Given the prevailing state of affairs returning to a drama serial after ten weeks is almost unheard of these days, but dekh lein…
That Pinjra has made its mark despite some major shortcomings – unattractive title, ill-advised poster design, inherently dark subject, absence of big name stars, marketing team’s inability to create a buzz – is testament to the fact that a well-made project will find an appreciative audience, niche as it might be. I am unaware of the stats but I do know that a good many of us are tuning in regularly to stay updated with the latest going-ons in Jannat bibi’s household.
And speaking of Bibi: A huge round of applause for Samina Ahmed – kiya character and kiya performance! Watching Jannat bibi is like watching layers being peeled off an onion. There have been many standout moments but her starkly different responses to her two sons’ murders have been particularly impactful, and Samina has done an absolutely fantastic job in her pacing of this character’s arc. This whole saga had started off with Bibi’s quest to avenge Ranga’s death, but after hearing of Zebi’s it was as if a bulb has been switched off within her. Gone is the chaudrayan who refused to bury her dead son till his killer was found and what we have in her stead is a grieving mother. But it is not like she has turned into a new leaf overnight. No she hasn’t.
Even as Bibi is shaken to the core and Zebi’s words haunt her, it is not like her guilt and remorse spill over to Asiya or to her daughter Nazo. Asiya’s continues to be a vani, albeit no longer shackled, and after a minor hesitation Nazo is freed only to be handed over to a different jail keeper serve a different kind of life sentence. Personal loss or not, izzat and rivayat still need to be upheld at all costs. I suspect she knows about Jahan being Zebi’s murderer but again it all boils down to ghar ki izzat. Zebi was her favorite and she wants his murder avenged just as much as she did Ranga’s but this time around it involves her only surviving son. Does this mean Jahan gets away scot-free? So far of the chaudhrayan and the mother, the chaudhrayan is winning. Does this mean that Zebi’s death was in vain?
At this point I cannot help but wonder about how, if at all, can such a deeply flawed but equally deeply entrenched system be taken down. If a genuinely-committed-to-the-cause chaudhry like Zebi fails at bringing about change then what chance does the common person have of breaking free of the system? Where then does one go from here? Now as the serial should be coming to an end, I am looking forward to seeing how the writer plans on wrapping this story.
With Pinjra, the writer Imran Nazir has given us a whole bunch of fascinating characters, Jahan for one. Initially I had written off Jahan as a mast magan kind of a guy, bland in comparison to his older brothers. As the story hs progressed, however, his is the character that has surprised me the most, and Hasan Niazi has been outstanding as Jahan sain. The subtle gestures, the nuance and the body language all is very nicely done. Gone is the blank gaze and done with is the pretense of being dumb. This guy is anything but. Jahan is someone who enjoys inflicting pain, enjoys playing games with his victims, the kind of person who must’ve tortured stray animals for the fun of it. But now it seems like he has met his match in Asiya, who seems to have transformed into a new person after Zebi’s death. I am really enjoying Yumna Zaidi here and like how she’s kept the character interesting and given this girl a spine of steel even in the darkets of times.
Unlike everybody else around him Asiya is no longer afraid of Jahan, and this turnaround has been an interesting plot twist. A few weeks ago I would’ve thought that Zulekha would’ve been the one to challenge Jahan’s authority, but his suspicions of her trysts put her on the defensive. That her perception, of Jahan as an easily distracted man, was wrong has shaken her to the core. Not only has he manged to discover her relationship with Mubashir but he’s also demonstrated how cruel he can be when it suits him. And that night seems to have sealed the deal with Zulekha – she no longer takes her place in Jahan’s life as a given. Gone is the girl who was most likely to challenge Jahan, now Zulekha is preoccupied with trying to keep her secret meetings secret and keeping Jahan’s mind and attention from wandering too far. Kiran Haq is so so good as Zulekha. And if someone knows where she buys her fancy chadars (love those!) please do let me know – shukriya.
Now for the loose ends that do not work for me. Hasan Ahmed as Mubashir. Hasan might be a good actor otherwise but here he is an absolute misfit. The miskeen I-am-a-loser demeanor coupled with the patently fake mustache make it impossible for me to buy into his character. Rather than empathizing with his plight I just want to give him a shake and tell him to get on with his life. If he is such a standup guy what business does he have meeting with another man’s wife on the sly? Surely he’s not that naïve that he cannot understand the implications? I cannot help but think that someone with better acting skills, Sohail Sameer for instance, would’ve been perfect for this part and gone a long way towards making Mubashir believable.
Another track that did not work for me was the Zebi falling in love with Asiya and running away with her with an expectation to marry her. Arrey if there was so much dard in his dil for the poor tortured vani then shouldn’t his kind heartedness have extended to his sister as well? Not once did he ever try to make any effort to rehabilitate his sister. Then there was the eloping business, Sure, he had been away for a while but still did he really expect any maulvi to officiate his nikah with that of his brother’s vani? I enjoyed watching Daniyal Raheal as the soft-spoken idealistic Zebi, but wish his track had a bit more of a meat to it. As for his sudden death.. that I did not see coming at all! Full marks to writer and director for springing that one on us.
The biggest disappointment so far has been Nazo’s complete turnaround. Perhaps it is just me but I most certainly did not buy into this mother daughter let-bygones-be-bygones scenario. Who is the new Nazo and what has she done with the older Nazo, the one who used to tell Asiya about all the tortures inflicted on her most particularly by her mother? Is it really that easy to forgive and forget? When her mother gave her an out why did she not use that opportunity to break ground and start a new tradition, rather than complying with the very same traditions that had caused her to spend the last so many years imprisoned in her own house by her own family? Sorry, this whole track was a no go for me.
Twenty weeks in Pinjra has gone through it fair shares of ups and downs but overall it is the only serial I am following regularly. That said, I do hope it ends soon. The pace has slowed appreciably and stretch marks are making their presence known. I hope that powers that be will not drag this one out and for a change allow us to sign off on a drama on a high note.
This then is my take ab aap ki bari… kaun kaun dekh raha hai and what do you all think? Am waiting to hear back from you guys!
Written by SZ~