First off a standing ovation for the brilliance that is Sania Saeed. Her Shamim was the heart and soul of Sang-e Mar Mar. I disagreed with Shamim more often than I agreed with her – her Stockholm Syndromed daasi was very difficult to digest – but not once did I detect a false note in the actor’s portrayal of her character. Likewise, a standing ovation for Nauman Ijaz’s portrayal of Gulistan Khan as well. Whatever I thought of the character and how much ever evil I wished for Gulistan Khan, Nauman Ijaz was always on point, nary a misstep. As a viewer one cannot ask for more than to see Sania and Nauman together. Their body language, walks, accents, blink-and-miss nuances – the overall honesty of their portrayals all went a long way in making their characters memorable.
Following closely behind were Paras Masroor, Uzma Hassan and Kaif Ghaznavi. Though their characters went crazy and did and said things I wished they hadn’t – and in Pari’s case met an ending which she didn’t deserve – nonetheless these actors were superb. Paras Masroor was outstanding in his confrontation scene with Nauman Ijaz and Uzma Hassan and Sania Saeed were magic in their scene together. Among the actors we didn’t see today, Omair Rana, Tipu Sharif, Mikaal Zulfiqar, Najiba Faiz, all added much to the overall narrative. Not to be forgotten among the seniors, newcomer Kubra Khan made her presence felt as the beleaguered Shirin.
With this highly merited tareef all done and out of the way, here’s my big question: Did I really just see what I just saw??? What the heck was this??? How just how can those in charge justify such regressive content and pass it off as entertainment??? After a very shoddy episode last week I had no hopes from this finale, but that it would turn out to be so disgusting was something I did not see coming.
I cringed when Bano was offering herself up on a platter to a husband she had abhorred up until the last episode. Why the sudden desperation? Bano peaded till the time Torah threw her to the floor.But she continued begging, now talking about children and new beginnings. I am not sure when I missed what but this was certainly not the Bano I thought I knew. Where was the woman with the strong sense of self? And the next day she was offering to bring Torah food?? I didn’t realize Palwasha’s “success” in landing her choice of husband had made her way-to-a-man’s-heart-is-through-his-stomach technique worthy of immediate emulation. Were we back in 19th century? Had Torah’s threat, to marry Shirin, scared Bano so much? Their shaadi and rishta had been DOA so what was it that she was so desperate to hold on to here? The fear of being left without a husband? Or was she afraid of being judged a loser? Whatever her reasons, and however the creatives may choose to justify this, there was no reason for such a long-winded demeaning sequence. As a women I couldn’t help but be sorry for Bano. Did we really need to see her like this?
And on shaadi, why are our creatives so short of ideas on how a woman should spend her life? Why does it all have to begin and end with shaadi? When will we be done with this regression in our content? Starting off with the silly mor pankh now that Shirin wants to take revenge she takes Torah up on his offer to marry her? Why? Why not build a school with the money her brother left her? A hospital maybe? Perhaps start a handicraft business? Create opportunities to empower women so that they may never find themselves in similarly desperate situations, helping them find a voice so that they are never again silent bystanders in their own lives. But no. Here, it was all about the shaadi. Not once did any one throughout this serial even offer up a hint of a suggestion, for any of these farigh women to do something constructive with their time. So much for TV being a powerful instrument of social change.
Domestic violence and physical abuse are very serious, life and death issues, more so in our desi societies. Within this context, showing Bano beating Shirin with a stick – while the entire family stood watching, including an educated man held back by his young wife – and using it as a plot point to move the narrative forward is irresponsible to say the least. But to then follow the beating up with facile apologies and everybody including the victim shrugging off this heinous incident as a no big deal is very disturbing. And if you weren’t yet convinced that beating up a woman was no big deal, then Gulistan Khan’s response to Torah’s accusations should really set your mind at ease. How could he have ever known that Torah’s mother would die of a beating? Wah! Thank you HUM TV and Thank you MD Productions for setting the clock back to the 18/19th century. Ironic indeed that this episode aired just a day after the rah-rah of Women’s Day.
Throughout the course of the last twenty-eight weeks Sang-e Mar Mar had raised many pertinent issues, asked many though provoking questions and after last week’s announcement we all wondered how the creatives would tie up the loose ends in just one episode. Well, as we saw today, quite easily. Simply leave it all to the big final confrontation and mitti pao on all that couldn’t be shoved into that one scene.
Hence, though she was responsible for the entire mess, Durkhaney waltzed away into the sunset with her chichora husband, Bulbul was forgotten as if he had never existed, Gulistan Khan walked away with two murders, despite her self-reflection Shamim was unable to break free of her daasi mindset and shoot the one really responsible for her sons’ deaths, and Aurang and Palwasha were absent and not one person commented on their absence. I guess their urge to honeymoon was stronger than the very basic human impulse to help Shirin. So much for Aurang and his much-vaunted shehri education and his high-flying ideas of ushering in social reform. And Shirin, well she remained the Shirin she always was – helpless and clueless. Basically the only people who really suffered were Pari and Torah. The rest of the gang pretty much got away with it all.
At the end of the day Sang-e Mar Mar joins the rapidly increasing list of high-profile projects that have flattered to deceive. There were quite a few flashes of brilliance from Mustafa Afridi’s pen that kept us tuning in week after week, but ultimately the unquenchable thirst for TRPs turned this one into such a messy mess that it became well-nigh impossible to sort it all out.
With so much wrong where would you even begin? And one rushed episode with overlong scenes was most definitely not the solution to the problem. Saife Hasan’s direction, which had been fine up until a few episodes ago, left a lot to be desired in the past few weeks, particularly scenes of abuse and violence deserved a lot more sensitivity and nuance than what we saw here. Needless to say I walk away feeling very disappointed and let down.
Finally, Sang-e Mar Mar has been receiving a lot of praise on social media as having been successful in taking on the saas-bahu serials, but I can’t help question this much-touted success. Has this serial really introduced a new narrative? Yes, it definitely had the potential to do so, but now, after these past two three episodes, it looks like we have merely exchanged one kind of regressive content with another. Women continue to be slaves to the system and the men of their household, they get routinely beaten up and shaadi continues to be the be-all and end-all of our drama woman’s existence. What’s so new here?
As we close the books on this crazy Sang-e Mar Mar journey I would like to thank you all for being such fab humsafars. Its been a pleasure reviewing this serial with you guys. The ups and downs – all made memorable because of your comments and insights. I now look forward to reading your take on this final episode.
Written by SZ~