Dar Si Jati Hai Sila ~ Episodes 11-15 Review

As parents we teach our children to be wary of strangers. Our verbal and non-verbal cues teach children where they are safe –  in the safety of the home – and where they should be alert – on the outside. But predators do not always lurk in dark corners with horns growing out of their heads and stand in alleys with danger signs painted across their chests. Most importantly, children are not the only ones to suffer sexual abuse, adults are just as likely to be victimized.

Bee Gul’s Dar Si Jati Hai Sila has alerted us to exactly this danger. Predators do not fit a specific mold nor do their victims. There are those, like Sila’s mama Joi, who though not related by blood are welcomed and accepted as members of the household, who are granted open access to all parts of the household, and because of their age are deemed safe to be around female members of the family.

Try as she might Sadia is unable to protect Sila from Joi’s wandering eye and hands. An unwelcome touch here a decidedly non-paternalistic gaze there, it’s all happening under everybody’s noses, but such is the power dynamic in this joint family that Sadia is unable to say a word. And how can she. She has a dirty secret of her own. She was Joi’s first victim in Noor Manzil.

And here Sila is brilliant in its opening up of another can of worms – the joint family system. As Sadia’s case amply demonstrates there is a lot to be valued in this kind of a living arrangement. Given that she is alone, her husband works abroad, living with extended family ostensibly provides Sadia with a support system. She is freed from the day to day responsibilities of running a household and is thus free to focus on raising her children. Fabulous.

An important issue highlighted is that of a married woman who is single for all practical purposes. The minute a girl is born parents start worrying about her marriage. The moment she is married, however, it is as if they are suddenly freed off a burden. She is now her husband’s ‘problem’. But what if the husband is not capable? To whom is this woman to turn to now? Her in-laws? What if they do not see her as their responsibility – she was married to the man not to his entire khandan?

We hear so much talk of beti ka bojh aur shohar ki zimmedari, but in all this conversation about the woman where is the woman’s own voice? Where in all this does she exist as an individual entity? What about her needs, desires, dreams, ambitions?

So obsessed is desi culture with shaadi that a young girl’s life is almost entirely geared towards the impending marriage – kab hogi, kis se hogi, kahan hogi, etc. Where in all this is time to think of an education, not just for the sake of a career, but to invest in and secure the girl’s future.

Would Sadia have reacted differently to her circumstances if she’d had the means to provide for herself and her children? Would access to resources, variously defined, have enabled Sadia to reach out for help? In all these years why hasn’t Sadia managed to cultivate even one relationship worthy of trust within the family? Tullo, perhaps? She is a single woman, wouldn’t she have been empathetic and receptive to Sadia’s problems? If not helping her solve them, at least she could’ve lent emotional support?

15 episodes in I am very disappointed with how a strong script is being translated on-screen. We are about the halfway mark and so far all we have seen is a constant underscoring of victimhood. Every single episode the camera has lingered lovingly on Joi’s lascivious leer and wandering hands and then panned over to the victims’ – Sadia and Sila’s – quivering lips, shaking bodies and their struggle to free themselves. Why are we watching the story from the perv’s point of view? I understand the need to establish power dynamics initially, but now?

My question simply put: Is this serial meant to highlight solutions or to drive home the point that there is no escape from an essentially hopeless situation? Were I a viewer who identified with Sadia’s situation, what is my take home message? That my life is not worth living? Where is my ray of hope? Why is this drama so obsessed with its villain that it is not turning the spotlight on solutions offered by the script?

Her cousin Raheel stands up for Sila and Zaini is pushing Sila to speak up –  why not focus more on the younger generation, making more obvious the comparison between the younger and older generations’ attitudes. Why not explore the lack of support for Sadia from other family members. Why is she so unwanted and un-liked? Had she ever sought a way out?

There is so much more to be mined here other than simply showing repetitive scenes with Bari Apa and her love for her brother. We get Bari Apa by now – why do we need so much of her? Every episode dedicates at least half of its time to scenes featuring Nauman Ijaz. The rest of the characters get squeezed into the remaining other half.

