To chronicle the life of Qandeel Baloch is one of the bravest things Urdu One could have done. The woman was controversial in her life and her death was an epic level of tragic; women like Qandeel rarely have happy endings in the misogynist and illiterate part of the world we live in. The idea of toying with her story was as scandalous a thought, instigating equal parts of approval and disdain from the general public in Pakistan. Questions were raised as to why a woman of such dubious moral nature should be immortalized; we must not forget that the country was divided at the time of her death – while a fraction of liberals mourned the death of a woman who dared to dream, a larger majority felt that her brutal murder was nothing more than well-deserved redemption.
Her story, titled Baaghi and encapsulated in 22 episodes, began unraveling yesterday evening and episode one more or less revealed the premise and introduced the main characters in her life. Saba Qamar portrays Fauzia Batool, the woman we know as Qandeel Baloch (her real name was Fauzia Azeem), while other standout people in her life are her father (Irfan Khoosat) and her brother (Sarmad Khoosat). While watching the episode one was grimly reminded of the fact that it was not her disapproving and callous elder brother but the younger one (who she loves and pampers to no end) who ended up strangling her. Ali Kazmi comes in as the man besotted by her; he’s shown as kind hearted and somewhat civilized amongst a village of men who are lewd, entitled and overall crude.
Episode One opened with a disclaimer, which is necessary when creative liberties are going to be taken, but it also left one wondering just exactly how real this portrayal of Qandeel was going to be. We’ll have to wait and see.
Baaghi, combined with news reports of village councils ordering rapes of young teenage girls for crimes committed by their brothers, triggered off a range of emotions starting with anger and fury and disbelief. We’re living in one big misogynist mess and as television has the power to influence the people, one hopes that Baaghi will manage to bring around some sort of reform.