Did TV drama Dil Lagi's heroine need to be slapped to be accepted by a Pakistani audience?

Did TV drama Dil Lagi's heroine need to be slapped to be accepted by a Pakistani audience?

It's deeply disappointing that even in a drama that supposedly celebrates strong women, they are shown being abused
Updated 12 Sep, 2016

As we know, TV drama Dil Lagi revolves around two very stubborn and determined individuals, Mohid (Humayun Saeed) and Anmol (Mehwish Hayat).

Mohid is a well to do businessman and property dealer who falls in love with Anmol because he admires her honesty and courage. Anmol however is not at all interested in marrying a man whom she sees as a controlling, criminal type forcing his way into her life.

Anmol has been a different character from most female protagonists
Anmol has been a different character from most female protagonists

However, when Anmol’s fiancé Farid does not turn up for their wedding she decides to take revenge by marrying Mohid just to see if she can teach him a lesson, while Mohid believes that the power of his love will eventually melt Anmol’s heart. While planning her husband’s downfall she unwittingly makes friends with his sister Sabiha, who is also a victim of her mother’s stubbornness and overweening pride.

For the most part Mohid is a solid character who resists most of the weak traits favored by typical “drama husbands” by not only trusting his wife but supporting her in every way — but ultimately, in its latest episode, regressive attitudes that were until now kept at bay seep through.

Confronted with what looks like evidence of his reluctant wife’s infidelity, Mohid asks her to explain why she was at a hospital visiting a gynecologist. Anmol is so incensed by his question that she refuses to defend herself or plead her innocence.

The slap that caused a sensation

Twenty episodes ago Dil Lagi introduced audiences to one of the most intriguing female protagonists TV has seen in years. In a sea of two-dimensional bholi larkiyan and suffering saints, Anmol from Dil Lagi was a breath of fresh air. From the moment she forced the hero to say “qabool hai," she was happily plotting her own divorce with a cool determination that irritated audiences from London to Lahore.

Comments sections about this drama were full of shocked viewers declaring her character overbearing and unbelievable, but on the flipside there were those for whom she was a guilty pleasure, a quiet revenge for all the humiliations every onscreen “good" girl has had to put up with before the hero “understood” her worth.

This slap was unexpected. Why did the drama need to feature it?
This slap was unexpected. Why did the drama need to feature it?

Each time Anmol ignored her mother in law’s little digs at her character, each time she refused to be emotionally blackmailed by her own family, and most of all each time she refused to be disarmed by the massive charm offensive put on by her husband Mohid, it was a small victory.

By episode 20 though, Anmol the stereotype slayer, finally surrendered to the simmering attraction for the husband she had had been fighting for so long, only to be literally slapped back into the role of victim: in a desperate attempt to keep Anmol from revealing the source of their disagreement to full public scrutiny, Mohid strikes his hysterical wife into silence.

Why did this slap make its way into Dil Lagi?

With a strong writer like Faiza Iftikhar, a skilled director like Nadeem Baig and a star cast including Humayun Saeed, Mehwish Hayat and Saba Hamid, it’s no surprise that Dil Lagi is one of the best dramas on air.

However, despite some great performances, great production values and even better camera work, Dil Lagi did not make its mark on the ratings game till recently. Though the slap didn’t put Dil Lagi on the map, it did give a large section of the commenting public a lot of gleeful satisfaction.

Also read: My heroine won't allow anyone to slap her, says Faiza Iftikhar

In a previous interview Iftikhar declared that no one would like Anmol’s character because she would be so unyielding and assertive, and it seems as if her prediction came true. However, the writer had also said that “My heroine will not allow anyone to slap her". And now she seems to have reversed her position.

Wasn't Mehwish Hayat the 'unslappable' heroine?
Wasn't Mehwish Hayat the 'unslappable' heroine?

We reached out to Writer Faiza Iftikhar and asked her why she included such a scene, and she explained: “I'm not promoting violence, not at all. But kisi bhi cheez ko ghalat batanay k leye pehlay wo ghalat cheez dikhani parti hai... [to show the audience that an action is wrong, you first have to depict that act]. I don't believe in preaching in dramas. If I want to give any message it's always in between the lines. In the next episode you will get to know why Mohid slapped Anmol. And Zulakha’s reaction will be a must watch. I wish every mother would have the guts to be like this."

Do Pakistani TV audiences only love disempowered women?

Although Anmol has been at odds with her husband Mohid, she has actually been a prime mover in helping his sister Sabiha get back to her estranged husband; she even stopped her mother in law from getting rid of Sabiha’s baby. None of this was out of love or respect for Mohid or anyone else, but because it was the right thing to do.

Similarly she wants to help Farid, her ex fiancé, get away because she feels Mohid is victimizing him due to her past connection with him.

