It’s not necessary for a show to be moral-based or give viewers something to think about after it ends. Some shows can be made simply for the sake of entertainment. But then, there’s another kind of show – a show that makes a very unpleasant statement through its characters, a message that reduces the value of women, women’s rights and the ability for women to stand up for themselves. “Muqaddar” is a show that glorifies everything ugly about men in South Asian society. The “hero,” Saif, is a kidnapper and a rapist that ultimately finds “love” with his victim and is, in the end, touted as a kind-hearted individual with strong values. In the previous episode, Farkhanda (Ayesha Gul) hatches a plan to rid herself of Raima (Madiha Imam), but Saif (Faysal Qureshi) comes to her rescue by jumping in front of her, taking the bullet himself – and dying as a result.
The finale focuses on the aftermath of Saif’s death. Saif was murdered and his family has been left behind, grieving. With Raima (Madiha Imam) pregnant, we see Saad (Haroon Shahid) and Abeera (Sabeena Farooq) rally around her, supporting her through her grief. The episode is basically a dedication to Saif’s memory, cheerleading Saif’s “good” qualities throughout the 40 minute duration. Raima is shown to be an angel of sorts, caring for Farkhanda in her paralyzed state, despite knowing Farkhanda intended to kill her with the attack. Raima chooses to live her life as Saif’s widow and Saif leaves his finances to his unborn child, Abeera and Saad. As an episode, particularly a finale, this is an unimpressive episode that does little else but portray Saif as an angel despite his many crimes.
Faysal Qureshi needs to step away from doing characters like Bashar Momin and, now, Saif. He is slowly becoming the poster boy (man) for glorifying kidnappers, abusers and rapists. Playing these characters isn’t the problem – there are bad human beings in this world and telling their stories is not an issue, rather it makes for highly entertaining viewing while also shedding light on the plight of their victims. But the problem is that these bad characters are depicted as doing the absolute worst thing possible and then that same character is put at the center of a love story with his victim and is molded into a “hero.” This sends a poor message to viewers and impressionable minds that are watching. Quite honestly, it’s not simply about impressionable minds, but this kind of story can affect the subconscious thinking of those watching, making something absolutely abnormal come across as normal.
Had “Muqaddar” shown Sardar Saif as wanting Raima’s love, but never being on the receiving end of that affection and dying alone without the love of his family, the story may have had a different effect. It would have sent a completely different message. Instead, Saif’s victim, a woman that he harassed, stalked, kidnapped, raped and threatened, spouts dialogues about how Saif’s only bad action was kidnapping her, but since then, he has been the ideal husband. This is a man who threatened to murder her fiancé and family. Faysal Qureshi’s performance was good, but the character’s glorification has eliminated any desire to praise him. Likewise, Madiha Imam may have acted well, but the way Raima “fell in love” with Saif has reduced a once-strong character to a weak woman who “gives up” and decides to live her life swooning over the very man who ruined her future.
Quite honestly, the only characters and story worth rooting for in “Muqaddar” was that of Abeera and Saad, played by Haroon Shahid and Sabeena Farooq. These two characters went through a lot of growth, moving beyond past relationships to fall in love with each other and support each other through the worst of times. Their relationship felt genuine and the two shared sweet chemistry. Written by Iqbal Bano and directed by Shehrazade Sheikh, “Muqaddar” is even more difficult to process as a story because it has been helmed by women. What could have been a strong story about how a woman overcomes bad experiences turned into a love story between a terrorizing kidnapper and his victim.