Goodbye Ghissi Pitti Mohabbat
Ghissi Pitti Mohabbat ends on a high note, true to its title, with a happy ending that reminds us that marriage or finding the right partner is wonderful but find yourself first.
When we first met Sammiya, the heroine of Ghissi Pitti Mohabbat, she sat charting out her future, with an age-old prayer in south Asian culture that links a daughter’s happiness to her fate.” Allah ,achay Naseeb karray” – “may she be blessed with a good fate” we say, but even as we smile there is a slight shadow haunting the edges of our heartiest congratulations. From time immemorial we have known what “achay naseeb” means: a good marriage, a good husband and children. The prayer for “achay naseeb “does not include divorce, widowhood, childlessness, sickness or anything that might pull a girl down from that pinnacle of success we have set for a woman in a well-maintained marriage. Sammiya falls well short of all those goals set for us by countless generations yet her life isn’t the failure or tragedy we expect, instead the final episode shows us a woman rising to meet her own expectations.
Sammiya is not the typical heroine favored by our drama makers, she is outspoken, given to impulsive decisions and not as cautious as she should be. She jumps into love because she is a romantic at heart and trusts much to easily, which is why she ends up twice divorced and widowed at a very young age. The values of commitment and patience in relationships are thrown at her like bricks after each failed experiment .The condemnation of strangers is something Sammiya can brush off but not the criticism that come from her mother, who has not had to face the kind of adultery and indignities Sammiya was offered.
The friction between mother and daughter is a reminder that the generational gap between those brought up by internet images of instant gratification , romance on the flip of a coin and the constant admonishment to “believe in yourself and cut out anyone “toxic” ( even if it is just someone who just disagrees with you ) is real and hard to jump. Like most Mothers, Sammiya’s mother starts blaming herself about not giving the right tarbeeyat, because the first person our society picks on if a girl loses her way is the mother. Ramsha Khan and Saba Faisal are wonderful as a mother and daughter showing us both the love and exasperation in this most fundamental of relationships.
It’s a quiet reminder to any mother that the children they see as rebellious might lower their guards and share their feelings with a parent if only they were not so afraid of being judged or immediately castigated. As a working woman , Sammiya has had to face constant harassment and difficulties but she carries on, knowing what her paycheck means for her family .The wall of ignorance between mother and daughter may hide the day to day realities of their lives in and outside the home but it also hinders the feelings of trust and camaraderie between them , that might have moderated some of Sammiya’s choices.
The men in Sammiya’s lives might be hero material in another serial, feckless, handsome Riz, played to superb effect by Wahaj Ali, wants her to accept his ideas of an “open marriage “. His version of marriage allows him to flirt or have relationships with other women, while Sammiya remains his faithfully waiting for him to turnaround from his latest crush or the final blow of divorce when he gets serious with someone. Unable to reduce herself to a future of unending humiliation, Sammiya leaves, choosing to be faithful to herself instead.
Her next husband, Khalil, gives the audience mirror image of what such a devil’s bargain actually looks like. Khalil’s first wife has done what was expected, she has waited for his return after each affair, ignoring his flirtations and lecherous behavior towards his female servants and any woman in his sphere. Just like Riz’s mother Aziza Sultan, Khalil’s mother enables her son, reminding both daughter in laws of her own patience with Khalil’s father. Faseeh Bari Khan’s writing deftly unfolds the contrasting the attitudes of three generations. Khalil’s mother is part of the vast army of women that uphold male privilege because it allows them a share in the power and control.
Forced in to marriage by a family impressed by the man’s wealth and desperate to wipe the “divorced label” from their daughter, Sammiya becomes a second wife and widow in quick succession as Khalil’s first wife finally takes her revenge.
Shahood Alvi gives us authentic portrait of that one inappropriate “uncle” we have all seen, whose charm and money have given him life long license to abuse and manipulate.
An increasingly cynical Sammiya then falls for Basharat, whose mischievous Bollywood inspired one liners and teasing romance hide another liar, whose heart is somewhere else. Ali Abbas and Javeria Abbasi as the devar bhabi couple that has no room for Sammiya
, carry their end of the story to its inevitable conclusion with nuance showing a little vulnerability mixed in equal parts with selfishness and unacknowledged desires.
