This is neither a review nor a recap of Teri Raza – I’m not qualified for either. A story as abstruse as this requires a viewer with a particular kind of intelligence, which I unfortunately do not posses. I, therefore, cannot attempt to explain what the what is going on here. What I can tell you, however, is that lately whenever I have watched Teri Raza I have walked away with a lingering sense of déjà vu.
Bachpan mein, Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland was a story that fascinated me no end. I would literally spend hours thinking about Alice and her adventures and try to understand the going-ons. Main aur meri tanhai aksar yeh baatein karte thay how must it be to see a fully dressed talking rabbit, to fall down a rabbit hole, or to be a guest at the Mad Hatter’s tea party, perhaps even meet the Cheshire Cat.
Kaafi ghaur-o fikr kiya karti thi main bibi Alice ke baarey mein and sochti ke feelings kiya hongi us ki when she was meeting all those crazy characters one after the other. Did she ever question her state of mind or wonder about theirs?
Fast forward some decades and I see now how silly I was then. Bekaar mein tab itna socha aur time za’iya kiya. I should’ve just waited for Teri Raza and Suhana’s shenanigans. Kuch saal zaroor lage but now I totally get how Alice must’ve felt then. Ergo the lingering déjà vu and the familiar inabilty to make sense out of nonsense.
Point yeh hai ke Suhana tau bhaiya is beyond my comprehension. I have been writing about dramas for a long time and not once have I met such an incoherent character. Itna koi convoluted ke neither the writer nor the director or even the actor seem to have a clue as to this girl. Other than blaming others for her problems what else is Suhana’s goal in life?
Going by how Sanam is playing Suhana it seems like it’s not just us, the actor too is equally lost, lurching as she does from scene to scene with no sense of continuity – pichley scene mein kiya hua aur agle scene ka present scene se kiya connection hai kuch pata nahin hai. Suhana bibi kiya bolti hain, kiya sochti hain, kiya chahti hain – jitne chahe istikharey niklwa lein koi jawab nahin milne wala. Calling Suhana an unmitigated disaster is me being kind.Similarly Rameez. Another character without a sense of place in the larger picture. Likewise Jeena. What is she doing in this story? What purpose is Seema serving? Why do we need Tweedledee and Tweedledum’s icky romance? Why is daadi happily dispensing orange juice mein kaali mirch ka totka when her only poti has just been sent packing? And what was that random bit about Suhana ke bachpan mein baalon ka texture while Zafar is hospitalized? How does Zafar end up blaming Talat for Suhana’s tarbiyat and why are we made to sit through stories of Talat and Zafar’s compromise ka rishta? And if your head isn’t already spinning there are the omnipresent istikharey ke nuqsan aur fawaid lectures.
Kaha tha na bilkul hi Mad Hatter ki tea party wali feelz aati hain is dramey se. Same 2 Same.
So … why then are we all still watching this madcap serial? What is it about Teri Raza that attracts our desi dils and dimaghs.
Simply put: the brilliant Sarmad Khoosat’s absolutely brilliantly played Imtiaz.
In a culture where masculinity is typified by the mard ko dard nahin hota mindset, Imtiaz brings to fore a completely new kind of hero. Here is a man who does not need to prove his mardangi. He is self-aware, confident enough in his manhood to seek consent, initiate frank, and at times tough, conversations, solicit advice and ask for opinion from the two women in his life – his mother and wife. He is the “man of the house” why then does he care for what these women think and desire and want?
When was the last time we desi ladies saw a man this respectful, this attuned to not only the women in his life, but even otherwise? Much is made of women wanting romance and so much of that is equated with whispered sweet nothings and roses and hearts. Not that there is anything wrong with these, but beyond a certain point all that is merely fluff.
And fluff can go only so far. What Sarmad Khoosat has given us via his super sensitive, underplayed portrayal of Imtiaz is a 3D definition of what women want in a man and from a man. Respect. Equality. Partnership. A veritable humsafar who promises hum-nawayi for all reasons and seasons. The actor and the character he is responsible for bringing alive on screen deserve a standing ovation at the very least.
Ab what is such a gold standard of a character doing in Teri Raza is a big mystery. That this is the only character with a specified arc, has continuity, and is imbued with meaning and purpose tells me that there is more than a hint of individual effort and investment here. And this then leads me to question what the rest of the team were doing with their time on set, other than posting BTS pics and selfies that is.
It is not like this was a story without potential. There was a lot to be mined here in terms of issues faced by newly weds, particularly in our system of arranged marriages. There was also the space to explore a young girl’s coming of age arc, her doubts and dilemmas as she approaches the threshold of womanhood. Basically there were a multitude of stories asking to be heard. Two fantastic actors with explosive chemistry totally wasted because makers refused see beyond the chhapo aur cut paste karo template so beloved by production companies.
Bottom line, it is an absolute travesty that a character as brilliant as Imtiaz is being wasted in such a trivial drama. So much of a character’s strength and beauty lies in its interactions with the others around him. Magar afsos. One can only wonder about the extent of Imtiaz’s impact in a different, read logical, story. If ever there was a character crying out for another fair shot, Imtiaz is it. Sarmad, sun rahey hain na?
Chalte chalte …. here’s another of my favorite Imtiaz moments – an achingly beautiful scene that brings to mind the exquisite sentimentality of Mera Kuch Saman – from Gulzar’s Ijazat.
Today, when I look back at Alice in Wonderland I am awed by the complexity of Carroll’s story telling. There are layers upon layers of meaning. Each new read opens up different avenues of thought, a fresh way of looking at the world. Comprehending Teri Raza, on the other hand, requires us viewers to live more than one lifetime. Any takers?
Written by SZ~