“Saraab” stars Sonya Hussyn and Sami Khan in lead roles. Written by Edison Idrees Masih and directed by Mohsin Talat, the show follows Hoorain and Asfandyar’s love story – a love story made difficult with Hoorain’s mental health disorder being ignored by her family. The lead actors are doing a great job holding this show together and presenting a believable story, though the show has been tainted with kitchen politics in the past couple of weeks. Fortunately, the show seems to be getting back on track. Credit must also be given to the beautiful OST by Naveed Nashad. Many times, the OST of Pakistani dramas feel forced into the narrative, the song randomly placed, lyrics not even fitting in with the moment. This OST, however, fits in beautifully with the theme of the story and its use only enhances the plight of the characters, allowing the audience to connect with Hoorain and Asfandyar.
In episode 7, Hoorain (Sonya Hussyn) has been taken to a dargha with her parents to “heal” her. Asfandyar (Sami Khan), becoming aware that Hoorain needs psychiatric treatment, rushes to her aid against the wishes of his father. While Asfandyar’s parents are good, kind people, they are aware that Asfandyar’s actions will only be used against them and, therefore, ask him to back off. Of course, he cannot do that and states that he’s deeply in love with Hoorain despite her condition. Hoorain, on the other hand, escapes while her mother is sleeping with “Asfandyar,” a figment of her imagination. Spotted on the road, Hoorain is followed by a man and is saved when Asfandyar and his friend arrive right in time. Hoorain’s condition is worsening. She has so much faith in “Asfandyar” that she will go anywhere he asks – but he’s not real. The danger of this is highlighted through this scene. Unfortunately, the two make a silly decision to head back home without informing either Hoorain’s parents or Asfandyar’s, so both families are left worrying and awaiting their arrival back home. How will they react when Hoorain and Asfandyar arrive?
It’s not difficult to understand how or why Hoorain suffers from mental health issues coming from a household like hers. Both her mother and Warda seem to have very extreme personalities, both manipulative, self-serving and illogical in their thought processes. Under their influence, even Hoorain’s father has succumbed to their mentality and instead of thinking logically about Hoorain’s issues, he also chooses to follow the “peer” path rather than seek treatment for his daughter. Nayab (Nazish Jehangir) may be the only reasonable member of this family, though she has also fallen under the influence of her mother and sister. Warda is an irritating character, because while she has her own set of issues, she insists on dragging her own sister into the same household for her own purposes to lift her “status.” Fortunately, she’s now realizing that this move may harm her more than anything else and seems to be backing off.
This situation is difficult, because while Asfandyar may love Hoorain, Hoorain is not an easy personality to live with. The two are not even married and the viewer can see how difficult the path ahead will be. It must be said that both Sami Khan and Sonya Hussyn are doing a wonderful job of portraying their characters, because the viewer can actually feel the dilemma of this situation. Asfandyar loves Hoorain deeply and is willing to go up against his family for her – but Hoorain is in love with the man in her head. She trusts her imaginary version of Asfandyar more than she trusts the actual individual, but her imaginary Asfandyar cannot come to her rescue – while the “real” Asfandyar does. He wants to shield her from the world, including her own family, but is frazzled when Hoorain reacts badly (for example, with his friend’s joke) around other people. At present, the two are now on their way home where they will be greeted by two angry sets of parents. What will be the outcome of this love story? It’s unclear, but one can only hope there’s a positive message in here, one that strips away the taboos our society has regarding mental health.