“Dil Na Umeed Toh Nahi” is a show that should be ranked at number one, the most meaningful show on air at present. Discussing topics like human trafficking in the flesh trade, child labor and societal constraints on achievement, this is a drama which aims to highlight the grim aspects of our society – and how to strive for something more. “Dil Na Umeed Toh Nahi” has been presented by the Kashf Foundation, written by Amna Mufi, directed by Kashif Nisar and stars Yumna Zaidi, Wahaj Ali, Navin Shahzad, Noman Ejaz, Samiya Mumtaz, Yasra Rizvi, Adnan Shah Tipu and Noor Ul Hassan in lead roles.
While Sumbal (Yumna Zaidi) has pinned her hopes on Nizami Sahab to help her escape, she has a rude awakening after a discussion with him. He is a patron of this “kotha” and states that if she leaves and the “kotha” shuts down, where will men like him go to escape their wives? He also questions her plans after escaping, making it clear that he will not be able to take her in. While Nizami may be sympathetic to Sumbal, he is a part of the business, the circle that keeps this system in place. Sumbal is hurt after this as she sheds tears while talking to Savera (Yasra Rizvi), seeing her dreams of a new life dissipating before her eyes. What’s most interesting here is a conversation between Suraiyya (Navid Shahzad) and Savera. Suraiyya quietly tells Savera that after she’s gone, she should care for the girls as their mother and protect the “kotha” from Ikram (Adnan Shah Tipu). We finally hear snippets of Suraiyya’s life as she talks about her memories before this life – which are nonexistent, having spent her entire life in this environment before entering the business herself and moving on to control the clientele. This is foretelling of the future, a future in which Savera will take over the “kotha” as the new Madam. It’s fascinating to think about how this sort of business continues, taking innocent, kind-hearted girls, raising them in this environment as they slowly harden into businesswomen like Suraiyya. And yet, one can’t doubt that Suraiyya has a kind soul, evident as she warns Savera of Ikram.
Naseem’s (Isbah Irfan) story continues as her father, Qazi (Noor Ul Hassan) and the neighborhood men revolt against the government school. Sherwani (Kashif Mehmood) is the sort of man who society should fear, the sort of men who incite mobs and convince others to inflict backwards ideologies on their wives and children. This is a man who would rather young girls in society go uneducated and are married off at a young age, left to depend on the grace of men around them. Najma (Samiya Mumtaz) has had enough now, seeing her own hopes for her children reach great heights and then come crashing down only too often. Samiya Mumtaz portrays her desperation well. But how will she fight the mentality of the men around her to secure a better future for her girls? Kashif Mehmood is chilling in this story, playing Sherwani, a man who is only too realistic a character – a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
In present day, we see Jamshed (Wahaj Ali) grown up, protected and happy with his father-figure (Noman Ejaz), now giving back to society by rescuing those in need. Sumbal, once again, calls Jamshed and asks him if he would help her if she managed to escape the kotha. He replies in the affirmative and directs her to the nearest shelter location. It’s wonderful to see that Jamshed has risen above his circumstances and has turned his world around, as not every Jamshed is able to escape these circumstances. Going back in the past, Jamshed (Saadoon Ali) is finally rescued by Noman Ejaz’s character after he sees Jamshed being mistreated. While the lady of the house fights, threatening to call the police, her husband realizes this could turn around on them for hiring a minor and allows Noman Ejazs character to take Jamshed away. However, with Baba Ranjha (Iftikhar Iffi) unwilling to accept defeat, will Jamshed have to endure more trauma before his happy ending?
The stories of “DIl Na Umeed Toh Nahi” are all grim stories, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel in each one. Sumbal has been through atrocities, but she hasn’t allowed her dreams to be dashed, still aiming for a better life. Jamshed has found a happy ending, even if we, as viewers, haven’t seen it play out completely yet. And while Naseem struggles with society in achieving her happy ending, there’s no doubt that there will be a positive outcome for her as well. And this is what’s great about stories from the Kashf Foundation – they are there to dispel these notions of hopelessness and present stories of rising above one’s circumstances to find peace. And despite the murky, dark nature of “Dil Na Umeed Toh Nahi,” the audience waits for the characters to find exactly that – peace.