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11 Aug

Baaghi highlights the price a woman pays for dreaming

It’s important to dream, or at least that’s what we’re told in the modern, progressive world we like to think we live in. The reality for most women in Pakistan, especially those living in rural areas, however, is very different as we see (most painfully) in the case of Baaghi. We’re three episodes into the drama serial that essays the life and death of Qandeel Baloch and we see how this young and ambitious girl is curbed and controlled at every single step of her life. Her passions and interests are squelched every single day and she is labeled a loose character just for having dreams beyond the norm of her mohalla’s standards. She’s done nothing immoral or dishonourable but to the people around her, it’s enough that she doesn’t conform within the lines of normalcy and sharafat.

Disapproval doesn’t stop her from dreaming, as we continue to see in the story. Fauzia Batool, portrayed superbly by Saba Qamar, continues to follow her heart. She obsesses over pictures of models and actresses in magazines, telling her sister that maintaining these tiny waists is hard work. She sings and dances to old Nur Jehan songs and envisions herself as a television star. She has no inhibitions, which inevitably attracts the village hoodlums but she doesn’t shy away from tackling them head-on either. She definitely does not want to marry her sister in law’s lecherous awara brother; she wants to find a man she loves and that too after studying. Her brother gives her a tight slap for voicing her opinions and her sister tells her that she needs to accept her fate, as do all girls. Fauzia Batool is defiant.

“Just you wait and see what I do now,” she exclaims. “Time will tell…I’ll do something that will make these people just as miserable as they have made me.” We see the first sparks of rebellions, opening a peeping hole into how Fauzia Batool became Qandeel Baloch.

What we still don’t see, and hope to discover in upcoming episodes, is how this one woman fell so far from the tree. In an environment where women are pushed around as cattle, where getting a daily thrashing from their fathers, brothers and then husbands is considered the norm, how does this one Fauzia Batool grow up to be the way she is?

“I want to study, I want to sing and work on TV,” she voices her dreams to Abid, the boy she likes. “I want to live a beautiful life; I want to be someone,” she says and he reassures her that he will make all her dreams come true. “Dhoka nahin doonga,” he promises.

By the end of the episode, we see her vowing to run away with Abid to avoid her looming nikkah to Sajid. We know that there is nothing but heartache, heartbreak and betrayal in her path and it makes this fiery heroine evermore tragic.

Aamna Haider Isani

The author is Editor-in-Chief at Something Haute as well as Editor at Instep, The News. Full time writer, critic with a love for words and an intolerance for typos.