Aaj kal issue based serials are a dime a dozen. Story romantic ho ya tragedy, shaadi ka mahol ho ya ghami ki, larka foreign ka ho ya larki Lahore ki, kahani ki demand left ho ya right, oopar ho ya neeche … in saari baaton se koi farq nahin parta. The only thing that matters is ke bas issue hona chahiye, balke agar do chaar aik saath hon tau kya hi baat hai.
In this race to deliver the next big issue-based TRP garnering serial, there is little thought given to whether the issue at stake is being done any justice. Asal issue ka tau koi issue hi nahin hai. Hence the recent list of doozies from pretty much every channel. My initial expectations, therefore, were very low from MD Productions’ latest Dar Si Jati Hai Sila.
Starting off on a promising note, three episodes in Sila has its heart in the right place. Bee Gul and Kashif Nisar are unafraid to push the envelope and ask the difficult questions. Harassment and abuse are the central themes, but it is in their probing of the circumstances that give rise to such things that this serial takes on meaning and import.
Contrasted against the morally bankrupt and financially corrupt upper class, the middle-class is typically presented as the repository of social, cultural and moral values. But in setting Sila smack dab in the middle-class milieu this one big stereotype is cracked right open. Similarly the desi joint family system is the sacred cow of desi culture but here the spotlight is trained squarely on the abuse of power and privilege that takes place under the guise of benevolent familial support. And finally, but perhaps most importantly, Sila takes the road almost never travelled, viewing a woman not just in terms of her relationships, but as a living breathing entity in her own right, one with emotions and emotional needs.
Sadia is a wife with an absentee husband. Sikander is overseas ostensibly for his family’s sake, a point reiterated time and again by not only him but the extended family as well. That he is working hard abroad while she lazes comfortably at home is a constant refrain. What happens in actuality is the exact opposite. Sikander’s absence leaves his wife susceptible to all kinds of manipulations and abuse. We typically think of a married woman in terms of her spouse and children or her extended relations, but what of her own being? Where is the space afforded to her as an individual with desires, the kind not satisfied with money?
The fact that she is emotionally and financially beholden to her extended family and is visibly lonely turns Sadia into a sitting duck for an experienced predator like Joi. A slight moment of weakness and she is ensnared for life. Given that her tormentor is an extended relative and she has a daughter engaged within the family means that Sadia is in effect rendered mute. Her helplessness emboldens Joi even more and he turns his attention on to Sila.
One could blame Sadia for her weakness, but is she entirely to blame? What of her husband’s responsibilties? Is financial security the only thing he owes his family? Now that in addition to Sadia, Sila too is showing signs of traumatized is it not incumbent upon him to look beyond the sab theek hai scenario? Sadia is blamed by everybody for Sila’a buri tarbiyat, but why is a child’s tarbiyat solely a mother’s responsibilty? Why are we as a society allowing the father to get away this easy?
When a daughter is married off the parents breathe a sigh of relief thinking they have secured her future, more so if she is married in a big family. Agar kuch oopar neechey ho gaya tau aur ghar waley sanbhal lengay is the traditional mindset. How much thought is ever given to the fact that just marriage alone is no guarantee of safety? Here, Sadia is married and that too in a big supposedly happy joint family, where supposedly everyone looks after each other. But are they really?
The contrast between Sila and Zaini speaks volumes. One girl has grown up as an orphan, despite having a father, and the other one has both parents present – and the difference in their demeanor, they way they talk and walk, is huge. Joi has tried his hand on both girls, but where Zaini has the courage to look him in the eye and shut him down, Sila is unable. Where would Sila go to complain, to whom would she turn? And this is exactly the kind of scenario that gives birth to predators like Joi.
Noor Manzil denizens may seem like a joint family to outsiders, but within the four walls it is each to their own. Aur agar aisey mein kisi ko koi pareshani hai tau kis ko kiya museebat pari hai … particularly when there is potential for rishtas and hissas in jaidads involved. And so starts the process of declaring Sila mentally unstable.
Storywise, Sila hits the right notes. Nauman Ijaz is beyond excellent as the creepy Joi. Yumna Zaidi is fabulous as the traumatized Sila. That this trauma is extending and taking over her other facets of life is shown very effectively. Saman Ansari is very good as Sadia, conveying her helplessness, guilt and frustration very well. My big concern though is with repitition of scenes. By now we know Joi is a predator and to keep harping on that fact takes away from the incisive impact. We are only three episodes in but I am already innured to the Joi and Sila scenes. My other complaint is the overloud background music, which seems to unfortunately have become an MD trademark. Could someone please lower the volume? Thank you.
Three episodes in I am watching Sila, what about you all?
Written by SZ~