“Dobara” is a show that has been tackling a very important subject, that of a woman’s rights to her own life after marriage. Is a woman fated to live her life first according to her father’s rules, then her husband’s rules and later her son’s rules? Or can a woman make her own decisions removed from being a wife, daughter and mother? This is the premise of “Dobara” and it’s doing a wonderful job asking these questions through it’s lead character, Mehru, played by Hadiqa Kiani. Bilal Abbas Khan plays Mahir, Mehru’s choice of life partner, a young man several years younger than her, close to her own son’s age. The show also stars Javed Sheikh, Sakina Samo, Usama Khan, Maheen Siddiqui and Nabeel Zuberi in important roles. The story has been written by Sarwat Nazir and directed by Danish Nawaz.
Episode 15 shows Mahir (Bilal Abbas Khan) and Mehru’s (Hadiqa Kiani) life post marriage. With the audience favorite, Ibtisam (Javed Sheikh) gone – here’s to hoping he’ll be back -, the focus has now shifted to Mehru and Mahir’s relationship and building it up. Mahir is “forced” to quit his job now that he’s married to Mehru and, of course, while Mahir humbly makes statements of not wanting to take over Mehru’s business initially, we all know he’s playing a psychological game. But what’s refreshing is – Mehru is aware of it as well.
This is Bilal Abbas Khan’s moment to shine. He is doing a brilliant job as Mahir and leaves the audience torn on whether to take Mahir at face value or question his actions. While Mahir has been relegated to a side role for a while, he is finally taking center stage. This is a man who has endured a lot through his childhood and has become street smart out of it. He has always had to take care of himself – and with this marriage, this may be exactly what he’s doing….but he’s doing it well. Whether it’s being there to support Mehru emotionally or handling matters of business, we can see his soft side and intelligent side equally. Watching Mahir sitting in his new office is a bittersweet moment – while we’re happy for Mahir’s “arrival,” we also worry about his insincerity towards Mehru. Is he sincere?
Mehru isn’t a dim woman. She recognizes Mahir’s reasons for marrying him – and her own. Still, we can’t help wishing Mehru would take an active interest in her own business as well and show some independence. What’s great about Hadiqa Kiani’s portrayal is that she has presented Mehru as exactly who she is – a woman who was forced to grow up before she was ready and so, she is now making somewhat childish, immature choices…..because that’s who she has always been without Hidayat and she was never taught how to function without him on her own. These are not the actions of a mature woman, of course, but she is sound of mind and she is making actions based on finally having the freedom she hasn’t had in decades.
Also we have to address Nayyara, Mehru’s friend. She is a gem of a character, the sort of friend every woman deserves. She is elder to Mehru and was there for her at the very beginning of her marriage to Hidayat – and has been there for her since. She also has her apprehensions about Mahir, but she is still supportive of Mehru and is put at ease when she realizes Mehru is also aware that she’s being used. Also, watching her interaction with Phupo (Sakina Samo) is hilarious. Nayyara is the friend Mehru thought she had in her daughter, Minal (Maheen Siddiqui). And while Minal’s behavior is disappointing, it’s not hard to understand. Any daughter would be worried – and angry – when her mother is making choices that look very questionable from the outside. On top of that, Zamin (Nabeel Zuberi) continues to pour oil on the fire, most likely fearing getting caught in his crooked actions.
At the end of the day, it will be Affan’s (Usama Khan) reaction which most turns Mehru’s life upside down. What’s great about “Dobara” is that it has been consistently strong in its telling of this tale. We haven’t seen any moment where a character behaves….well, out of character. Each actor is portraying their part with a level of realism where the audience can connect. What “Dobara” is really pushing as a narrative is something simple, something which many in our society do not understand – when a woman is a grown up, following her own religious rules and is free to make her own decisions, why do we force her to live life according to our opinions?