“Saraab” is a story that focuses on mental health and how loved ones are affected when an individual is undiagnosed. The story has been written by Edison Idrees and has been directed by Mohin Talat. “Saraab” stars Sonya Hussyn, Sami Khan, Nazish Jehengir, Ghana Ali, Kinza Malik and others in supporting roles.
Giving a very short summary of episode 18, Hoorain (Sonya Hussyn) and Asfandyar (Sami Khan) return from their honeymoon and while Asfandyar’s very loving, supportive family welcomes them back with open arms, Hoorain is not pleased that they had to come back – and she makes her mood known. While Asfandyar’s mother may be sweet, kind and understanding, his sister is not and she is growing more irritated with Hoorain’s behavior with each moment. It’s true that whether an individual’s mental health is known or not, it’s difficult for a child to hear their mother being insulted and Asfandyar’s sister is very protective of her tight-knit family. Hoorain and Asfandyar visit her family, on Hoorain’s insistence, and Warda does not waste a moment to throw the gifts in Hoorain’s face and ask her to leave. It’s here that Hoorain sees a hallucination of Asfandyar, guiding her, consoling her and telling her to stop wasting her time on people who do not love her. It’s here that one has to wonder why Asfandyar himself doesn’t actually say these things to Hoorain? Isn’t this what any supportive partner would say? Why does Hoorain have to imagine him saying it? Why is Asfandyar sitting outside with Namal instead of consoling his wife? Asfandyar is a great husband, but at times, it’s clear what Hoorain expects from Asfandyar is not what she’s getting. The hallucination stands up for her, is strong, determined, passionate – and Asfandyar is kind, caring, considerate….but he is also unsure of her unpredictable behavior, so he remains a bit distant. Sami Khan and Sonya Hussyn are fabulous in these scenes, particularly Sonya in the scenes with her family. The pain and humiliation are visible, cutting a knife through the viewer’s heart. These two actors are always reliable. But now let’s discuss the negatives….
Initially, the kitchen politics managed to make an impact regardless of how petty they were and how loud and irritating Warda, the mother and Namal are. This was because their attitudes managed to shed light on why Hoorain’s environment was so toxic towards her mental health. However, at this point, the story spends more time focusing on Warda’s marriage and Namal’s manipulations. If Hoorain and Asfandyar get 20 minutes of screen time, an equal amount of time is spent on Hoorain’s family – and, quite frankly, this has become very irritating. As viewers, do we want to see stories that should no longer be connected to Hoorain? Her family kicked her out and disowned her. This should be the end of their interference. What sort of girl is Namal that she continues to pine for Asfandyar and wants to trap him while he’s married to her sister? If Asfandyar wasn’t good enough for Hoorain in the first place, why would he be good for Namal when he’s already married to Hoorain? This logic is flawed, twisted and, as a viewer, I simply don’t want to see it.
Warda’s marital problems are another nuisance. Are these sidetracks necessary? Her mother-in-law is quite frankly the most irritating character on the entire show and to watch her two sons jump through hoops and dance on her ridiculous commands is beyond irritating. In the real world, a once-normal, happy, kind-hearted guy does not pull a 180 with a woman he has never actually spent any time with. Hoorain and Sufiyan did not share, at any point, any sort of connection. Hoorain barely even knew him in any way other than Warda’s brother-in-law. Why then, are we now going to suffer through Sufiyan’s “revenge” track? Who is he getting revenge on? Warda? Hoorain? Either way, it’s illogical. Hoorain didn’t ask Sufiyan to fall in love with her and she has a right to pick her own partner. She did not abandon him after marriage, it was only an engagement, and in this day and age, what sort of guy is this backwards and manipulative? I reiterate – we don’t want to see it.
What do we want to see? Asfandyar and Hoorain. It’s really not that complicated. The story is about Hoorain, her mental health and how a new marriage is affected when one of the partners has schizophrenia. This is a strong enough story on its own. Watching Sonia Hussyn perform as Hoorain is a treat and watching Sami Khan as Asfandyar, her supportive partner, is just the icing on the cake. These two actors are the scene-stealers every week. Asfandyar and Hoorain have the strongest moments week after week. So why do we need to take the focus away from them with nonsensical storylines? Please, it’s my plea to the team behind “Saraab” – you have a very strong project, a very strong story, a great lead team. Please utilize them. Please do not stretch the story with needless episodes, dragging tracks and points where the viewer becomes fed up and stops tuning in. We are 18 episodes into the story and there has consistently been more noise with Warda and Namal than progress in Hoorain’s storyline. Can we go back to the glory days of 13 tight-knit episodes that told stellar stories? This is one such story, but the charm is being sucked out with the side tracks. Let’s get back to Hoorain and Asfandyar, please. This is all the audience wants.