Udaari Episode 11 Round up
11 episodes down and Udaari is flying high, defying stereotypes and raising awareness about one of society’s deepest, darkest secrets. Despite a recent notice from Pemra, Udaari continues to highlight the insidious evil of child sexual abuse which is a subject many of us find too difficult to acknowledge let alone face.
The story so far
Udaari’s main focus is Sajjo (Sammiya Mumtaz), a widow who lives with her young daughter Zebu, next door to a Merasi family that traditionally sing and dance at weddings for a living . Her neighbor Sheedan (Bushra Ansari) is a big hearted woman who also takes care of Zebu when Sajjo is at work. Sheeda’s also has a daughter, Meera (Urwa Hocain ) who has a beautiful voice (playback given by Hadiqa Kayani). As a single parent, Sajjo has little or no support and ends up marrying Imtiaz ( Ahsan Khan ) ; who seems like a dream come true , but is really an evil child abuser looking for a victim . When Imtiaz tries to rape Meera, she manages to escape .The whole incident causes a deep rift between the neighbors as Sajjo sides with her new husband. This leaves her and Zebu isolated and easy targets for a predator like Imtiaz. Meanwhile a broken hearted Meera meets Milli, whose mother works with the Kashf foundation an NGO that promotes female welfare. Milli, Haris and Arsh (Farhan Saeed) are the third track in this story and they are in desperate need of a last minute vocalist for a competition, a position Milli thinks Meera can fill.
The best thing about Udaari is the wonderful array of strong female characters Farhat Ishtiaq has fashioned. Sheedan is newly widowed, can barely afford her children’s next meal, but instead of crying she looks for work where she can. If she has nothing else to give, she helps by working in Milli’s garden, in the kitchens or making a poultice for Mill’s mother to show her gratitude. Sajjo is also a widow with few resources, but earns a living and feeds her daughter with the help of her neighbors before she marries Imtiaz. The nearest thing to the usual Bholi larki of our dramas should be Meera but she too refuses to be a victim. In earlier episodes she allows Sajjo’s nephew Elyas to humiliate her about her Merasi roots because she hopes to marry into respectability. However, when he lets her down, Meera learns her lesson , defying the usual bholi larki trajectory of forever naïve, helpless,object, waiting to be rescued and gives the arrogant Arsh as good as she gets.
It’s not as if these women are super women, they suffer from the same weaknesses and vulnerabilities we all do: they cry , they get depressed but they don’t give up . When Elyas leaves her for a wealthier girl Meera is heartbroken , and Imtiaz’s attempted rape leaves her sad and shaken but even though Arsh hurts her feelings she won’t let him dominate her. Like all Farhat Ishtiaq’s heroines, these women have an innate self-respect and maintain their dignity no matter what life throws at them. Similarly Milli is not the typical elite class girl in jeans that we so often see in dramas, instead of putting Meera down or trying to take advantage of her, Milli actually treats her with respect and kindness. This should be an object lesson for drama makers who often insist that the mazloom aurat formula is the only one which gets ratings because Udaari has managed both.
For a drama dealing with such a grim subject, Udaari has a surprisingly upbeat tempo, offering audiences a spoon full of sugar to help each dose of the medicine go down. Alongside the horror of the abuse Zebu has to suffer, the other tracks in the story bring a little light relief to the story. Sheeda’s fights with Milli’s servants, her confusion over how to use an actual bathroom and Meera’s discovery, that people are willing to pay a lot of money to eat Kachi Machi (Sushi), all poke gentle fun at the vast socio- economic differences between the characters. Bushra Ansari is in brilliant form as Sheeda, capturing hearts with her signature charm and magic ability to bond with audiences.
Sammiya Mumtaz and Ahsan khan in particular have also given some excellent performances. Ahsan Khan’s Imtiaz is an outstanding portrayal of evil and manipulation, like all such predators he knows how to maintain a facade of goodness so sturdy, that no one is willing to believe anything bad about him. After having taken advantage of Zebu, Imtiaz is now following a common pattern of abusers, frightening and menacing his prey into silence and compliance. This is an important message for parents everywhere: trust your child, listen to them.
Farhan Saeed and Urwa Hocain have some serious off screen chemistry which hasn’t always been apparent in their other projects like the mind numbing Mere Ajnabi , but Director Ehtashamuddin has captured it perfectly for Udaari. As a more experienced actress, Urwa Hocain has been a delight to watch in every episode, but the real surprise is Farhan Saeed who manages to impress as Arsh. Although Arsh isn’t the usual extraordinary Farhat Ishtiaq hero, this angry young man slowly endears himself to viewers, as his arrogance melts into friendship with Meera.
Udaari’s success lies firmly with Director Ehtashamuddin’s masterful ability to translate Farhat Ishtiaq’s wonderful script flawlessly to the screen. He has elicited some great performances from his team and made sure this wide ranging storyline did not lose its way. Udaari is what classic entertainment for the whole family should be: Intelligent, authentic and easy to watch.
A version of this review also appears In Dawn Images