O Rungreza ~ Episodes 13 – 16 ~ An Overview

Sixteen episodes in, Team O Rungreza continues to paint an incisive portrait of a societal setup with which we are all intimately familiar. Patriarchy and patriarchal honor, gender roles, social hypocrisy, gender and power dynamics… this serial is as if holding up a mirror to society at large. Reflected back is a grotesque image of what we proudly claim as humara culture and humari values.

But what is this culture and what are its values that we as a society want to protect?

A patriarchal culture is premised on the notion of honor. Izzat. Murders are committed over izzat and naik-naami. Magar hai kiya cheez yeh izzat? Naik-nami kiya hoti hai? Why isn’t his izzat at stake when Khayyam repeatedly cheats on Mammo and ends up at Sonya Jahan’s house? How come his friends don’t abandon him even after he is caught up in Sonya’s disappearance scandal? Similarly Tipu. He slaps Meena and pretty much nothing changes. Life still continues. Nobody’s izzat is bothered. Sassi’s behaviour on the other hand is a source of great concern and ire. Duniya kya kahegi… baap ki izzat ka khayal karo… yeh kaisi badtameez larki hai…

Why is a man’s izzat not determined by his own behaviour? Why is Khayyam’s izzat predicated on Sassi’s behaviour and not Tipu’s? Why is Sassi’s tameez such an issue while Tipu gets away with pretty much everything?

In a patriarchal society women and their bodies act as the repositories of male honor. Izzat is measured in terms of not what men themselves do but in terms of the control they exert over the women in their lives. Aurat kiya karti hai, kiya kehti hai, kiya pehenti hai, all is a matter of honor for men. What they themselves do has no impact on their honor.

Women, therefore, have to bear the brunt not only of their own deeds but also the misdeeds of the men in their lives. Centuries of conditioning has normalized this injustice and inequality to the point that a girl like Sassi, who chooses to live life on her own terms, comes off as an aberration.

I am neither condoning nor condemning Sassi’s behavior, rather questioning why she makes us  uncomfortable. Comments on social media vary from: Larkiyon ko aisa nahin hona chahiye to yeh kaisi larki hai to aisi larkiyan kahan hoti hain to is she real or a figment of the writer’s imagination? By the same token, though we find Tipu annoying and irritating but there is no wondering about such a character. He is a man – it’s okay for him to be the way he is. So entrenched are these desi gender roles that a Sassi is difficult to accept.

Similarly Qasim. Here is a man unlike the other “manly men” we see on our TV screens. Much like Sassi he too does not fall under an easy label. If Sassi cannot be described as typical sharmeeli, mashriqi heroine, Qasim too is not the typical alpha male hero. But just because they do not fall into easy categories does this mean that they are somehow not normal?

Qasim burst into tears when Tipu shot his birds, should he not have done that? Why is Qasim’s gentleness equated with weakness? Why the calls for him to mard bano?  Why this disdain for men and women who don’t fit a traditional mold?

What O Rungreza does, and quite brilliantly at that, is to bring to the fore societal hypocrisy and double standards. We condemn violence, dominance, misogyny, mazloomiyat, but at the same time expect compliance with socially prescribed norms, which preach exactly that. It may seem like a no-brainer, but it is extremely important to unpack and understand the damage being done by these unsaid, unwritten expectations. Equating Qasim’ plight to that of caged birds’ was a beautiful touch on Saji Gul’s part, a metaphor that spoke on many levels.

Meena is the latest entrant in Khayyam Sani’s household. Initially her presence was a source of discomfort for both Mammo and Bua. After all she was not ehl-i kitab.  As they have all gotten to know her better, now seeing beyond the obvious, they are begining to appreciate her for the sensitive and kind girl that she is. Mammo has, perhaps, for the first time found in Meena someone who sees her as an entity in her own right.

Meena brings with her yet another color to add to the vibrant canvas of this haveli. Her recent brush with Qasim has opened up a new avenue of thought and it will be interesting to see how these two wounded souls help each other heal.

And on wounded souls, ever so gradually there is a sense of Mammo the woman. She is neither dumb nor deaf. She may pretend otherwise but she has a finger on her husband’s pulse. That little dig about Khayyam and his ghalatis definitely did not go unnoticed. A prefect embodiment of patriarchy, Khayyam may think he is the man of the house but he would be wrong in this thought. It is Mammo who ensures the haveli and indeed Khayyam’s izzat remain above reproach. Patriarchy survives not merely because of men like Khayyam but in large part because of women like Mammo.

O Rungreza is a serial where the text is merely an introduction. It is in the gradual unfolding of the layers of subtext that the true beauty of this story reveals itself. Bas koi dil ki nazar se parhne wala chahiye ...

And this was my take. What about you all? Looking forward to your thoughts!

