“Saraab” is different from other shows in that it dares to discuss mental health, telling what is essentially a love story between a man and his schizophrenic wife. The show focuses on mental health and how loved ones are affected by an undiagnosed loved one. Written by Edison Idrees and directed by Mohsin Talat, “Saraab” stars Sami Khan, Sonya Hussyn, Nazish Jahangir, Ghana Ali, Kinza Malik and others in prominent roles. The basic premise of “Saraab” is meaningful. The story is gripping, one that hasn’t been explored like this before in Pakistan. The lead pair of Sami Khan and Sonya Hussyn are just amazing and both are giving one of the best performances of their careers. Their shared chemistry is crackling and when the two share the frame, it’s magic. OK, so what’s the problem? Well, the problem is everyone else. As soon as the audience is taken out of Asfandyar’s home, away from this interesting couple, Asfandyar’s loving, understanding parents and negative, but realistic sister, the entire story turns into something else entirely.
Let’s discuss the positives first, which revolve around the relationship between Asfandyar (Sami Khan) and Hoorain (Sonya Hussyn). In episode 21, now that Hoor and Asfandyar know they’re having a baby, their reactions are troubling one another. While Hoorain is happy about it, she can sense Asfandyar’s discomfort, which is, in turn, making her uncomfortable. She’s also unable to get it out of her mind how he did not believe her when she told him – but could anyone blame him, considering she’s so naïve, she thought she was pregnant when they got married as well? Of course, Asfandyar has a perfectly valid reason to be upset, Hoor’s doctor’s words haunting him throughout, words declaring that pregnancy would worsen Hoor’s condition and mental stability. Asfandyar truly loves his wife, but it’s not easy to handle a situation like this, especially as newlyweds. He’s also left wondering whether his child will inherit this condition as well, though the doctor tells him that it’s unclear as to whether this would happen. These scenes are well-executed and Sami and Sonya really hold the viewer’s gaze every time they appear on screen.
Now let’s discuss the bad. Is it necessary to watch Nadir (Ejaz Khan) and Warda’s (Ghana Ali) drama? OK, yes, it’s realistic to show that men are insecure over the inability to have children, but between Nadir and Warda, this is manipulation to the next level. Oh, but wait, we can’t forget about Namal (Nazish Jahangir). She has taken great notes from Warda, trying to get into Asfandyar’s good books so their romance can start……while he’s married to her troubled sister. It takes a special kind of personality to stoop to this level, especially after finding out Hoor is pregnant. After mourning for approximately ten seconds, Namal visits Hoorain and tries to instigate her against Asfandyar and her in-laws. Fortunately, Hoorain remembers Namal’s past mistreatment and calls her out for trying to create problems – but Namal’s words leave their mark and Hoorain is left conflicted. Namal is a mess of a character and it’s so frustrating to watch her, because what kind of monster would do this to their sister when she’s going through something so heavy already? It’s a terrible angle. But wait. This prize of “the worst” has one more contender – or should we say two? Sufiyaan (Jahanzeb Khan) has decided he wants to marry Namal to get “revenge.” For what, you may ask? Oh, for getting engaged and the girl (Hoorain) choosing to marry someone else. Logical, right? So now he has decided he will get Nikkahed to Namal and then divorce her. Wow! Revenge complete! His evil mother is also in on this plan, making this duo the most ridiculous waste of time on the show. Quite honestly, everything in this paragraph is nonsense and the show could’ve done without all of this.
Overall, episode 21 is a decent one. Too much time is spent on the “bad,” but our lead duo are brilliant. Sami Khan is wonderful as Asfandyar, this “ideal husband” sort of character who is also very much realistic. There isn’t any part of Asfandyar that feels fake or unbelievable. He’s a normal guy with normal emotions and is troubled by what Hoorain is going through – but that doesn’t change the fact that he loves her and that unbending loyalty is what makes him such a great character. Sami Khan has breathed life into this role, making Asfandyar so lovable. And can anyone praise “Saraab” without praising Sonya Hussyn? Hoorain is complicated. She’s difficult. She’s loving one moment and volatile the next. There’s no telling what may set her off. And yet, she’s vulnerable. She’s lovable and, more than anything, she’s a girl who has been mistreated by her own family her entire life and is deserving of happiness. Sonya Hussyn has done complete justice to this role, bringing all of Hoor’s emotions to the forefront and allowing viewers to truly “feel” what she’s going through. This duo are the highlight of “Saraab” and their scenes are so well-written. One can only wish the track with the sisters meddling, the baby track with Nadir and this nightmare of a revenge track with Sufiyaan were simply not included at all. Otherwise, “Saraab” is a wonderful show with a lot of story left to tell.