Acting wise, Bilal Abbas Khan is on top of his game and Saba Qamar is right there with him
Acting wise, Bilal Abbas Khan is on top of his game and Saba Qamar is right there with him

After some really riveting initial episodes, Cheekh has become a little too predictable.

Now that it's been revealed that Wajih (Bilal Abbas Khan) is the culprit, we know that Mannat (Saba Qamar) will do everything in her power to get justice for Nayaab, even if it means losing those closest to her. And of course, she will get justice.

Is there more to this crime drama? Let's find out...

A little recap

Produced by Big Bang Entertainment, directed by Badar Mehmood and written by Zanjabeel Asim, Cheekh is the story of three best friends: Mannat, Nayab (Ushna Shah) and Haya (Azkah Daniel). Mannat is married to Haya’s brother, Shayaan.

The friends wished for Nayab to marry the youngest brother Wajih. Haya also has an older brother Yawar (Ejaz Aslam) who is married to Maira Khan.

Wajih and Nayab liked each other so getting them married really wasn’t an issue. However, during Haya’s engagement, Nayab falls off the terrace and eventually dies. At first it seemed like she committed suicide but the investigation showed she was tortured and killed but not raped.

In the hospital, she told the inspector (Nayyar Ejaz) to tell Mannat that “Raja bhairya nikla.” Raja is a nickname for Wajih and while dying, she kept looking at him, calling his name. The inspector believes that Wajih is the culprit and conveys his suspicion to Mannat at the end of episode 3.

Related: Will Cheekh be the drama that actually punishes the rapist?

Bilal Abbas Khan gives a praise-worthy performance

At first, Mannat has a hard time believing that Wajih could do such a thing, but after speaking to his friends and finding his torn sherwani in his room, she realises that he really is the culprit. When Wajih finds out that Mannat has been inquiring about him, he confesses to his sins.

And from that moment on, Wajih goes from a nice, happy-go-lucky dewar to a madman.

I am extremely impressed by Bilal Abbas Khan for effortlessly transforming into the “bhairya Raja.” He tells Mannat how no girl had ever said “no” to his physical advances before Nayab did. He also confesses he broke both of her shoulders before pushing her from the terrace. Nayab’s father very aptly said, “Wajih mitti se bana insaan nahin, aag se bana shaitaan hai.” Points to Zanjabeel Asim for this line -- brilliant!

From that point on, Bilal really does become a complete devil. I cannot stress enough how flawlessly this guy transforms into a madman. From bribing the inspector to bribing Nayab’s stepmother and father, he does whatever he can to get away with his crime.

He's also remorseless, taunting Mannat every chance he gets because he believes she won’t out him. He even tells Yawar what he did without any guilt or shame because he knows his older brother will protect him at any cost. Not to condone violence, but I did enjoy the thappar from Yawar when he finds out that his brother confessed everything to Mannat. It was for the wrong reason, but a thappar is a thappar! We'll take whatever retribution we can get.

But here’s my issue. Why couldn’t the writer have written Yawar’s character to be one who is just? Why couldn’t Yawar tell Wajih that he will not protect him for this heinous act? Why couldn’t we finally get a family member who cares more about the victim than the culprit? And what kind of a friend is Haya? She sat there while her older brother told her in-laws that Nayab was having an affair. Why couldn’t she step up and say that wasn’t true?

If Cheekh really wanted to be different, the writer could have written a script where a family takes a stand for a woman who was murdered at their house. Yes, I get that Mannat will be doing that going forward, but why does she have to do it alone?

Our writers are doing a disservice to TV moms

Wajih starts to make Mannat’s life miserable. Everyone in the house, including Haya, is upset with her because Mannat blames Wajih. On top of that, her own mother (Gul-e-Rana) tells Mannat to forget about the murder and concentrate on keeping her “ghar abaad.” She even goes as far as to tell her to apologise to Wajih. Here lies another problem I have with this script.

I fail to understand why writers insist on making mothers so weak, especially female writers. With the exception of Bushra Ansari’s character in Udaari, every mother on TV would rather her daughter keep quiet than fight for justice. WHY?

If Cheekh really wanted to be different, the writer could have written a script where members of a family take a stand for a woman who was murdered at their house.

As a female writer, the pen was in Zanjabeel Asim’s hand. She could've easily changed this narrative to Mannat’s mother being supportive of her daughter. A character like that could embolden many women watching at home to support their children in difficult times. You’d think of all people, children would be able to rely on their parents for strength and support, but for some ridiculously odd reason, Pakistani mothers are made to be weak and gutless. Why couldn’t her mother tell her to fight for Nayab? Was Nayab not a human being who deserved justice?

Her behaviour was problematic on multiple levels: Her daughter’s best friend has been murdered by her brother-in-law and she wanted her to apologise to the said brother-in-law and forget everything. Is she really trying save her daughter’s marriage in a house where the youngest brother-in-law killed her best friend because Nayab had the audacity to say “no”?

As a mother, does she actually wants Mannat to live in that house? Especially since her husband lives in the US and isn’t there to protect her? And what if the same had happened to Mannat? Would her mother tell someone else to just be quiet?

But Saba Qamar gets her moment

It was so tiring watching Saba Qamar play the bechari larki in these last few episodes. When Mannat tells Shayan what’s happening, he also tells her to forget everything and come to the U.S. (I also am amused at how these writers assume going to the States is so easy – immigration and visa issues are never a problem).

Upon finding out that Wajih had Nayab’s father arrested, Mannat decides to stay and get revenge. And she starts by getting Wajih arrested. Saba Qamar shines as the confident Mannat. I thoroughly enjoyed the look on everyone’s face when they see Mannat come back, especially Wajih.

On top of that the police comes to arrest Wajih while Haya’s in-laws are present at their house to set a wedding date. It was a gratifying moment for the viewer. Episode 10 ends with Shabbir Jaan’s entrance as a ruthless lawyer that Yawar has hired to defend his brother.

As I said earlier, Cheekh's story has become quite predictable, but I admit I’m looking forward to Wajih being mentally tortured by Mannat. As far as performance goes, Bilal Abbas Khan is on top and Saba Qamar comes second. Her transformation from a helpless sister-in-law to a woman who won’t stop till Nayab gets justice is really convincing.

Badar Mehmood excels in getting the best out of his actors and the editing is really crisp. One thing I’ve noticed about Big Bang Entertainment’s dramas is that the editing is close to perfection; the transitions between scenes are seamless and nowhere do you see any delays or scenes chopped.

Cheekh is so far a recycled story presented with a different cast. Women are to stay quiet and men do whatever they want and when one woman finally will speak up, her entire character will be questioned by powerful men, her friends, and perhaps even her own mother.

Watch it for the way it has been presented and for Saba Qamar and Bilal Abbas Khan’s acting. Here's hoping the story picks up pace in the next few episodes.

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