Raqeeb Say does not attempt to preach about social issues. Rather, it studies the intricacies, subtleties and undercurrents of the relationships that the characters have with one another
Singer Hadiqa Kiyani makes her acting debut in Raqeeb Say as Sakina, a woman from a small village, who is the childhood sweetheart of Maqsood Sahib (played by Noman Ijaz). Sakina and Maqsood could not get married. Instead, Maqsood Sahib was sent to prison, where he met the father of his future wife, Hajra (Sania Saeed). They have a daughter, Insha, played by Faryal Mehmood.
Quite a few TV shows this season have seen models, singers and fashion designers make their acting debuts: Hadiqa Kiyani in Raqeeb Say and Rabia Butt and Hassan Sheharyar in Pehli Si Mohabbat. Though it is sometimes contended that models cannot act, Rabia and Faryal have proved their detractors wrong. Hadiqa holds her own against stalwarts like Noman Ijaz and Sania Saeed. However, after the first few episodes, her acting becomes slightly repetitive and monotonous.
Sakina quietly tolerates physical and emotional abuse by her husband for two decades before she escapes to join her former lover to secure the future of her daughter. She is portrayed as a diffident and self-effacing character, who constantly castigates herself for being at her former lover’s house with her daughter. Her pangs of remorse do not leave her in peace. She is a tormented soul and a weak character, who is bullied and pushed around by her daughter, much like the husband she has left behind in the village. Years of abuse at the hands of her husband have turned her into a nervous wreck and a shadow of her former self.
Although Maqsood Sahib’s daughter is extremely unhappy at the arrival of Sakina and her daughter, her mother welcomes them with open arms and is not resentful or envious of her. She is sympathetic and understanding of her predicament and over the course of the plot becomes her confidante and friend. When Sakina asks her why she isn’t jealous of her as the other woman in her husband’s life, with a wistful expression, she asks how she could lay claim to a man’s affections, when they were never hers in the first place. This statement is delivered in a matter-of-fact tone, but the pain and longing are visible in her eyes. She is resigned to the fact that her husband never was and never will be entirely hers. Her character is refreshing in providing a break from the scheming and plotting women one sees on the screen too often. Despite her daughter’s efforts to incite and provoke her, she remains largely unaffected. Sania Saeed, the seasoned and versatile actress, takes to the role like fish to water.
The script is superb and so is the performance of the lead actors. Sakina’s daughter (Iqra Aziz as Miraan), a carefree young girl who is unapologetically brash and impetuous, is her exact opposite. She is shown to be extremely stubborn and thick-skinned and is not afraid to take on her father or scold her mother. She is loud, immature and over the top, serving as a foil to the other characters, who exhibit restraint and self-control. She has no qualms about spying on people and staking her claim to Maqsood Sahib’s affections, much to the chagrin and displeasure of his biological daughter. Both take after their respective fathers.
Miraan, like her father, knows how to wheedle and cajole her way into Maqsood Sahib’s good books. Insha, his own daughter, is prevented by her upbringing and practical nature from giving in to melodrama. This does not, however, stop her from confronting her father and accusing him of treating her like a project. Her catharsis comes in the form of berating and chastising her mother in an effort to goad her into asserting her right over her husband and her house. The scenes in which she accuses Maqsood Sahib of ignoring her mother and taking her for granted are well-penned and well-executed.
Insha’s boyfriend, played by Hamza Sohail (the son of veteran comedian Sohail Ahmed), also has to bear the brunt of her ire and be her sounding board. He belongs to a small village and has worked day and night to earn his degree. He lives in a small rented flat and cannot even afford a cup of tea for the two of them in a café. Insha has known him for some time and helps him out financially, emotionally and practically. He is heavily dependent on her and terribly frustrated at his inability to land a good job and be in a position to take his proposal to Insha’s house.
The class disparity is evident when he comes to meet her father, who expresses his reservations to his daughter in no uncertain terms and rejects the proposal outright. However, when he sees that his daughter is bent on marrying him, he agrees to fulfil his responsibility as her father. Hamza Sohail makes a confident debut and, though he has a limited screen presence, manages to leave a mark.
Saqib Sumeer does a commendable job as Rafiq Ali. He gets into the skin of the character and delivers a fine performance. The scene where he informs Maqsood Sahib that he has filed an FIR against him for kidnapping his wife and daughter stands out. He drops the bomb casually – as though he is making an innocuous remark about the weather – and Maqsood Sahib is rendered speechless at his deviousness. He is very crass and crude (in contrast to the urbanity and sophistication of Noman Ijaz’s character); he knows how to manipulate and coerce people into doing what he wants. He has no hesitation in using Sakina’s childhood sweetheart and his influential brother (Salman Shahid playing a politician) to have a plot of land transferred to his name.
Noman Ijaz is in his element and delivers another powerful performance. His body language, facial expressions and the nuances in his dialogues highlight what a superb actor he is. Raqeeb Say does not attempt to preach about social issues. Rather, it portrays the intricacies, subtleties and undercurrents of the relationships that the characters have with one another. It is quite different from anything one sees on the small screen regularly.
The writer is an educationist. She can be reached at [email protected]