“Raqeeb Se” is a show that has been described as poetry in motion each week, never failing to leave an emotional impact on the viewer by the end of the episode. Written by Bee Gul and directed by Kashif Nisar, “Raqeeb Se” highlights human nature and how a domino effect can occur and touch the lives of several individuals when an ex-flame is rekindled. And yet, this is an affair that doesn’t incur wrath from either the audience or the other characters due to the emotionally heavy nature of the storyline (and their separation). Noman Ejaz, Sania Saeed, Hadiqa Kiani, Faryal Mehmood and Iqra Aziz are the prominent faces of the cast, supported by the incredibly talented Salman Shahid, Saba Faisal, Saqib Sumeer and Hamza Sohail.
Episode 19 has a lot of high points, leaving the audience feeling partially optimistic and partially traumatized. First, let’s begin with Rafiq (Saqib Sumeer) and Sakina’s (Hadiqa Kiani) divorce. The scene between Rafiq Ali and Sakina is absolutely heartbreaking. Rafiq has been the “villain” of the story, but the human side of him comes out in this episode, painting an entirely different picture of his marriage with Sakina. Sakina has never been able to get over her love for Maqsood (Noman Ejaz) and coupled with her guilt over what she did to him by sending him to jail, she simply never committed to her marriage or ever tried to make it work. Rafiq Ali is uneducated and has several behaviors that are unpalatable, namely the abusive nature and anger issues, which is never excusable. But is Rafiq Ali bad at heart? He’s looking out for his own interest by striking a deal with Maqsood, but that’s because he’s invested so many years of marriage, a marriage that he’s now losing – and he simply wishes to have something to hold on to, even if it’s financial gain. Rafiq Ali seems to have genuinely loved Sakina – otherwise, with all that has occurred, would a man like Rafiq Ali have let Sakina live and walk out of his house with another man? That’s something to think about. There is certainly genuine love and affection from his end for his wife. We cannot control life and how it plays out, but every individual comes with their own side of the story. While Sakina lived through an abusive marriage, Rafiq lived with the frustration day in and day out that his wife wouldn’t even look at him, wouldn’t smile at him, wouldn’t even accept him as her own, living under one roof as a stranger. Does it excuse his abuse? Definitely not, but it’s heartbreaking to hear his side of the story and watch him grieve over the loss of a marriage that really did mean a lot to him. Saqib Sumeer is brilliant as Rafiq and if this is the last we’ve seen of Rafiq, it’s necessary to sing his praises and applaud an actor who has given his all to this role. Rafiq has not been an easy character, one who is meant to be loathed – and yet, Saqib Sumeer’s performance has made the viewer’s heart break for him. This is an actor who will continue to go far.
Of course, one also must praise Hadiqa Kiani and Noman Ejaz for how they’ve played Sakina and Maqsood, two characters who tether the line of being noble and being horrible. These two individuals have been locked in this grand love that’s been nurtured not only in their hearts, but also by their own children and spouses, stories of the epic love story of Sakina and Maqsood. And yet, their reunion at the train station is bittersweet, heavy and clouded by memories of the past. While Sakina is initially angry at the deal Maqsood has made, treating her like sold cattle, Maqsood makes it clear that he did what was necessary to get her out of there – and one can see both sides of the story. There’s a heavy, poignant moment where Sakina hands Maqsood a pot of chutney, remembering how he never traveled without it – and Maqsood states that he hasn’t eaten chutney in 20 years. The two discuss how they no longer truly know each other as they’ve both changed, no longer used to each other’s ways. This is a realistic scene, almost tragic, seeing how two people who were once so in love are now, essentially, strangers still held together by that bond of love. And yet, they’ve never discussed their issues – and so, it’s no surprise when Maqsood begins discussing his brother, Mansoor Ali, questioning Sakina on his final moments. He reflects on his appearance, asking if he took his name, remembered him before his death? This not only moves Sakina to tears, but also leaves the audience sobbing, imagining the heaviness between the two, their joint (but separate) grief surrounding the death of Mansoor Ali, finally having a discussion 20 years too late. Noman Ejaz’s acting is outstanding in this scene and he is aptly supported by Hadiqa Kiani, who is delivering a performance unexpected from a first-time actress. They are both wonderful.
Back at home, Hajra (Sania Saeed) awaits the duo’s return, her hands full with Ameera (Iqra Aziz). Hajra has been pampering Ameera up until now, allowing her silly comments to pass over her and excusing her as a child. However, in this episode, Hajra finally seems to be waking up to the words coming out of Ameera’s mouth, the possessiveness over Maqsood, the disregard for Sakina and the inappropriate nature of her feelings towards Maqsood….a man who is Hajra’s husband and Sakina’s soon-to-be husband. As if their situation weren’t complicated enough, Ameera only adds to the chaos. Ameera is openly unhappy at her mother’s arrival and, after realizing her parents are now divorced, she shows little sympathy for Sakina. Ameera is a character who induces anger and Iqra Aziz is doing a brilliant job.
Insha (Faryal Mehmood) is suffering through her own battles, realizing Abdul (Hamza Sohail), her husband, is not the man she thought he was. While viewers could always sense the incompatibility between the two, Insha has realized it too late and is now unhappy with his attitude towards her life. While she’s dealing with her own issues, she’s also deeply connected to those of her mother. There’s a brilliant moment between Hajra and Insha where while Hajra supports Sakina and Maqsood’s union, Insha takes pause to provide emotional support to her mother, trying to express how important she is. Insha gives her mother a hug, trying to show her how much she loves her and cares for her, telling her she’s important, regardless of Maqsood. This is a wonderful moment, because we as viewers know that Hajra does not consider herself worthy and suffers from low self esteem due to her past circumstances. The love and support of her daughter is something she needs – and is receiving. But will Insha continue to show her support when Hajra’s remaining secrets are revealed?
“Raqeeb Se” is pure magic. It becomes difficult to praise this show each week, because there are only so many words in the dictionary to express “Masterpiece.” And that’s what “Raqeeb Se” is – it’s a masterpiece. This is a show each and every Pakistani drama fan should be watching, as it’s meaningful television, a human story that viewers can connect with.