“Raqeeb Se” is such a brilliant show that one finds themselves emotionally exhausted/spent after finishing an episode. This show is an experience, a story that remains with you long after the episode has ended, leaving the viewer thinking and examining their own lives, relationships and mistakes. This is a show to be savored and absorbed, not one to binge-watch. The story has been brilliantly written by Bee Gul, who touches the soul with each of her dialogues, and directed by the effortlessly talented Kashif Nisar, who has given the show a different layer of depth with his presentation, use of angles and the incredible performances he has extracted from this magnificent cast. Starring Sania Saeed, Hadiqa Kiani, Nauman Ijaz, Faryal Mehmood, Iqra Aziz, Saqib Sumeer, Hamza Sohail, Hassan Mir, Salman Shahid and Saba Faisal in important roles, “Raqeeb Se” is on its way to joining the ranks of classic Pakistani dramas.
While the story of “Raqeeb Se” initially felt like a story of unrequited love, it has slowly unraveled itself to show its true purpose, a story about self-discovery and the understanding the value of ones self. There are many heartfelt, gut-wrenching moments in this duo of episodes, which begin with Ameera’s (Iqra Aziz) suicide attempt and end with Insha (Faryal Mehmood) breaking off her relationship with Abdul (Hamza Sohail). There’s a powerful scene between Hajra (Sania Saeed) and Maqsood (Nauman Ijaz), Maqsood finally verbally showing his love and appreciation for Hajra and admitting she’s the best thing in his life. This confession is not only surprising for Hajra, but also the audience, reducing viewers to tears not only on Hajra’s behalf, but also for Maqsood, who has been so unsuccessful at conveying his feelings to his wife.
To discuss the stand-out sequences in these two episodes would be difficult, as there are several! There’s the sequence between Maqsood and Hajra, which we have already discussed, but the scene we’ve all been waiting for also arrives in this episode with Hajra finally telling Insha the truth of her paternity – that Maqsood is not her biological father. This opens the doors for a flood of emotions, not only between Maqsood and Insha, but also Hajra and Insha. The scene between Hajra and Insha is heartbreakingly beautiful. One can only hope Insha, Maqsood and Hajra all find a way to come to terms with their past and find a way to happiness together in the future. Nauman Ijaz, Sania Saeed and Faryal Mehmood are all equally brilliant, simply stellar performers who convey so much through their expressions and body language.
There are many other intense moments that follow Ameera’s (Iqra Aziz) suicide attempt, an action that snaps Sakina (Hadiqa Kiani) to her senses, realizing not only the importance of her daughter, but also the effect her own actions have caused in her life. She has finally realized her own self-worth and is ready to pick up the pieces. Ameera too has realized her mistakes, not only towards Hajra and Maqsood, but also her unfair treatment towards her mother. The mother-daughter duo, now both determined, seem ready to strike out and stand together as they look forward. The relationship between Sakina and Ameera has always been complicated, but the gap between them has narrowed as they realize how much they need each other. Hadiqa Kiani and Iqra Aziz are both in these scenes. Iqra Aziz has proved herself as a brilliant actress time and time again, but Hadiqa Kiani has really been a revelation!
Divorce is not easy in South Asian society and while Sakina and Ameera have left Rafiq Ali (Saqib Sumeer) behind, it hasn’t been easy for him either. This is made evident in Sakina and Rafiq Ali’s final exchange. Broken hearted, Rafiq Ali describes his daily life at present, smoking and drinking and only eating occasionally. This is a man who has relied on his wife for so much and now, left alone, he does not know how to fend for himself. While Rafiq Ali has not been the ideal husband, he has always loved Sakina and struggled with the knowledge that she has never been “his.” Watching both Sakina and Rafiq Ali in this moment is heartbreaking, as while Sakina is no longer his wife, their history still exists – and Sakina’s heart breaks for the father of her child. Saqib Sumeer has been a scene-stealer throughout the duration of the show and this moment is no less. Rafiq was intended to be a “villain,” but is anyone really an out-and-out villain in real life? Each individual comes with their share of hopes, dreams and expectations of happiness – and Rafiq’s have been shattered.
Fortunately, Insha’s realization that her marriage is unsalvageable comes sooner than later and, the intelligent woman that she is, she approaches Kashif (Hassan Mir) to handle her divorce. While Abdul realizes his mistakes, it’s simply too late as Insha tells him that while they may have once been in love, she no longer respects him. We all know that love without respect is a dead end and while this is difficult for Abdul to accept, Insha walks out of this relationship with a dignity that many can look at and wish they had her strength. Insha is a character that has been an absolute inspiration, a girl who has risen above her difficult household environment and made something of herself. Faryal Mehmood has worked hard for years, but with “Raqeeb Se,” she has truly arrived in the “big league.”
There’s something so wonderful about these characters, specifically our lead four female characters, in their show of support for one another. There aren’t any shows of lashing out, bickering or conspiring against one another. These are four real, “human” women with their own perspectives, their own baggage and their own paths – and yet, they are all united under one roof, united by one man (Maqsood), and do their best to be the best version of themselves, putting their own feelings aside to offer support to one another. There aren’t any words left to praise “Raqeeb Se.” It’s simply, as I seem to say each week, poetry in motion. With the final episode airing next week, this will be a difficult show to say goodbye to.