“Dunk” is a story that has kept audiences interested with its unique topic and treatment – and yet, over the past month, the story has lost focus and become unnecessarily drawn out. This is something that has been seen before with this team in “Cheekh,” letting an otherwise gripping story go limp from simply too many episodes. And yet, this week, the story finally manages to lift itself, slowly picking itself up and gaining momentum. Starring Bilal Abbas Haider, Sana Javed, Azekah Daniel, Fahad Sheikh, Yasra Rizvi, Shahood Alvi, Saife Hassan, Laila Wasti and others, the story has been written by Mohsin Ali and directed by Badar Mehmood.
Sometimes movement and progression in story begins with the small things. The problem is when a story remains stagnant – that’s when complaints begin to arise. Why has “Dunk” spent so many weeks now on Amal’s plan to frame Haider for sexual assault? It has been a month of the same thing repeating week after week without any movement or progression in story, not even a simple “Hey, I didn’t do this, but guess what? Amal has accused individuals of sexual assault before – why is no one picking up on this bizarre pattern? Is the entire world out to assault Amal?” from Haider’s mouth. It is a very tricky, thin line between victim blaming and fighting for justice and while it may be admirable that Haider isn’t throwing out words to openly shame Amal, it’s also a far cry from reality for an accusation like this to get the sort of reaction Haider is giving – absolutely none.
Fortunately, this week, the story begins to move in many ways – even if those ways are small baby steps. In episode 24, Amal (Sana Javed) continues to poison Safeer’s (Fahad Sheikh) mind against his brother, encouraging his drive to punish his brother for his “crimes.” And yet, Safeer finds himself in an emotional dilemma with himself, wanting to protect his wife, but also requesting those at the police station to keep their hands off his brother. Fahad Sheikh is doing a wonderful job in this role with whatever material he has been given – but unfortunately, he hasn’t been given a lot up until now and the show is in the latter portion of its run, so one can’t help he’s been wasted as Safeer.
Meanwhile, Amal visits the college to present “her side of the story,” explaining Haider’s intentions behind having the case reopened. However, the Dean is quick to raise her eyebrows and clarify that it wasn’t Haider who reopened the case, but Mrs. Anjum who approached the police. This puts Amal in a precarious position as her only “target” up until now has been Haider. With Mrs. Anjum also ready for a fight, this leaves Amal at a high risk of exposure. Adding to Amal’s stress is Saira (Yasra Rizvi), who serves as an almost final blow to Amal’s morale in this episode as she realizes the warriors against her are rising in number. Sana Javed is great in this episode, as always, as Amal is seen growing visibly shaken, worried and her usually cool resolve begins to falter.
The last and most powerful performance of the episode comes in the form of Saira (Yasra Rizvi). Haider (Bilal Abbas Khan) is broken, realizing Amal has boxed him in, leaving him without any support. When Zafar realizes the trouble Haider is in and how it’s linked to Amal, he informs Saira, who arrives like an angel to grant Haider’s bail. Haider is, of course, full of questions, so he visits her to thank her. It’s during this discussion that Saira informs Haider that she has gone from hating him to forgiving him, as he has served his sentence and has proved to be truly apologetic. Saira is such a wonderful, strong, intuitive character who has been through a lot – but she also recognizes who the true perpetrator is. And while Haider has hurt her, he has also done his best to rectify his mistakes, unlike Amal, who has now launched the same sort of attack against Haider that she had launched against Humayun. There’s a line that Haider says that strikes fear in Saira’s heart, one with Haider stating that he has lost his drive to fight or seek revenge…..which worries Saira that Haider may be giving up without any support.
This prompts Saira to visit Minaal (Azekah Daniel). This is the strongest sequence in the episode as Saira tries to explain what Humayun went through in his last days, his last night, his last moment. She paints a picture of the hopelessness and the moment when Humayun felt the world would be better off without him – and she, subtly conveys that Haider is headed down the same path. She tells Minaal that her greatest regret is that she wasn’t there for Humayun in his weakest moment, at the time when he needed her the most and she urges Minaal not to make the same mistake. Minaal is frozen in the moment, wondering if history is repeating itself, if she has been letting her husband down with her attitude – and now the story will finally pick up.
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First and foremost, Yasra Rizvi is the star of this episode. She has been missing in action over the last few episodes, but she makes a comeback and how. Saira is a woman still grieving the loss of her husband and is attempting to pick up the pieces – but she is also acutely aware of how history may be repeating itself and she can no longer remain quiet. Yasra Rizvi is absolutely perfect in this role, never an expression out of place. It’s also wonderful that the creatives never, at any point, tried to turn the Saira and Haider relationship into a romantic one (Like “Woh Aik Pal”). In the next episode, the previews show how Mrs. Anjum, Saira and Minaal will all rally around Haider and support him in his fight against Amal. This is the moment viewers have been waiting for, seeing Amal’s lies and deceit unravel before the world. “Dunk” has taken a long time to get to this point, but now that it has, there’s a lot to look forward to once again.