Cast: Hina Dilpazeer Khan, Asma Waqas, Shahnaz Pervez, Nadia Afgan, Beenish Chauhan, Shabbir Jan
Long time ago (probably in the 1980s), I watched an extremely depressing play on PTV about three ageing single sisters. With silvering hair and their lives a never-ending empty abyss, one wished the sisters just died or disappeared from the face of this earth. Needless to say, the writer hammered in the fact that life for a single woman was wretched and simply not worth living if she didn’t have a husband.
Not much has changed since then it seems. S. Mazhar Moin and Faseeh Barih Khan, the director-writer duo, who specialise in lower-middle class dramas, examine the lives of three sisters who are unmarried, educated and working women in Ronaq Jahan Ka Nafsyati Gharana. The sisters, whose names it seems were kept by Hamdard Ka Davakhana, Gul-e-Yasmeen (Asma Waqas; Bushra Ansari’s sister) , Gul-e-Rana (Shehnaz Parvez, famous for her role in the memon family drama Such Much) and Gul-e-Banafshan (Nadia Afgan) are ruled by their tyrannical mother Ronaq Jahan (Hina Dilpazeer Khan) who has thwarted many proposals for her daughters since according to her the men are interested only in their bank balance. Even when the daughters agree to the proposals, the mother-from-hell Ronaq Jahan, scares them with tales of blood-sucking mothers-in-laws.
Thus, the sisters resort to desperate measures. Gul-e-Yasmeen, who is a principal in a school, favours a staff teacher whose brother-in-law has recently been widowed and wants the teacher to set up with him. Gul-e-Rana, a homeopathic doctor, keeps changing the colour of her contact lenses to ensnare her male patients and Gul-e-Banafshan, has affairs with ugly losers and meets them in low-grade restaurants.
Despite my issue with the theme, there are a couple of redeeming factors which makes Ronaq Jahan watchable and enjoyable. One is its sharp script which makes some acute and pertinent observations, such as the amount of respect given to each sister is directly proportional to her earnings and that is shown through the kind of breakfasts that they are served.
Another acute observation is the out-of-touch mother Ronaq Jahan and her suspicions of beauty salons doubling as massage parlours. There is one hilarious exchange of dialogues about this between Ronaq Jahan and her daughter Gul-e-Yasmeen. (Gul-e-Yasmeen: “Amman main nay sirf manicuree, pedicuree aur facial karaya hai.” Ronaq Jahan: “Aihai kaisay baihooda naam lay rahi hai. Aa hai massage vassage toh nahi karava liya tu nai. Main nay suna hai kay aisee khidmaat kay liyay mardoun ko rakha jata hai beauty parlaroun main.” Gul-e-Yasmeen: “Main nay sirf chehray pay massage karaya hai woh bhi ek makraani aurat say.” Ronaq Jahan: “Zaroor marad ho gee woh.”) Outrageus isn’t it? Even though this scene was explicitly racist yet I doubled up with laughter since the fact of the matter is that some of us privately do pass such remarks.
Should the writer have brought this out in the open or kept it under wraps, is a debatable issue. But more importantly, the writer-director duo should meet those single unmarried women who lead happy and fulfilling lives and tell their story to the viewers. But then that might make for boring television.
PLAY WITH SIMILAR THEME:
Marhoom Colonel Ki Baitiyaan, directed by Mehreen Jabbar