Baaghi ~ Episode 2 Review

The second episode picked up the narrative seamlessly, building upon the foundation laid in last week’s opening installment, giving more of an insight into Fauzia Batool’s family dynamics and adding in more shades to her personality.

Though she lives in a gaon, she refuses to allow her narrowly circumscribed surroundings limit her very big ideals and ideas. She dreams of a world where women and men are viewed through a similar lens and she dares questions the status quo – why is it just a man’s right to be famous? She wonders why is a woman expected to stay in an abusive relationship. Why can’t a wife divorce a husband who treats her like a punching bag? Where is a woman’s place in this male dominated society? Lofty questions all these.

Fauzia sees injustice and double standards all around her and vows to walk away – to a new life where she is famous and a star. How exactly will she get there is the one question she does not allow herself to ask. Firm belief in the seemingly impossible is what she believes will make it all possible. But all these are as yet just a naive girl’s dreams. The stark reality is that her family has promised her hand in marriage to her bhabhi’s leechar brother. This mangni will be the first real test for Fauzia. It is easy to talk about challenging societal norms, but does she actually have the courage to walk the walk and defy her family’s wishes? The precap promises a showdown next week.

I enjoyed the pacing of this second episode, where it acted as a bridge between Fauzia as a free-spirited girl and the more determined young woman that we will meet in coming weeks. Saba Qamar has surrendered herself to the character and her uninhibited performance as Fauzia is a delight to watch. I enjoy her in the lighter moments, but it is in her silent, reflective mode that she shines brilliantly.  Ali Kazmi makes for an appropriately tharki suitor, who threatens to kill himself if he doesn’t get his way. Look closely though and this Dubai returned shopkeeper is a lot more complicated than he lets on.

While Abid is still trying to convince his mother, Sajid has already won the day with his dhamkis. He may have convinced his family of his sincerity, but his affections is only superficial. One act of defiance from his bride-to-be and all tall talk of love and jaan dena will go down the drain. All his bluster aside, he is no different from Nazia’s brutish husband. Babrik Shah is convincing as Sajid, someone who wants a butterfly because it flies beautifully but crushes it wings the minute he captures it. Nisho begum is believable as Sajid and Asma’s mother.

Of all the characters that surround Fauzia, my favorites have to be her father, bhai and bhabhi. These are all stock characters but the actors imbue them with such life that I find myself waiting for their scenes. Irfan sahab and Sarmad are so good in their scenes together. Sarmad has the brutish, hen-pecked Rahim down pat. Rahim and Asma are fab. Nadia Afgan has done these evil type roles before but she is so fun here; Asma is as colorful a character as the chamkeeley parandey she wears. It is easy to see how this wily woman has her husband wrapped around her palu, check out how she waits till the very last minute to offer to clean the milk containers. Saba Faisal is very good as the mother exhausted from being pulled in different directions.

There is a lot going on here but the narrative is fluent and Farooq Rind has succeeded in capturing the look and feel of small town life. That said, editing needs to be tighter. We are only two episodes in and already one gets the feel of stretched out scenes and repeated thoughts and ideas. There is a lot of talking here and not all of it works. In theory I like the writing and the lines are impactful, but not when they are being mouthed by an 17/18 (?) year old village girl. Moreover, Fauzia’s character traits were pretty well established early on and there is, therefore, no need for repeated reminders of gender bias. Why belabor the point so much, and that too abhi se!

Similarly with Nazia. Her lines about abused wives were all good in principle but this textual underlining did not work here,  more so when the wife in question looked as fresh as a daisy. I wish they could edit out the iterative lines and give us more of the actors emoting through their body language and eyes. Fauzia laying in bed and silently playing with her hairclips was one of the most powerful scenes of the episode.

Another issue is with the styling of all these characters. Fauzia’s family is supposedly financially strapped, but going by the ladies’ unlimited supply of istri-shuda, patently new shalwar suits with matching dupattas it is hard to believe these people lack for much. Couple that with the ladies’ manicured nails, glossy styled hair, shiny new pots n pans – is this what being poor looks like? A bit more attention to detailing as per the characters’ lifestyle would’ve gone a long way.

