“Dil Na Umeed Tou Nahin” goes from strength to strength each week, telling a hauntingly realistic story in a poetic way. While many gripe about the lack of quality on our television screens lately, this is a show that should be garnering all the ratings and grabbing eyeballs. Written by Amna Mufi and directed by Kashif Nisar, this drama stars Yumna Zaidi, Wahaj Ali, Noman Ejaz, Samiya Mumtaz, Yasra Rizvi and Noor Ul Hassan in lead roles. In the last episode, we saw the scars left on Sumbal after Ramsha’s death, along with Jamshed’s abandonment in Lahore, left at the mercy of predators.
In episode 6, young Jamshed now finds himself at the mercy of the man who has taken him in – but it takes only a few hours before he realizes what he’s walked into, the business of human trafficking. Jamshed is threatened and coerced into begging door to door, trained by an older man to rob unsuspecting individuals. Jamshed is headed into a path of crime, but not by choice, rather to feed himself and stay afloat. It’s also heart-breaking to see Jamshed’s mother (Nadia Afgan) crying, realizing Jamshed is gone. The story of human trafficking and child labor in the South Asian subcontinent is one that has been around for generations and yet, we never stop to think how these children find themselves in this predicament or if those claiming to be their parents are who they appear to be. Iftikhar Iffi, playing the head of this gang, is chilling, a man who threatens children if they try to run away and yet, this is the reality of a “business” that has been operating successfully for decades in Pakistan. Jamshed’s innocence and childhood is being snatched away from him, which is difficult to watch, but the young actor who plays Jamshed deserves a round of applause.
Little Naheed’s story here is one that is jolting as well. Naheed comes from a seemingly middle-class family and yet finds herself oppressed in different ways, her childhood wings clipped by men who think they should control women. After the neighborhood men rally and scare away Naheed’s teacher, her mother (Samiya Mumtaz) finds herself scrambling to enroll her daughters in the government school. The principal of this school is a proper bully, a woman who does not believe girls have any place on a playground and advises Samiya Mumtaz’s character to train her daughters to become doctors, so they can check the blood pressure of their future mothers-in-law. Naheed appears to be the target of this woman’s wrath before she even enters the school, so it’s clear that this will be a battle for both Naheed and her mother. It’s tragic that the middle class continues to face issues like this, men deciding the fates of women simply because they feel threatened by educated, independent minded women.
Sumbal (Yumna Zaidi) continues to find herself distraught by her environment, particularly after Ramsha’s death. Sumbal believes that her place is somewhere else, that she will find a way to a happier life somehow – but it’s that belief that leaves her restless in her present, dreaming of a happy future amidst her current grief. There’s a moment in this episode where it appears Sumbal has recognized (the grown up) Jamshed, left wondering if it could’ve possibly been him. Yumna Zaidi’s acting in this moment is brilliant as she’s torn between her past life and her present. Going through the motions at a party, Sumbal assumedly manages to snag a phone through one of the clients as he teaches her how to use it. Savera (Yasra Rizvi) later questions whether she’s hiding something, but Sumbal brushes it off while confessing she plans to leave this place. Knowing the relation between Allah Raakhi and Sumbal, this character is one that’s root-worthy and it’s difficult to wrap one’s head around how Sumbal found herself in this situation.
There’s a wonderful moment in this episode, though it’s surrounded by grief. Allah Raakhi’s father and grandmother sell their goat (Tomato) after they realize their money has gone missing (courtesy Jamshed’s friends), pulling through and marrying Saadia off. However, their happiness and relief is short-lived when they find Saadia sitting in the middle of a field in tears, abandoned by her new husband after her family was unable to live up to expectations. While her Daadi flies in a rage, ready to set them straight, Saadia’s father takes a step back, consoling Saadia instead and taking her home. It’s lovely to see a protective father, one who is burdened and strained by finances, but unwilling to send his daughter into an abusive household. If only this family had understood the red flags before the marriage took place.
Overall, “Dil Na Umeed Toh Nahin” is a winner through and through. At times, it’s difficult to understand how this show manages to win all praise through word of mouth, but that praise does not seem to be translating into the ratings it deserves. As Pakistani drama viewers, we need to support quality content and this is it. As of six episodes, “Dil Na Umeed Toh Nahin” is a stellar show, one that keeps the viewer engaged by revealing only a little at a time and leaves the audience wanting more each week.