At times, it seems the shows that strive to do something different and shed light on real-life issues tend to get overlooked – particularly when they air on less popular channels. Express TV and A Plus are two channels that have always tried to put forth quality content, but their shows do not receive as much traction as shows from Hum, Geo and ARY. “Oye Moti” is a show that has been airing on Express TV for the last three weeks, but the show has not been spoken about as much as it deserves. This is less of a show, more of an anthology with each episode depicting a different story. Directed by Mohammad Iftikhar Iffi and written by Sajjad Haider Zaidi, “Oye Moti” focuses on telling stories about the judgmental attitudes Pakistani society carries towards appearances.
In episode 1, we are introduced to Gul E Rana (Hajra Yamin), a young woman who lives with her mother. After her father’s death, the two ladies are having financial troubles. However, when Gul E Rana sets out to get a job and is hired, she proves her worth through her intelligence and hard work. The story is straightforward, but what’s highlighted here is the attitude others hold towards her due to her weight – whether it’s her landlord, her own mother, her co-workers or her boss (Syed Jibran), her weight is a factor in how she is perceived by others. That is, until she finally wins them all over with her skills in the workplace. This is a great story, one that’s reminiscent of “Ugly Betty” meets “Mahi Way” in a sense. If anything, one almost wishes the entire show had focused on this one storyline and led us along with Gul E Rana and her life over the span of 15-20 episodes. Hajra Yamin does a great job here!
In episode 2, we are introduced to a woman (Hina Dilpazeer) who is informed by an anonymous source that her husband, Idrees (Javed Sheikh), is having an affair with a younger woman. Fueled by her own insecurities regarding her weight, appearance and age, the audience sees this woman struggle through her emotions, attempting to lose weight and then finally resigning herself to the fact that her husband will leave her. While the caller is revealed to be a fraud, this is a relatable story for many women, as we do tend to grow insecure as we age and the idea of a man searching for a younger woman would be upsetting for anyone. And yet, this story is kept light-hearted, humorous and brings a smile to the face. Hina Dilpazeer and Javed Sheikh are both wonderful in their short roles and their story may discuss a serious topic, but the treatment keeps the audience happy.
Episode 3 stars Mohammad Osama, Sabeena Farooq and Nida Mumtaz. Ahsan (Mohammad Osama) returns from the USA to stay with Malika (Sabeena Farooq) and her mother and during the duration of his stay, Malika falls for him. However, Ahsan is otherwise committed with a girlfriend back in the USA. Of the three aired episodes, this one is the most simple, a story we’ve seen many times before. The only difference here is that the female lead is a heavier girl. Of the three episodes, this one would be the least favorite – and yet, it still manages to capture the viewer’s attention and present a cute story.
What’s great about this show is that it’s trying to make a statement, but does so without taking itself too seriously. While the stories revolve around their heavier lead characters, these characters are living their lives and accomplishing something with their weight only playing a subtle role. Bullying, harassment and lack of compassion are three things depicted well in the first three episodes, particularly in Hajra Yamin’s episode as she joins a new workplace and is on the receiving end. These are topics that need to be addressed in Pakistan as many do not recognize how or why fat-shaming would be inappropriate.
This show is not without flaws. While a great concept, there are a couple of (very) small things that stand out like a sore thumb. First, let’s discuss the theme song where the male vocalist is heard singing “Oye moti, tere jaise nahin koi.” While it’s understandable that “Oye Moti” is the name of the show, but inserting it into a song like this is just crass and could have been avoided. The song simply feels like a backhanded compliment. Second, with the exception of Hina Dilpazeer, the other two women (Hajra Yamin and Sabeena Farooq) are clearly wearing padding underneath their clothing to look overweight. This is an odd choice and while both girls are great actresses, one has to pause and wonder why fuller actresses couldn’t have been cast instead? These may be small complaints in the grand scheme of things, but it’s simply something to think about moving forward with ideas like this.
Overall, “Oye Moti” is a show that attempts to break stereotypes and highlight issues faced by healthier women in society. This drama will, hopefully, shed light on how our society tends to look down upon such women (and men) and how this can fall into the category of bullying and harassment (as seen in Hajra Yamin’s episode). It’s refreshing to see stories like this on the small screen as we, as an audience, are already starved for more light-hearted entertainment. Not only does “Oye Moti” provide that entertainment, but it also manages to show the mirror to society and what we need to change within ourselves – our attitudes towards others.