Eight episodes in I am thoroughly enjoying the intelligent writing and eloquent narration of Pinjra. Imran Nazir’s story, given its basic premise – patriarchy, feudalism, panchayats, honor killings, blood feuds, bonded labor – is unapologetically grim, but it is to Kashif Nisar, the director’s credit for understanding the nuances and not only ensuring the darkness is kept at bay but that the melodrama too is kept to a minimum. The writer and director have worked well as team to ensure the complicated story unfolds easily and pacing is kept fluent. Rashid Abbas’ cinematography adds another layer of meaning to the textured narrative. For their part the actors have done a great job, completely justifying their beautifully fleshed out characters. Yes, I am happily onboard so far!
Shahzeb’s return to the family fold has certainly shaken things up at the Chaudhrys’ haveli. Gone are the days when Jannat Bibi’s word was the law. Though he hasn’t been made any substantive difference to the status quo as yet, Shahzeb’s quiet determination and the steely look in his eyes has certainly rattled Bibi, mor than she would like to admit.
Bibi who has never had her decisions questioned, let alone challenged, is now up nights trying to figure out how to handle her beloved son. Shahzeb is the one she loves the most but what her baby is asking for is not a mere toy. He wants to turn her world upside down. This, her position, her izzat, in the typically male dominated panchayat run society, was not handed to her on a platter. She has paid a very high price for where she stands today and she will be damned if she lets anyone undermine her authority – even if it is her own son.
Conversely, though she claims otherwise, Bibi cannot bear to see Shahzeb estranged either, hence the various offers to placate him. But Shahzeb is not quite as easily swayed, he is Jannat’s son after all and he is determined. While both are stubborn and have made up their minds, in this war of wills one of them will have to blink. Question is who will be the first to give in: Bibi or Shahzeb?
While the matriarch and her youngest son fight over big matters with far-reaching consequences, Bibi’s other son, Jahanzeb, is kept occupied with his own problems. Jahan is a simple-minded man. Questions like whether peasants should have access to education, should the archaic panchayti system be done away with, are not the kind to hold his interest. For him these things matter only as far as they can assure and ensure his high status in this social setup. Rest.. nothing matters.
In sharp contrast to Jahan, Zulekha is a sharp cookie. She has no love lost for her husband, she imagines herself in love with Mubashir, but at some level she sees herself as a natural successor to her mother-in-law’s power and position. In order for her to become the next Bibi, however, Zulekha needs to hold on to her husband. His weak nature – wayward ways and wandering eye – are known to her, but these she is willing to put up with him long as necessary. Asiya’s, however, is a very different case. She might be Jahan’s vani, but is still his legally wedded wife. Zulekha sees in Asiya a rival, a threat to her aspiration and ambition. Hence Zulekha’s constant attempts to keep Jahan focused on her person while doing everything she can to demean Asiya. Jahan, though, is not as unaware as he pretends … he’s equally sharp when it comes to such things. Both husband and wife are indeed a match when it comes to kahin pe nigahein kahin pe nishana type matters.
Asiya, for her part, wants to have nothing to do with the entire khandan. Bibi scares the heck out of her and Jahan creeps her out. For Zulekha she is part rival part punching bag. Sakina and Nazo at least see her as a living breathing person, but they are so disenfranchised that their sympathy is of no practical use. Asiya might be infatuated by the prince-like Shahzeb, but after the several times he’s gotten her into trouble she needs him to stay away from her as well. That said, there is something very real and endearing about Asiya, the way she is at once embittered yet idealistic enough to dream of knights in shining armors. Sadly though, the way events are shaping up it would seem that Asiya’s dreams will remain just that – dreams. The precap holds out the promise of a dhamekdar 9th episode.
Engrossing as the story is, it would all fall apart were it not for Bibi and Samina Ahmed’s brilliant portrayal of this very complex woman. She is not a nice person by any stretch of the imagination but her love for her son is certainly testing her and humanizing her in the process. Finally there is a glimmer of a chink in her armor, it’s really faint though! Each and every scene of hers is an absolute delight.
With Samina leading the pack, Yumna Zaidi is very effective as the vulnerable Asiya, imbuing life in her character making it so much more than the stereotypical abla naris that can be found in pretty much every drama these days. Kiran Haq is another one who impresses. Zulekha is so fun to watch with her colorful styling, her pizzaz and unapologetic nastiness, so bad she is good! Hasan Niazi is equally great as the weak-willed but calculative Jahan. Daniyal Raheal is very well cast here as the son who dares defy the iron-willed Bibi. His scenes with Samina are fabulous! Faiza Gilani and Aymi Khan are effective in their parts as well. I like the two maids, Kausar and Sheedo, but really wish their makeup was toned down quite a few notches.
And on things that need to be toned down – the background score and the OST. Please, please, please – editors turn down that volume! We do not need the OST blaring every two seconds nor do we need the impact of every scene to be drowned out under the over loud music. This is such a fabulously done project please don’t mess it up like this. As it is the marketing department have already done a sizeable amount of damage with the very uninviting, unattractive poster.
The fact that I continue to watch, despite the atrocious poster and the horribly loud music, speaks volumes about the quality of the writing, direction, acting and cinematography. Now APLUS, do not spoil this any further with stretching. Thank You!
So this was my take… what do you all think?
Written by SZ~