The finale of “Qissa Meherbano Ka” carried a lot of expectations with it. A story that had a slow build-up turned into one of the strongest shows on-air, discussing marital abuse and how strong women can become victims of said abuse – particularly marital rape. Starring Mawra Hocane, Ahsan Khan, Areej Mohyudin, Khushhal Khan, Zeb Rehman, Mohammad Ahmed, Mashal Khan and others in pivotal roles, the story has been written by Fakhra Jabeen and directed by Iqbal Hussain.
In the finale, much of the focus is on the trial – and thankfully, this isn’t the typical Pakistani drama trial with plaintiff and defendant both speaking out of turn while lawyers shame instead of creating a strong case. Murad (Ahsan Khan) is reprimanded and removed from the court for his bad behavior and the judge has a voice in his own courtroom. Mawra Hocane is brilliant in a scene where Mehru is forced to defend herself, asking why her character has become the topic of discussion when her husband attempted to set her on fire. This is the plight of many women, victims becoming criminals for simply trying to defend themselves. The highlight of the episode is when Fari (Mashal Khan) steps in as a witness for Mehru and surprises the viewers when she declares she was an eyewitness to the entire attack. Fari has loved Murad more than anything, more than her family and more than herself, but Fari has finally had enough, realizing just how much Murad has taken advantage of her emotions. With her testimony, Murad is sentenced to jail time while a now-pregnant Fari leaves him behind, choosing to move on with her life. Mashal Khan has not been given much of an opportunity to stand out in this show, but Fari truly makes her mark in this last episode and Mashal Khan has done a great job.
It’s great to see that Murad doesn’t follow a cliched path, suddenly repenting and apologizing or being driven mad behind bars. Murad has never been sorry for his behavior, always simply looking out for himself – and many men do not change their ways….and Murad hasn’t either. If there are two true complaints with the finale, the first would be that the audience did not get to see Noor (Areej Mohyudin) and Ayaaz (Khushhal Khan) enough as a romantic couple. This young pair has been stealing our hearts for weeks now and we deserved much more. We can only hope they are cast together once again.
Second, Meherbano’s refusal of Mehrab’s (Zaviyaar Nauman Ejaz) marriage proposal comes across as frustrating. Writers need to recognize that there’s a difference between female empowerment and happiness – and these two are not mutually exclusive and can exist at the same time. Sure, it’s understandable that Meherbano is a victim and would like some time to heal. But instead of giving us a vague “I will wait for you” ending from Mehrab’s side, couldn’t we have seen a further leap with their eventual marriage? This is a man who literally did everything in his power to help Meherbano and this ending does not sit well, even if we are left to assume they eventually get together….why do we have to assume?
Some stories honestly deserve more episodes – and “Qissa Meherbano Ka” is one such show. The latter half of the show deserved more attention with more focus on justice and overcoming abuse, something which could have been addressed in the same number of episodes as well, had the team spent less time drilling Meherbano and Murad’s non-relationship and the petty house politics on to viewers. Still, there isn’t any doubt that “Qissa Meherbano Ka” has been a wonderful show overall and not only gave us a strong social message on a prominent issue with praise-worthy performances (Mawra Hocane, take a bow!), but also brought Khushhal Khan and Areej Mohyudin to the forefront as strong performers. This is a memorable show that will be dearly missed.