Move over Atiqa Odho, Mahira Khan has a new 'mummy' now.
Her Bin Roye mother-in-law, Salma Apa, has taken centre stage in the drama's last few episodes. And it took Mahira's (as Saba) first reference to her as 'Mummy jee' to have us realise that she's landed herself in a crummy susraal... again!
For the uninitiated, Mahira was the
damsel- daughter-in-law in her first big TV hit, Humsafar and here she is at it again, silently sacrificing her happiness in a loveless marriage for the greater good that is maa baap ki izzat. Or did she have another motive to do this...
The latest episode actually lays out a more solid reason for Saba's acquiescence to her sorry 'fate'. It's the sole reason why I haven't banged my head on a wall while watching Bin Roye yet. That, and applause-worthy performances by Humayun Saeed and Mahira Khan.
First, a recap
When Saba's sister Saman (Armeena Khan) visits Pakistan, she realises that her sister is in love with her husband Irtiza (Humayun Saeed). Soon after, Saman dies in a car accident, but assures Saba on her death bed that “Irtiza bhi tumhara aur Maaz bhi tumhara (Both Irtiza and Maaz (their son) are yours)." Saba consequently feels guilty for her feelings and Saman’s death. When Daadi suggests that Saba should get married to Irtiza, she refuses.
Saba instead agrees to marry distant cousin Safeer, whose mother Salma Apa has adored Saba for a long time. Safeer is inexplicably not informed of his impending nuptials. When he lands in Pakistan and tells his mother that he is already married with a child, it's too late. The wedding is due to take place and Salma emotionally blackmails him into marrying Saba.
Safeer comes clean to Saba on their wedding night and she handles the revelation the only way Mahira Khan seems to know how... with grace and silence. Saba offers to be Safeer’s friend and happily talks about his wife Sonia and their child Ramis, even offering to shop for his other family. It's sometimes too difficult to watch. Safeer is right; Saba seems like she wants to hurt herself. It also shows how uninterested Saba is in the entire relationship.
Safeer returns to the US and makes no attempt to bring his new bride over. He rebukes her for calling him and tells her he's busy with his family (that his since grown by one more baby). He also refuses to visit her to keep up appearances.
So it turns out that Safeer is totally his mother's son. Both feel zero remorse for ruining another person's life for their own selfishness and happiness. When the manipulative and evil Mummy finds out that Saba knows about Safeer's other family, not only does she put the blame on her son, but also has the audacity to tell Saba not to think of her as selfish!
A year and a half after her marriage, Saba is still living with mother-in-law Salma and keeps up appearances with pretend phone calls to Safeer and a happy mask on her face. But she's not fooling everyone.
Irtiza fails to understand why Safeer — a US or Canadian citizen (the writers can't seem to decide) — hasn't been able to expedite Saba's immigration. When Irtiza confronts Mahira, she storms off, vowing to never return to her parents' house. Despite Mahira's father's reservations about interfering in a susraali issue, Irtiza next stages an intervention at Mahira's home, expressly saying to Salma that he doesn't believe Safeer has the intention of bringing over Saba.
Due to this pressure, Salma is able to extract Safeer's promise to come to Pakistan within a month. Irtiza doesn't want to wait that long. He flies off to the US and lands on Safeer's doorstep, discovering his first wife and children and outing the fact that he has a wife in Pakistan. Safeer in turn accuses Irtaza for his unusual interest in Saba's matters and says that there's a reason she's set herself up to suffer. The charade of their marriage works for her — she can't be with who she really wants, and doesn't want to be with anyone else.
Fuming, Irtiza returns to Pakistan and reveals Saba's sham marriage. The family is suitably outraged. Irtiza, however, goes overboard with sporadic fits of rage. Glimpses of the next episode show darker aspects of his character and his relationship with Saba may get ugly.
Things that really puzzled me
As usual, the Bin Roye story is riddled with plot holes.
For instance: how is it possible that the last time Saba’s family saw or spoke to Safeer was when Irtiza got married all those years ago? That they may be related is completely irrelevant. Any responsible parent would want to at least speak to their son-in-law on the phone before getting their daughter engaged.
And if Safeer was to have a sudden awakening of conscience, why couldn't it have happened before the wedding? Revealing his other marriage earlier would have surely put a stop to the wedding and he would have saved himself the hassle of having to hide Saba's existence from his first wife — and all the other complications that followed.
We keep hearing ridiculous sentences like “susral ke rishte bohut nazuk hote hain” and “susral ka maamla hai, hume jazbaati nahi hona chahiye” from Saba's educated, well-to-do parents and the only way to justify their existence in the script is that the writers hopes to raise awareness about how this hesitation is wrong.
Is your daughter so worthless that you’d rather live in a fool’s paradise than find out what exactly is going on in her life? When Irtiza is justifiably questioning why Saba doesn’t go live with her husband, why is Saba’s own father scared? Shouldn’t he be the first one to question all of this? I'm so tired of dramas trying to make girls these weak and fragile entities who have no value as soon as they are married, as if the family has fulfilled their final responsibility.
Why does Saba tell Mummy that the reason she never opposed Safeer's other life is because “mein apna ghar basana chahti hoon?” Why do writers insist that ghar basaying is the only thing women are capable of? Why do writers insist that women always play the sacrificial lamb? Can you guys feel my frustration yet?
Bin Roye compensated for its lapses in logic with an explanation for Mahira's quiet acceptance of Safeer's other life and marriage in episode 14.
And we're hoping there is some justification in the next few episodes for Irtiza's overstepping of boundaries. Sure, he always behaved like an elder, protective brother would, but his character takes a dark turn as his denouncing of her silence descends into a one-way shouting match. If this is the writer's way of introducing Irtiza's love for Saba, we're not sure if we approve. If true, Bin Roye is only romanticising the overpowering hero who forces Nikkah plans on his bride-to-be. Not cool, we have enough of those.
And the acting...
Armeena Khan’s last appearance in the drama was episode 10 and she really was a breath of fresh air. Junaid Khan still seems very robotic to me. With the exception of when Sonia tells him they are expecting again and when he is talking to his son, he seems to have zero emotions throughout.
Javed Sheikh and Zeba Bakhtiyar look good but really add no value. There is nothing paternal or maternal about either of them. It’s like they are there as trophies. Daadi however is super cute and I find her to be very real. I don’t know who the lady is, but she is fantastic.
The real winners, as always, are Humayun Saeed and Mahira Khan. A lot of people have complained that Humayun Saeed shouldn’t be playing such young roles anymore… umm he isn’t. Irtiza is supposed to be 12 or so years older than Saba and Humayun nails it; it’s as if the role was written with him in mind. Especially the scenes after Saman’s death and in the last episode where Irtiza grows increasingly suspicious of Safeer, from a grieving husband to someone extremely concerned about a loved one, not one expression was out of place by Humayun Saeed.
I think I have said this before, but Mahira Khan’s portrayal of Saba is the only reason I’m not so hard on that character. She is the only reason I feel for Saba throughout the episodes; especially when she realizes Saman knows her secret in the ambulance and more so when she tells her conniving Mummy about the birth of her granddaughter. This lady is a powerhouse of talent and that too at such a young age. Her composed reaction and facial expressions are why no one really compares to Mahira Khan.
All in all, I’ll say it again, Bin Roye was a great novel… it was even a pretty good movie, but should not have been a drama. There are so many things that just do not make sense and I can’t figure out why they decide to go ahead with the drama; that too two years after it was shot.