Written by SZ~ 

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21 replies

    • @Kanta: Thank you – you’re too kind!

      Glad you’re enjoying this one. Sajal is indeed a very talented actress, and that too at such a young age!
      Have you seen her in the telefilm Behad? One with Fawad Khan? If you haven’t, then do check it out.

      Back to O Rungreza .. who is your fave character? And what do you make of this public response to Qasim’s not being a man enough?

      Liked by 1 person

  1. How do u always read my mind ? I LOVE ur reviews. I have seen on social media ppl are saying negative things about it & keep comparing it to YKS (bcoz sajjal is in both). Kashif Nisar is a true artist. His dramas are not made for TRPs. They dont cater to the sensibilities of masses. Am i the only one who feels YKS was lil overrated? That hug between lead pair was used to cover up all the loopholes & make ppl forget all the faults in the scriot & direction. And they succeeded brilliantly, they got what they wanted. There was nothing new about sajal & ahad’s characters. Their romance was inspired by Dhoop kinare & they literally ripped-off one scene. Especially Sajal’s character in O rangreza is waayy more challenging, interesting ,refreshing & groundbreaking. Thats y initially she was only promoting O angreza she said thats her best character till date. She must be more proud of playing Sassi than spineless Zubiya. Trust me even she & Ahad must b baffled to see the public response. (YKS crazy fans plz stay away, I really liked it ,luved the chemistry between sajal & ahad but its a bit overrated .And i m entitled to my opinion)

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    • Thanks Muffy ❤ Glad to hear from you on this thread.

      Haha! What a comparison YKS vs OR… nahin not a fair comparison .. its like comparing plain chawal to a biryani. And no, as @Rehmat said, you are def not alone. Several of us feel similarly and you can check out our convos on the YKS finale thread, and do feel free to share your detailed take on the drama there.

      And no, we dont have crazies here – feel free to express your opinions 🙂

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  2. Misssed reading your lovely take on OR… loved reading your thought provoking review.. story has again picked up from this week… i absouletly loved the scene between khayam and mamom where she says apko galtiyon ki bhi hadh hogi ya nhn.. wah mamoo u rocked it.. those eyes when she saw khayam leaving late night.. n how she understood kahan gaye honge janab.. i simply adore Irsa Ghazals take on mamoo..

    I dont know why but Sassi never made me pissed off with her behaviour towards Qasim or Mamoo.. but Tipu does that so easily.. it makes me go mad how he talks with mamo or qasim.. its v.humilating.. he looks younger khayam seriously.. jaise meena ko bhi thapar khench ke mara.. and killed qasims birds.. totally hate this character..

    Regarding Qasim being not man enough.. i like his vulnerability his sensitive, helpful and understanding nature but this attribute of speaking for himself i feel is also needed at times..but that doesn’t mean i find him weak….

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    • @Rehmat: Aww! Im sorry. I got caught up with work one week and then it just started piling on and then OR is not a drama that one watches chalte phirte and just randomly write it up so basically it just kept getting pushed. I’ll try my best to not delay too much because then I always feel like I missed out on the delicious little details that make each ep so fun to watch.

      So ,… since we missed our weekly discussions .. would you like to list some of your fave scenes from the last couple of episodes? Would be lovely to discuss some of the previous eps that way 🙂

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      • I liked that scene where tipu very bluntly says to mamo k agr sassi bigri tou galti ap ki hogi.. ap ne sahi se tarbiyat nh ki.. i couldnt recall what was reference to context but it was like where mamo was asking tipu not to do something.. it might effects sassi badly.. n in reply he said that.. showed how Mammo kids look at her.. a scapegoat.. and all because they have seen their father doing the same thing..

        I love how Saji gul has woven realism in daily talks of household…

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  3. SZ! Brilliant review…so missed your take on the past few episodes. I am still enjoying all the dialogues and story very much, although it has slowed down a bit. I guess a little bit stretching is required to bring it to the full 26 episode mark. All the actors are doing great work. I have never hated a character as much as Tipu. His dialogues in this latest episode were just shocking, but I am glad he finally dropped that horrible fake accent. Sajal was great in this last episode and although my dil is hurting for Qazim, their dynamic is still a treat to watch. I was miffed when Qazim gave up the job and returned, but with this latest episode it feels like the writer wants them both to learn from each other as they are poles apart. I loved the scene where Sassi is watching her mother’s agony with a smile when Khayyam leaves. No words were exchanged but just brilliant acting. Love Isra Gazal as Mamo. Also the scene where Khayyam is just sitting in his chair wondering which road to take was absolutely perfect. NI without saying anything looked very confused and bewildered. Great direction. I hope you can make the time to review this again weekly. I feel like things will start getting intense soonish…(I hope :))

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    • @Seher: I am so sorry for having gome MIA on this one .. my bad!

