“Dhoop Ki Deewar” is a show that deserves to be spoken about much more than the feedback it has been receiving – and part of this is the Zee5 ban in Pakistan. This makes it difficult for the main audience, Pakistanis, to even watch this (quality) content. Written by Umera Ahmed and directed by Haseeb Hassan, “Dhoop Ki Deewar” stars Ahad Raza Mir, Sajal Aly, Samiya Mumtaz, Savera Nadeem, Mirza Sehbai, Samina Ahmed, Paras Masroor, Zeb Rehman, Hira Tareen and others in lead roles. Focusing on the families of two martyrs, one Indian and one Pakistani, this drama attempts to bridge the gap by showing that we, as human beings, aren’t as different as we think.
“Dhoop Ki Deear” is emotional viewing and isn’t light entertainment to be watched in passing. This is the sort of story that wraps itself around the heart of the viewer and pulls them in, forcing them to become invested in this story, these characters and their lives. Many things take place in episode 11 and 12, the first being that Sarah (Sajal Aly) and Vishal (Ahad Raza Mir) are growing closer – close enough that the lines are beginning to blur. Is it friendship? Is it love? Is it just a crush? It could be all of the above. What’s great about this story is that while the audience is aware that there are too many roadblocks in the way of Vishal and Sarah’s potential relationship in the form of religion and politics, the way the story is playing out does not feel far-fetched. We understand where these young individuals are coming from. Both Sarah and Vishal are young, they are kids just beginning their lives and yet, forced to become adults overnight and handle problems greater than their understanding. Not having anyone else to talk to, the two began confiding in each other and now, an emotional bond has formed, leaving both wondering if there’s more to their relationship than what should exist. Vishal declares his love for Sarah to Neha (Zoya Nasir) and then retracts his statement when confronted by Sunanda (Samiya Mumtaz), half declaring it to be a lie to get Neha off his back, half questioning the validity of it. Ahad Raza Mir’s performance is wonderful here and shows how confusing this relationship has become – not only for Vishal, but for Sarah too who finds herself growing jealous of Neha and Vishal spending time together. And still, life will eventually fall into place – and the audience is given a glimpse of this in a brief and fleeting, but foreshadowing moment as Sarah spots a new neighbor (Raza Talish) moving in. And while this potential couple hasn’t so much as exchanged a glance, this is an exciting addition to the narrative.
Another aspect of the show that adds to the pull of the show is the relationship between Sunanda and Amna (Savera Nadeem). These two women are the widows of army men, expected to show patriotism and not converse with “the enemy.” And yet, after one conversation, the two have found an ally in each other, a confidant, someone who truly understands their grief. Not only do they discuss their husbands, but also their lives and seek advice from one another. It’s a great moment when Amna informs her sister-in-law that she cannot give her money, because it belongs to her children. This is something “old” Amna never would have done, but she has gained confidence after talking to Sunanda and now has someone to bounce her ideas off. This is why, despite not agreeing with Vishal and Sarah’s friendship, both mothers have begun to make peace with the situation, recognizing that they are experiencing the same thing their children are – the need to talk to someone removed from their household. In a way, even Sarah’s grandmother (Samina Ahmed) has begun to realize that these phone conversations and relationships are exactly what this family needs, quieting her husband’s protests.
There isn’t one stellar performer this time around. Everyone is doing a wonderful job. Manzar Sehbai, Samina Ahmed, Zeb Bangash are all fabulous in their roles. Hira Tareen makes an impression as Pratibha’s personal dilemma casts light on her behavior. Of course, Samiya Mumtaz and Savera Nadeem are both just brilliant performers and have won the audience over with their friendship. And last, but not least, Sajal Aly and Ahad Raza Mir are wonderful. While the show allowed Ahad more scope to perform initially, the last couple of weeks have really given Sajal Aly some shining moments and she has proved, more than ever, why she’s one of Pakistan’s brightest stars. Sarah is such a lovable character thanks to Sajal’s performance. Ahad Raza Mir plays Vishal with such a sincerity that it’s difficult not to root for his happiness – but what is his happiness? Vishal is now beginning to find himself at the center of his grandmother’s property dispute, kidnapped and released, and is drawn to life in the army.
With only four episodes (two weeks) of “Dhoop Ki Deewar” left, this is a story viewers will not be ready to let go of. And still, it will be exciting to see how the remaining episodes play out and how these characters find peace, not only in their world, but within themselves. A round of applause for Umera Ahmed and Haseeb Hassan is much deserved.