Hum TV has been heavily promoting their latest show, “Raqeeb Se,” over the last several weeks. Written by Bee Gul and directed by Kashif Nisar, the show features Noman Ejaz as the male lead, surrounded otherwise by a strong female cast including Sania Saeed, Iqra Aziz and Faryal Mehmood. The show is also Hadiqa Kiani’s debut as an actress. With this talented writer-director duo and its star-studded cast, there are high expectations resting on this show. How does its first episode fare? Let’s discuss.
Cutting to the chase, the first episode of “Raqeeb Se” is simply wonderful. It’s hauntingly beautiful, telling the story in a fairly simple way, but its impact continues long after the episode has ended. While the show starts off slow and quiet, it ends with a bang. The episode begins with Maqsood (Noman Ejaz) answering the door to find Sakina (Hadiqa Kiani) and her daughter Amira (Iqra Aziz) on the other side. He is shocked to see them, but quietly invites them inside. Hajra (Sania Saeed), Maqsood’s wife, takes over playing host as Maqsood’s disdain becomes visible while he tries to distance himself from the two women. Over the course of the episode, it’s revealed that Sakina and Maqsood had a legendary love story that ended abruptly when Sakina left Maqsood to marry someone else. Sakina and Amira have both been victims of abuse. While Sakina has faced it for years, she flees with Amira when her husband strikes Amira with a hot rod. Insha (Faryal Mehmood), Maqsood’s daughter, is confident and headstrong and immediately tells her mother that this mother-daughter duo spells trouble – and ironically, Maqsood seems to agree. However, it’s Hajra who stands firmly in support of the two women.
The real hero of this episode is Sania Saeed as Hajra. This is a beautiful character. Some could say she’s gullible, naïve or innocent – but is she? She’s well-aware of Sakina and Maqsood’s past. She’s also well-aware that she has never been able to make a place in her husband’s heart, because it’s always been filled with love for Sakina, something that’s ironically said to her by her own daughter. But this has not made Hajra bitter and she’s intelligent enough to know that jealousy and petty behavior will not get her anywhere. There’s a wonderful moment at the very end of the episode where Amira, played by Iqra Aziz, lashes out at Maqsood when she overhears him stating that he wants to take revenge on Sakina by casting her out. Amira screams out all the injustices her mother has had to face over the years over her relationship with Maqsood, all the taunts, all the beatings and all the grief. Iqra’s performance in this scene is not only wonderful, but also drives home the intensity of misery in Sakina’s life. Iqra does not have much to do in this episode, but in this two minute scene at the very end, she leaves a strong mark. Hadiqa Kiani is a natural and it’s surprising that she has never attempted to act before as it seems to come easily to her. Faryal Mehmood does a great job as well and suits this role. Of course, Noman Ejaz is great as always, but he allows the women to take the lead in this episode – and knowing Bee Gul scripts, they will continue to do so. So many women face abuse at the hands of their spouses in Pakistan and find themselves with nowhere to go to protect themselves. This is a strong story with a lot of potential. So far, this drama is off to a great start and one is left wanting more at the end of the episode.