Pakistani dramas have lately been tackling societal issues quiet frequently, ranging from dark and gritty ones like pedophilia, sexual harassment, physical abuse to emotional and psychological traumas. However, keeping in mind our deep rooted biases, finding a play that has an honest and realistic representation of all segments of the society is a hard catch. Therefore, watching Kashif Nisar’s directorial Inkaar was a respite.
Undoubtedly, Inkaar was one of the most nail-biting stories shown on television in recent times, supported by phenomenal performances by lead actors – Yumna Zaidi, Imran Ashraf, Sami Khan – as well as supporting cast like Rehan Sheikh and Noor ul Hassan who proved to be the backbone of the play. With its grand conclusion last night, I sincerely anticipate that this one will become the most lauded plays in next year’s award season. With Bhola and Rehan Chaudhry in his lap, we certainly expect Imran Ashraf to take a few accolades home. Next in line is Yumna Zaidi who deserves a win for her impeccable acting chops as Hajra. Unfortunately, no matter how much we root for Inkaar’s win, what made this 23-episode journey take a nosedive is its end.
Firstly our TV writers and directors need to realize that either we need to revise our storytelling or editing skills (not sure where the problem lies). The very fact that a drama that lasts for 23 episodes wraps everything from the decisive moment, climax, unfolding of events to the very end in an hour. We saw that just when Hajra gave up all hopes, the Supreme Court took suo moto control over her case. Rehan had to release her abducted brother under pressure, and then within three sessions he was declared guilty when Shayan’s father Murtaza Malik (played by Noor ul Hassan) provides them the beauty parlour’s CCTV footage.
The court scenes, though seemed rushed, are some of the finest I have seen on Pakistani television. Cheekh took a similar turn in its last episode when Mannat (Saba Qamar) miraculously provided evidence to prove Wajih’s crime and he succumbed under pressure. There was a stark difference in both the court room dramas; while Cheekh’s legal arguments seemed far-fetched and almost absurd, Inkaar showed that even after a suo moto notice and Supreme Court’s involvement, all witnesses can turn hostile. The CCTV footage was nothing but a miracle, but at least it was backed with sound reasoning.
By this time, we could have said all’s well that ends well if as suggested by the judge, Rehan had to serve seven years of penal servitude or at least imprisonment. However, in a turn of events following a phone call by Rehan’s biological mother, Hajra forgives a man who harassed her mentally and physically, stabbed her 20-25 times with a scissor, called her names in open court, threatened her family and witnesses, blackmailed to marry her, almost ended her marriage with Shayan and kidnapped her brother. I’m sure there are a handful of other criminal offences that the guy must have committed, but she requested the court to send him to his mother so as to contemplate and learn from introspection as she says “ek mard ko uski maa hi aurat ki ezzat karna sikha sakti ha.”
The final five minutes show Rehan crying at his mother’s feet, asking her to save him as he says “Mujhey apne jaisa kerle, mujhe uske jaisa bana de… mein khud se thakk gaya hun, mein khud se dar gaya hun, mujhey mein nahi rehna”. Those are hard-hitting dialogues and one cannot ignore the power of this scene. For arguments sake, it can be said that Inkaar managed to end at a hopeful note for every character rather than hopelessness for any. But was a ‘get out of jail free card’ necessary? The question remains that did Inkaar just encouraged the worrying precedent set by our TV dramas that softens a harasser’s image in the end. It is an ethical and emotional dilemma indeed as we saw in Cheekh that a murderer like Wajih who was sentenced to death regretted his actions and viewers feel sorry for him.
Hajra’s decision, no matter how much it is justified under the garbs of empathy, is a faulty one. We only wish the drama hadn’t turned Rehan into a survivor. Nevertheless, Inkaar gave us stellar performances and rational storytelling about matters of consent as long as it lasted.
Episode 23 consists of two parts; you can watch the last episode here and share your opinion in the comments below.