“Kabli Pulao” continues to rank at the number one spot with audiences, sweeping in to be the unexpected winner of the season with its unusual storyline – and cast. Starring Mohammed Ehtashamuddin and Sabeena Farooq in lead roles, the show also stars Nadia Afgan, Munazzah Arif, Adnan Shah Tipu, Haseeb Khan, Saqib Sameer and others in a story written by Zafar Mairaj and directed by Kashif Nisar. In episode 5, things hit the fan when Haji Mushtaq (Mohammed Ehtashamuddin) and Barbeena’s (Sabeena Farooq) marriage is revealed to the family – and the world.
It’s a testament to the writing of “Kabli Pulao” that the audience thoughts are mirrored in the character’s own thoughts. It was a feeling of ethical turmoil last week with many wondering why Haji Mushtaq did not send Barbeena with her brother, which most likely would have been the best choice for Barbeena herself under the circumstances, leaving viewers feeling uneasy. And then, in episode 6, Haji Mushtaq acknowledges his error in judgement and voices the same thoughts. Why didn’t he send Barbeena? Well, while Barbeena is his wife and that fact was kept hidden, he does want to do right by her as his wife – and internally, he is happy to have someone who respects and cares for him as his own. This is the beauty of Mushtaq and Barbeena’s relationship. It’s one of circumstance, one that wasn’t necessarily planned, but it’s also one of consent, one of willingness and respect. Ehtashamuddin is an excellent performer and always has been, along with being a wonderful director, but as Haji Mushtaq, he has performed on a different level, winning our hearts. Sabeena Farooq is a natural as Barbeena and truly depicts the emotions and discomfort one would feel in such a situation.
Haji Mushtaq is a man who has lived with respect his entire life and is unable to handle the slander, locking himself up in his room and contemplating leaving his family home entirely. His heart is in the right place, taking the blame upon himself, believing his leaving will relieve his family of having to listen to gossip related to his marriage. On the other end, Shamim (Nadia Afgan) regrets her actions and wants, more than anything, to be forgiven by Mushtaq – and forgiveness is the one thing he refuses to give her. While Shamim’s actions initially forced audiences to believe Mushtaq lead her on, it’s in this episode that we realize Shamim built up a fake relationship in her head, one that Mushtaq was never involved in. Shamim had her own attachment to Mushtaq, but Mushtaq himself encouraged her to move on and start a new life with someone else. It’s tragic to see a character like Shamim, a woman who destroyed her own life and is now left with nothing, simply because she played into her own delusions of a one-sided relationship. Nadia Afgan is brilliant in this episode, her performance as Shamim standing out through Shamim’s acknowledgement, pain and regret.
While the family is initially up in arms, causing Haji Mushtaq to leave, they are regretful and worried when they realize his absence. In the end, it’s Ayesha who comes to the rescue, retrieving Haji Mushtaq and Barbeena from the graveyard and bringing them back home. What’s beautiful to see is how each family member reacts differently. While Qayoom’s (Adnan Shah Tipu) reaction is more aggressive, later realizing the error of his ways, it’s sweet to see how Zulekha (Munazzah Arif) and the elder sister only have Mushtaq’s happiness in mind, wanting to support him.
“Kabli Pulao” is a show that can only be described as a truly “human” show. The emphasis are on emotions, flawed and all. Whether right or wrong, the internal dialogues we have with ourselves is at the heart of human communication and this is what “Kabli Pulao” gets right. And while all’s well that ends well at present with the family now planning Mushtaq and Barbeena’s wedding, we’re now waiting for the next wrench in this relationship – Baraan.