Dua ~ From the Archives ~ A Telefilm Review

I happened to be browsing through my YouTube feed when I came across this recommendation. Seeing Nadia Jamil’s face on the thumbnail I paused and thought to give this one a dekho … aur kaun kaun hai. And bhai wah! Zara aur check karne pe pata chala ke this was a shrine based story, filmed on location in Waah and based on true events. The story was written directed and produced by the PTV veteran Rana Shaikh,  and screenplay and dialogues had been penned by the legendary Haseen Moin.Present day well-known director and producer Erum Shahid had served as an assistant director then and in addition to Nadia Jamil as Jugnu, this one also starred Ahson Talish (celebrated director of projects such as Numm and Alif Allaf Aur Insaan) as Shandar, Shabbir Jaan as the Peer and a very good Fatima Hameed as Minnu. Ab jab itney saarey barey naam ikhatey hon tau serious dekhna tau banta hai...

The story starts of with a young couple Jugnu and Shandar, who’ve been married for four years but are as yet childless. As is wont to happen in such cases, particularly in small towns, they are under tremendous familial pressure to procreate and it is under these circumstances they hear of a dargah famously associated with never returning a supplicant empty-handed. It is at this shrine they meet a peer who lays in front of them a strange condition: Their first-born would belong to the shrine. The children who follow would be the couple’s to keep. This is the one and only thing required before their entreaty is accepted by the gatekeepers of the shrine.

At first glance this seems a bizarre proposition, but an insecure Jugnu allows herself to be persuaded, despite her husband’s protestations to the contrary. The thought of her beloved husband remarried on account societal pressure, because of her infertility, is a very real threat to her peace of mind at that particular point in time.

Their tacit agreement of this proposition serves as the take off point for the story. As the narrative simmers and comes to a boil there is a lot that happens along the way. The acting is refreshingly real, there is no melodrama and importantly no resort to hysterics. Also, do note an actual sound design,  the lack of annoying background score, no over over long scenes and blessed absence hyper talkative dialogues. I will not give away any spoilers and let you watch and enjoy this refreshing change from what passes as great TV these days.

There is a lot to be mined in this deceptively simple but very richly layered story, but I’ll hold off and wait for you to chime in with your thoughts. That such shrines and institutions continue to exist and exploit people’s weakness for their own nefarious agendas is very sad and worthy of further analysis. What is the need they fulfill that mainstream institutions cannot fulfill? What language do they speak that gets through where others fail?

Looking forward to your take!

Written by SZ~

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9 replies

  1. This was a really good watch, SZ. Thanks for recommending it.

    I was pleasantly surprised at how good Nadia Jamil and Ahson Talish were together. They were perfectly credible as a young couple who love each other but are forced to sign up for a very questionable venture. It’s also interesting how much story was conveyed through just a few lines of dialogue. It’s a very rich but very compactly told story.

    As for why fraudulent pirs and their schemes remain popular, I assume it has something to do with how superstitious desi culture is, and how it’s sometimes reassuring to have someone tell you your problems are not insurmountable, that a bit of prayer and some blessed water will take care of everything. It’s like going to a doctor but with the added benefit of having the heavens on your side, or something like that.

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    • @RK: Hey! Thanks for checking this one out on my recc.. much appreciated!

      So glad you enjoyed this one and didnt come after me with andey tamatar – always a concern when recommending stuff 😉

      I dont quite know when this telefilm was originally released but going by how young everybody was I am imagining about 10 (more?) or so years ago? and dekh lo even in that many years how quickly standards have deteriorated in terms of story telling … aajkal there is so much talk talk and the glamor and loud music and most off all the black and white characterizations! Had this been today, Jugnu would’ve been surely been raped by the Peer as well and/or the husband Shandar would’ve been a good for nothing shukki shohar or a two timing person or some such ..I absolutely loved their very positive relationship, made for such a refreshing change from the present norm… and notice there was actually a police that worked, albeit on their own pace!!!

      In terms of the actual story and its social implications, agree with you abt the superstitions, I was also thinking abt the pressures that exist in desi society to have a child right away … and how that pressure leads to infertility … once this young couple moves away from the stress free environment they are able to conceive without any obvious medication or ilaj – that I could notice – and I was just thining about how many young lives and relationships are ruined by such stupid pressures. Not that having a child right away is any kind of a guarantee of any future happiness either. Also this other idea of a second marriage, without conducting any medical tests …

      All this creates such fertile grounds for these kinds of “alternate” institutions to flourish and leaves women, in particular, open to exploitation … there have been so many dramas that have dealt with such situations .. Sannata too had a track like that .. but with a much darker connotation … Here I liked this one because it was short and sweet and ended on an upbeat note … .

      P.S. OR review tom …. I have started it … had guests havent been able to finish it as yet .. sorry :/

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      • You’re right. There’s an enormous amount of pressure, and it falls mostly on women too. The whole issue of men marrying a second time to have children seems to be based on the totally baseless idea that infertility is always the woman’s fault. Then there’s the whole preference for male children and the failure to provide them being blamed on the woman, when that’s not even scientifically true. Sigh.

        That’s one thing I really enjoyed about this short telefilm. At no point do either Jugnu or Shandar blame each other for the lack of children, or for the things that happen in the story. They’re always a united front, and that’s such a refreshing change from things we see in dramas now.

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        • So, I just checked with Erum, the asst. dir on the project and this is from 1999… .no wonder it looks like it belongs to a whole other universe – the kind associated with sense and responsibility and not driven by market concerns and TRPs!

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    • @SJ: Hello! Welcome! Lovely to hear from a new friend! Glad to know our convos are resonating with you 🙂
      Please continue reading and do join us in our rants and raves – would love to hear more from you!

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  2. Just finished watching.. and really liked it.. thanks alot for recommending..
    Love the simple times when it was made.. also how point was made without any glamour and 100 extra things.. so great to see a positive n a couple wirh mutual understanding.. ab tou ye dekhna hasrat hie he.

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    • @Rehmat: Thank you for always trusting me with recommendations and following up on them – truly appreciate your trust and support ❤

      Ok, so if everybody likes the telefilm recc. idea should we continue with this and do random revisits to the archives every so often? Chalenge mere saath?

      Liked by 1 person

      • That will be so great.. bilkul chalainge.. ab archives dekh k hie banda khush hojaye..

        Also thought to share with you.. i was late watching this telefilm because was catching up on Shah.. ufff it moved me to tears what an amazing n sincere effort.. this what Pakistani movies require..

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