“Saraab” is a show that pulls at the emotions of the audience. Focusing on mental health and, more specifically, the impact that one’s mental health has on their loved ones, “Saraab” features strong performances from its cast and weaves a gripping story. Starring Sonya Hussyn and Sami Khan in the lead roles, the show has been written by Edison Idrees and directed by Mohsin Talat.
Dealing with mental illness that has gone untreated for years is not an easy situation and that’s what episode 13 of “Saraab” focuses on. Now that Hoorain’s (Sonya Hussyn) entire family believes she and Asfandyar (Sami Khan) have had “relations” due to her declaration of being pregnant, Hoorain has been cast out by her father. What’s interesting here is that up until now, it seemed that Hoorain’s illness may have stemmed from a family history and it was assumed that the history came from the mother’s side, looking at the way her mother and sisters behaved. But in this episode, a different angle comes to light, looking at Hoorain’s father and not only the way he treats his daughter, but also the way Hoorain’s mother and Namal (Nazish Jehangir) react in turn. Does Hoorain’s father suffer from mental illness as well and has it simply gone unchecked, being passed on to his daughter as well? This gives us something to think about and that’s what’s so great about “Saraab” as a show (so far), as it’s layered and gives us different angles to think about.
Even more refreshing to watch are Asfandyar’s parents and their relationship with their son. They share an open and honest relationship and, quite honestly, it’s clear that Hoorain would have benefited positively by guidance like this in her life. Is it too late or will Asfandyar’s family have a positive impact moving forward? As Asfandyar’s parents bring Hoorain home and get the two married, the moment is complex for many reasons. First, Hoorain’s declaration of pregnancy has left everyone shaken, Hoorain’s family because of the “disgrace” and Asfandyar’s family because of the realization of the extent of her illness. Second, Hoorain’s mental health is deteriorating and at the center of it all is Asfandyar.
Asfandyar continues to be a guardian angel of a character in Hoorain’s life. He is a strong, loving, supportive man who is willing to always go the extra mile for Hoorain and that shows in his demeanor towards her on their wedding night. Hoorain immediately reacts badly over a comment made by Asfand and then, suddenly, no longer recognizes him. Asfand gets up to leave the room when Hoorain snaps back to reality and apologizes for her behavior. However, when Asfand leaves the room to attend a phone call, Hoorain has a full-fledged conversation with “Asfand” and leaves the house with him. The family is left frantic as they don’t know where Hoorain has disappeared to. Fortunately, Asfandyar does find her, but the scenes that take place before he does are skin-crawling as one sees a distorted Hoorain walking alone, unprotected at night with only an illusion as her protector. This certainly draws attention to how difficult the road is ahead for Asfandyar and Hoorain as a married couple.
Unfortunately, as much as Asfandyar is Hoorain’s protector, he is as much a perpetrator in her head. She does not understand why Asfandyar instigates her to do things and then disappears on her, not realizing that Asfandyar was never there to begin with. It’s a difficult road for Asfand to tread, because as much as he loves her, she also reacts badly in these moments. This is the plight of those with loved ones suffering from an illness like schizophrenia. It is beautiful to see the relationship between Hoorain and Asfandyar though, as he is exactly the kind of supportive male character viewers need to see on-screen. Of course, Sonya Hussyn does a wonderful job week after week and she has brought Hoorain to life, creating this multi-dimensional character that one roots for, a character that we want a positive outcome for. Sami Khan is doing complete justice to the role of Asfandyar, balancing what is essentially a double-role. The way he makes the switch from the loving, concerned, caring Asfand to the dark, brooding, mysterious illusion in Hoorain’s head is just brilliant. Sami Khan is a performer who deserves a lot more credit than what he receives. Both Sami Khan and Sonya Hussyn have chemistry that translates so beautifully on screen and it has created a world for Hoorain and Asfandyar that is both heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. Credit must be given to both Edison Idrees for writing such interesting characters and Mohsin Talat for creating the hauntingly stunning visuals. Needless to say, “Saraab” is a show that one waits for week after week.