What sets “Dhoop Ki Deewar” apart from other shows is that it is emotion-centric. This isn’t an action-packed show with a lot going on. This is the story about what families go through in the aftermath of tragedy – and that’s exactly what’s being depicted. It’s interesting to watch how each individual character expresses their grief in different ways – and yet both families are plagued by similar problems. Starring Ahad Raza Mir, Sajal Aly, Samiya Mumtaz, Savera Nadeem, Manzar Sehbai, Samina Ahmed, Paras Masroor, Hira Tareen, Adnan Jaffar, Aly Khan and others, “Dhoop Ki Deewar” has been written by Umera Ahmed and directed by Haseeb Hassan.
In episodes 3 & 4, both families continue to struggle to pick up the pieces. Sarah (Sajal Aly) finds herself taking her frustration and emotions out on her siblings, her feelings bottled up inside, erupting spontaneously. She has been given room to display her sorrow and anger, her mother Aamna (Savera Nadeem) standing tall, planning for the future and presenting a strong front for the family. And yet, Aamna is trusting and kind-hearted enough for others to take advantage of her (and her finances). She trusts her flesh and blood, not recognizing how tragedy can bring out the vultures. Both Sajal Aly and Savera Nadeem perform very well in the scene where Sarah declares that she doesn’t want to get married – both ladies are struggling with their thoughts, wanting the best for each other, but also the best for themselves.
Meanwhile, Vishal (Ahad Raza Mir) is forced to take charge of the household when Sunanda (Samiya Mumtaz) becomes dependent on anti-depressants and other medications, which may relieve her grief, but keep her bedridden and cut off from the world. Vishal has not only lost his father, but now sees his mother slipping away as well. His grandmother (brilliantly played by Zaib Rehman) gently suggests he take Sunanda to the doctor, but this erupts into yet another fight between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, Sunanda not willing to acknowledge that she needs help. There’s a beautiful moment between Vishal and his grandmother in the park when he sits silently, listening to his grandmother speak about his father, expressing her grief…and Vishal listens silently, consoling his grandmother, hugging her as she weeps. But one has to wonder – who is looking out for Vishal? He is caring for everyone in the house, including his young siblings, but he doesn’t have anyone to ease the burden off his shoulders.
It’s no surprise then that Sarah and Vishal turn to each other – though neither understands why, even as they are doing it. Sarah expresses her desire to kill herself in a low moment and Vishal calmly tries to talk her through it. Vishal messages Sarah after he discovers the extent of her addiction to pills and Sarah talks him through it. Neither do much more than simply listen and offer the limited advice they can give – but that’s exactly what they need in those moments, someone to listen. This is the bond between Sarah and Vishal, the bond of understanding what the other is going through.
There are some top-notch performances in these two episodes, but the true stars this time around are Ahad Raza Mir, Samiya Mumtaz and Manzar Sehbai. Ahad Raza Mir steals the show in his performance as Vishal. We all know what a talented actor he is, but the effort he has put into Vishal while making it seem effortless – that’s something to applaud. There are some truly wonderful moments where he expresses his emotions through his eyes – particularly the scene when Sunanda scolds him for playing the guitar during a time of grief. Vishal is still a kid and has been forced to grow up and basically take control of the household – but he still wants to do the things his friends are doing and wants to live that carefree life that now feels like a distant memory. Ahad really makes the audience feel for this young man when life has dealt him an unfair hand. Brilliant!
Of course, Samiya Mumtaz as Sunanda is in full form this week as Sunanda sinks deeper into depression. She has abandoned all desire to function, leaving her young son to pick up the pieces and take on her responsibilities. And yet, one can’t help sympathize with this woman who loved her husband so deeply that she cannot imagine life without him – and now that he’s gone, all the resentment towards her mother-in-law that had been building up all along has now been unleashed. Samiya Mumtaz has always been an underrated performer and once again, she shows what a great actress she is.
And last, but not least, Manzar Sehbai as the perfect “Dada Ji.” Manzar Sehbai is the sort of actor who can balance perfectly with being a strict patriarch and also play the soft, kind grandfather – and he’s playing the latter here. Dada Ji desperately wants his family to stay united and is tortured by the idea of them all being separated – and his health issues only add to his woes. How can one pacify the elderly when they begin to feel unwanted? Manzar Sehbai (and Samina Ahmed!) depicts this perfectly not only through his dialogues, but through his expressions, expressions revealing the feelings one goes through when a once-active man loses his ability to walk.
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Umera Ahmed’s writing is always praise-worthy and here, it is no less. There’s something about the way this story has been written that touches the heart and Haseeb Hassan’s direction only makes it better. If there’s anything to criticize here, it would simply be that the show does run at a slower pace, so those looking for something quick-moving may lose interest. There’s a lot that happens this week and sets the stage for upcoming episodes, particularly now with Anurag (Paras Masroor) and Pratibha’s (Hira Tareen) open war against Sunanda regarding familial property. In refreshing contrast, it’s nice to see Aamna’s in-laws offering her sound advice, trying to make her aware of her brother’s intentions. It will be interesting to see how Vishal and Sarah’s bond continues to grow and how these two families handle the circumstances they have been thrown into.