“Bakhtawar” has been long-awaited by fans of Yumna Zaidi and it has arrived with much fanfare. Looking at the posters, the story seems to resemble a female “Main Abdul Qadir Hoon,” which was a lengthy emotional and spiritual journey for its male lead. While the spiritual aspect may not play a part here, “Bakhtawar” appears to follow a similar time graph, following its female lead through different phases of her life. Along with Yumna Zaidi, “Bakhtawar” also stars Zaviyar Naman Ejaz, Saqib Sameer, Huma Nawab, Adnan Shah Tipu, Mizna Waqas and others. The story has been written by Nadia Akhtar and directed by Shahid Shafaat.
In the first two episodes, we are introduced to Bakhtawar (Yumna Zaidi), a young girl with a gambler (Noor ul Hassan) for a father. When her older sister is married off as payment for a loan, her younger brother passes away and her father abandons his family, Bakhtawar and her mother (Huma Nawab) leave their home for Karachi. This creates a difficult situation for them without any finances or even a home. Episode 2 focuses heavily on the struggles Bakhtawar faces in finding a job. And while she initially secures a well-paying job at a bus company and her life begins to look up, things take a turn for the worst when her friend Parveen is shot by their boss after she rejects his proposal. This triggers Bakhtawar to cut off her hair and make a change, realizing that women live a difficult life in the working world.
While Yumna Zaidi is doing a fabulous job, there is something about “Bakhtawar” that isn’t entirely impressing. Is it the pacing? Somehow the story seems to be moving too fast, at an almost unnatural pace. The first two episodes have not allowed us to form an emotional attachment with Bakhtawar and so, while we do truly feel for Bakhtawar, we’re unable to embrace her the way we embraced a Parizaad or even a Shaista (Sinf E Aahan). And yet, Yumna Zaidi is so endearing as Bakhtawar, a natural, convincing actress as always. Bakhtawar is a sweet character and her attitude is optimistic despite all her hardships. This is a character who is sending out a good message, so its difficult not to root for her, though we know happiness will not come easy.
The parts of episode two that make the greatest impact are the scenes focused on Parveen. Who is this actress? She is a natural and allows the viewer to feel her struggle and how she has evolved. This woman was once in Bakhtawar’s place and has hardened herself in order to succeed – and yet, despite all her hard work and even a happy, upcoming marriage, she loses her life after rejecting a man. This story simply shows how vulnerable women are in a patriarchal society, always on guard and taking measures to protect themselves. Parveen covered herself from head to toe, spoke to the man only as needed, made herself strong and yet still suffered a tragic fate. How many girls experience this in Pakistan? How many women can truly say they have never faced any form of harassment?
It’s moments like these in dramas that leave the viewer thinking – and that is a success in itself. It’s not clear where “Bakhtawar” is headed long-term, but it’s sure to be a show worth watching. As already stated, there almost appears to be too much happening at once, but hopefully the show will settle into a comfortable rhythm soon. The performances and the message are commendable.