Being in lockdown with my mother, I dug myself a hole in the world of Pakistani dramas.
Some were entertaining and engaging, but some were straight-up problematic.
I came across this drama titled: Log Kya Kahenge?
As a viewer, I felt like this was literally enforcing the validation of the prevalence of this thought process in Pakistani culture.
Met with awful fate because of her husband’s one grave action, Meerab tries to navigate life with her two children and overbearing mother in law.
The general storyline is about a once very wealthy family, with the husband (Haseeb) indulging in all sorts of expensive endeavours for the family, met with a sad reality. After living so lavishly, he lost his job and struggled immensely to find another. However, it was of no use. Despite his wife’s constant advice against it, Haseeb completely depleted all the savings, which left the family penniless. Seeing no light at the end of the tunnel, Haseeb took his own life.
Fast-forwarding, Meerab (the wife), her mother-in-law, and her two young children shifted into a cheaper neighbourhood. Meerab sold all her jewellery and struggled to find a way to provide a living.
There are a lot of problematic aspects that this show highlighted that made me explore the reality of how difficult it is to be a woman in Pakistan.
The first is the relationship between the mother-in-law and Meerab. There’s a constant exchange of taunts and ridicule against Meerab. The ammi blames Meerab for anything that goes wrong. From blaming her for Haseeb’s death to the food being cold. I just do not understand why Pakistani dramas always need to pin women against one another, especially mother-in-law and daughter-in-law relationship. They just had to the stigma around marriage being more of a prison.
When the family moved to the neighbourhood, everyone seemed to sympathize with them. However, once Haseeb’s married cousin visited the house in his “big” car, questions arose. Although Faysal Qureshi’s (the cousin) character is very positive and helpful, the neighbours filled that with turmoil too.
The neighbours started questioning Meerab’s character and weather; the reason behind Haseeb’s passing was because she had an affair. They had no respect, taunting Meerab any chance they’d get. It came to a point where one of the neighbours warned her son to stay away from Meerab. Funnily enough, the guy liked Meerab and did stupid things to patronize her so she’d ask for “help”. For example, he threw balls at her windows to break the glass. But she never did, the guy just forcefully provided his sahara.
Why is that Pakistani show a woman unable to do anything on her own and Muzboot sahere ki zaroorat hai aka a man? While there are some improvements, I still think that the content is just riding on exhaustive storylines and scraping by.
Furthermore, the class discussion we had about connotation and denotation could be used on the drama's poster as well. The literal meaning is that we can a girl trying and the man is trying to reach out while being stopped. The connotation is that the man feels pity, the need to provide his sahara to the crying girl while the other woman is stopping him. The other woman's position could be used as pinning one woman against the other.
The whole idea of a woman, a damsel in distress. Being portrayed while the man wants to be the knight in the shinning armour.