Piyari Bitto ~ Episode 3 Review

Alongwith a useful insight on the manifold implications of normalized societal practices, this third episode of Piyari Bitto set forth a road map of what lies ahead for Shakira.

Watching this latest episode I couldn’t help but think how sometimes people’s fates are sealed the moment they are named. Take Shakira’s for instance. Have you ever seen a name personified quite so aptly? Anyone ever so sabir and shakir like our Shakira?

Nary a shikayat nor a shikwa, Shakira is love personified. Love for all, be they her own or those who are around her. Be it Bitto or her tuition waley students, all are recipients of her all enveloping warmth. And how perfectly deliciously does Sania play the soft spoken Shakira. It is easy to see why Mehboob is so smitten with her. How hot and halal is their romance?! Sania ka tau khair koi saani nahin hai, but a huge round of applause for Fawad Khan for more than holding up his side of the equation.

Magar afsos!

The same household where resides Shakira is also home to Sakina. And Sakina ain’t no Shakira. Where Shakira is all giving Sakina is all-taking. And ab tau after the latest turn of events Sakina is no even gonna bother pretending any more. Why should she? From her perspective she’s suffered enough and high time she have the freedom to live her life on her own terms. She had it all worked out and she almost got it away with it too. Almost!

And this where I see a very interesting comment on how we as a society have normalized so many unfair practices. From the moment a girl is born her looks are commented upon. Her “beautiful features” looks and “gora rung” serve to make her the cynosure of all eyes. From an early age this girl is aware of her superior status among her other “not-so-beautiful” peers. All this works until it comes time for her marriage. The it is all about finding her a “suitable” mach, suitable in terms of socio-economic status. Socially it is all about a girl’s beauty and a boy’s finances. That a chand si larki may desire an equally chand sa larka is not a thought that enters a typical desi parent’s mind.

While most such marriages work there are instances where girls find it difficult to move on from their daydreams of a handsome khwabon ka shehzada. And when it is as obvious a visual mismatch as her marriage is then one can understand the root of Sakina’s bitterness. This is not to condone her harkats or excuse her behaviour but to say that it is these years of preceived victimhood that have shaped Sakina into this vindictive, nasty piece of work. In Sakina’s twisted way of thinking she is surrounded by people who cannot bear to see her happy. Hence her husband’s sickness is like a conspiracy, her daughter a hinderance, and Shakira a rival.

While not her rival in the typical sense, in Shakira Sakina sees a recipient of all the love and respect that she could never get from her family. That it is all her fault that she has alienated everybody is something that she refuses to see. Shakira is loved and respected not just by the family but even by her nikah-fied shohar. She is not as beautiful and way past the eligible age for marriage, but still has managed to get a husband who is handsome as heck. Her own daughter loves her phupo more than she does her mother. How then can Sakina not see Shakira as a rival? Wasn’t she way more beautiful and deserving of a lot better than this ordinary looking ghareeb beemar husband. Atiqa Odho and Nayyar Ejaz are fabulous as the dysfunctional couple. Atiqa in particular is great as the evil, manipulative Sakina.

While much of Sakina’s bitterness is entirely of her own making, I cannot help but wonder about the role played by societal mores in shaping Sakina’s expectations of her life. The disproportionate emphasis on superficial beauty and gora rung at the cost of other more important factors – humility, empathy, awareness, education for instance – needs to be re-evaluated seriously.

All her frustrations have led Sakina to seek affection from those on the outside. Though it hasn’t been said so but methinks she is being played by someone aware of her vanity and weakness. While specifics will be revealed later, thanks to Sakina’s manipulations apney becharey masoom se Mehboob and Shakira are under suspicion.

While I feel for dear departed bhai sahab, magar he really should’ve timed his demise better. Considering how much overtime Sakina’s mind is putting into covering up her tracks I have a bad feeling about the days to follow. Haye haye Shakira! I hope for your sake I am wrong, but …

So yes, I’m still watching Piyari Bitto, enjoying it as a welcome break from all glamor and glitz that seems to have found a permanent home in our dramas. I like how good the acting is and how real it all looks, including the rundown locations. I appreciate how Saji Gul’s writing is simple but meaningful and his lines sound like everyday lingo. As a director Mazhar Moin narrates this story well, using colors from the surroundings and character’s clothing to lighten an otherwise dark story. I just hope that the story continues along this in this manner, because too much doom and gloom will be hard to handle week after week.

And finally, yes!!! thank you for the much better video upload – much appreciated!

Written by SZ~

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9 replies

  1. Great review, SZ! You hit on so many things I really wanted to talk about, and especially the possible origins of Sakina’s bitterness towards Aslam as well as Bitto. I actually sort of felt for Sakina here, because she thinks she’s finally free of her dysfunctional marriage, but now there are even more restrictions on her! It seems unreasonable to us, but from her perspective, it’s just more unfairness piled on to all the injustice already done to her, poor woman.

    I really enjoyed this episode, and for me, the highlight was definitely all the Shakira-Mehboob scenes. The romance is all very innocent and halal, but I’m pleasantly surprised that the actors have such great chemistry and there’s definitely a spark between the characters too.

