he finale of “Dhoop Ki Deewar” arrives at an opportune time – Pakistan and India’s Independence Day(s). This is a Pakistani drama that has been streaming on the Indian platform Zee 5. This review will not address the politics surrounding the show, rather will focus on the content itself. “Dhoop Ki Deewar” has been written by Umera Ahmed, who is a big name and a beloved writer, and directed by the immensely talented Haseeb Hassan. The show stars some of Pakistan’s best, including Ahad Raza Mir, Sajal Aly, Samiya Mumtaz, Savera Nadeem, Mirza Sehbai, Samina Ahmed, Zeb Rehman and Raza Talish in prominent roles. The show began at the end of June with 2 episodes each Friday and ended with 16 episodes. This review will discuss spoilers, so if you have not seen the show, be forewarned.
Quickly recapping the premise, we are introduced to Sara Ali Khan, played by Sajal Aly, in Pakistan and Vishal Malhotra, played by Ahad Raza Mir. Both are the children of war veterans who pass in combat. This drama follows their lives and troubles post tragedy and how these two young individuals who are initially “enemies” become friends – and even something more. First let’s address some key points in episodes thirteen and fourteen. It’s really sweet and endearing to see how Amna and Sunanda, played by Samiya Mumtaz and Savera Nadeem, have become strong friends, supporting each other – and how both grandmothers have also develop a bond and become friends. Now the entire family finds themselves intertwined in a bond of friendship beyond borders. Unfortunately, circumstances force Vishal to join the army, which leads to a falling out between Sara and Vishal in a relationship that was beginning to be much more than just friendship. Sara agrees to marry the sweet Junaid (Raza Talish) as Vishal takes off for the army.
What needs to be acknowledged here is how wonderfully the romance has been written – both Vishal and Sara are aware that they are separated not only by borders, but by religion. Their love story was one that was never planned and they also know, internally, that it’s something that could never logically happen. But given the nature of their bond, it was inevitable that these feelings would develop. Watching the two come to terms with their feelings while also, essentially, surrendering themselves to their individual futures – Vishal’s in the army and Sara’s medical school and impending marriage – is heartbreaking, while also painting a very realistic picture. Vishal grapples with many things at once – his mother considering marrying another man, joining the army and Sara’s engagement – and Ahad Raza Mir cannot be praised enough for his sensitive portrayal of a young man in a rough spot. Sajal Aly is also wonderful as Sara puts a smile on her face and surrenders her happiness to her family.
Finale spoilers will be discussed from this point onwards.
In the finale, we essentially witness Sara and Junaid’s marriage, Vishal’s career progression in the army, a leap of two years, which shows Sara’s pregnancy and, ultimately, a tragedy once again when both men are posted at the Jammu Kashmir border. The strength of the writing and performances lie in the character development. We have seen how both Sara and Vishal have changed from the beginning of the show as young, carefree kids to the mature young adults they have become due to their burdens. But there is also great progression in the other characters. For example, we see Vishal’s Daadi, played by Zeb Rehman, as a strong, domineering woman at the beginning of the show. Now, at the end, we see her conversations with Sara’s grandmother and how soft-spoken and disillusioned she has become post Vishal’s departure and her own daughter’s financial betrayal. We see confidence in Amna, a confidence to defend herself and her children that wasn’t there early on. We see Sunanda focusing on her career and keeping busy, struggling with her own desires and wanting to keep Vishal happy. And of course, even Sara’s grandfather and his initial anger towards Sara’s communication with Vishal – and now, he also happily communicates with Vishal’s grandmother. These bonds were not formed overnight and these changes did not occur overnight. That progression is the work of great writing and wonderful performances that have allowed us to connect to these characters.
Coming to some negative aspects, there are a couple of things that could have been handled differently. One, the relationship between Sara and Junaid should have been given more attention, because in the end, he wasn’t just some guy – he was her husband. Vishal and Sara’s union was near impossible, so it would have been great if they had shown Sara with her husband laughing, smiling and showing that she had really built a nice life for herself before everything happened. Had they shown that, I think the final scene would have been more impactful with her admitting how much she loved Vishal – because it would have, realistically, shown that she loved her husband, but held a very special place in her heart for Vishal, her first love.
Second, while the ending of the drama left a great impact, one cannot help wishing the end had been different. This story has followed the difficulties the families of those in the army face and with a show calling for peace and conflict resolution, these characters should have changed the chain of events somehow. It would have been nice to see Vishal and Junaid protecting each other – and surviving, walking away after making that human connection after Vishal congratulates Junaid on the birth of his son. With the men recognizing that the other is simply doing his job, this would represent a change in thinking. And isn’t that the point of the show? The ending that did play out, while effective, played upon the misery and never-ending battle between the two countries, which is certainly realistic – but in a project like this, shouldn’t the ending have represented a desire for change? It would have been great to see Vishal finding happiness with someone new, while Sara and Junaid lived happily with their child and families, Sara and Vishal remaining friends with their families still having an open exchange of communication. This would have been ideal.
Overall, it’s unfortunate that “Dhoop Ki Deewar” did not receive the recognition it deserved from both Pakistani and Indian audiences alike. This has been quality storytelling as we watched a story unfold with a natural, realistic progression that truly made viewers connect with its lead protagonists, along with their families. The message behind the story was simple, but meaningful – while India and Pakistan remain in conflict, the lives of young men are lost. There was a great line by Raza Talish’s Junaid when he says that after the death of his son, he realized that all children are not born to sacrifice themselves. This is the message “Dhoop Ki Deewar” put across – and did so effectively. I personally did love the show and would highly encourage those who haven’t seen it to give it a watch. The cast, the writer, the director and the entire team deserve a round of applause for this solid peace project effort.