After 30 episodes, Cheekh has (finally) ended.
Before I say anything else, I just want to state that if Bilal Abbas Khan doesn’t win the LUX Award for ‘Best Actor in a Negative Role’ category, it will be a grave injustice. I have found myself being shocked at how convincingly and brilliantly he portrays his character of Wajih; not once does he wince or go off track.
This character was not an easy one, yet he was so persuasive that at the end, even I felt bad for him for a second. Someone please give him the role of Satan/Lucifer in a supernatural thriller, maybe even Pakistan’s version of The Omen. Anyway, back to the plot...
The final four episodes of Cheekh were absolutely brilliant. They were on point, clear, and concise; Yawar (Aijaz Aslam) has a stroke and can no longer speak or walk on his own. Haya (Azekah Daniel) marries Wajih's friend, Shariq and Mannat (Saba Qamar) gets her day in court – literally, as she got the case reopened and was her own lawyer.
In fact, the last four episodes were nothing short of a well-oiled machine running smoothly – which really makes me wonder why we had to sit through 10 filler episodes (15-25). What purpose did they serve besides revenues through ads?
Had those filler episodes not been there, Cheekh would have been a blockbuster series, because besides the script, everything else was beyond perfection, especially the cast's acting.
Now let’s talk about those last 12 minutes, which I felt were the the most important 12 minutes of Cheekh. The writing was exceptional; Zanjabil Asim saved her best lines for this bit and Badar Mehmood’s direction was phenomenal – he missed nothing and extracted the very best from each character.
In fact, Bilal Abbas Khan was so convincing and emotional as Wajih that he actually became the hero of the drama…and here lies the problem! We have got to stop making negative characters the heroes at the end. We already have rapists as heroes at the end (thanks Hum TV), now we have a killer as a hero too.
Wajih has an epiphany in jail and starts reading The Quran. He justifies everything he and Yawar did wrong because they didn't read The Quran with translation and since Shayan (Emmad Irfani) had read it with translation, he was on the side of good.
Does the writer have any idea how problematic and just ridiculous this notion is?
Wajih tells Yawar that he's going to meet their parents and will give them his salam. I don’t think his parents live in hell, because that is exactly where Wajih is supposed to end up in. But then again, the writer romanticises him into the hero, so he’s probably going to heaven. I’m guessing he won’t be telling his parents that he killed their other son, and his unborn child.
Does she not live in the same country where fundamentalists have not only read The Quran with meaning, but have memorised it, then used it to their own sick advantages by targeting non-Muslims or raping young boys? What about all the people who didn’t read The Quran with translation, and weren’t horrible human beings and didn’t murder four people?
As if as a human being, they don't know right from wrong. On the front, these lines are fantastic and really get to you, but if you think about what they actually mean, it's horrifying.
Even in the last 12 minutes, Wajih plays the victim. It wasn’t his fault because Yawar always shielded him; okay, I’ll give them that. If a child isn’t punished for doing a wrong, he/she’ll keep doing it. But listen to next few lines:
He tells Shariq that whatever he did to him (accusing him (Shariq) of killing Nayab), wasn’t intentional. Ummm. YES, IT WAS!
He intentionally blamed Shariq so Mannat would stop suspecting him. He tells Haya to take care of Yawar bhai as a brother, a son. Explain this please? Why can’t Haya just be Yawar’s sister? What is she going to do as a brother/son? Does she get magical powers?
But not only that, he tells Haya that she now needs to be Yawar bhai’s Wajih. Are you serious? Was the writer not paying attention to what Wajih did and was like? Why does Haya have to become Wajih? She already has the responsibility of being his brother/son, now she must be Wajih too?
He then tells Yawar that he is going to meet his parents and will give them his salam.
I don’t think his parents live in hell, because that is exactly where Wajih is supposed to end up in. But again, the writer romanticises him into the hero, so he’s probably going to heaven to meet his parents. I’m guessing he won’t be telling his parents that he killed their other son and his unborn child.
But these aren’t even the most absurd parts of the last 12 minutes. What's really disgusting is that he apologises to Yawar and says he intentionally/unintentionally hurt his brothers, but he never mentions hurting Mannat or Nayab. The writer never makes him sorry or remorseful for that.
Yes, he gets the death penalty, but that is by the court. Wajih himself, even at the end, isn’t shown to be remorseful for what he did to Nayab and her father or Mannat. He never once is made to take responsibility for Nayab’s death, or Mannat’s mother’s death or even Mannat’s unborn child’s death.
The writer never makes him realise that he deserves the death penalty – that epiphany doesn’t happen.
I ask again: what message was Cheekh trying to give? The message I got was if you’re a woman, shut up and sit down instead of fighting for justice. Because if you fight, everyone dear to you will die and even when you do get justice, the criminal will be treated like a saint, even on death row!
The writer makes Mannat lose everything and everyone who was dear to her, and at the end, she doesn’t even get an apology? Wajih never once asks her for forgiveness and tells her he deserves this. She no longer exists and so again, I ask: why does the writer hate women?
And that whole line where Mannat narrates that “Khuda misaal banana ke liye na, hum sab mein se kisi eik ko chunta hai…aur woh eik, mein thi” is such sanctimonious hyperbole that I can’t even fathom what the reasoning behind that was.
Even more disturbing than the aforementioned issues, was that Yawar and Haya were acting like something horrible was happening to Wajih, as if he didn’t deserve this. Both Yawar and Haya were treating Wajih as if he was the victim!
The guy attempted rape, killed four people, and terrorised so many others in the process, yet Haya wanted to hug him. He was being treated like he killed someone by accident in a car crash or something. He was never held responsible for anything.
I’m going to compare this end to another ARY drama that aired last year titled Haiwaan. Faysal Qureshi plays the character of Hameed who gets drunk, rapes his daughter’s 9 year old friend, kills her, then hides the body in his own garden. When the truth comes a few years later, when he goes to jail, his family doesn’t stick by him. They don’t cry for him – all they have is shame and hatred for him.
When his sentence is done, he sees how his family hates him and doesn’t go home, rather goes to live in a dargah somewhere. THAT was the right ending. Hameed was held responsible for his crimes, not made a victim. That is the kind of ending Cheekh should have had.
Again, the acting, the background music, the emotions, everything was so brilliant that one gets lost in the scene and forgets that this absolutely disgusting! I ask again, what message was Cheekh trying to give? The message I got was if you’re a woman, shut up and sit down instead of fighting for justice.
Because if you fight, everyone dear to you will die and even when you do get justice, the criminal will be treated like a saint, even on death row!