Is blind trust, in this day and age, really an option? Should we, as partners, ever put all our faith, especially regarding personal privacy, into one person? This is the narrative being explored in “Mere Ban Jao,” a show which touches upon the world we live in today in which digital images, video and screen recordings are shared openly on social media platforms and through communication applications. Starring Zahid Ahmed, Kinza Hashmi and Azfar Rehman in lead roles, the story has written by Samira Fazal and directed by Syed Ahmed Kamran.
In episode 1, we were introduced to Azmia (Kinza Hashmi) and her cousin/fiancé Fardeen (Azfar Rehman). While Fardeen is working in America, he keeps in constant touch with Azmia, though the time difference is often a hindrance in their communication. Immediately, we see the difference in personalities. While Fardeen is a hot-headed young man who is stubborn and hot-headed, Azmia is a pacifier, someone who always wants to keep the peace. It’s this nature of Azmia’s which gets her in trouble. We are also introduced to Zaki (Zahid Ahmed), the tailor’s son, who has grown up around Azmia, though being of a lower “status.” Zaki has a soft spot for Azmia, technically in love with her (though one has to wonder why with her attitude towards him).
In episode two, we see exactly where “Mere Ban Jao” is headed – and this is actually where the show excels. Unlike in other shows where we’ve had to suspend reality with stories dealing with videos and photographs, the “controversy” almost seeming ridiculous, the team of “Mere Ban Jao” clearly shows us what happened without being vulgar. Azmia is visibly shaken after her video call with Fardeen, agreeing to his demands in the moment, but now overcome with regret after realizing the personal boundaries and lines she has crossed. Azmia’s shirt is inside out, giving us a clear indication that what Fardeen had been asking of her had been indecent. This sort of situation is something any young girl can get caught up in, especially when trusting her partner. But what this story is imparting through the storytelling is that a fiancé is, ultimately, just a fiancé. He/she is not a husband and so the relationship should not be trusted to that extent. Of course, we could go further to say that even within a marriage, one shouldn’t share videos and pictures either, as that could be leaked as well. This is an important story to tell, one of bodily autonomy, the self-ownership and control over one’s body.
After this incident, Azmia’s discomfort of getting on video chat again is visible, her trust in Fardeen more hesitant than before and their lack of mutual understanding now clear to the audience – but not so clear to Azmia at present. Zaki, on the other hand, winds up in trouble with his mother when Azmia relays his conversation with her to her mother. The relationship between Azmia and Zaki’s family is interesting. Azmia’s family clearly thinks themselves superior to the “darzan,” believing they’re doing her a favor by employing her, a thought Zaki does not align himself to – which is why he constantly finds himself in trouble.
Honestly, Zahid Ahmed, Kinza Hashmi and Azfar Rehman are all such good performers that there isn’t really much to criticize at this point. The acting is natural and the way the storyline has been written is believable. Even the nok-jhok and bickering between Zaki and his sister (played by Hira Tareen) is fun to watch. The story hasn’t gotten too heavy just yet (though it will), but the way the foundation for upcoming issues is being laid out is commendable. This is a show which is off to a very promising start.