'Main victim nahi, survivor hoon': Udaari delivers its most important message yet

'Main victim nahi, survivor hoon': Udaari delivers its most important message yet

A moving scene in Udaari has emboldened real-life survivors to confront their abusers
01 Sep, 2016

Udaari will always be remembered as a hallmark serial. It's an extraordinary drama serial that has has fulfilled its aim of raising awareness about rape and child abuse, paving the way to a much needed discussion about this taboo subject.

After a spate of regressive and flawed dramatisations like Sangat, Chup Raho and Gul e Rana, Udaari is well researched, authentic and more importantly, champions the victim. Unlike previous story lines, it doesn't rely on ridiculous twists or lurid details to grab the public’s attention; the rapist is not in love with the victim, and she doesn’t spend hours thinking about forgiving him “for her own good”.


Regular viewers will know Udaari revolves around Sajjo (Samiya Mumtaz) and her daughter Zebo (Hina Altaf Khan) who is raped by her stepfather Imtiaz (Ahsan Khan). An outraged Sajjo attacks Imtiaz, leaving him for dead and begins a new life in Lahore with the help of an NGO (Kashf Foundation) and her old friends Sheedan (Bushra Ansari) and Meera (Urwa Hocane).

Seven years later, Imtiaz finds them and tries to take his ultimate revenge by taking Sajjo to court for attempted murder, secure in the knowledge that his victims would never dare to speak out. Meera’s old friend and lawyer Arsh (Farhan Saeed) has been assigned to defend Sajjo but his client’s silence is making the case near impossible to plead.

Inside the court

Farhan Saeed’s controlled performance as the shocked and angry Arsh serves as the perfect conduit for bringing home the depth of the savagery Zebo has faced at such a tender age. There are none of the graphic flashbacks or ambiguous dialogues too often used to portray such crimes.

Adding another layer of tension to the situation is Meera's rejection of Arsh’s proposal. His cold withdrawal weakens her resolve enough for her to reveal the truth. Her deep distress at giving up this information lays bare the all too familiar dilemma of such cases.

Prosecuting such cases can mean reliving a nightmare, which combined with the public exposure of what is the most intimate of crimes in front of prying, skeptical eyes can make it feel like a further violation.

This is amply illustrated by Imtiaz’s vindictive testimony in court, painting a modest widow like Sajjo as a 'loose', greedy woman and hinting at her affair with an employer. Ahsan Khan’s portrayal is magnetic and one of his best. He plays the ultimate in evil but never goes beyond the boundaries of the credible. For his deposition, he changes his body language, putting aside his cheap sunglasses and shiny watch, delivering every subtly, poisonous word with an almost helpless sincerity. Like many such criminals, he is incredibly manipulative and can put on the most believable front.

His performance is complemented by some great performances from Bushra Ansari, Urwa Hocane and Samiya Mumtaz, among others; however, what really sets this serial apart is the sensitive and knowledgeable treatment of the story from both writer and director.

Udaari's most important message

This week Udaari delivered what was perhaps its most important messages. In the 21st episode, victims are told that they can break free of the past. The importance of visiting a doctor and actually making a report is laid out and normal court procedures depicted so people can understand what happens at a hearing.

Most significant of all, instead of lecturing Zebo to do the right thing, Arsh becomes a true hero by empowering her and showing her a way to take control of her life. He explains that any shame or guilt is not her burden to carry; all of it should be firmly placed on the perpetrator's shoulders, never the victim's.

In a brilliant sequence that should be highlighted over and over again, Zebo repeats the affirmation that Arsh teaches her:

"Main victim nahi, main survivor hoon. Main beychari nahi banoo gee, main apne mujrim ko sazaa dilwaoon gee. Sharm mujhai nahi ussay karnee chahiye."

This simple but highly effective dialogue written by Farhat Ishtiaq, cuts to the heart of the matter making a quiet moment in front of a mirror vibrate with the strength and energy only magnified by Farhan Saeed and Hina Altaf Khan’s powerful execution.

If any further testament to the potency of these scenes was required, Facebook and drama review pages are showcasing stories from victims mustering the courage to face the abuse they have suffered. The women of Udaari are indeed inspiring change.