My biggest concern though is with foreshadowing and the teleology of storytelling. Yes, we know the story and what happened, but this is a project on its own merit. There has to be room left for the viewers to make up their own minds about the characters, not spell it out from the get go, as is being done here. Fauzia’s is a complex character and a fascinating one at that and I do hope the makers have left space here for her to gradually come into her own, warts ‘n all. Looking forward to seeing how this story develops.

Written by SZ~

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8 replies

  1. Hey SZ
    Great review as always. Loving this drama
    Saba is brilliant but so are all the others. Adil is spot on as the drooling tharki ashiq.
    If this is supposed to be QBs biopic , there was one scene which didn’t make sense.They show Fatima Batool listening to the song actor in law on radio which was released in Sep 2016 whereas QB died July 2016 .😑

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    • @Deeba: Hey! Thanks for reading and commenting. Haina! This is going way better than I expected.

      Ooh! Good catch!! I just went back and checked – yeah it makes no sense because this is back in time as evidenced by the radio and all the fashions etc ..

      Dont you think a lot of lines are over exaggerated as well? In this same radio dance scene the whole marasi takrar seemed so over done, nahin?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. SZ nice review…..this drama is full on entertainment. Saba Qamar has outdone herself in this role. She’s so fun…love the dialogues and the amazing performances by the entire cast. You’re right Saba Qamar’s performance in silent scenes is always impactful…but the dialogues have a lot of humor in them making it possible for viewers to laugh while watching serious things being discussed. The same tactic was used in Besharam too…when you have such great performers every scene is a delight.

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  3. This second episode was a fun watch, but as you noted, there was a lot of beating on the same topic over and over again. Yes, yes, we get it: Fauzia is feisty and rebellious, and the society she lives in is having none of that. (I guess in the context of the actual events, this is a necessary motif, but the writers could be a bit more subtle about it!)

    You’re right that everything looks just a bit too polished for the rural/poor setting. Even the bedsheets and blankets looked brand new, lol.

    The acting in this episode was pretty solid, and I think Nadia Afgan just stole the whole show. How terrific is she as both put-upon sister and shrewish wife?

    I was sort of down on him after the first episode, but in this second installment, the one thing that really worked for me was Ali Kazmi’s lopsided smile and his transition from smooth operator to lovestruck puppy.

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    • @RK: Yeah, they need to tone down the rationalizations for her later behavior ..I dont think I can sit through an apologetic story, where Fauzia is stripped off her agency and initiative and turned into a duniya ki aur mardon ki satayi hui aurat ….

      Nadia is a fab fab actress, who is yet to get her rightful due.. in fact I think its a hugely unfair that only the “hero” and “heroine” walk away with attention and credit whereas it is the other characters around them that make the leads work …

      Haha! Ali was cute in this ep .. it is sad that we know the story and so much has been revealed through the promos that one is already anticipating what is to follow .. wish they hadnt given away so much …

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  4. A lovely review and thoroughly agree with you. Pretty much enjoyed the episode.. SQ was definitely brilliant in those silent scenes.. and with ost giving that feel.. such powerful scenes.. i also liked where she was quietly looking at posters.. those thoughtful eyes conveyed alot.. and talking about eyes.. how can one not mention those tharki eyes of Abid…haha Ali Kazmi has just nailed it..

    Count me too in loving those beautiful parandas of Asma.. NA has always been a delight to watch…and with her what could be more awesome to see SK and IK.. both father son have such powerful screen presence..

    Babrik shah .. was wow.. was he the one in Daastan.. the villain? The way he was singing song in raksha and teasing girls was fab.. this drama looks quite a ride..

    And i really hope they dont make SQ dance on same song.. i know it was meant to show k since she danced so well tht night so they asked her again to do.. maybe(?).. but phir bhi.. and some scenes were highly repeatitive..

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    • @Rehmat: Yes, Babrik was in Dastaan as Basant, the Sikh guy.

      Haina! Those shiny mirrored parandas were fab .. i dont think Nadia took me seriously when I told her I wanted a pair .. will have to tell her again LOL!

      Haha!! Exactly what I thought when I saw SQ dancing to Laung Gawacha .. and along with not repeating the song, I dont want to see repeated scenes of her dancing, even though she was fab.

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