The way the story has played out it seems to me that there is a real confusion in Kashif Nisar, the director’s mind as to the real hero -Perverted Joi or Sadia and Sila? Or simply put the big name star vs the story.  There is no denying the fact the Nauman Ijaz is the best we have, but no actor or character can be above the story, which is what is happening here. A fabulous script has been turned on its head and transformed into a star vehicle. Rather than Sila offering a workable solution or a kernel of hope, all it is doing is showcasing Nauman Ijaz as a bad boy. And this is a huge problem.

Fifteen weeks of scene after scene of a woman’s humiliation, degradation, victimization, her ‘willing’ walk up to her abuser’s bedroom, all this juxtaposed against the abuser’s sadistic joy and the self-satisfied smile – makes me question the producers’ and channel’s priorities? Is this about offering solutions or about repackaging misery and selling it in recycled bottles?

It was bad enough a few years ago when woman were being beaten and abused and crying 24/7 but then channels, particularly women oriented channels like HUM, claimed to have moved towards intelligent programming. After having sat through a slew of recent offerings I am sorry to report that evidence points to the contrary. Even as the number of abused women continues to rise in our country, TV narratives are turning even more regressive and problematic. Dragging serials, particularly these issue-based ones, by adding in more miseries to ‘spice up’ the story line is adding even more fuel to the fire. Where is the education angle here?

If anybody is truly interested in intelligent issue-based programming then there has to systemic change in how the industry thinks. Mindsets have to be altered and TV channels have to realize and understand the importance of presenting an issue-based story. Whose gaze is being privileged and whose point of views is the story being narrated from?

Abusers should not be allowed to take over the story. The camera’s eye cannot become the voyeur’s gaze. We should not be shown the story through the perverts’ eyes. Why do they get that privilege. Victims, however, are typically silenced in such stories. If the camera has to take sides, then why not choose the side of the weak and the helpless? Surely they have earned that right? If they are silenced in the text why can’t they be allowed a voice through the visual medium? Let the subtext do the talking for them.

And this is the other point. Why is there so much talking? Bari Apa alone talks more than everybody else in the entire serial, and most of it is repeated ad nauseam throughout. Apart from plumping up episodes and helping stretch the serial what other purpose is this reiteration serving?

Story lines in these kinds of dramas need to be direct, to the point and should not be dragged out with unnecessary repetitive talking scenes (Bari Apa and Joi scenes) and those that humiliate victims (Joi’s constant manhandling of Sila and Sadia). Once the victim is disrespected then where is the meaning left in these issue-based serials?

All this to say that while I continue to think Dar Si Jat Hai Sila is a serial worth watching- it is well written, well acted and touches on an important subject deserving of serious debate, I am disappointed with the producers’ and director’s callous, heavy-handed commercial drama treatment meted out to a very sensitive subject. I wish they had thought this through and treaded lightly and carefully.

Written by SZ~

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13 replies

  1. Hey SZ
    You are so right , I agree 100% with you , DSJHS seems to be stuck and not moving forward.
    I hate the way sadia treats Hatim.
    Bari aapa is so annoying with her same ol tirade .
    Sadia is not only weak but stupid too , if she had decided to take her life at least leave a letter behind stating all the facts so that zoie could be exposed and the truth be told . But alas that attempt also failed but I’m glad it did , her dying would achieve nothing.
    Looking forward to seeing what Mrs Joie will be up to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • @Deeba: Hey! I agree .. the nuance in the writing has gone completely missing in what we see onscreen. Poor Hatim is getting treated very badly. I had hoped that Saman Ansari and Kashif Nisar would’ve been able to show us a bit more of a mother’s dilemma as she alternates between loving and hating her son but afsos its all missing here. And if I see one more scene of Bari Apa repeating the same lines I will throw something at someone – hadd hoti hai yaar!

      But yeah, Joi’s wife will certainly shake things up … I am so looking fwd to her making Bari Apa naacho a tigni ka naach! Kiran Haq seems like a good fir for this character!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I see a serious flaw in story or is it direction? If a girl is being abused, she would try to stay away from the abuser. In this case, Sila stays there where Joi comes closer or sits next to her or places his hand over her shoulder. A normal reaction from a normal girl is to run away and not let him come closer to her. So either this is intentional to show a sick minded girl, or its a serious flaw in the direction.

