As South Asians, how many of us have been the focal point of our parents’ angst – or a spectator sibling to that angst? While watching the previews of “Pinjra,” it wasn’t entirely clear what the message of the show was, but now with three episodes down, that message is coming through loud and clear. Parenting and the way children are encouraged, nurtured and supported goes a long way towards their academic and emotional success. The script has been written by Asma Nabeel, the last show written before her passing. Starring the talented Hadiqa Kiani and Omair Rana as the central “parent” figures, the cast also includes Sunita Marshall, Zhalay Sarhadi, Adnan Bashir, Sohail Masood, Furqan Qureshi, Ahmed Usman, Aaina Asif, Aashir Wajahat and others. The show has been directed by Najaf Bilgrami.
Javed (Omair Rana) and Khadija (Hadiqa Kiani) are two parents who want the best, brightest futures for their three children, Azaan (Ashir Wajahat), Abeer (Aina Asif) and Abaan (Ahmed Usman). However, in their parenting styles, they do not realize how rigid and overbearing they are being on their children. While Azaan is a naturally gifted child and is also a child who follows the rules and is very kind at heart, his “perfect” nature has made things difficult for his two younger siblings – particularly Abaan. Abaan is a creative-minded child who has a passion for the arts, whether it be guitar or painting. This is something even his teachers notice and while discussing Abaan’s grades during a conference, they not only say he’ll do well with more encouragement, but even ask Khadija to encourage his artistic strengths. This scene is refreshing, as we always see negative-minded teachers, so it’s great to see “good” teachers on screen who are encouraging a child. That being said, Khadija tunes all of this praise out, only focusing on Abaan’s academic performance, lashing out at him and labeling him a “loser.” It’s interesting to see where all this rage comes from, as Khadija herself is a singer who plays guitar and it’s clear that Abaan takes after her. But is Khadija practicing a form of self hate? Javed has very high standards and does not like Khadija playing guitar or encouraging the arts with their kids. Has Javed exorcised her love and respect for the arts out of her, causing her to feel guilty and, in turn, removing this joy from her children’s’ lives as well?
Abaan is not the only child suffering from his parents’ attitude. There’s a great scene between Abeer and Khadija where Abeer is secretly using a cell phone gifted to her by a friend. Khadija reprimands her for locking the door, something unheard of in this house. A child does not have a right to privacy according to Khadija’s mindset. It’s this mindset that has pushed Abeer into the world of social media, creating an alternate world for herself online, away from her parents controlling eyes. But will this escape ultimately create tragedy and disaster for her family moving forward?
The other side is also depicted with Wajiha (Sunita Marshal), Khadija’s best friend. She is a divorced, single parent with two children. While she does everything single-handedly, she also works chaotic hours as an air hostess and believes in a open, trusting relationship with her children. The relationship between Wajiha and her kids is in stark contrast to that of Khadija and her kids, Wajiha’s kids even supporting her and showing their emotional intelligence regarding Wajiha’s divorce.
Each actor is doing a wonderful job. While Omair Rana, Hadiqa Kiani and Sunita Marshal all stand out, it’s the three main child stars who are stealing the show. The sensitivity with which they are performing is praise-worthy. So many South Asian children have been through this sort of situation around the globe and this is a story that deserves to be told – and deserves views. This isn’t an easy subject to watch, but it’s one that deserves a try!