“Qissa Meherbano Ka” has been a show with some positive aspects and some unimpressive aspects, leaving the audience with an overall opinion of the show being “just okay.” However, last week, “Qissa Meherbano Ka” finally came to the point and pushes the narrative into a dark place, a place which now makes the build-up understandable – and worthwhile. Starring Mawra Hocane, Ahsan Khan, Zaviyaar Nauman Ejaz, Areej Mohyudin, Khhushal Khan, Zeb Rehman, Mashal Khan and others, the story has been written by Fakhra Jabeen and directed by Iqbal Hussain.
In episode 16, Noor (Areej Mohyudin) goes to check in on Meherbano (Mawra Hocane) and finds her in a state of personal distress. While audiences see Meherbano fully clothed and sitting under a shower, disgusted with herself, Noor’s reaction illustrates what Noor is actually meant to see (and what “Qissa” culturally cannot show on our television screens) – that her aunt has been raped. Murad (Ahsan Khan) may be Mehru’s husband, but Mehru has never shared that relationship with him. And while we, as an audience, have been wondering up until now how Mehru wound up pregnant, even this has now been answered. Murad has been forcing himself on his wife, a woman he abandoned for ten years and has now decided he has authority over her, as though she is a piece of property that he owns.
This scene is hard to watch and it’s frustrating to see Mehru, in a weak, angry moment, declare that as a husband, Murad has a right to her. While many viewers have found themselves riled up by this statement, it is a statement made in distress, a sarcastic statement made in anger as Mehru vents her frustrations on to her young niece, her only supporter. This moment is just the beginning as we begin to see Mehru’s descent into misery, her autonomy over her body being taken away from her, now living in fear of the next “attack” from her animal of a so-called husband. Full credit must be given to Ahsan Khan for playing Murad in this terrifying, intimidating way which has left viewers in shock. Murad has taken complete liberty over Mehru in Fari’s (Mashal Khan) absence, taking sadistic pleasure in taunting her over her past friendship with Mehran (Zaviyaar Nauman Ejaz) and rubbing salt on her wounds by threateningly taking her to Mehran’s engagement. Meanwhile, Fari fights with her brother an sister-in-law over the idea of divorce, so in love with Murad and unwilling to accept that she has lost him. But did she ever truly know him?
Of course, the highlight of “Qissa Meherbano Ka” has been Noor and Ayaz (Khhushal Khan) for a long time (for me personally), before the two characters even met or got together under one roof. The potential for this romance has been high from the get-go and it does not disappoint. If anything, it’s a travesty that the scenes focusing on Noor and Ayaz are so limited, as they share incredible chemistry and their 3-4 total minutes of screen time per episode stand out far more than any other moment. Ayaz is a rough guy, but the way he has opened his heart to Noor and the two have found genuine friendship in one another is gush-worthy. Noor’s dialogue about never having nice things or having more than 3 loved ones cuts through the heart like a knife – and it’s something Ayaz can certainly relate to….if anything, Ayaz has never even had three people to love. One can only hope they are given much more attention in coming episodes, because these characters truly deserve happiness.
This episode is a Mawra Hocane show through and through. The way she enacts Meherbano’s trauma and how Meherbano has gradually evolved from this outspoken, “good but strong” woman into a scared, mistreated, “trapped” woman is genuinely tragic to watch. Mawra Hocane has really proved herself as an actress over the years and has closed the mouths of her detractors. She gives one of her career-best in this show. Still, one continues to have a hard time grappling with how Meherbano found herself in this situation, because she has always had a way out. Meherbano should have taken Ayaz and Noor away and the three should have lived comfortably in their family home. Why Meherbano chose to continue living in this toxic environment and allowing her niece and nephew to live in continued terror is one aspect that will always be hard to digest with this story. Marital rape is a story that few shows have tackled and it’s an important topic to highlight – and so, now with the meaning behind “Qissa Meherbano Ka” clear, this is a show that deserves to be supported.