“Saraab” continues to be a winner in terms of content. Starring the beloved pairing of Sami Khan and Sonya Hussyn in lead roles, this duo never fails to make full use of their chemistry and give viewers a love story to root for. Written by Edison Idrees Masih and directed by Mohsin Talat, “Saraab” focuses on its female lead character, Hoorain, and her battle with schizophrenia.
Episode 17 is a rollercoaster of emotions. As mentioned in previous reviews, the hallucination version of Asfandyar (Sami Khan) is much more than simply toxic for Hoorain (Sonya Hussyn) – he’s a testament to how Hoorain’s condition is progressing and taking her further into a dangerous place. Having now destroyed her own medication and losing her trust in Asfandyar, as she believes he is trying to slow poison her through those meds, Hoorain leaves the hotel room in a panic. What’s interesting to note is that while the “real” Asfandyar is always worrying about saying the right thing, this leaves the relationship between Hoorain and Asfandyar feeling slightly strained at all times. But on the flip-side, the Asfandyar in Hoorain’s mind always knows what to say, fights openly with Hoorain and she shares more of a comfort level with him – despite his being a reflection of her own troubled mind. Bickering with this hallucination again, Hoorain is challenged to prove her love by killing herself – and she decides to take the plunge. It’s fortunate that (the real) Asfandyar catches her in time, otherwise Hoorain would have been dead. Asfand is visibly shaken by all this, also having realized Hoorain destroyed her medication, and he makes the decision to go back home, a decision that does not sit well with Hoorain. The distance between Asfandyar and Hoorain is growing as the doctor’s words keep dancing in Asfandyar’s head about not getting Hoorain pregnant, as her mental state cannot handle any more change. But instead of creating distance between himself and his wife, why can’t contraception be a discussion point here? Is destroying the emotional sanctity of one’s marriage really a good move, especially when this woman relies so completely on her husband?
Being married is not easy. Being married to someone with mental health issues is even harder. Going into a marriage knowing your partner has mental health issues is daunting enough – but when those mental health issues are left entirely untreated and your partner does not even acknowledge the problem…..this is a situation that would test any marriage. Asfandyar (Sami Khan) is the kind of husband any woman going through Hoorain’s situation needs. He is the ideal partner, but he isn’t unrealistic. Asfandyar goes through his moments of doubts, stress and worry. He wonders if he’s doing the right thing and if his actions are doing more harm than good. He has moments of fear, moments where he is scared of the unpredictability of Hoorain’s behavior. When Hoorain almost jumps off the cliff, Asfandyar’s belief that he is what’s best for Hoorain is shaken. He no longer understands what’s best, but only knows that he has to get Hoorain back home and get her medication refilled before things get worse. But again, what makes Asfandyar such a loyal partner is that he does not, even once, think to abandon Hoor – even if he does realize he may be in over his head. His mindset remains trained on what’s best for his wife. And can we just take a moment to give Sami Khan a round of applause for his portrayal of Asfandyar? He is playing a double role here and is playing complete differences in personalities at the snap of a finger. As Asfandyar fumbles and struggles internally with how to approach Hoorain, his alter-ego (in Hoorain’s head) always manages to say the “right thing” to calm Hoorain down – and then play on her fears and insecurities. If Asfandyar is a solid good-guy, the “hallucination” version of him is a true “bad boy” with all the charm associated with the persona….and is an entirely negative influence. Sami Khan plays both “characters” with full conviction and makes the viewer truly sympathize (and fall in love with) Asfandyar.
Coming to the story with Warda (Ghana Ali), there are no two ways about it – Nadir is a coward. Warda receives support from her husband behind closed doors, but the man is unable to protect his wife from his tyrant mother. Warda and Nadir are the sort of couple that makes one thing “Rab ne bana di jodi.” Nadir accepts Warda with her thoroughly manipulative personality and Warda accepts Nadir despite being a mama’s boy. But where is that taking their relationship exactly when Nadir can’t even clearly support his wife and put his foot down regarding a second marriage? This is chaos and it’s really not a likable storyline. Of course, Sufiyaan is yet another thorn in the way, now set on getting “revenge.” Revenge on who, exactly? Warda? Well, he overheard her conversation with Nadir and should recognize that she’s not responsible. Revenge on Hoorain? Well, she’s a woman who never even once showed any interest in him and she has ever right to make her own decisions so why does Sufiyaan believe he has any place to take “revenge”? This angle with Warda’s in-laws is needless and just a distraction from the real storyline.
Overall, “Saraab” is a show that is not discussed enough when it’s one of the best shows on television. We’ve discussed Sami Khan at length, but this review would not be complete without mentioning the brilliant Sonya Hussyn, who is carrying this entire show on her small shoulders as Hoorain. Hoorain is not in a healthy place mentally and acts irrationally because of it. This character is very difficult to play, because there’s a very fine line between sympathizing with such a character and growing frustrated with her. But Sonya manages to toe that line in perfect balance, giving a window to the viewer into Hoorain’s psyche and recognizing how much this girl is going through while also allowing the viewer to feel sympathetic towards those around her, struggling to get her the proper treatment. A round of applause is deserved for Sonya Hussyn! Shows like “Saraab” are important, because they not only highlight a specific topic, but also provide solutions and help viewers understand what sort of attitudes serve as a hindrance to treatment. “Saraab” continues to be a winner!