Timings: Every Friday at 8 pm
First broadcast on: October 19, 2012
Cast: Sanam Saeed as Kashaf and Fawad Khan as Zaroon
Writer: Umera Ahmed
Director: Sultana Siddiqui
I am one of those fortunate beings who occasionally get a chance to indulge in a healthy intellectual discussion at my workplace. So last week I got a chance to do so in which we discussed Kashaf in Zindagi Gulzar Hai, the latest Umera Ahmed’s offering, that centers around the struggles of a lower middle-class brainy girl neglected by her father overcoming life’s obstacles to make it to a business school on scholarship and ends up marrying her batchmate, Zaroon whom she has detested while they were studying together.
One of the most illogical things in Kashaf’s narrative according to a colleague was that throughout the serial Kashaf is shown to hate Zaroon for reasons ranging from his arrogance to his Casanova-like behavior but suddenly in an episode that shows Zaroon formally proposing to Kashaf in their teacher-mentor’s library, a servant while serving tea is about to accidentally drop the hot liquid on Kashaf when Zaroon flashes his hand in the midst scalding his ‘pretty’ hand. Lo and behold Kashaf in just that trivial moment does a 360-degree turnaround in her feeling towards him! As my colleague put it how can you change your feelings towards someone so quickly when if such things do occur then it happens over a gradual period of time. Episode upon episode were shown developing the hatred but in just one scene the feelings were overturned!
However my other colleague had a more profound insight. She quoted Pride and Prejudice in which Mr Collins who intends to marry Elizabeth Bennett is turned down by Elizabeth, to which Mr Collins says that when a woman says no she actually means yes and all she needs is little more convincing. In other words a woman’s No indicates that a woman is unsure and not meant to be taken seriously. The novel which came out in early 19th century was prescient as this mistaken belief is propagated even today and when the likes of Umera Ahmed does it then it is even more disturbing. This is a very dangerous idea that should not be propagated especially in a culture where men’s advances or proposals are rejected and they don’t get the message that the woman is really not interested in them. But will then go on to torment her or in worst case scenario even rape her. A Bangladeshi woman in 2011 experienced something similar and had to take drastic measures. Here is the link to the story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-13594762
Another objection that I raised about the tea proposal scene was that Kashaf infers that Zaroon will ‘protect’ her from life’s dangers. Here is a girl who has been brought up by her hardworking government school-teacher mother virtually single handedly, her father a bare presence in her life, and when she has achieved academic and professional success, she says needs protection! This country is replete with examples of strong successful women who have made it without men. Look closely and you will find several examples of women, single, divorced, widowed, living with their families who run their households, take sound financial decisions, financially support their families even if there are men in their households, who have a sizable presence in the professional fields, making marital decisions etc. The list is endless in how women are coming up/come up in every sphere of life. Such women for sure do NOT need protection they can take care not of themselves but also others.
If only Umera Ahmed could portray such realistic female characters….