Tragically Beautiful: The "Noori" Storyline in Yakeen Ka Safar
When I first watched Yakeen ka Safar, I loved it for it's main storyline: the romance between Dr. Zobia and Dr. Asfandyar (which is one of the best romantic storylines that I have ever seen in a Pakistani drama!) Last summer, I re-watched the entire thing after reading the short story it is based on (the drama is 10000 times better than the story!) This time, what really stood out to me was the "Noori" storyline.
TRIGGER WARNING: MENTION OF RAPE AND MURDER
The Noori storyline is not present in the published short story, and is one of the best changes made when the story was adapted into a screenplay. In interior Sindh, a girl is abducted, gang-raped, and then left for dead in a field. With this horrifying start, the drama continues to depict her journey. Noori refuses to listen to her mother, who advises her to lie to the police, and instead reveals the names of the rapists, who happen to be the son of a politician, Rab Nawaz Shah, and his friends. As these people are in power, the police do not file a report, no action is taken, and Noori's family is threatened.
The villagers stop speaking to Noori, her friends cut her off, her engagement is broken off, and her own parents treat her like she is "damaged", or as if this is all her fault, with her father refusing to even look at her. In one heart wrenching scene, her father douses himself with oil, ready to light himself on fire. Unlike her parents, however, Noori wants justice, and leaves for the city, where she hopes to find help.
This is where she meets Danyal, a lawyer who wants to help her, but does not have enough experience within a Pakistani context. Despite his best efforts, he fails to defeat Rab Nawaz Shah. Noori's family is threatened, with Shah's men grabbing Noori's younger sister and saying, "Agar betiyan sambhali nahi jateen toh paida kyu kartay ho" (which is infuriating and heartbreaking, because if anyone was out of control, it was the rapists, and these men are threatening a child INSIDE her own house). They are endangered to the point that they flee from their village, and the audience never sees them again.
Meanwhile, Noori works with Danyal, through an NGO. Danyal is killed by Shah's men, who destroy the evidence he had collected, and murder the policeman who had been working and investigating alongside him. As Danyal's family mourns his loss, this is felt doubly by the audience, who sees this not only as the end of his life, but also of any likelihood for Noori to win her case. When Shah's men threaten the safety of the NGO worker's son, she is forced to withdraw from the case, leaving Noori alone and helpless.
Noori then tricks the guard into leaving his gun unattended, steals it and hides it in her shawl, and takes it to a ceremony celebrating Shah's win and the release of his son and his friends. Noori guns them all down, and is shot dead during the commotion. She gets her revenge, in a dramatic and horrifying way, but dies in the process. The scene is heartbreaking, and shows how, in this socio-political climate, one can only get justice at the expense of their own (and other people's) lives, if at all. The scene is powerful, and perfectly executed. While Shah's supporters chant slogans for him, Noori brings him and all the culprits to their deaths. She dies, but only after her revenge has been taken.
The storyline depicts the flaws in the system, showing how those with power have control over every facet of society. They control the police and the law, and can get away with anything. The honest people who seek to bring him down are either killed for their action, or threatened and pressurized into stepping back. Noori, who is first shown as an ambitious young woman who has dreams about studying and teaching, eventually lies dead, as the system fails her and forces her to give up her life while seeking revenge for the atrocities committed against her.
Noori's family is never heard from again, but the case leaves a lasting impact on Danyal, whose murder is presented as a suicide and a fake note confesses his own wrongdoings. His grieving family leaves for the north, which is where the protagonists later meet and fall in love. But Noori's case is brought up again, when years later, a patient at the hospital is revealed to be a victim of extreme domestic abuse. When her husband shoots her in response to his own insecurities, Danyal's brother and father honor his memory by fighting the case. The abusive husband is arrested, and the powerful men who stood behind him are forced to flee the country. While Noori's case failed and ended tragically, Khajista has a better, brighter future, which is depicted at the very end of the drama.
While the drama is famous for its romantic storyline and attractive and incredibly talented lead actors, viewers cannot ignore the tragically beautiful Noori subplot, which represents the weaknesses of Pakistan's criminal justice and legal system, as well as the flaw in the mindsets of society. This scene is a depiction of reality which helps the audience reflect on the world they live in, and leaves a lasting impact on them.