    I also want to talk about Shakira a bit. She’s obviously kind and warm and cheerful, and everyone (well, ok, not Sakina) sort of loves her. But underneath that soft compassionate exterior is a very determined woman, one who is not beyond manipulating people to get what she wants. In the first scene of this episode, she very gently presents Mehboob with an ultimatum he can’t walk away from: get your ammi to talk my brothers out of the jahez, or we’ll never be together. Later, she basically dismisses Rukhsana bhabhi’s words about making her own home and leaving Bitto to her own devices. Basically, Shakira does what Shakira wants. That her feelings are sincere and her intentions noble doesn’t necessarily negate all this, even if it cloaks it in empathy and love.

    I worry that ultimately–motivated by a desire to protect Bitto–she’ll sacrifice her happiness with Mehboob. While that’s maybe a laudable goal for her, it’s not fair to Mehboob at all. But she’s kind of taking him for granted here, and I think he’ll get wise and leave her, beginning the cascade of horrible things that ultimately bring us to the Shakira we saw in the first episode.

    (I’m confused about how there’s already been a nikah, but Shakira and Mehboob aren’t married yet? Why isn’t she already living with him?)

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    • @RK: Hmm… interesting take on Shakira… I will have to watch the next ep with this lens and see how this reads works 🙂 For me it is not quite Shakira’s manipulaton/determination that gets things done, more that she steps away easily, makes the choice easy for those around her. So her stepping away from her stake in the house allows everyone to breathe a sigh of relief. I think she knows that the house thing would’ve worked this way in any case, because Sakina wuold’ve not been easily thwarted. But her stepping away made things easy for everybody. With Mehboob it’s a diff equation.. I think she understand where the demand is coming from … were it coming from him I doubt he wouldve walked away from it quite as easily. And for his mother, she gave in because she doesn’t want to alienate her only son. Notice how she makes her stand clear on many issues, but never pushes her son, because she is dependent on him .. so is smart enough to keep her mouth shut. I would be very interested to see her one-on-one equation with Shakira .. dont think Shakira would get off as gently as Mehboob is let go …

      Re: her future with Mehboob, I agree, as I said Shakira is her name personified, and that is not necesarily a good thing. We don’t know whats gonna happen but i think Sakina will play on Shakira’s affection for Bitto and use that to punish her for her inadvertant role in her continued misery.

      Re: the nikah: they are legally wed, but the rukhsati is yet to happen, so she is still at her parent’s place and must behave “appropriately”. The marriage will be “complete” only after she is sent off to the groom’s house.

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      • Ha! Re-reading my comment, I realize I was a bit harsh about Shakira. I just meant that she’s perfectly capable of standing her ground when she wants to, i.e. not exactly the sacrificial lamb that Sakina makes her out to be.

        The problem here is really Mehboob, no? From what I can gather, he’s wanted to marry Shakira for a long time, but her brothers weren’t too keen on the rishta until Mehboob became effectively the only option. Mehboob is obviously in love with Shakira, and he makes it very clear to his mother–and later to Sakina–that his feelings for Shakira are non-negotiable. The problem is that everyone knows this and it’s easy to use this against him in a sense. Shakira gently plays up the “we can’t be together if there’s this bhoj on my head,” effectively forcing Mehboob into dealing with his mother. Then, later, Mushtaq gives poor Mehboob a well-intentioned but vaguely insulting lecture on being responsible for Shakira’s izzat. This isn’t the way most prospective damaads are treated, right?

        So yeah, Mehboob is going to get heartily sick of all these people and leave Shakira for the sake of his own sanity, and then he’s going to feel a lifetime of guilt and regret over it.

        I didn’t think about this before, but on some level, Mehboob has basically been put in the place where prospective brides find themselves, lol.

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        • @RK: Re: Mehboob and his troubled relationship with his in-laws: If you notice there is a lot left unsaid. We, for instance, know nothing about his age, financial status, his zaat, biradari, ethnicity, and most importantly his religious sect, a very serious concern for parents/families. The fact that he was their last, majboori wali choice says a lot, more so given the age of their sister, and also explains their relatively cold behavior towards him … they are polite and proper but lacking the typical jaan qurban attitude shown to a damaad, and that too an only one. Not finding a match from the “right background” is a huge problem for families like we see here ..

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          • Fair enough. I honestly hadn’t given the whole zaat-paat-biradri thing too much thought. I just assumed that Mehboob and Shakira were cousins, and that his only failing was that he was the only son of a poor widowed relative, i.e. Shakira’s brothers decided he wasn’t good enough for their only sister until he was effectively the only choice left to them, and I suspect their desire to give her the house as jaidaad was because Mehboob isn’t exactly wealthy.

            Anyway, I’ve spent so much time thinking about this that I’m now sad they’ll never get married. Brb crying.

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            • I don’t know for sure, this is just me guessing from what we have seen so far. And thus, I think is really intelligent writing/overall execution that they have not spelt out everything, hence not ruffling any feathers, leaving it to us to fill in the blanks… maybe they’ll reveal reasons later.

              And.. I feel your pain… here you go 😉

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  2. @SZ I read your review. Most likely you haven’t seen promo of episode 4.

    You rightly said – too much doom and gloom will be hard to handle week after week..episode 4 is going to be another distress call.

    @RK I am amazed at your concern and foresight – shakira will sacrifice her happiness with Mehboob. To me, your assessment is fairly accurate.

    As we audience wants usually good things to happen – let us hope against hope

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