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June 2, 2024

A web series holds a mirror to the society

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his play is sheer genius. Penned by Saji Gul, it opens a Pandora’s box and raises serious questions about a number of social practices that are usually not discussed. I am not going to give any spoilers but never have I seen such an amazing production.

The cherry on the cake is Nauman Ijaz, lovingly called Shammo in the series, whose performance is phenomenal; and that is an understatement. Matching him at every step is the extremely versatile Saba Qamar, who plays Ummina and does full justice to her complex character.

Every character in Mrs and Mr Shameem is battling their personal demons. The actors hold the audience spellbound with their riveting performances. Is Shammo a transgender person or just a character, unlike any character we’ve ever seen before? Is his feminine side dominant or is there more to him than meets the eye? Extremely well-crafted, this highly complex character could only have been essayed by an actor like Nauman Ijaz. A powerhouse of talent, he knows his craft extremely well. He has the uncanny ability to reinvent himself with every character he plays and raises the bar every time.

In this particular play, being telecast on Zee Zindagi and available on YouTube, Saba Qamar plays Ummina who is a friend of Salma, Shammo’s sister. Shammo becomes Ummina’s confidante and her 3am friend but she sees him as too effeminate. While Shammo dotes on her, she is head over heels in love with Bilal, with whom she has an affair and becomes pregnant. She is shunned by her parents and the society but Shammo supports her through all her trials and tribulations and is there when she experiences post-partum depression and refuses to breastfeed her son.

A new definition of masculinity has been explored in the drama series… there aren’t many characters like Shammo who are unafraid to explore masculinity in an alternative way.

The drama series explores a new definition of masculinity. Virile and handsome males with rippling muscles and bulging biceps are the staple of mainstream media. That is, in fact, the stereotype. There aren’t many characters like Shammo, who is unafraid of exploring masculinity in an alternative way.

Shammo’s two brothers-in-law are portrayed as typical husbands. One is a religious fanatic; the other has nothing better to do than have extramarital affairs and make his wife miserable by joking about her inability to bear children. She is driven to the brink of madness and starts questioning her existence. She is willing to resort to desperate measures to conceive. The other sister is no better with a husband who is extremely religious and sends his daughter to a seminary where she is sexually abused and turns into a rebel.

The contrast shown between Nauman Ijaz’s character, who has no qualms about parenting another man’s child and stands by Ummina through thick and thin and his two brothers-in-law who, in the eyes of the society, are the archetypal, macho men, born to make their wives miserable as a right, bestowed upon them by the institution of marriage, is also interesting. Being loving, caring and sensitive like Shammo would apparently place a big question mark on their masculinity or brand them as hen-pecked, weak men.

Words continue to fail me here. I frequently lose interest in plays after watching the early episodes. However, in this play like an onion, the layers are peeling off every character slowly and meticulously as the viewer awaits the finale with bated breath. Each episode is a revelation and gives one a fresh reason to keep watching it. Hats off to the writer for penning this gem.

One of the best plays I’ve seen, hands down. If you are prepared to talk about a number of societal taboos that are never discussed and are brushed under the carpet, watch Mrs and Mr Shameem.

Direction, production, screenplay and acting are all top-notch. It is quite apparent after watching this play why Indians are crazy about our television productions. I can only hope and pray that more plays like this make it to the screens and writers like Saji Gul, Bee Gul and Amina Mufti are encouraged and supported to write more plays which push the envelope, to use a very clichéd term.

Our television plays have always been the rage, both at home and abroad. Now with the mushroom growth of television channels, more and more content is being produced to entertain viewers who are growing increasingly fickle, as they are spoilt for choice with content available from all over the world at the click of a button.

Tune to YouTube to watch this gem which makes the viewer uncomfortable, raises questions and offers a new definition of masculinity. This play is akin to being on a roller coaster. The twists and turns at every step keep the viewer hooked. It is a soul-jarring and deeply disconcerting experience. It makes you question everything you’ve ever believed and taken for granted. It forces you to introspect and do some serious soul-searching and raises questions about societal perceptions and beliefs without being preachy.

One of the best plays I’ve seen, hands down. If you are prepared to talk about a number of societal taboos which are never discussed and are always brushed under the carpet, watch Mrs and Mr Shameem and experience something hitherto unseen on the television screen.

The writer is an educationist and can be reached at

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