On privacy

April 2, 2023

A Teray Bin episode attempts to make the point that the right to privacy extends to home

On privacy


he drama serial Teray Bin, currently airing on Geo TV, is reaching the pinnacle of success in its consistent viewership on primetime television.

The production has garnered a lot of attention on social media where some of the viewers are quite vocal in expressing tremendous interest in its storyline and plot twists.

A quest for true feelings sets Meerab and Murtasim, a forcibly married couple, on a voyage through the battles of hate, ego and self-respect with each other and their privileged kin.

NooranMakhdoom’s script apparently caught the attention of the director on account of its relatability and originality.

The cast comprises 12 actors including Yumna Zaidi playing Meerab, Wahaj Ali as Murtasim, Bushra Ansari as Salma, Sohail Sameer as Anwar, Sabeena Farooq as Haya, HiraSoomro as Maryam, FazilaQazi as Aneela andFarhan Ally Agha as Waqas.

A huge chunk of the production budget was apparently spent on art direction and cinematography.This could possibly have been better invested in casting and training of actors.

Teray Bin comprises31 episodes of which 28 have already gone on air. I cannot fathom how but the first ten episodes were enough to catch the attention of a large pool of the prime-time audience.

Within the first ten episodes, the writer established that Meerab (Murtasim’s cousin), a young woman belonging to a feudal family, was given away to a family friend to raise because her father (Anwar) blamed the newborn for her mother’s death. Murtasim, Meerab’s cousin and now husband, too, is a feudal lord.

Murtasim and Anwar find Meerab fighting for women’s rights on one of Karachi’s roads to which they react by starting a chain of events: they take Meerab and her adoptive parents to their villa in Hyderabad.

This is where Meerab’s life takes way too many unexpected turns which begin with the loaded revelation that she is biologically related to a feudal family that functions more like an empire than a family.

To Meerab, her adoptive parents are being performativein abandoning her in a completely new environment. To top it off, she is pressured by all her parents to comply with the family norm and marry her cousin Murtasim, who she knows little to nothing about.

Five episodes into the story, Murtasim has already slapped Meerab. All the family members are then shown normalising violence, particularly the matriarch, Amman Begum who after another five episodes, slaps Meerab to make a rather casteist point: that women of Meerub’s stature cannot dance with members of the working class. That this evokes more of a response from all the parents than the fact that they just married their daughter off to a family that does not refrain from exercising violence against women is baffling.

Meerab reacts by going back to Karachi with Murtasim to talk to her adoptive parents who do not open the bungalow’s doors for her,just weep indoors, blaming themselves and forcing her to marry Murtasim by ghosting her.

In the 9th episode,Meerab resists, claiming her autonomy over her body, by making Murtasim sign a contract. According to this contract, Murtasim is not to touch Meerab until she consents.

After this, their lives go through a series of poorly-depicted emotional sufferings and misunderstandings.It becomes difficult for them to coexist mostly because of two sub-plots of love triangles with Haya and Rohail.

Haya, an unusually excitable character, is another cousin of Murtasim’s. She lives in the same villa and is ready to fall to every low in order to get Murtasim back after his marriage.

Rohail, who was Meerab’s classmate, is an equally volatile character.He lives in a fancy flat in Karachi. After many episodes in which Rohail is shown stalking Meerab, he resorts to assembling a childish noticeboard with Meerub’s photographs on it. He is shown obsessively rambling to this cute noticeboard and trying to reach out to her. The serial is full of gun flashes by feudal lords and sensational plot twists.

A pet peeve for the viewers comes in the form of abrupt character shifts that are too obvious, thanks in part, to Meerab’s nostalgic flashbacks. The most grating is the attitude of the adoptive parents who continue to pretend, despite several reality checks, that nothing has happened.

There are many - arguably unaccounted for - characters shifts in the script. As the plot unravels, Meerab, an aspiring law student with perfectly healthy parents, transforms into a housewife who lives in silence and confusion with her toxic in-laws, absent father and a stalker second cousin.

Murtasim’s character unfolds as one of a conservative landlord who transforms into an understanding husband who protects his marriage by exhibiting both conservative and progressive responses to various events.

After a long coercive consent-building process between the couple, episode 26 showed multiple serious invasions of the couple’s privacy and how they handle it.

This episode is meant apparently to show how invasive desi joint families can be on any given day. There is black magic, stealth, eavesdropping, petty politics, attempts to restrict reproductive rights, blame games, jealousy, lack of communication and deliberate ghosting.

In this episode, Haya jealous of a false alarm by Maa Begum about Meerab’s pregnancy finds Meerab’s marital contract (predictably) under her pillow and takes it to the elders.

They respond by making it everyone’s business. The story takes another turn when Murtasimtells his family to stay out of their marriage. This particular scene is worth watching with desi families.

Such scenes,though rare, can be the salvaging grace for the serial. They hint at the possibility that the script had the potential to be different from the routine. The play would still need better casting and some editing at the preproduction stage.

Instead, the directorseems more invested in the production and post-production, the standard mistake in the mainstream TV drama in Pakistan.

The writer is a theatre practitioner and a drama critic.

On privacy