Why are passive men, sexually aggressive women the norm in Sadqay Tumhare?



Pakistani dramas have never shied away from difficult subjects. In fact they’re often lauded for tackling topics like domestic violence and sexual assault, but this has usually been done in a palatable, ‘PG’ way which raises awareness and yet avoids overt sensationalism.

So it’s quite a reversal when Sadqay Tumhare’s turns out to be rather blunt and obvious when it comes to portraying the torturous family secrets which underpin its plot.

Khelu, Shanno and Humaira in a scene from 'Sadqay Tumhare'
Khelu, Shanno and Humaira in a scene from ‘Sadqay Tumhare’

The plot thickens (finally)

First, a quick reminder: The series follows Shanno (played by Mahira Khan) and Khelu (played by Adnan Malik), betrothed to each other since they were young, as they navigate family secrets and plots that threaten to disturb their lives and romance. In previous episodes Shanno’s parents decided to oppose her match with Khelu.

Read also: ‘Sadqay Tumhare’ review: A tale of heartfelt, simple romance

Now, around episode 22 the plot takes an unexpected twist which in itself is not unusual. Channels are insisting writers stretch perfectly good story lines to justify the money spent on them and create a healthy profit. However flimsy these plot twists turn out to be, the viewing public for lack of any other option has enough patience to wait a few episodes before their favourite drama swings back on track.

Shanno in a scene from 'Sadqay Tumhare'
Shanno in a scene from ‘Sadqay Tumhare’

This worked really well in Pyarey Afzal where the writer Khalil ur Rahman Qamar managed to introduce a whole subset of new characters and wove them into the fabric of the story without losing its original flavour.

In Sadqay Tumhare, however the characters themselves seem to have lost their internal consistency and the drama looks to be veering off from its basic premise.

Khelu, who was supposedly devoted to his one true love Shanno, is now passively flirting with Humaira, Shanno’s best friend.

I say passively — but it is a relative term because it involves lots of very close and quite random embraces between him and his onetime moo boli behan who has suddenly fallen so madly in love with him that she has left consideration of her devotion to Shanno or decency behind.

Humaira in a scene from 'Sadqay Tumhare'
Humaira in a scene from ‘Sadqay Tumhare’

This is a 180 degree turn in Humaira’s character: when Shanno visits her father and mother at the hospital Humaira spends all hours of the night and day with Khalil while her parents wait patiently at home. How this fits into the conservative nature of rural Punjab of the time is difficult to understand.

Khelu and Shanno:

Adnan Malik’s portrayal has always seemed more geared to projecting himself as the next action hero ala Amitabh Bachchan rather than playing the actual Khelu a young man from rural Punjab.

Khelu in a scene from 'Sadqay Tumhare'
Khelu in a scene from ‘Sadqay Tumhare’

The only character which has not changed and remains the lynchpin of this serial is Shanno, played with great charm and sincerity by Mahira Khan. She is a fearless actress who puts her whole heart into every performance and the audience is hanging on to this one reliable thread in the story.

Of passive men and sexually aggressive women

Rasheeda in a scene from 'Sadqay Tumhare'
Rasheeda in a scene from ‘Sadqay Tumhare’

Passive men and sexually aggressive women seem to be a recurring theme in Sadqay Tumhare as Shanno’s mother Rasheeda is portrayed as a manipulative, temptress who manages to persuade her ex fiancé, Abdur Rahman (Khelu’s stepfather) to sleep with his head in her lap and other inappropriate intimacies while her own husband lies in a paralyzed condition on a hospital bed.

In each instance the men are shown as docile children being led astray. What does this say about the way we view male-female relationships? If something goes wrong (infidelity, boredom, etc) who do we blame? This is definitely something to think about.

As has been mentioned in previous reviews despite the passage of time the writer has not managed to gain any perspective or objectivity. Knowing Khalilur Rahman’s vehemence against anyone changing his script, director Ehtashamuddin seems to have been unable to challenge or modify the story in any way to present it more aesthetically.

To give him credit he has actually handled most of it well: creating chemistry between the cast even when there wasn’t any with some beautifully shot interior scenes and maintaining a wafer thin story line over 22 or so episodes is no mean feat.

Hopes still remain high that this serial will manage to end as well as it began.

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