      Haina! So glad I am not the only who thought Hamza was much better in the past couple of episodes. I am liking the looks of whom and looking forward to seeing how Tipu evolves.

      Isnt it fab that once we have a story that is unpredictable and that we have no clue where it is going.

      Yes! I loved that look that Sassi gave her mother – but then she had a similar look when she was thinking of Wajih. I love how all characters mirror each other .. So sajal pities her mother but is like that with Wajih, Tipu makes fun of Qasim and calls him all kinfs of names for returning back home but then he too has come back after havig left home under a cloud.

      I have similar inkling as well – that the story will pick up steam.

      So what do you think Tipu is after? What kind of a scam is he running?

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      • I was glad it was finally revealed that the only reason Tipu arrived on the scene was because he is after money. It seems to me he’s milking his friends under some scheme and has Mamo sign the business documents. So once he runs away with all the money the cops will come after Mamo. I think Tipu is a great depiction of these ladle behta’s we PK women raise and praise, who have zilch humility and concept of izzat for parents. It again show’s how important it is to have a personality as a parent and to be able to say no selfishly even to your own son. Because Qazim has been raised differently, always made aware of how thankful he should be that they took him in, his relation towards Tipu’s parents is completely different and perhaps every parents dream. I just love how each character is like a different breed in this one family 😀

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  4. This review is brilliant, SZ! I don’t know how you do it, but you not only captured some of the things I wanted to say, but you also noticed a great many things I didn’t even see! Well done.

    Since you’ve already done all the heavy lifting, I just want to highlight a couple of scenes that really stood out for me, both for their construction and for what the writer is doing with some very unconventional characters and relationships.

    First, the scene where Sassi sort of reconciles with her father. Her self-awareness opposite Khayyam’s total lack of the same was stunning. Having Sassi realize–before her father does–that their arrogance and self-confidence is just a house of cards propped up by Mammo and Qasim was a brilliant bit of writing. Hats off to Saji Gul. (Special kudos because Sassi calls them “kamzor” while talking about their strength, and that’s just a fascinating juxtaposition).

    Both actors hit the scene right out of the park, Sajal Aly is so much better here than in YKS that I almost feel bad for her about YKS’s success, lol. Noman Ijaz is, of course, a great actor. But in this scene, I also noticed how generous an actor he is. It’s not easy to be a well-established widely acknowledged talent and concede space to a younger actor who might steal your thunder a bit. But it’s almost as if he knows this is her scene and her show, so he’s content to play a supporting role.

    Second, the entire interaction between Sassi and Wajih Kamal is fascinating to me. They’re not a conventional couple in any sense, and when Wajih tells Qasim he doesn’t really care for Sassi, I think he’s being sincere. But he can’t resist the urge to cut her down just a bit, so he goes to her house uninvited, chews out her father, and then, right before her eyes, deliberately compliments and flirts with another woman. Does a man do these things when he’s not interested?

    And of course Sassi turned the tables on him as only she can. That audition scene was pretty fab, and credit to Omair Rana for letting his face do most of the talking here. Sassi was perfect, pushing just the right buttons. I think she just picked up the gauntlet Wajih has thrown down. It’s about to get all hot up in here, lol.

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    • @RK: Hey! Thanks. Glad the review resonated.

      Thanks for bringing up your fave scenes. They were indeed lovely! Omair Rana has a relatively small role but he’s left such an impact.
      Another thing I would like to highlight is how this otherwose dark story has deft touches of humor. That time when Meena came and Bua realized that she was Hindu and then her broken English and her attempts to keep Meena away from touching too many other things in the house. Also, there was the lovely scene in the kitchen, where Mammo and Meena started off as wary of each other but by the end of that scene there was a palpable shift in mood and even though thet werent the best of friends they had buried their differences.
      Also that poetry that Khayyam was reciting – so hifi but he himself cant be honest with himself and the women in his life. Although Tipu is annoying but I do like how he keeps giving his father those reality checks.

      Any other scenes that you remember?

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    • Hi RK…love your comments…To me the whole infatuation that Sassi has with Waji has been a bit unbelievable since the beginning, once it seemed she was out for revenge against her dad so that made it ok, but now it seems like a game only and I am pretty sure when she wins this game she will have no mohabbat for Waji. Like even Khayyam is at that point where he is not sure he can look himself in the eye if he goes back to Sonia. Which makes me question something is it easier to love someone when you don’t love yourself? Both Qazim and Mamo have no sense of self so they love easily without any expectation. However the same thing is very hard for both Sassi and Khayyam……I like that this drama makes us think about everything 🙂

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  5. I loved your reveiw as always! O rangreza is giving us plenty to think about. All the actors have been at their best here and its been a treat to watch. But, please rationalise for me Qasim’s giving up a full scholarship to return to a drab life back home. I can’t seem to get past this and it has made me lose half my interest in the drama!

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