After yet another divorce, Sammiya is sad but not broken and refuses to become bitter or play the victim. Taking a strange pride in having made all her bad decisions herself, ignoring the pain that gossip and other people’s judgment cause her. Surprisingly this did not confuse an audience used to seeing women weep piteously on screen for the kind of ratings inducing empathy that can boost the worst of serials. Seeing her parents give her younger sister the space to grow, Sammiya finally understands that no one is going to make her whole, except herself. Instead of searching for another safe harbor she decides to make herself strong enough to withstand the storm. Breaking her independent streak, she learns to connect, borrowing money from her mother to start her own business and actually listening to her father by waiting before jumping into yet another relationship.
This drama has been the wonderfully free of the usual mediocre tropes but rich in intricate portraits of women without the usual simplistic markers of good and bad. Umtal, the stay at home widow turns out to be a lot more manipulative than the working woman she is constantly accusing of being “tez’. The negativity in some relationships is also balanced by more positive portrayals in others showing us that good intentions, can overcome difficult circumstances. For example, Aziza Sultan and Khalil’s mother are contrasted with the friendly Rubina, Sammiya’s sister’s mother in law and the friendship between Sammiya’s mother and her widowed Phuppo.While there is an element of fairytale success to Phuppo and Tashi’s Tiktok career, Tashi’s success as an actual entrepreneur is reasonable, and there is no convenient romance for Phuppo as her suitor turns out to be a manipulator.
Khan’s deep understanding of familial dysfunction illustrates the way the very power structures we are told maintain family life, can end up cracking the foundational brick society is built on, the bond between husband and wife. Khan’s female characters are never fools, at least not for long , they don’t see submission as a virtue and the sly joke running through this drama of the contrast between the women in the story and those they watch on screen is not lost on anyone.
Khan has given us some serious food for thought, asking young women to look inward rather than outward, showing us that success does not come in only one package, and that sometimes what look like missteps maybe a way to find a new direction from a path that is leading nowhere. He has also reserved some not so subtle messages both drama audiences and critics, reminding them that the constant lament over drama content is not a one-way street.
Khan has already confirmed that Ghissi Pitti Mohabbat is based on a true story but he sets up a mirror within a mirror by leaving us a scene where Sammiya tries to persuade a drama writer to take her story. The young writer is unimpressed and brushes her off saying firstly no one will believe such a tale and probably no one would be interested, especially critics. The sting of those words may have been reduced by the near universal chorus of approval from demanding critics and audiences that are usually eat up easily digested tropes and pulp fiction than nuanced writing.
The crowning moment of satire and perhaps the most telling, are the scenes of Sammiya watching another ARY Digital drama Log Kia Kahenge in the midst of her troubles. For those who have not watched, Log Kiya Kahenga follows a typical mazloom aurat plotline. Meerab is a wealthy, educated women whose lifestyle takes a dramatic nosedive into poverty when her doting husband dies. The beautiful and helpless Meerab becomes the victim of every zulm the writer of the drama can invent, her character is torn to shreds, she has to live in a poorer area , her elite educated children have to adjust to middle class life, she cannot get a job or walk down the street without being harassed and her mother in law is constantly blaming her .Despite her wealthy brother, money, elite education and husband’s best friend in constant ,obsessive attendance , Meerab is miserable and can find no solution to her problems. Each episode is punctuated with Meerab looking miserable for help from the skies as the Ost wails “Mere Khuda bata de jaoon kahan, dikta nahi koi rasta “ in the background
When an offer for marriage from another rich college friend fizzles out the husband’s (already married) best friend realizes the only solution to Meera’s problems is to for him to Marry her and take care of her. Adultery is repackaged as charitable work. Contrast this infantilization and reduction of Pakistani women to the dignity and empowerment in Sammiya’s real life journey to self-actualization, despite having much less in terms of resources and education. Ramsha Khan has given us an iconic performance , true to the spirit of a real woman
Ramsha Khan in particular has given this drama so much of its heart and authenticity, with a truly memorable and iconic performance that will not be forgotten when all the tearjerkering stories and mazloom aurtein are.So a heartfelt word of appreciation for producer Abdullah Seja, ARY Digital, Director Ahmad Bhatti, this fabulous cast and author Faseeh Bari Khan for having the putting this, delightful, truly refreshing story up against all the mass entertainers that make up the weekly viewing schedule. Thank you giving us some hope that the inspirational and reminding us of the innovative stories that gave Pakistani dramas their reputation as an Art form are still there.
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