“Pehchaan” is one of Hum TV’s newest launches, airing twice a week on Thursdays and Fridays. Starring Hiba Bukhari, Mirza Zain Baig and Syed Jibran in lead roles, along with many other talented names like Nadia Hussain, Qavi Khan, Mohammad Ahmed and others, the story has been written by Rubina Kabir Khan and directed by Asad Jabal. With four episodes already aired, the premise of the story is now clear to the audience – and it’s an interesting one. Unfortunately, the show already has a feeling of “lagging” despite an interesting concept.
In the first four episodes, we are introduced to Kuki (Hiba Bukhari), the ideal daughter, daughter-in-law, wife, mother and aunt. This is a one-woman show, a young woman who manages her household efficiently, leaving not one with a complaint. Married for thirteen years, Kuki and Adnan have two sweet teenage children as well. And while her husband, Adnan (Syed Jibran) is a complicated, slightly cold, robotic sort of man who doesn’t even deem it important to entertain her guests, Kuki has overlooked their incompatibility and happily played the role of perfect homemaker. That is, of course, until the day she discovers that Adnan is having an affair. While she never expresses the fact that she’s aware of his indiscretion clearly, he makes his attitude towards it clear while the two are having a hypothetical conversation. Kuki is clearly not satisfied (nor should she be) with this age-old South Asian idea of being happy as the “respectable wife” while a husband has his “fun” outside the home. This entire situation forces Kuki to take a good, long look in the mirror and realize that she has lost her own identity over the years and is no longer satisfied being a homemaker when that is all she is seen as. Therefore, she plans a trip to Pakistan and, in the process, plans her escape from a loveless marriage – or so this is what the story seems to be.
While the show is a mystery of sorts, the emphasis in the first four episodes follows the cliched “log kya kahenge?” concept and is riddled with character assassination. Kuki is seen boarding the plane, arriving in Karachi, approached by an acquaintance – and then…..gone. Her family, her in-laws, the customs officers, the police, a detective – everyone immediately jumps to the conclusion that Kuki is characterless and has run away, leaving them shamed. How does a woman go from being “perfect” to suddenly being characterless? Not one individual wonders if she has been kidnapped or injured. This is where the story manages to lose the viewer. Adding to this, Kuki goes missing halfway through episode two and the remaining 2.5 episodes are just laden with these character assassination scenarios. Kuki had a proposal before Adnan’s (the character played by Mirza Zain Baig) and everyone immediately assumes she has run off with this young man.
Now while this bit is not interesting, the story is. How often are women in South Asian society forced to come to terms with their loveless, boring marriages? Divorce is seen as taboo. Self-satisfaction is not in the cards. Women are expected to ignore their husband’s indiscretions. This is a story that is relevant in almost every family, those perfect daughters-in-law who run their households perfectly, masking the imperfections in their relationships with their husbands. But when is enough…..well, enough? When is it acceptable for a woman to prioritize herself and step away? Is it ever acceptable, especially with children involved? Or is it in a woman’s destiny to lose everything while searching for happiness – and herself?
This is a great concept and one has to hope that while the current episodes are dull, the show will pick up. This is a show that deserves to be watched and we can hope that it will be handled well. Hiba Bukhari is doing a good job as Kuki as we see her in the present and in flashbacks, watching her transition from spirited, happy wife to a woman at odds with herself. Syed Jibran is also convincing as the “family man,” a family man who gives importance to his wife and children and loves them the best he can – but is incapable of giving his wife what she truly wants…..loyalty. It will be interesting to see how this show plays out from this point forward. Will they push boundaries and deliver something that viewers can connect with, regardless of how controversial? Or will they stick to the same expectations viewers tend to have from female characters? Let’s see!