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  3. @Ruma: Hello, thank you for reading and taking time to share your thoughts. Welcome 🙂

    Hmm..you raise an interesting point…I cant speak for either the writer or the director but from my personal experience of working with survivors of abuse I can say that Sila’s reaction is actually not surprising given her particular circumstances. Her father is not around and ever since her childhood she’s seen her mother being abused in different ways by the various members of the family and also seen how helpless she is when faced with such abuse. Then as she grew up Bari Apa turned her gums towards her and kept on hammering home the point that she should be grateful for the fact that the rest of the family was putting up with her and her mother. Then Joi started with his own particular kind of abuse. Now no matter how repelled and scared she might be, she feels there is really no where else for her to go. Remember her mother’s example is before her eyes. Sadia has zero agency in the family. Now if her mother hasnt found a way out or a place to run away too where will Slia go? It is actually quite common, again purely from my experience and observation, that in such cases victims like Sila will just retreat within themselves, and lose all self-confidence, and display a marked lack of social skills – all of which we see her exhibit here. We speak from a place and position of privilege when we talk of a place to run away and hide. I dont think ppl like Sadia and Sila unfortunately have those options.

    That said i can see where you are coming from – after 15 episodes of this constant hide and seek you do wonder about the constant focus on this – why not show not just Sila but others like her in real life situations or even viewers like us as to how to start finding a way out …without offering any of these explns or showing us Sadia’s attempts through these years to protect her child (not just be offering herself in exchange )its all pointless and you do start questioning where is the story going – lets see how things change now that the new bride is here …

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the explanation. I think it is simple that if I don’t like someone, I would stay away and will avoid them. I started watching this play because I heard it was different, however, nothing different is shown other than Zaini, Raheel and Zaini’s dad. I am only watching because of these three.

      I also get the feeling the Saadia is in love with Joi which is again really sick.

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  4. Your reviews on DSJHS always bring some interesting points to ponder.. and eye opening too.. I too felt story is being dragged uselessly but never took it in a way that we are being shown story from abusers point of view .. his expressions his maze uthana his all attempts getting successful.. I personally liked epi 14 because it more focused on young generation thinking why sila gets afraid.. some steps were taken to solve the mystery else continuous listening of bari apa and her love for Joey makes me go mad and yes litertally same thing in every episode.. and now this suicide attempt was beyound ridiculous.. why because he insulted Sadia.. wah as if abhi tak he was simply treating her with izzat and love..

    And the way she treats Hatim took makes me feel so bad.. galti khud karo and then make suffer your kid ..

    Also it shows how half truth ruin things more.. sadia should now tell whole truth specially when she can see how Sila has completely misunderstood her..

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    • Hello hello! No not yet .. how was it? Do share your thoughts .. I’ll probably review a few eps together so till then we can have discussions on this thread

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      • I think it was actually good. The newcomer aka nayi naweli dulhan is something else. Fitting, I think. Wuhi karegi ab shayd kuch.
        Baqi Sila and her cousin, and Sila and her “bhai” – those scenes were quite a ride. They both had that pity factor – the kind that…well, got me emo.

        I hope they make something of this drama soon. Something good. Soon and Good.

        Liked by 1 person

        • @randomly abstract: Ok, caught up on this and I do like Kiran Haq in this character. You are right, nayi dulhan is the only one who can do bari apa ki bolti band. i loved how she made her run around for orange juice.

          I really like the guy playing Sila’s brother – he’s such a cutie and so earnest – so perfectly cast for the role. Saman Ansari I like overall, but really wish she could’ve abstained from her mani-pedi routine for this serial.. kinda hard to buy her bechari act if her hair and nails look better maintained than mine!

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  5. Nadia makes this drama a pretty good watch. Her clashes with Joi and Bari Appa are so satisfying to watch- particularly last week’s and this week’s were great.

    They dragged this by including so many repetitive scenes and that freaky Sila/Joi wedding idea. A good chunk of the play could have been handled more tastefully on part of the director and a shorter drama might have had more impact on the viewers. Oh well, the drama does look like it will wrap up in a few weeks and this episode and the last did move the plot ahead quite a bit.

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    • Thanks for the heads up – love Kiran Haq and have enjoyed her in the episodes I’ve watched … I need to catch up on the last two.. now you’ve given the incentive to do just that!

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