Sexual harassment is a serious issue, one that is not taken seriously in South Asian societies. Women often find themselves the victims of such harassment. This is why “Dunk” has been highly controversial, releasing at a time when women are already brushed off, not heard, not believed over men. So this story about false allegations comes at an uncomfortable time. Viewers are divided – while it’s a valid subject, a true story, does this type of show hinder the “me too” movement? The cast includes Noman Ejaz, Bilal Abbas Khan, Sana Javed, Azekah Daniel, Fahad Sheikh, Shahood Alvi, Saife Hassan and many others. The show has been produced by Fahad Mustafa’s Big Bang Entertainment, directed by Badar Mehmood (who has directed shows like Cheekh, Balaa and Ishqiya recently) and written by Mohsin Talat.
This episode of “Dunk” is difficult to watch due to its heavy subject and even heavier emotions. Whatever one may think of the premise and how it may/may not affect the “Me Too” movement, it is true that false accusations have been made in the past – particularly the case that this show is based on and that case also resulted in suicide. In this episode, Saira (Yasra Rizvi) is left in shock, along with her young daughter, at the death of her husband, Hamayun (Noman Ejaz). It’s difficult to comprehend the loss of a loved one, but to lose a loved one to suicide and realize how much grief they were in is even more painful – and Saira is left in complete shock. The disgrace which Hamayun faced in his life is there after his death as well when his funeral is quiet with few attendees. It’s heart-wrenching to see Saira carrying his body due to the shortage of men, but equally heart-breaking to see Haider (Bilal Abbas Khan) step in to take over, carrying Hamayun to his final resting place.
Up until now, viewers have believed Haider to be the real antagonist, the man behind this allegation, putting his fiancée up to this act to cover his own wrong-doings. However, in this episode, it’s revealed that Haider overheard Amal (Sana Javed) threatening Professor Hamayun, making it clear that he genuinely believed Amal to be telling the truth about the harassment. He was trying to do the right thing, but found himself on the wrong side. He is now struggling with the guilt of what he and Amal have done to Hamayun and is finding a way to make peace with it within himself. Unfortunately, this will not fare well for his relationship with Amal, which is already splitting at the seams as Amal appears almost unaffected by the tragedy as Haider falls apart.
The star of the show this week is Bilal Abbas Khan, who is always incredible in everything he does, but the way he emotes as Haider is applause-worthy. Haider is a complex character, one who we haven’t been able to figure out completely until now. He is carrying a lot of guilt within himself and Bilal Abbas Khan is outstanding in his portrayal of this grief, expressing it through his eyes. Yasra Rizvi is, of course, so wonderful as Saira, a wife in shock after the loss of her husband – but also a mother who is doing her best to protect her daughter and answer her innocent, but biting questions. As far as episodes go, “Dunk” puts on a strong show this week, really allowing the viewer to feel what these characters are going through as their worlds fall apart in very different ways – while Saira has literally lost everything, Haider has lost himself. How will the show move forward from here? That’s what we will have to wait to see.