Director Ehteshamuddin has managed to spin a fine thread of tension throughout this serial, winding the audience closer and tighter with each episode. While the idea behind Udaari has always been raising awareness about sexual abuse and rape, this team has never forgotten that the first job of any drama serial is to entertain and engage its audience. Music, romance and humour all have all made the main focus more palatable.

As the drama comes full circle, we ask the question: will Zebo and Sajjo ever overcome their past, or will they always be haunted by the long shadow cast by the evil Imtiaz? Will Meera be overcome her own fears and trust Arsh enough to believe in the future?

We wait for episode 22 to find out.


Syed Waqar Ali Sep 01, 2016 04:42pm
A well written story which is being dramatized in real terms. This drama clearly gives a message as to how deal with such a situation in real life. We should strengthen the NGOs who are already grappling with such incidents in an effective manner. The government should give grants to these NGOs for strengthening their net-work and associating a team of lawyers for forcefully fighting the case in the courts.
Cyma Sep 01, 2016 05:04pm
Superb drama!!!
Yawar Sep 01, 2016 06:05pm
Udaari has brought to light an existing evil that Pakistanis generally do not want to confront. The only Pakistani drama I take the time to watch.
Pakistani Sep 01, 2016 06:42pm
Udari has set the standards for pakistani dramas, hope instead of making serials like man mayal they will do create something meaningful
Arisha G Sep 01, 2016 06:56pm
OFF -topic but the words victims and survivor could have been in Urdu to have more of an impact. why cant we not speak write in one language clearly - this 'minglish' is not benefiting anyone in the long run.
Aqib Sep 01, 2016 07:55pm
Agree. I like the idea to inspire and encourage the victims to stand up for their rights. My only concern is (excuse me for being pessimistic) that how many lawyers out there like "Arsh" who would stand with the victim as compare to the majority who would "take advantage" of the victims (and it's reality). Or how a victim would stand against a corrupt police, etc. Anyway its a good try to bring awareness in the society and hope writer will follow it up by writing about legal/judicial system as well.
Muhammad Qureshi Sep 01, 2016 08:27pm
if there is anything Pakistan should be proud of, is this drama.......highly recommended, superb drama!!!!
Hamid Khawaja Sep 01, 2016 09:02pm
Udaari has done a great service to people by increasing awareness and correcting the blame from the victim to the rapist. Society needs to accept this reality but this just a start - a good start. I agree that highlighting important actions (medical report) is a very good part of the serial. One wishes that such topics be discussed in homes and schools to protect those who suffer in silence and are told to remain silent by their own parents. Such subjects should be the the theme of dramas to come. Every house has a TV and TV is an instrument for mass awareness. The state should promote this activity and censor boards should take a realistic view of such dramas.
roger Sep 02, 2016 02:04am
it must be released in india too..
Imran Khan Sep 02, 2016 04:23am
Excellent Drama I have seen in my entire life of 45 years..
Jawad Sep 02, 2016 05:37am
This is not just a drama but a bitter truth of pakistani society. Well done!!
Namlas Sep 02, 2016 06:12am
A very well written drama...not a trash like maan mayal
RAO Sep 02, 2016 07:35am
Wonderful Serial..........
sufyan Sep 02, 2016 08:57am
Udaari is a wonderful production , though i don't watch TV dramas regularly. Ahsan Khan is really showing his mettle as he completely justfies his character.
sara Sep 02, 2016 09:24am
A very powerful message, which not only strengthening the victims, but also their parents who asked them to keep quiet.
Hina Sep 02, 2016 01:03pm
Hats off to the whole team of udaari, for having done their best working on such a strong social topic.
Tariq Sep 02, 2016 07:54pm
In the begining when I noticed that it has also something with Child abuse,I left watching bcos Personally I never liked this topic in any form But after couple of days I thought I must watch N see what is the purpose of this topic At this Stage I appreciate the whole Team included Director. Story writer n all actors. Great Job Be blessed n keep it up
Anwaar Rabbani Sep 03, 2016 03:01am
A nice and beautifully dramatised story on burning issue of Child abuse.Credit goes to Hum Tv for such a good and meaningful presentation.The talented dirctor has done his best. In fact every preformer has done a great job.Ahsan Khan with his tone and body language has played a villainous role to be remembered ever.
Huma Sep 03, 2016 10:55am
Amazing drama and superb acting. Best drama in a long time by hum tv.