There isn’t any doubt that, since its premiere, “Grey” has been a unique story, one touching upon real life issues in our world – one in particular which has been playing out in the media for several years now. Initially a story of harassment allegations, the media circus and cancel culture which surround such allegations, “Grey” took on a life of its own as the story unfolded, introducing different characters, different stories and a different message altogether by the end. We’re going to dive into the finale of “Grey” and discuss the happenings, the overall story impact and then tackle the issue of ethics. Starring Sami Khan, Sabeena Farooq, Zoha Rehman, Paras Masroor, Noreen Gulwani, and others in leading roles, the story has been written by Rida Bilal and directed by Sohail Javed.
In the finale, life has moved on post allegations. Bushra (Noreen Gulwani) is now running her own media publication in an ethical way, in a way that she describes as boring, but factual. Bushra has seen the Salaar-Imaan circus play out and has found her comfortable reality with it, particularly after interviewing Salaar (Sami Khan). Meanwhile, Salaar is also picking up the remains of his life. His father (Khaled Anum) has found his way back into his life, spending time with his kids and reconnecting. Salaar is emotionally at peace, the pieces now falling back into place – that is, all but one….Zoya (Zoha Rehman). Zoya had already made the decision to leave Salaar, but we are now let in to reality – a reality where Zoya had found some incriminating evidence which places Imaan and Salaar together. In an ironic twist, Salaar loses his marriage just as Imaan (Sabeena Farooq) is settling into her blissfully happy married life with a loving, supportive partner. Credit must be given to both Sami Khan and Sabeena Farooq for how effortlessly they have played their roles. Imaan is a tough cookie to crack, raised to be strong, but we do see her vulnerability and moments of self-questioning. Sabeena Farooq has become this character, one which is vastly different from her previous roles. Sami Khan could have made Salaar a melodramatic, tearful character, but he has enacted this role with restraint, Salaar’s frustration and vulnerabilities peeking through his eyes rather than emotional outbursts. Sami plays Salaar in a perfectly “grey” way for the audience to pick up on his flaws on their own. While we see Salaar as innocent, his time spent in hotel rooms with Mona away from his family is not a detail that we miss. Sami is simply fabulous as a performer.
Rafay believes he will get off with an insanity plea, but in jail, Saleem Mairaj’s character decides to find purpose in his sentence and murders Rafay himself. However, does that really bring peace to Mahnoor’s parents, who have lost their beautiful, educated, intelligent daughter who had her whole life in front of her? The answer is no. The loss of life in senseless crimes is one that’s difficult to overcome and watching this story play out on our screens is equally as difficult a watch as following the real story play out in the media. The story with the maid is even more harrowing as Imaan, in the end, spots Fauzia in the streets as a “night worker.” Imaan, who sold Fauzia’s family on the idea of getting her married to Anwar, now sees the repercussions of her actions staring back at her. This story is genuinely heartbreaking, this young woman’s life destroyed at the hands of those in positions of power – including and specifically Imaan.
There’s a lot to say about “Grey.” First, the message is much different than one would expect. Yes, of course, the message is that life isn’t black and white – rather, it’s grey and that’s highlighted perfectly with the final scene, a scene that shows that Salaar’s speech was not all talk. Salaar does believe in women’s rights. Salaar does believe that “no means no.” However, there’s a moment back in an earlier episode of the show where Mona states that neither Salaar nor Imaan are telling the truth – and she hits the nail on the head. With this brief final moment, it’s revealed that Salaar and Imaan did, in fact, have a relationship – one of consent. And yet, when a married man has an affair with an unmarried woman, will he own it? What started off as a consensual relationship turned into the revenge of a rejected woman – and who would know Salaar better than his wife? Zoya mentally makes the decision to walk away right after hearing the allegations, aware of what her husband is capable of, though she sticks around to ensure the harassment charge is cleared. This ending is satisfying. However, this is not really the message of the show.
The message of the show, in the end, is about the media, journalism and how we, as consumers of this journalism, fall into a trap. We allow high profile cases to grab our attention while allowing real, serious cases to slide through the cracks. The stories in “Grey” are inspired by real life events, real life stories we’ve been following for several years now. Why is it that a story of a male celebrity harassing a female celebrity continues to get coverage today – more than 5 years later – while a man who murdered a woman in cold blood walks free? Of course, in the show, the story takes a more satisfying turn with Rafay murdered in jail by Saleem Mairaj’s character, but this isn’t how reality played out. “Grey” is a harrowing look at how our idea of celebrity takes over our idea of what’s important and takes away from real issues. Quite honestly, “Grey” has been a delight to watch for the most part – not because the show is happy in any way, but because it has forced viewers to think.
Now it’s time to move away from the show itself and discuss the only negative – the ethical nature of such a show. The incidents in “Grey” are modeled on real-life situations – whether it be the Ali Zafar and Meesha Shafi case or the Noor Mukadam case. Our drama writers need to realize when it’s an appropriate time to create such stories. Noor Mukadam’s case is still fresh in our minds and particularly in the minds of her loved ones. The assault case is still one that’s being dragged through the courts. When “Hadsa” released, starring Hadiqa Kiani, the victim of the motorway case felt as though she was reliving her nightmare again. There must be an appropriate time and place to recreate stories based on real life events. These cases could be traumatizing for those directly connected. A code of ethics must be established in regards to when it becomes acceptable to recreate these stories and this time is not it. This should be a serious discussion for industry writers, producers and directors.
Ethics aside, “Grey” has honestly been an exciting watch which has kept us, as viewers, coming back week after week. The story has kept us on our toes, wondering who was at fault until the very end. It dragged us through the emotional turmoil felt by those women who experience harassment and assault from all walks of life – whether it be a maid, a journalist or a highly educated girl from an affluent family. The issue of harassment is an important one and the story “Grey” tells is an important one – we as a society must decide what our idea of justice is and understand when we have allowed justice to fail. For those who haven’t been keeping up, “Grey” is highly recommended, but should possibly come with a trigger warning regarding its content.