Yakeen Ka Safar an overview
Sorry for the late review, but in some ways I feel the late start is justified because it seems as if the story is only just beginning. I was reviewing Sammi for Images and Ramzan and a load of other Family stuff just kept piling up so YKS was always pushed on to the back burner . Well here we are folks, apology in hand and back on the review wagon and ready for a discussion of this rather serious drama.
At first glance Yakeen ka Safar seems strikingly similar to Farhat Ishtiaq’s previous drama the incredibly popular Udaari; the drama deals with sexual assault and there is a lawyer on a quest for justice for a voiceless victim. However this is where the similarity ends because Yakeen Ka safar goes much further ,and explores the pervasive nature of sexual violence that quietly haunts our society .
The serial begins with the death of Zubia’s mother the beautiful MahTalat, whose death at the hands of her controlling, jealous husband sets the stage for the cascade of events that lead to Zubia’s own assault. Men like Zubia’s father are common place, often considered a nuisance rather than evil, and allowed free range in the name of religion and culture. Society and families often make excuses for such violent , cruel men, because it’s convenient. Who can blame a man for insisting his wife dress and act “modestly”? If she would just do what he says, follow his instructions to stay indoors, never cross over the lines he has set everything would be fine. Except of course it never is fine and no amount of appeasement can ever satisfy such abusers.
Yakeen ka Safar amply illustrates the insidious tolerance for the abuse Abhi perpetrates on MahTalat: no one can save her, and no one can speak for her. Her son is dependent on his father for a job and so acclimatized to the violence he has seen since childhood that it barely registers till he finds his mother’s lifeless body. MahTalat’s own family has abandoned her to her fate because :“ghar basana hai” and they have no resources to support a returning daughter and two children. “Bas beti dholi main jaana Kaffan main annaa “becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The second victim is Zubia, a girl suddenly adrift, whose slow simmering rage at her father is barely acknowledged. Ignored by her father and feckless brother she is an easy mark for the first young man who pays her any attention in the form of Ramiz. Ramiz is not in love with Zubia but he feels that having a relationship with her gives him automatic rights to use her body with or without her consent. The lonely Zubia makes a huge mistake by trusting Ramiz and narrowly escapes being raped. The fallout from Zubia’s public disgrace is in some ways akin to an actual assault, as everyone now feels they have a right to act as judge, jury and executioner thanks to her sister in law’s malicious gossip. The brother who had promised to protect her , now treats her as leper, barely able to look at her. He echos his father’s old attitudes, constantly threatening his sister over the loss of their “honour”. Again the actual perpetrator gets away, while the entire burden of the situation is laid squarely on the victim’s shoulders.
Meanwhile Barrister Danyal is fighting for Noori, a victim of a heinous gang rape by the son of a powerful politician. The village scenes and the reactions from Noori and her family are some of the best, deeply emotional scenes in this serial. Suhai Ali Abro is a rare, elegant beauty and always brings a lot charm to her characters. The actors playing her family, especially her father are very effective.
Now here is where writer Farhat Ishtiaq brings the story up to another level of understanding, by showing the other side of the equation. Barrister Danyal is set up falsely accused of rape by a secretary out to destroy his credibility in the Noori case. The power dynamic ,as always, favours those who have no interest in honour. The false accuser, Ramiz, the politician and his son have no scruples, no reputation; but those like Danyal, Noori, MahTalat and Zubia who live and breathe by the rules society sets are easy victims. Danyal doesn’t get an easy ride because he is a man , the loss of face , shame and public humiliation are just as serious for a decent man like Danyal . Just as Zubia’s relatives give her no cover , Danyal’s relatives also leave him exposed and under a cloud of suspicion . A factor that will no doubt affect Asfi’s already tenuous relationship with the shrieking brat that passes for his fiancé.
This week’s episode ended on an incredibly poignant note as Danyal is shot and watches helplessly as the politician’s henchmen not only take his life but set about ruining his reputation and all his good works with their planted evidence. Shaz Khan is just one amazing actor and this scene alone was enough to tear anyone’s heart out. He has done a fabulous job as Barrister Danyal but was totally mismatched with Hira Mani as Gethi. I loved Hira Mani in Preet Na Kariyo Koi but she just couldn’t get me to believe anything Gethi said was real. Although I understand Gethi’s wish to keep her husband safe but it just didn’t seem as if she had her husband’s back.
Ehtashamuddin is brilliant as the now repentant Abhi, all his cruelty and arrogance fading into shame and guilt, when he sees his daughter suffer the same accusations he used to hurl at her mother. Farhat Ishtiaq has written a great character arch for Abhi that resonates with authenticity and Ehtashamuddin has done it complete justice, but no more praise, we need him to focus his prodigious talents on direction.
On the down side Safar Ka Yakeen did lose me at a few points because of the slow-paced, unimaginative direction. There have been some points where Shehzad Kashmiri has done well, the village scenes depicting Noori and her family and the way the wide-ranging story has been blended. However he has not given the story the dramatic impact the script demanded at times. This last episode was a case in point, with such thrilling twists and turns being filmed like a straightforward, scene by scene, Saas Bahu melodrama, instead of an edge of your seat thriller. I have watched some great dramas directed by Shehzad Kashmiri but to reach the next level for any craft a certain amount of imaginative courage is required.
Saving the best for last is an old habit I can’t get out of, but the thing that has kept me hooked on this serial is the promise of the Dr Zubia and Dr Asfandyaar relationship. Even though they have shared barely a few seconds of screen time I have a feeling these two will be a great screen couple. Ahad Raza Mir needs to work on his accent but otherwise he is perfect as Asfi. His dynamic with his Bhabi and his brother is so endearing that I am even willing to forgive the Bobby Deol hairstyle. Apart from the cute ,puppy dog factor , he is actually a very good actor who communicates all of Asfandyaar fears , worries and confusion with ease and is very much at home on screen.
Sajal Ali is no stranger to excellence; I am going to quietly forget Gul e Rana (and the zabardasti ka award Hum gave her) and think of all the other good performances she has given. She is wonderful as Zubia, and despite all that has happened to her character she never falls into the mazloom aurat trap of waiting for someone to recognize her worth. I have seen some Facebook pictures of the two doctors and cannot wait for their interaction. Farhat Ishtiaq writes such memorable romances; I am hoping this turns out to be as enjoyable as WaFa. …( insert gratuitous pic of Wafa )