The success of Udaari proves what an honest script, fantastic direction, and equally competent acting can do for a TV serial.
Writer Farhat Ishtiaq deserves a round of applause for her nuanced script and decision to keep glamour at bay, while director Ehteshaam deserves equal praise for presenting the said script with such dignity.
To speak of a topic as sensitive as child sexual abuse is definitely a risk; a risk I’m so glad and grateful that team Udaari took.
A recap: When Imtiaz rapes Zaibu the second time and that too when Sajjo is in the house, she musters the courage to murder him and then takes a bus to Sheedan's house in the city. She realises that had she believed Meeran when she complained of Imtiaz's harassment, Zaibu would have been safe from him.
Sheedan immediately takes them in, forgetting Sajjo's past behaviour. Meeran suggests that they change their names and appearances, so no one will be able to find or recognise them. Sajjo and Zaibu are now Tahira and Komal after Meeran gives them a makeover.
Sajjo, after settling Zaibu in a school, works with the Kashf Foundation to get her catering business going. Zaibu adapts to this new environment quickly and while she is winning trophies at school, she refuses to socialise with her peers and still has nightmares. She still can’t sleep alone or in the dark.
The missing link
Here, I wish the concept of therapy had been introduced. Even presenting this topic was a bold step, but I think had therapy been included as another step to recovery for Zaibu, it would have gone a long way to show the audience that therapy doesn't have to be taboo either; that it actually can help victims of abuse and impact their lives positively, especially kids.
But I also commend the way Sajjo and Sheedan have been portrayed as mothers. Mothers who are fiercely protective of their daughters and couldn’t care less about ‘zamana kya kahega ya ab kya hoga’ ('what will people say?). I’m so glad Sajjo didn’t just sit at home like a victim. Instead, she not only made sure her daughter got an education, but also became financially independent so her daughter looks up to her mother for courage and support.
On the Meeran, Milli, Arsh, and Haris front, Meeran seems very comfortable with her new friends, especially Arsh and is enjoying her life as she should. Milli and Harris went to London to get a degree in music and Milli ends up marrying there. Arsh and Meeran clearly have feelings for each other, but of course Arsh’s mother has to play the role of ‘zaalim samaaj'. She doesn’t at all like Arsh hanging out with Meera due to her family background.
A few years have passed and Arsh is now a successful corporate lawyer, Meeran is even more successful and touring the US for concerts, Sajjo’s business has really expanded and she has hired neighborhood women to help her. Arsh and Meeran, even after all of these years, have feelings for each other and neither is married.
A role model for mothers
Let’s talk about Sheedan and what a real mother looks like. She isn't educated, but is more literate and compassionate than people with degrees. She supports her daughter in her music career and never once did she give her trouble about hanging out with Arsh or school her on ‘log lya kaheinge.’
As a mother, she definitely wants Meeran to get married and that is absolutely natural. I love how she is fearless and it is because of her that Sajjo has the confidence to go on with her life. These are what I call ‘tiger mothers,’ who protect and support their daughters against all odds. We absolutely need to see more of such strong women and mothers on TV.
What is even more admirable about Sheedan is that she also raised a son who respects women. He tells Zaibu that he knew what had happened to her; that he heard her screams and saw everything.
All these years he knew that, but never once did he treat Zaibu badly. His sister is a household name and a famous singer, but never once did he misbehave with her and bring ‘ghairat’ into it. Here is a son, who has always looked out for his sister and supported her, even during the Ilyas episode. Sons and brothers like him are what real men are made of.
The big reveal
In the last episode we learn that Imtiaz is alive - shocking!
Some Malik saheb rescued him and took him to the doctor. He now works for him and takes care of his illegal business. Imtiaz sees Sajjo at a bakery where she does her business and follows her home. Zaibu goes to the gate and her worst nightmare comes true.
Sajjo leaves Zaibu at Sheedan's for her own safety and Imtiaz has the police arrest Sajjo. Ilyas sees this in the news and tells his mother that her sister is alive and this is a great opportunity for him to get close to Meeran (even though he has been married for 4 years). He tells his mother how rich Meeran is and asks doesn’t she want to enjoy all of that too?
Urwa Hocane and Farhan Saeed (minus his unnecessary ponytail) have really surprised me in their roles; I really can't imagine anyone else as Meeran and Arsh as they are fantastic. Urwa’s dialect never changes and she is consistent in her performance throughout. Both of them are brilliant.
Ahsan Khan as Imtiaz is mostly brilliant. That he took this role when other actors didn’t is commendable. But...
But there's a problem
My problem with Ahsan Khan is the memes about his character he keeps sharing. Whether it is the Eid one, the Coca Cola pilade one, or the Jeena one, when he is on TV, I can't take him totally seriously now because I remember the memes. That completely defeats the purpose because seeing Imtiaz on TV — that he should serve as an example to us.
I have already written about this, but it seems like the actor isn’t taking this seriously. He should be condemning these memes, not encouraging them. Playing the character and giving a percentage of your paycheck to help victims is absolutely commendable, but you also need to believe in the character and take the situation seriously, not condone it or promote it.
Would we be laughing at memes of real rapists and child molesters? Do you really want your son/brother wanting to be Imtiaz? What is more disturbing is the fact that team Udaari is promoting all of this!
As to Bushra Ansari and Samia Mumtaz, nothing I say will do justice to their work. They are beyond anything I could say in appreciation of their acting, so I won’t even try.
Again, Udaari is a product of a brilliant script, equally brilliant direction, and fabulous acting on everyone’s part. If not for the promotion of Imtiaz’s character, this would have been a brilliant project helping to draw attention to an extremely dangerous situation.