Ab Kar Meri Rafugari – Episode 1 – 5

An iDream Entertainment production and directed by Adnan Wai Qureshi, Ab Kar Meri Rafugari airs on ARY Digital every Thursday at 8pm. It is an adaptation of the novel by the same name written by Saira Raza.

I had watched the first two episodes earlier and then missed the next three so I caught up by watching them online this morning and with food cooking at the choola again (shami kebabs this time), I will try to recap basically what has happened so far.

Ab Kar Meri Rafugari is the story of three brothers’ families living in a joint family system. The eldest brother is dead however his wife Taayi (Humaira Zaheer) and daughter Myeda (Mira Sethi) still live there. The second oldest brother Mujahid (Usman Peerzada) and his wife (Nida Mumtaz) have three children, Zoofi (Maryum Ansari), Tabba (Usna Shah) and a young son. The youngest brother Sajid (Hashim Butt) and his wife Chachi (Sakina Sammo) have three children, the eldest being Shakeel (Ali Safina).

The three families are shown to be quite conservative and set in their ways, rather the brothers are and the youngest Chachi who is portrayed as a trouble maker. They are quite firm about not entertaining any proposals for their daughters from outside their ‘baradari’. The older two bhabhis are reasonable, well meaning women who share a close bond but do not have much say in the family matters as Mujahid seems to be the key decision maker.

Taayi wants to get Myeda married and after several potential rishtas which fizzle into nothing and following reluctant permission from Mujahid, she gives a photo of Myeda to a rishtay walay aunty (Zaheen Tahira). At the same time we are introduced to another family which is that of Sultan (Shakeel Yousuf) and his wife (Shamim Hilali) and their son Jahanzeb (Daniyal Raheel).

Sultan and his wife come across as a well to do, respectable couple who dote on their only son. Jahanzeb’s mother is also looking to arrange a marriage for her son and meets with the same rishtay walay aunty that Taayi has spoken to. Earlier on, Jahanzeb sees Tabba at a flower shop and is instantly drawn to her and when he sees her in the ‘group’ photo that Taayi has given of Myeda, he announces to his mother that he will marry only Tabba.

Myeda receives a proposal and everyone is happy when her baat gets pakki. The rishtay walay aunty puts forth Daniyal’s rishta to Mujahid for Tabba saying the family would like to meet with them and he agrees. When the Sultans arrive, they are greeted very warmly but after they leave Mujahid says he will say no to the proposal as they do not belong to their baradari? Why didn’t he just ask the aunty on the phone what the family’s background was? Or was it that she had caught him off guard by ringing him at work and talking about the proposal that it slipped his mind?

Anyhow, Tabba is unaware of the whole scenario. Jahanzeb is heartbroken and keeps pushing his parents to speak to Tabba’s family again. Apparently till now he has not aankh uttha kar looked at a girl and now that aankh utthaayi tau waheen attak gaya hai! I have to hand it to his parents, man, full marks for persistency! Sultan goes to Mujahid’s office and even gets the mosque imam involved to speak on their behalf. Yet Mujahid is adamant and keeps turning him down and is actually beginning to get quite annoyed.

Meanwhile, parents ko tau aagay lagaya he hua hai, Jahanzeb feels he needs to put in his two cents and resorts to lurking around her college and her home. He bribes little street boys and manages to slip letters to Tabba. Initially she resists but then can not help taking them and reading them once at home. She does not reply but is curious and does not tell anyone in her family about the letters.

When Mujahid goes to pick them from college one day, he sees Jahanzeb there. Zoofi also spots him at the mall when they are out shopping. Mujahid spots him again hanging around their mohalla and he is furious. With Sajid and Shakeel accompanying him, he sets off in a rage to beat up Jahanzeb. He then rings Jahanzeb’s father, taking full responsibility for his actions and threatening him with a much more grim outcome next time if Jahanzeb does not quit following his daughter around.

Jahanzeb is at the hospital now all bandaged up and his father persuades him not to tell the police the truth and just say he was mugged by thugs he did not recognize. Due to all the hungama, Mujahid restricts Tabba’s movements and she learns about Jahanzeb’s rishta. She shares the letters with her sister who tears them all up. Tabba is very curious and interested now to know more about Jahanzeb.

That was the story in a nutshell. Well, a bit bigger than a nutshell I suppose! To be honest, even though I am not blown away by an aspect of the drama be it the storyline, the direction or the acting, I still like it. I liked the relationship Myeda shares with her cousins, Tabba and Zoofi. Their bond seems very real and natural and cousins, especially those living in a joint family system may have different personalities like these three do, as Myeda is the shy and serious one whereas Zoofi and Tabba are much more outspoken and confident, but I like how they stand up for Myeda and are often shown to be chatting and giggling together. But then you also have the weird cousin Shakeel and his trouble making mother which are characters quite often found in real life too.

I found the whole scenario of Jahanzeb hanging around Tabba’s college and her house, slipping letters – although borderline stalkerish – and Tabba being drawn to reading them and arousing her curiosity all very easy to believe. I am not a huge fan of Usna Shah’s acting in bechari roles but she seems to be convincing enough in her role here so far.

I know Usman Peerzada is a great actor and has appeared in quite a few dramas lately but this role of an overly protective, set in his ways and outraged father suits him perfectly. I had goosebumps (well, sort of but I did sit up and take notice) when he barges off to beat up Jahanzeb and then makes the phone call later to Sultan. Although I did cringe over Jahanzeb’s wails –not out of sympathy though. Yes, I have watched probably too many Indian movies as a teenager and believed he should have either fought back or grit his teeth and taken the beating without wailing like a banshee! Shakeel and Shamim Halali always act well although I do prefer Shamim Halali in her sweet mother roles rather than an evil saas (Aye Zindagi and Aitraaz).

Daniyal Raheel’s persona is that of a mommy’s boy and hence his scenes with his mother did seem very real. However, I found it really hard to connect his personality with that of the lovestruck man in the letters. Even his parents are in denial and shock over his harketein, letters parh laitay tau kia sochtay! Mira Sethi’s dialogue delivery has improved considerably over time. Usna Shah and Maryum Ansari have yet to have given outstanding performances ever, but so far seem to fit into their characters. Ali Safina’s voice grates on my nerves and I do not know, I just wish Sakina Sammo had been given a different role to play.

I find it a bit overwhelming when there are so many characters in a play and wonder how a balance is struck by showing different tracks but at the same time not digressing from the main one. However, the scenes in the drama seem to unfold well in a sequence so far with no particular scene being dragged out as far as I recall. The OST is nothing to write home about, I suppose I have been spoiled by Rahat Fateh Ali and Qurat ul Ain Baloch crooning one beautiful song after the other.

Overall, I like the story so far. Mujahid beating Jahanzeb up was a bit dramatic I thought, but I still it is refreshing to watch something outside the realms of doosri biwis and cheating husbands and plotting saas,bahus and nands, although Chachi is no saint either.

I am curious if anyone else is following this drama? Please do share your thoughts.

Kunwal Javid

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