, he is a one-off for sure .. I only wanted to see him in Bollywood because he would’ve gotten more out of it IMO.. here in PK though a lot is being made out of the resurgence of cinema etc we still have a very long way to go before a really good movie comes out ..as for fans well they’ll watch whatever but it’s really unfair to him as an actor that he is being restricted for reasons not of his own doing .. btw, you probably already know this but he was in serious consideration for the lead role in Reluctant Fundamentalist .. so he is smart and always looking .. the serious affair with tv started only after that rejection otherwise he had not been that keen on the smaller screen .. but dekh lo .. he and MK changed the tv landscape .. and actually we may as well lay the blame on humsafar for bringing in the corporates and making TRPs such a huge thing ..

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      • Did he really get a nose job? In the context of that joke, that’s….well, never mind. 😀

        I think he mentioned the long runaround with Mira Nair he went through before not getting the part in The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Riz Ahmed was actually the best thing about that movie, and I’m glad that Humsafar happened, so all’s well that ends well?

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    • Thanks SZ, learnt something new today hehehe…

      Oh I keep forgetting to ask, what did you think of the return of the Numm ladies (as you put it)?

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      • @VZ: Oh that is also sitting in my drafts folder #mysustiwhattodo
        but ab tau its become a masla of religion and hamara culture and what not .. I am just sitting her and following the tamasha on various websites and loving how nobody is really addressing the story itself but everybody is just focused on garnering the most titillating headlines #disgusted

        Without condoning or condemning what was shown I thought it was a very interesting subject very sensitively and cautiously approached .. and I liked how they juxtaposed her warm relationship with the woman against the very strained relationship with her husband .. I dont mind an opening of a diaolgue on something that is happening in the society .. pretending its not happening does not make it not happen .. nor does one story here or there normalize it … we see talaqs, halalas, DNAs rapes, excusing rapists, and whatnot daily on our TV screens .. why does that not bring on a similar public outrage abt hamara culture etc …So my basic stance on this is that yes we should have a space for dialogue abt the various issues that face society today but we really should have a ratings system in place .. at least this one for all its sins was on later in the night and not targeted to the tweens or young families etc .. other stuff is mainstreamed and shown to unwitting audiences who have no clue whats coming on next … and on that note .. Idk if any of you saw Sammi, the latest ep, watch Nadia Afgan talking abt birth control, I dont know abt others but I was seriously put off by all of that NGO talk and that too at primetime ..

        Ok I’m rambling now so I’ll stop ..

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        • I actually know what you’re talking about for once, because I watched this over the weekend.

          I think that (a) there has to be room for these stories, because TV does need to reflect reality, and this too is an aspect of real life, but (b) the viewers’ sensitivities matter too, and in the end, maybe some real things are a bridge too far for our relatively conservative culture? It’s different in a movie, but television brings reality into our homes, and it’s a hard compromise for a family to make.

          A lot of the negative reaction has been about showing things on television that are ghair ikhlaqi, I guess. I totally understand the perspective, even if I don’t share it. (Btw, I’ve read plenty of comments complaining about ghair ikhlaqi things in Numm, and that stuff wasn’t even on the same level!)

          From a purely in-story perspective, I actually liked the program. The two ladies were terrific, and there was a sort of febrile intensity to their interaction that allowed that story to be told without being too direct.

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          • RK: there is a whole section of our “ba-izzat” audience that gets riled up at anything that is even remotely close to seeming like it out of the box, forget abt actually being out of the box .. that whole kali siyah raat scene .. you shouldve been around then .. we got some of it here but we are so left of the mainstream that ppl just stay away from here… Even Pehchan got hit by the same response .. but then at the same time things that we saw happen in DeD were all happily lapped up … so I dk .. ab here we (ok , not we since youve not watched) are complaining abt Shirin and the other section of the audience is applaudign Shirin for not being a mazloom and fighting for her “love” ??!!??

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            • Haha, that kali siya raat sequence went down kind of poorly with a lot of people based on what I’ve read so far, while I personally didn’t find it inappropriate at all.

              Oh well, it takes a village…

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        • Yes I agree that we need to start making that space. Sensationalising it (as a few websites are doing) is not right. I didn’t like the play much, not because of the subject or story but because of the execution. Why such a creepy set-up? The opening scene just made me cringe!

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          • LOL! The direction and production values for this series are ugh! That red decor – taubah!!! I think the aesthetics and poor lighting and mediocre direction are why im not that enthused abt reviewing these plays .. I wish they had kept the old format where diff directors could come in and do single plays .. remember what a gem Firdous was!

            If you can sit through the dark lightining and low budget feel I would recommend this one … Saba hamid with EhteshamUddin – the director of Preet and Udaari, also an accomplished actor in his own right, started off in theater with SS and gang in Dastak …

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        • Re return of the Numm ladies : It was interesting and different.. but idk there was something abt that that did made me cringe too.. don’t get me wrong.. (eg I enjoyed watching FK in Kapoor & sons.. gosh look at me trying to explain myself lol ).. but I think perhaps because I grew up watching SS it was very hard for me to digest it… I think if it were two younger girls who actually were in college while humsafar was on I would totally buy it.. Also it was a bit of a shock as I never expected for this subject to be highlighted quite so boldly on a Pakistani TV screen.. it came out of nowhere..
          re different stuff : It was an interesting point they made on the big TV debate that audience laps up to stuff that features faction that exists in masses but hardly ever narrated on tv screens .. the issue is when our drama makers try and make hatke stuff they come out with more characters that do not exist in the real world.. they move away from mazloomiat ka istihar to a the badtamizi ki hadd.. Is it really that hard to find real character with real issues?.. remember friends and the first time the girls waxed.. now that’s real issue lol …. khair I wasnt thinking about the Numm ladies as I was typing but now come to think of it that stuff will take time to be accepted by the masses.. as we have established, our awam has been trained a certain way and media and tv has a huge part to play in it.. Because there is a very tiny fraction of the society that accepts this let alone own up to be involved in anything remotely like this, it will take a long time before this type of tv enters their comfort zone..

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          • Haha! They were definitely not credible as women who’d been in college during Humsafar. But I did get a chuckle from the husband’s snarky remark about Fawad Khan. 😉 And the response from our Numm ladies.

            (Numm side plot: Amtul and Mahjabeen get sick of Wali and run away from the haveli together, lol).

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