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~