In each case her motivation is about principles rather than feelings, yet none of these values endeared her to audiences the way her sudden loss of face has. Is it a case of “taming the shrew”? Do audiences enjoy seeing outspoken women being humbled?

Dramas such as the recent Abro and even Diyar e Dil showed women being humbled before audiences found them sympathetic. Dil Lagi raises some very discomfiting questions about domestic violence, family dynamics and how we feel about this in Pakistan.

Will Anmol’s mother in law Zulekha take the same stand for her bahu Anmol as she did for her daughter Sabiha, who suffered a similar slap from her husband? Why do families find excuses for their sons but not their son in laws? Most importantly of all does the violence end with one slap? Should a woman or for that matter man give their partner a second chance or is that a mistake opening the door to years of abuse? Was Zulekha right to take her stand for Sabiha so far?

These are questions I would like answered in upcoming episodes.


Ahmar Qureshi Aug 13, 2016 03:23pm
There are certain plays on PTV where the slaps are censored / skipped and I think that this shouldn't be shown to general public, we are already been given a go ahead by "light beating" so this slapping scenes will be a catalyst to promote misogyny. No to Slap Scenes!
Uzma Aug 13, 2016 05:53pm
What made her a strong woman So many women face so many challenges Have you seen the women of our villages And working women in cities ? I suggest that dramas be made more realistic Strong woman indeed!!
Ehsan Aug 13, 2016 06:27pm
It is sickening to see all this violence against women on tv, this is not the way to promote strong women.
rabia_H Aug 13, 2016 07:00pm
She is more stubborn and proud than strong!
Atif Aug 13, 2016 09:45pm
Mehwish is such a gorgeous woman.
Thoughtful Aug 13, 2016 10:39pm
A disgusting culture of Pakistan and a sick society.
nasr Aug 13, 2016 11:04pm
Well we have to curb this trend. An overwhelming number of TV watching population is very naïve and cannot distinguish between the bad and the very ugly
Hir i Aug 13, 2016 11:27pm
Love this drama ....strong characters even if its little streched ( it drama so u do need some drama
Asad Khan Aug 14, 2016 12:01am
No slapping please!!!
Libra11 Aug 14, 2016 02:38am
Isn't rape scenes (Sangat and Chup Raho) we watched recently, more offensive compared to a slap ( dillagi) and worse still, woman's honour killings in real life . how farcical!!
Hussein Aug 14, 2016 03:41am
Pakistani daramas always show women in subservient roles. I feel media has an obligation to wean the society off this social norm. Start showing women in equal and controlling positions depending on the role. It will slowly condition the men/society to find these roles unacceptable. Dramas that show women in good roles are very entertaining as they show a societal balance.
Yohoyoho Aug 14, 2016 06:17am
You slap nobody, I repeat nobody, not even a child, housekeeper, maid , servant not to speak of a female. You could be easily charged for assault. Be wise.
Agha Ata Aug 14, 2016 06:39am
Was it in the script that she would be slapped? If it was she knew it; that means she agreed to it. Girls are stabbed, even killed in movies. What's wrong with this, if the situation demanded it.
mama Aug 14, 2016 08:03am
There is a difference in being a strong woman or just a stupid one.Her sister is the strong smarter character.She is a character with no foresight and self control and the writer seems to not understand the fine nuances of character building.
Mehdi Aug 14, 2016 09:04am
@Thoughtful. I live in USA and women abuse is common here too, but law of the land is very strong and police is well trained. I think we have to wait and see how it concludes. Raising hand on women is disgusting and it only shows a man with weakness.
Irfan ul Huq Aug 14, 2016 11:36pm
Slapping anyone considered assault and Battery. However in private moments is slap mean many things. If a slap is to punish and hurt will be wrong. Buck in private moments good B used 2 Express different feelings In the movie Solva Saal hero slaps the heroine in a very dramatic scene and frustrating moments and express his feelings and immediately embraces herth happens to be the most romantic and important scene off the movie. One has to watch this movie of Dev Anand end waheeda rehman to understand it.
Aslam Aug 15, 2016 05:59pm
Very poor performance from both actors.
Yaser Arafat Aug 16, 2016 04:28pm
I am following this drama since episode 1, Anmol deserves at least one slap in each episode after getting married with Mohit...! I am really surprised that an educated girl (if she truly graduated not cheating) how she could be so stubborn or more appropriately abusive or indecent In this episode Mohit simply asked her about the fact..what is truth not blamed or got simply aggressive in their bedroom...but what she tried to through her indecent attitude? Hopefully till next episode she get enough matured!
Emran Aug 18, 2016 03:38pm
The character is not of a strong woman. Its rather a selfish, stupid& stubborn woman who doesnt respect her hudband and pass all the limits to tease him