It speaks highly of the quality of writing when the audience finds themselves overcome with emotion after watching each episode of a show. “Raqeeb Se” has become a show that fuels discussion between Pakistani drama viewers week after week. It must be said that the emotions aren’t particularly pleasant and the audience generally finds themselves fuming at several of the lead characters of the show, but again, this is praise for the writing and direction as a weaker story/presentation would not prompt this kind of reaction. Written by Bee Gul and directed by Kashif Nisar, “Raqeeb Se” stars Noman Ejaz as the sole male lead, surrounded by a stellar female cast comprising of Sania Saeed, Hadiqa Kiani, Iqra Aziz and Faryal Mehmood. The story revolves around a man, Maqsood, who lives a quiet life with his wife Hajra and daughter Insha until, one night, his ex-lover Sakina and her daughter Ameera arrive at their doorstep – and everything changes.
As episode 11 opens, Maqsood (Noman Ejaz) returns home only to be informed by the add-oil-to-the-fire Ameera (Iqra Aziz) that her father was there and had come to take Sakina (Hadiqa Kiani) with him. She fills his ears, riling him up before he enters the house where Sakina and Hajra (Sania Saeed) are discussing the situation. Hajra, as always, tries to act as a protector for Sakina but is rudely shut down by Maqsood as he asks her to keep quiet. This is yet another downside to Maqsood, but we’ll come to that later. After verbally thrashing Sakina for thinking about leaving with Rafiq, Maqsood vents to Hajra and makes a backhanded comment about Sakina and Ameera wanting to leave because of Hajra. Hajra plays on her backfoot through most of this episode, drawing out Sania Saeed’s strength as an actress – speaking volumes with her eyes and expressions. Hajra is a character who draws much ire and criticism, but only because she’s nice and accepting, she’s hammering a nail into her own foot. But if one honestly examines her behavior, this is a woman who has been conditioned to be like this, her voice silenced, overpowered by Maqsood’s claims of being “honest” and “forthright,” his so-called honesty robbing her of any chance to complain. So she doesn’t believe it’s her duty to complain, rather to accept all of this chaos as part of her life with Maqsood. This is why when she stumbles upon Sakina and Maqsood in tears, caught in an emotional intimate moment, she remains in the shadows, feeling as though it’s not her “place” to interfere – and yet, it is her place to interfere, because she is his wife!
Of course, we cannot forget Ameera. Ameera is this outspoken young girl who is brash and blunt in her manner of speaking, not recognizing what should be said and what should not – or does she know exactly what she’s doing? Ameera has developed a crush on Maqsood, which is not only uncomfortable for the viewer, but is also growing glaringly obvious to both Hajra and Sakina, who find themselves taken aback by her behavior. While Sakina finds herself hitting her head over it, Hajra has begun to retreat into herself, feeling inadequate and as though the reigns to her life (and her husband) are being taken out of her hands. Ameera is not a likable character and while it’s nice to see Maqsood put her in her place several times in the episode, it’s also frustrating to see how Insha and Hajra are not only being sidelined due to Sakina, but also now due to Ameera’s constant attention-seeking and desire to constantly be with Maqsood.
Speaking to Abdul, the boyfriend from hell, Insha (Faryal Mehmood) is seen complaining about her overstepping houseguests. But this time, Insha is clear in who her anger is pointed towards – her father, Maqsood. While Abdul is seen defending Maqsood and his “love story,” a story he’s heard from Insha throughout the course of their relationship, Insha states that in the quest for this unrequited love, he has marginalized both his wife and daughter, leaving them without affection or kindness. Insha’s words are those of a heartbroken daughter, furious at being neglected at a time when she desires attention – but her words ring true for viewers as well. In this entire scenario, Insha and Hajra are the two who are most suffering in the shadow of Maqsood and Sakina’s (pitiful) love story, a love story Maqsood and Sakina themselves have given so much importance to, it has put everything else in their lives on the backburner. And yet, Insha isn’t heartless. When she spots Sakina crying quietly over her fate, Insha sits with her and consoles her, recognizing that Sakina has suffered great misfortune in her life. Sakina confides in Insha about her actions and the reason behind staying with Rafiq – punishing herself for what she has done to Maqsood.
Maqsood is an interesting character, only because he is so highly regarded by the women in his life. Hajra practically worships him, Sakina mourns his loss and Ameera has a strange sort of crush on him, seeing in him the depiction of a “real” man, a man she has never seen in her own life until now. But is Maqsood actually a good man? It seems Insha, his daughter, is the only one who is able to see Maqsood for who he truly is – a flawed man, a failed man, a man who has been unable to show complete loyalty or kindness to anyone in his life.
Episode 11 is an episode that manages to get under the skin and really leave the viewer feeling a wave of emotions – particularly negative feelings towards Ameera, Maqsood and Sakina, the terrible trio. Hajra and Insha are the true heroes of “Raqeeb Se,” two women who deserve so much more than what they are receiving. And yet, each and every actor in “Raqeeb Se” is doing an extraordinary job. There are only 5 main characters and each actor shines in their role – whether it be Sania Saeed, Hadiqa Kiani, Noman Ejaz, Faryal Mehmood or Iqra Aziz, they have all transformed into their characters and given their performances their 100%. The writing and direction by Bee Gul and Kashif Nisar is just wonderful. Knowing Bee Gul and her writing, the audience is, at this point, just waiting for Hajra and Insha to find peace and independence in their lives, away from the circus that has invaded their household. But will they get it?