With the basic story comfortably established it is now the characters’ turn to step up and take center stage. Jahanzeb, who had seemed relatively bland, when compared to the in-your-face Aurangzeb and the Dudley-Do-Right Shahzeb, is now shaping up as quite the character. Was his earlier avatar his true self or is this ver. 2.0 really him?
Whatever Jahan’s eventual game might be, for now his turnaround has certainly made an impact on Bibi and Zulekha. For Bibi he is now a man she can now depend on, to not only carry forward her legacy of power and control but also as a valuable pawn in this intricate game of chess she has going on with her younger son. Whether she ends up using him or he manipulates her trust in him to serve his own nefarious agenda is something I hope to see unfold in the weeks to come.
For Zulekha, Jahan’s behaviour has given her a lot to chew on. He is not as unaware as had thought him to be. This man knows, or at the very least suspects, of her interest and/or involvement with Mubashir. It is not so much that she is afraid of what he might do or say but more what Bibi would do to her if her son were to seriously share his suspicions with his mother, hence her attempt to stroke his male ego.
For now Jahan has these two ladies right where he wants them but for how long? Bibi and Zulekha are two very sharp cookies and have been playing this game for a long time and it will, therefore, take a lot of sharp maneuvering on Jahan’s part to ensure that he does not let trivial matters get in his way before he reaches his goal, whatever that may be.
And what bigger trivial matter than his lust for Asiya. Whether he was drunk or merely playacting there is not hiding that he is more than interested in this girl who is his legally wedded wife. Add to this the complication that Shahzeb the social crusader is also interested in her and we have on our hands an impending showdown between the two brothers, both equally matched in economic, political and social terms. Hassan Niazi is very good here as he and director work together to create a very nice arc for this interestingly layered character.
Where Jahanzeb’s character twist intrigued me, Shahzeb’s one note character so far has been a tad bit disappointing. I wish his declaration of love had not come at this early stage in the game. As it stands, now his efforts on Asiya’s behalf will appear to serve selfish purposes not a genuine desire to help a distressed person. That said, I do appreciate the Team’s efforts to highlight the difficulties of trying to bring social change. If things are so hard for a person of Shahzeb’s standing then one can only imagine the challenges faced by laymen as illustrated by the person refusing to help set up the school. Bibi’s cruel punishment for Sakina is another example of the high personal cost paid by those daring to go against the wishes of those in control.
On the issue of punishments, how the how does Bibi’s brain work? And then all the cruel and inhuman punishments? Does she stay up nights thinking of ways to torture people – physically and/or mentally? Her given name might be Jannat but kis ki jannat aur kahan ki jannat! I wonder if we will ever get to see her back story… who is this woman and what happened to her that she’s turned out to be this way. Does she ever have a warm thought for anybody? I say this every time but it bears repeating: Samina Ahmed is fabulous as Jannat Bibi.
Trying her best to match Jannat Bibi’s cruel streak is the wily Zulekha. Why would any girl choose such an unlikely role model is very telling of the patriarchal feudal society, where the only way a woman can get access to power is either via a man or through cruel and underhanded manipulations and machinations. Asiya or for that matter Sakina have done no harm to Zulekha, but inadvertently their actions can cause her undoing hence the need to eliminate them as threats. There is no justification nor rationalization except that if Zulekha’s behaviour is wrong then the societal system that must to bear a fair share of the blame. Kiran Haq is makes for a great Zulekha.
As for Asiya, the girl at the center of this maelström, like a bird she’s gradually adjusting to a life with clipped wing. Shahzeb compels her to rebel but so far she’s afraid. Its easy for him to say the words, but, for a girl who has seen her family wiped out in one go, she is rightfully afraid. For now Shahzeb has pushed for change mainly through his words, does he have the guts to actually do something dire? Is he brave enough to risk Bibi’s wrath?
Ten weeks in I am still engaged and intrigued. Writing, directing and acting are all gelling really well here. I just wish that we didn’t have to so much of Jahan lusting over Asiya, the long scenes are off putting in a drama so elegant otherwise. Also, by now we get that Bibi is cruel so please spare us the creative punishments each week. As Bibi puts it so well: No need to go loud and dramatic to make your point. In earlier reviews about the music and I don’t know if by now I am getting used to it but the overlaying of the two OSTs seemed a bit more restrained this time around and the background score too seemed gentler on the ear.
All in all Im still onboard, what about you all?
Written by SZ~