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Romanticization of suffering: An analysis of "Humsafar"

In today’s day and age, patterns which romanticize suffering and pain have a strong contemporary resonance with TV shows, movies and novels which are filled with tragic stories that are displayed in idealized forms, ultimately leading to a deep-rooted belief that suffering is a necessary condition of the female existence.

The prime-time television show which gained massive popularity, “Humsafar”, portrayed Khirad, the protagonist as an icon of suffering who becomes a moral compass for her husband. Khirad was the epitome of endurance who was also victimized by misfortunes. She reconciled with the same husband who threw her out of his life due to mistrust which lasted for six years. The audience sees Khirad thanking god for restoring “her lost dignity” which spreads the message that if a woman is patient enough in the face of hardships and humiliation, she will be rewarded in due time, giving a false sense of achievement and security. Remaining silent is what drives the serial’s plot forwards with the protagonist, Khirad, emerging as a household name, as a role model, indicating the problematic endemic regression of society.

Gayatri Spivak’s “can the subaltern speak?” utilizes subaltern to refer to a disenfranchised and marginalized subject who reside out of power. For Spivak, leftist intellectuals romanticize the oppressed and thus replicate the same colonialist discourses that they are trying to criticize.



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It’s interesting how two of Pakistans most beloved characters, Ashar from Humsafar and Zaroon from Zindagi Gulzar Hay display some very disturbing characteristics yet people take it in stride. I rewatched ZGH a year or two ago out of boredom only to realize that these characters that we romanticize and idealized are actually pretty flawed. Zaroon declares himself a misogynist, he displays sexist tendencies, shames his sister for living her life the way she wants and does not admit to his wrongs, yet people just ignored that and loved him. I read a tweet where someone was like “woh humsafar tha aur misogynistic bhi” and that made me laugh but also reevaluate how I saw these characters. Pakistani media often…

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I remember loving Humsafar as a kid, and really being inspired by Khirad's character. Having grown up, I now realize how harmful these themes can be depending on their audience. Children, especially young girls in Pakistan, are not only highly impressionable but are also already being pushed to believe in misogynistic ideals and conform to sexist gender roles, e.g. young girls in Pakistan are often told to not really prioritize their education because they're going to get married anyway, and marriage, they are told since childhood, is their only reasonable and acceptable future path. If you add on to this the idea that girls are expected to always cave under pressure and stay quiet in the face of what is…

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I still remember all the hype there was when Humsafar was aired in 2011 and how almost everyone around me was hooked to this drama. It took me a couple of years to understand how problematic it was and the impact it had on our society. While they chose actors with a strong on screen chemistry to attract viewers' attention, they also ended up romanticizing the suffering of women especially those who struggle in their marriage. I believe it is about time that our drama industry brings a change in storylines and actually shows stories where women took a stand against their sufferings and the abuse they faced. One such bollywood film that finally challenged the norm regarding domestic abuse…

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Humsafar is a tale of love, heartbreak and betrayal. It depicts one of the realities of Pakistani societies and how easy it is to assassinate the character of a woman. The plot romanticizes the ability of a woman to suffer, although the hardships society throws at her as long as you remain steadfast in your belief everything will be alright. Touching on the realistic element of the show, it is pretty prominent that the issues depicted in the show are prevalent in our society. This analysis of Humsafar does an excellent job of showing the plot and is a well-written article.

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Humsafar was aired in 2011, and the drama industry still showcases similar trends especially romanticizing the entire notion of suffering. It's quite shocking how the industry has not changed at all. This reminded me of the drama airing currently known as “Hum kahan ke saache thay” and it has a very appealing cast, including Mahirah Khan, Kubra, etc. However, the definition of suffering hasn’t changed, which depicts the static nature of Pakistani society. The character of Mehreen is similar to Khirad as both of them keep on suffering in the hopes that it would eventually lead to happily ever after. She rejects Safan, whom she likes for the sake of Aswad, who is not even interested in her. The toxic…

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