Yaqeen Ka Safar had started off on a promising note but after nineteen weeks seems to be meandering around with no sense of purpose nor an end in sight.
As a novel Yaqeen Ka Safar had been Zubiya and Daniyal’s story, Daniyal and Gaiti’s track and Zubiya’s familial issues se bharpoor kahani were both used as background information, to flesh out the central characters and help explain their motivations. In this reworked version, however, both these back stories were turned into full-fledged tracks and so much that could be easily skipped when reading was mainstreamed as a part of the central narrative. Hence incidents such as Zubiya’s mother’s death, her father being a murderer, Zubiya’s indiscretion and the ensuing badnaami, Noori’s death, Daniyal’s murder, all took on a whole new importance in this screen version.
I don’t have a problem with new material being added or the story being re-worked, but when the said revision is not handled properly then I do have a problem. The gross mishandling of Zubiya’s mother’s murder is not something that can be easily overlooked. In a culture where domestic violence is a very real problem the glib manner in which a murderer was rehabbed as a bechara beemar baap is troubling to say the least.
Similarly Noori’s rape, Daniyal’s murder and it’s aftermath. After spending so much time on the buildup to Noori’s case, it was all haphazardly rushed through and most of the questions raised therein died a natural death with Daniyal’s murder. The question then is, why raise issues if they all have to be mitti-paoed in the rush to get to the next plot point. We have been promised a resolution to Noori’s rape case but after so much time, will it really matter? The only purpose it can possibly serve at that late a date is to clear Daniyal’s name, but then was that the only purpose of introducing rape case?
Nineteen episodes in I cannot help but wonder if Yaqeen Ka Safar would’ve worked better if divided into two seasons – one dedicated to lawyer Daniyal and the second to doctor Asfandyar. The serial started off with Daniyal’s wedding and reached its mid climax after his death. His parent’s subsequent move to Kashmir and Asfi’s going abroad for higher studies was the point where the first season could’ve easily ended.
Asfandyar’s return signals the opening of a new chapter in Yaqeen Ka Safar. Now a responsible doctor, this serious man is a far cry from the happy go-lucky med student we met in the first half of the story. The no-nonsense Asfandyar cannot stand any kind of incompetence, real or perceived, and when compelled to hire a young, inexperienced female doctor for his new remote hospital, the scene is set for sparks to fly between the stern boss and the fresh new hire.
Yaqeen Ka Safar is a very popular novel, and I know many who love it for its strong central female character, Dr. Zubiya. Unfortunately none of the textual Zubiya’s strength translates on to the screen. After her initial difficulties, one would’ve thought that with time Zubiya would’ve learned to look life straight in the eye, but the way this character is written and executed she is nothing of that sort. From being kicked out from her brother’s house to being at the center of the OTT melodrama at her khala’s to meekly listening to Dr Asfand’s scoldings, this girl is yet to display any kind of agency whatsoever. She is still as mazloom as when with her overbearing father and brother, always afraid of facing their wrath. So far there is nothing that hints at strength, or inspires and impresses. In fact the scenes which should’ve sparkled with chemistry come off as a continuation of Zubiya’s bechargi.
If the mishandling of Zubiya’s mom’s death wasn’t bad enough, this latest episode introduced us to Khajista and her abusive in-laws. As someone who has worked extensively with DV survivors I watched with my mouth literally hanging open. Pick up any DV manual and it will tell you very clearly to NEVER confront an abuser. There could be many outcomes to such a meeting, none of them pleasant, the most extreme of which could result in the survivor’s death. That this standard procedure was not just ignored but the obverse actually advocated was extremely disturbing. Please, please, please, do not ever try to replicate today’s scenario.
On the issue of DV, it was strange that Zubiya would remember her abusive brother but not her murderer of a father. I guess one could say his rehab was now complete – the murder forgiven and the entire gruesome episode whitewashed in not just her mind but the audiences’ minds as well. And this brings me to the thing that has upset me the most: The careless handling of “social issues” and the lack of background knowledge necessary to depict such sensitive matters convincingly on TV.
Khajista told us about her issues, but where was a workable alternative to her situation? Why spend an entire episode on her story if there was to be no takeaway for me as an audience? Why show us Zubiya’s mom getting beaten up, or Zubiya being abused again ‘n again if there was nothing to be gained from it? So far the only purposes I see served is that these “issues” extend the length of the serial and checks off a box for those who enjoy seeing women abused on TV.
When I had first tuned in, it was the warm affection of the two brothers, Daniyal and Asfandyar, and their parents that had hooked me, there was real camaraderie there, and Shaz Khan and Ahad Raza Mir gelled very well together. Hira was another one who added in a lot of sparkle to the family scenes. Since Daniyals’s death, however, the story has lost its path. There is a discernible attempt to shift focus on Zubiya’s track, but sadly there is nothing really there, except the same old duniya ki satayi hui larki. It is now nineteen weeks, how long are we to wait for our female lead to show her spine? Sajal is very good and thankfully subtle in how she plays Zubiya but there is nothing to work with so far. Ahad Raza Mir is a good fit as Asfi, and has done well to create a proper graph for his character and has put in effort into Asfi’s different phases and his hard work shows.
As a director Shahzad Kashmiri has done well with his actors, but has been unable to ensure a fluid narrative. I don’t know if its him or the editing but the pace needs to even out and pick up. Writing wise, Farhat Ishtiaq has the emotions of her characters on point, but the characters themselves have failed to impress. The female characters in particular have been a huge let down. Zubiya’s mother died a DV victim, but still worried about duniya kya kahegi meri tarbiyat ke baarey mein. Asfi’s mother did not register a protest when her husband dictated their move to Kashmir. Gaiti is a nutritionist but only in name. Zubiya is a doctor but yet to assert herself.
All in all its been nineteen weeks and I am badguman, how much longer before my yaqeen in this drama begins its safar?
Written by SZ~