Sadqay Tumhare: Can a victim of abuse ever shed her past?
Sadqay Tumhare makes me feel like Khalil ur Rahman Qammar’s characters are an endangered species, liable to tragic extinction at any moment.
The serial’s sad ending shouldn't come as surprise to anyone familiar with this writer’s work (remember Afzal's cruel death in Pyare Afzal?) especially when you keep in mind this story is autobiographical. This may explain why his often high-spirited romances end on melancholy notes.
The final chapter
Engaged as children, cousins Shanno (Mahira Khan) and Khalil (Adnan Malik) fall in love but their parents' turbulent past casts a long, dark shadow over their relationship that can never be shaken off.
The drama takes a look at how an older generation's mistakes have long lasting consequences for their offspring, altering everyone's destiny in the process.
In the past, Shanno’s mother Rasheeda (Samiya Mumtaz) was first coerced into a sexual encounter by her then-fiancé Abdul Rahman and later seduced by her sister Inayat's much older husband (Khalil’s biological father) Mohammad Sadiq. And this all at the tender age of fifteen. In a fit of anger, jealousy and disgust, Inayat leaves Sadiq and her four children and marries Abdul Rehman. It is confusing, we know!
Through much of the story, Rasheeda is seen as a cruel, conniving, twisted villain: the main obstacle to the young lovers union.
However, by the end of the story it is Khalil’s mother Inayat who admits her own guilt in the affair and dies with the realization that her son must bear the brunt of her vengeful actions. Shanno realises her mother will never agree to the match and sends Khalil away, never to see him again.
After a few years Khalil tries to move on and marries Ruby and the story ends when he hears of Shanno’s sad, untimely death.
How did the actors measure up?
From day one, Mahira Khan has been the main attraction and leading light of this serial.
Her unaffected and sincere portrayal of Shanno, a simple young girl from rural Punjab, successfully nestled a home in many hearts. It is her connection with the viewers that gave the heartbreaking ending so much emotional power despite her very limited appearance in the last episode.
Mahira Khan as Shanno.—Photo Courtesy: hum.tv
Mahira Khan is that rare performer who rises beyond the mere technicalities of method acting fusing herself with the character. Throughout this serial there was never a hint of Mahira Khan the superstar — just Shanno from Bhopalwala.
Strong performances from Rehan Sheikh as Amin, Farhan Ali Agha as Abdul Rehman and especially Shamil Khan as Maqsood, bolstered this well-made serial further. The rest of the cast included Saniya Shamshad as Humaira and Tahira Imam as Inayat who have all done a commendable job.
Of course, I expected the most from a fabulous actor like Samiya Mumtaz who played Rasheeda, and for the most part her performance as the manipulative Rasheeda was well above par. However, she never quite rose beyond a being caricature even though the script allowed some leeway for nuance.
Adnan Malik’s performance as the pivotal character of Khelu was a mixed bag. Malik is a very talented young actor with great potential who needs to hone his craft and invest in the integrity of his characters instead of projecting the image of a superstar who has just arrived on the block.
Adnan Malik as Khelu—Photo Courtesy: hum.tv
Production, direction and script:
Great cast chemistry, high production values and skillfully shot interior scenes have been the hallmark of this serial. The last phrase in that list may sound like a back-handed compliment but not every director can manage to create such aesthetically beautiful scenes of romance.
Biographies are not easy to render on to the big or the so-called small screen but apart from a few missteps overall director Ehtamashauddin has handled this script really well. Perhaps in his next project this very capable director will try to infuse even more of his own artistic vision, to actually translate the spirit of the story instead of what seems like shooting straight from the script.
This serial would have been much better at 22 -23 episodes rather than 27, but unfortunately these days writers are forced to dilute their story lines like cheap orange squash, losing much of the original flavor and dramatic punch.
Tackling hard topics: Why do women get all the blame?
Despite being a high-budget, well-written, “big star” project Sadqay Tumharelost some of its sheen towards the end.
Pakistani dramas are no strangers to difficult topics neither do they shy away from portraying affairs or adultery — but it seemed that unlike Shanno, the public just couldn’t forgive Khalil his up close and personal embraces with Humaira.
On a more serious note perhaps a subtler, more imaginative approach was required for this pivotal plot point.
The final episode left much unresolved, but hinted at much more. What did Shanno actually die of? Why did Khalil marry someone else? How much of a shadow did his relationship with Shanno cast on his married life?
From the way he spoke to his wife Ruby, it seems to have been a long one.
For this reviewer the characters of Abdul Rahman and Rasheeda are the most intriguing, especially when it comes to assessing the way men and women are assigned blame in Pakistani society.
Abdul Rahman is presented as a good man, well respected and universally liked. His obvious lapses of character are never questioned whereas the women pay dearly for their ‘moral slips’.
Let me remind you, as a 20 year old, Abdul Rahman takes his then fiancé Rasheeda to a hotel room and takes advantage of her. Then when he learns of her affair with Sadiq he marries her sister Inayat who also happens to be his own uncle’s wife and mother of his uncle’s four children. Incidentally those children are abandoned to the whims of fate.
Even later in life when Shanno’s father Amin (Rasheeda's current husband) lies paralyzed on a hospital bed Abdul Rehman is seen to almost rekindle his old relationship with Rasheeda, sleeping with his head on her lap and never leaving her side .
He seems to be doing fine while Rasheeda loses her relationship with her daughter and Inayat is shamed in front of her son.
When it comes to Rasheeda — A fifteen year old surely knows right from wrong but her level of understanding cannot be at the same level of two older men who took advantage of her. Mohammad Sadiq is quite rightly vilified and Khalil does his best to distance himself from his biological father’s behavior but still... Perhaps I am cynical but Pakistani dramas do not often allow judgment of male characters whereas the actions of women are always thoroughly and critically evaluated.
Sadqay also missed the opportunity to address the fallout of sexual abuse. Rasheeda’s anger and deep seated resentment at her abuse at the hands of two men is partially addressed — but the psychological trauma she must have suffered at being first sexually abused then vilified by her family was never examined.
From real life to reel
For the most part Sadqay Tumhare has been an entertaining serial, providing a lot of the writer’s trade mark dialogues and an engrossing, enjoyable hour in front of our screens every week.
Great production values from Momina Duraid productions and Six Sigma helped make this a great comeback for Hum TV after a run of mediocre dramas. Its beautiful OST sung by the great Rahat Fateh Ali Khan was also a big part of its appeal.
Many people have criticized Khalil saheb for first of all airing family secrets and then allowing emotions to cloud his judgment, but he deserves some credit for being brave enough to share this painful episode in his life. Human relationships are a complicated arena and it is a little too easy for us as armchair critics to judge others.
The greatest takeaway from this story has been the lack of forgiveness or compassion shown by any character except Shanno who is by comparison just too good for her own good.
The thirst for revenge and retribution is ultimately what destroys Khalil and Shanno’s relationship firstly through Inayat and Abdur Rahman and then through Rasheeda.
In his interview before Sadqay Tumhare was released Khalil saheb said he owed “that girl” and wanted to pay tribute to her.
Hopefully he has achieved some peace through this very public catharsis and it’s safe to say he has paid homage to that simple girl from Bhopalwala.