There are heroes. And there are villains. But characters in modern drama are no longer the stark and blatant shade of black and white that conventional superheroes were once made of. Even today’s superheroes have dark shades, case in point being The Dark Knight. Or Deadpool, who has some heroic attributes but enjoys chaos and death just as much or even more. The Dark Knight or Deadpool are anti-heroes or quasi-heroes that have grey areas of both goodness and evil. And while there are several notable anti-heroes in modern Pakistani drama, it can be said without a doubt, that villains have taken the spotlight.
As vile and repulsive as he was, Ahsan Khan as Pa Imtiaz in Udaari was the most memorable character of the serial. Those who have watched Shoaib Mansoor’s Verna will agree that Zarrar Khan as Sultan was extremely impactful. And Gohar Rasheed as Waseem in the upcoming Rangreza, judging by the trailer, almost certainly appears to overshadow the debonair and good looking Ali, played by Bilal Ashraf. In fact, Waseem reminds one of an unforgettable Langra Tyagi in Vishal Bhardwaj’s Omkara, also a favourite when it comes to characters. If Padmavati ever sees the light of day, there is no doubt that Ranveer Singh as Sultan Alauddin Khilji will be the focal point.
Mir Hadi played brilliantly by Feroze Khan in Khaani, falls in the same bracket. There’s no denying the fact that while the play may be named Khaani (after a character who plays the female lead) the plot revolves around the character of Mir Hadi, a revolting cold-blooded murderer.
Furthermore, Mir Hadi’s parents, portrayed by Mahmood Aslam and Saman Ansari, while being manipulative and power hungry, are more intriguing than Khaani’s family. It’s unfortunate that one feels close to nothing for Khaani’s family, that has lost their son and brother to Mir Hadi’s whim. There’s misery and mourning in Khaani’s household but truth be told, one wants to avoid too much misery and mourning on entertainment channels.
Enter the sinister Mir Hadi. The fourth episode of the drama serial shows us the extent of how low Mir Hadi can stoop to get want he wants, in this case, to get his “pardon” signed by the deceased Saarim’s parents. He will be a free man if and when they sign the court’s “maafi naama.”
“Mir Hadi. Azaad,” he shouts at Khaani, holding a gun to her head, and completely overshadows everyone else in the room, despite being so menacing. It feels as if every other actor, including the titular Khaani, is feeding off his energy.
So is Mir Hadi a villain or an anti-hero? So far he’s not grey or dark but as black as villains get. He shows no signs of remorse or regret or softness in his ruthless personality. His father Mir Shah, in a promotional teaser of the next episode, takes pride in the fact that his son does not bow down to anyone. But we also know that he will. He is destined to fall in love with Khaani, and one wonders how or whether his public perception will change. Will there be a silver lining to his character that is currently not visible? And more significantly, will he manage to retain our interest if and when he becomes a love-struck hero? We are a generation obsessed with ‘bad boys’, which makes Mir Hadi so compelling to us. Will we appreciate him as much when he turns good?
One looks forward to the upcoming episodes of Khaani to find out.
- This article was first published in Instep on 29/11/17.