“Dil Na Umeed Toh Nahi” is a show that has been winning rave reviews from Pakistani drama audiences for its realistic portrayal of legitimate issues such as human trafficking, minors working as domestic help and the cultural restrictions placed on women in Pakistani society. This drama has been presented by the Kashf Foundation, written by Amna Mufti and directed by Kashif Nisar. Starring Yumna Zaidi, Wahaj Ail, Nauman Ijaz, Navid Shahzad, Yasra Rizvi, Omair Rana, Samiya Mumtaz, Adnan Tipu Shah and others, the cast is a talented team of performers. Unfortunately, “Dil Na Umeed Toh Nahi” took a pause for the month of Ramadan, leaving its audience hanging for a month after Sumbal made her escape – and finally witness the outcome.
In episode 14, Sumbal (Yumna Zaidi) has left the “kotha” and is on the run while, back at home, Ikram (Adnan Tipu Shah) and Suraiyya (Navid Shahzad) scold the girls, trying to do damage control after Sumbal’s escape. While Ikram has different motives, it’s clear that Suraiyya isn’t as hard-hearted as she has appeared to be, playing a scolding mother more than anything. There’s fear in Suraiyya’s demeanor this time, worrying for “her girls,” the girls who she may have sent to men against their will, but girls who she also cares for like her own children. There are some dark, yet meaningful scenes that take place within the walls of this kotha this time around. First, we see the bond between Zulfi (Omair Rana) and Savera (Yasra Rizvi) as he, after meeting with Suraiyya and the “boss,” reassures Savera that she isn’t as stone-hearted as she thinks, indicating his affection for her. Savera has seen so much heartbreak in her life, one wants to imagine a world where Zulfi and Savera have some sort of happy ending – but is it really possible, considering their circumstances? It’s here that we also believe that Zulfi has been one of the “good guys” all along, not the least bit troubled by Sumbal’s departure – only worrying for Suraiyya and Savera. He almost appears happy with her escape, but unfortunately, her escape has created issues greater than any of them could have imagined. Both Omair Rana and Yasra Rizvi perform very well in their scenes.
Fearing Sumbal approaching the authorities the “kotha” is disbanded, the girls all sent their separate ways to different locations to continue their “work” and claims are made of sending Suraiyya for Ummrah. This generous gift appears to be more of a death sentence, a threat. While the girls believe Suraiyya is being sent somewhere for her own good, is Suraiyya really walking to her death? There’s a powerful sequence between Savera and Suraiyya where Savera expresses her desire to live a life of decency. Suraiyya states that this is the life they are made for, built for and even with their noble intentions, they will always remain a part of that circle. Assuming this is the last we see of Suraiyya, a round of applause must be given to Navid Shahzad, who has “become” Suraiyya, feeling, looking and walking every bit the part. She is not simply an actress, she is a performer, a star, someone who truly knows her craft. It has been a joy watching her in this role.
Of course, now that Sumbal is on the run, she needs a place to hide – and when she collapses, she is taken in by a man, a man with less than sincere intentions. While he does give Sumbal a roof over her head and food, it’s not long before he tries prey on her helplessness, something which Sumbal will no longer tolerate, attacking him and making a run for it, attempting to reach Jamshed. Yumna Zaidi shines as Sumbal, a character who is simply exhausted of being treated like a piece of meat and is ready to fight back. If there are scenes of relief and joy in this episode, they focus on Jamshed (Wahaj Ali) and his father (Nauman Ijaz). Jamshed has been through his own version of hell and now finds himself in reliable, trustworthy hands and, more than anything, it’s reassuring to see how young Jamshed has now flourished into a strong, capable man who continues to hold that loving relationship with his adoptive father. Wahaj Ali and Nauman Ijaz bring a smile to the face with their natural chemistry and bond. Now viewers await the upcoming episode to see Wahaj Ali, Nauman Ijaz and Yumna Zaidi in one frame!
Naseem has grown up now and as the three sisters have taken control of the household, helping their mother, the support of her mother, Najma (Samiya Mumtaz), and coach has stayed with her, only strengthening her drive to succeed. She has practiced her sport each day while her father has been out, hoping to play on a college level when the time comes. But will her dreams come true? Qazi (Noor Ul Hassan) has begun to conspire with Sherwani (Kashif Mehmood) to give him Naseem’s hand in marriage. This is how the wings of young girls are clipped as they are sacrificed by their own fathers and handed over to predatory men like Sherwani. It will be interesting to see how Naseem escapes this marriage (assuming she does) – and what role Najma will play in fighting off this proposal.
It’s such a relief to have “Dil Na Umeed Toh Nahi” back on our screens after such a long pause. There are several quality shows on air at the moment (though they are winding up), but “Dil Na Umeed Toh Nahi” is in a league of its own. The sensitivity and authenticity in the way these storylines are being portrayed deserve praise, not only for the actors, but also the writer and director. This is a team effort and it’s one that that is leaving a lasting impact.