Hum TV’s drama Khaas ends on a disappointing note, once again reinforcing the trope that a divorced woman can never find joy or a fresh start. Maintaining ratings, with what can only be described as 'misery porn' has become an addiction for our drama makers.
To be fair, the end does present us with the positive image of a sensible, practical woman, who trusts her own judgment and is unafraid to live her life without a husband.
But the sudden death of Fakhir (Haroon Shahid), the second husband and better man, pushes the same subliminal message that there are no good men and if by chance one appears, don’t ever trust that fate will allow him to stick around.
Khaas didn't rely on cliches
Khaas started of on a rather typical premise: a pretty girl marries a good-looking man with a similar education and wealthy background but their relationship sours.
However, like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, after a few episodes, the drama picked up speed, showing a depth and maturity of writing that is too often missing from our screens.
Saba (Sanam Baloch) is married to an unrelenting narcissist, Amar (Ali Rehman), who demeans, gaslights and constantly humiliates his new bride while his blindly adoring family looks indulgently on.
This is the crux of the story but what made it stand out from the sea of dramas about abusive, angry men and nobly suffering heroines was the heroine’s ability to survive and escape.
Khaas stood out less for what is showed and more for what it didn’t show .
Saba understands her husband is both abusive and unfaithful and doesn’t meekly take it. Instead she defends herself and demands better treatment.
Viewers were not forced to watch the usual dragged out ritual of abuse and sorrow of a wife trying to make her one-sided marriage work so she can prove she is “good“ or “worthy”.
Rather, we saw a woman with self-respect and resources who moves on and out of a bad relationship.
To be fair, the end does present us with the positive image of a sensible, practical woman, who trusts her own judgment and is unafraid to live her life without a husband. But the sudden death of Fakhir (Haroon Shahid) pushes the same subliminal message that there are no good men and if by chance one appears, don’t ever trust that fate will allow him to stick around.
Saba’s parents were another cliché our dramas love: not trusting their own daughter’s character, incredibly relying on Amar’s lies instead but even that ridiculous gamut was quickly exhausted. The parents did not force Saba to marry a clearly shady man because “talaq aik daag hai“ ( a common dialogue and much-loved sentiment of our writers).
Despite their mistrust, they valued their daughter enough to do a background check on a potential proposal and rejected someone unsuitable.
The normal scenario in Pakistani dramas that show a woman making her own decisions about a relationship was upended, and instead of falling into another disaster, Saba finds happiness.
In a shocking display of actual parental love and concern, her parents give Saba their blessings to marry Fakhir focusing on their daughter’s happiness and wishes rather than trying to mollify the a) mohallaywallay, b) irate relatives or c) an angry sibling.
Such storylines are so rare that each week I expected Khaas to reverse course or get stuck in some familiar, regressive rut, only to be happily surprised that writer Sarwat Nazir had given us something that was beyond the usual clichés.
Especially gratifying was the complete lack of halala (an Islamic concept meant to deter men from abusing women with constant threats of divorce) which has been turned into a lurid game of marital musical chairs by drama producers.
The show deserved a better finale
Better still, there was no, all powerful cunning woman, ruling and manipulating everyone’s lives nor a specific villain other than Amar’s unyielding, self-love and ego.
The serial’s popularity also provided a hopeful sign that might encourage a return creativity and authenticity from the easy, stereotypes and commercialism that have become the norm.
How I would love to praise writer Sarwat Nazir for this refreshing story and despite the fantastic script, the way she snatched defeat from the jaws of victory at the end is giving pause for thought. One note of thanks I can give is the lack of rehabilitation for Amar; everyone can grow or change but not a narcissist, that kind of internal wiring is permanent.
The final episode of what has been an excellent serial was chock full of flashbacks, giving viewers a weak and repetitive experience in place of the thoughtful innovative ending Khaas deserved.
Killing off Fakhir in a car sudden accident after some obvious foreshadowing in last week’s episode left a bitter taste in the mouth of viewers not as impressed with the kind of poetic wretchedness that makes stories like Devdas so popular in the subcontinent.
Perhaps the worst crime of this ending is the way it killed off one of the few good men on our screens. Drama makers work overtime to vilify men as abusers and promote toxic male behaviors as normal, even ‘romantic’ therefore acceptable.
Seeing a positive, supportive man onscreen who wasn’t ruled by suspicion, what people would say or his own pride was obviously too good to last.
Khaas has been a great serial to watch. Danish Nawaz isn’t quite Yasir Nawaz yet but hopefully with this well-made serial, he will grow into his own unique style.
How I would love to praise writer Sarwat Nazir for this refreshing story and despite the fantastic script, the way she snatched defeat from the jaws of victory at the end is giving pause for thought.
One note of thanks I can give is the lack of rehabilitation for Amar; everyone can grow or change but not a narcissist, that kind of internal wiring is permanent. Again, he managed to fool his friends but not Saba.
Khaas has been a pleasure to watch. Fabulous understated performances from Ali Rehman, Sanam Baloch, Haroon Shahid and Hira Tareen made this great show so, so memorable.