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Sangat – A critique

Sadaf . 31

 

I wasn’t going to write about Sangat . The first episode included a sexual assault and just from the ridiculous way it was picturised I realised that this was not going to be the kind of thoughtful drama that such a sensitive subject deserves ,and after reviewing Chup Raho I had had my fill . About three weeks back , I had some free time on my hands and I  decided to catch up on it just in case I had made an unfair snap judgement , after all it boasted one of my favourite actor Mikaal Zulfikar and Saba Qamar who is usually a very good actress . On top of this I had seen a bit of Zahid Ahmed in Tum mere Pas raho and  Alvida and thought it might be a worth a second glance .

As a rule at Dramapakistani we are here to promote and appreciate Pakistani dramas . We are critics last ,fans first . Often as not if we don’t like a drama we will simply stop reviewing it because whether we like it or not some people have put in a lot of hard work and effort into it unless it is especially bad and  deserves to have its flaws pointed out in detail. Sangat is just such a gem .  This is the first drama I have ever seen which seems to want to rehabilitate the rapist . Not in any sensible way , as in IN prison or on a psychiatrist’s couch but by manipulating the story in order to mitigate and soften the rapists’ crime .

Aysha( Saba Qamar) is happily married to her college sweetheart Adnan(Mikaal Zulfikar) . She lives an ordinary life with an ordinary but annoying mother in law and a friendly , loving sister in law. One day Aysha spends the night at her mother’s house and is the victim of a what looks like a robbery and an opportunistic rape . later it turns out that the robbery was part of an elaborate plan , that the rapist Shavez (Zahid Ahmed)planned this attack using the robbery as cover. Aysha sees the villains face and is too shocked to speak . The usual cover up and , keep quiet drama begins . The husband is told nothing because like all television husbands he is of course unreliable and would probably leave Aysha in an instant . Then Of Course, Ashy gets pregnant ,and of course  she MUST keep the baby,and the baby of course has blood cancer so they need the REAL father’s blood who  of course  is the rapist. I am sure you get my drift. Fair enough reality is tough , and so long as its plausible fiction can be stretched . That a drama is trite , boring or predictable is never a crime . However Sangat defies all norms by contriving the story line to make the rapist look better.

  1. The Shavez “protects” Aysha after the assault from the other robbers preventing a gang rape … he isnt completely evil ….
  2. Shavez maybe a goonda and a lay about with no job but his land lady says that he modestly lowers his eyes every time he enters their house i.e people are sweariing oaths as to his complete sharafat …the rape was just a bad decision ….
  3. His landlord’s daughter is desperate to marry Shavez and is always alone with him , in fact throwing herself at him constantly but Shavez never takes advantage of her -see the sharafat ?
  4. Salma’s parents fondest wish is to marry their daughter off to Shavez despite his goonda image and lack of a steady job.
  5. Aysha’s mother spends less time worrying about her traumatized daughter and more time thinking about and looking after Shavez. In fact when the police bring him to her as a suspect despite professor sahiba pulls him out of the line up and tells the police off saying “yeh tho ghar ka bacha hai ” . She then follows him around and forcefully invites him to her house to live in her daughter’s room . Shavez never wants to do this because he is essentially a great guy full of regret.
  6. The local Imam is very understanding too and protects Shavez at the local madressa for a while , and  advises him in a friendly manner about how to be forgiven for his sin .
  7. Meanwhile Aysha’s husband Adnan is unsupportive and annoyed at his wife’s sudden withdrawal .
  8. While Shavez weeps and broods over the pain he has caused Aysha in one contrived meeting after another
  9. Shavez claims to love Aysha and actually donates his own blood to save the child conceived by the rape and Ayesha herself .
  10. Ayesha herself NEVER asks Shavez , why he assaulted her , where as most victims we see on the news are begging for justice , ALL , Aysha wants is to forget about the whole thing and move on. So Aysha tells him to get out of her life and leave , then she will forgive him .
  11. Again the doomed hero oops I meant rapist packs his bags and tries to leave town even though he is told that it is not safe to go out because a rival gang is looking for him . Of course they find him and aaah cruel fate he is beaten black and blue trying to do what Aysha wants.
  12. he leaves a heart rending letter read out loud to the audience by Aysha , beychara , his mother died when he was young so he just doesnt know what to say or what to do ….
  13. Even after being attacked by goondas and suffering blunt force trauma to the head Shavez is ready to donate blood again when the baby is discovered to have blood cancer …( leukemia ?) see what a nice guy he is ?
  14. If anyone where in any doubt about Shavez credentials as shareef badmash of the year , Adnan the husband admits he accidentally ran over a little girl on the way to his engagement with Aysha . See….., everyone makes terrible mistakes

The story is perfectly contrived to mitigate and soften Shavez’s crime . The fact that Shavez supposes himself in love with Aysha is an important plot point and his pain on seeing her suffer and what he has done is seen as equal to Aysha’s suffering as a victim. Rape is not about attraction or love , it is about power , domination and ultimately humiliation. It is true that the majority of perpetrators are known to the victim and the motives vary . However rape is not a matter of poor judgement or a simply a mistake someone makes, it involves extreme violence ,both mental and physical .

Even the psychologist supposedly counselling the unfortunate Aysha is not very helpful , telling her off and demanding she heal herself and not keep demanding her husband’s help or understanding.  When Aysha wants to abort the child her mother slaps her and Aysha never even confides in her mother that she knows the rapist is Shavez. It as as if the writer has absolutely no idea the way women think or behave.

director Kashif Nisar has certainly woven a compelling drama out of this mess but is that all that is important . HumTV is run by some powerful women why do they put such dramas on air ?  Even worse than the actual drama is the OST…Despite being an educated woman Aysha arrival on scene is heralded by the lyrics mera jism mer gunah hai and maye  nee maya ssazzaa hai sazaa? What message are Hum tv and writer Zafar Mairaj sending in this serial ? by romanticising the rapist and not focusing on the victim and her recovery this drama does a great disservice to women everywhere. In the following episodes I now fully expect Aysha to be dumped by Adnan and the  our hero oops rapist will step into the breach .. perhaps they will run around some trees and sing too …

Sangat 1

written by Sadaf 

  • Sara

    Basically zahid ahmed is such an Engin Akyurek wannabe always trying to act and do roles like him. This drama miserably tried to be the next fatmagul and kerim but failed.
    Rapists are evil and this drama should have been banned by PEMRA for corrupting minds and making it seem that rape is a justifiable crime.

  • Shejuti Farook

    The first episode was such a refresher for me really… I loved it.. so many elements were relatable. The whole intro thing is what I loved the most.. Hum ladkiyan chahein kitna bhi parh lein lekin agar kitchen mein thik nahi, toh kuch nahi .. from minor si things like this one to the major one regarding Ashi n Adnan’s personal matter.. everything was relatable. I was IN the episode.. BUT then last scene happened n I got ughh wali feeling.. I knew it was the base of the show.. the starting point.. but I didn’t want to see it at that time.. Plus I was afraid if they are once again going to handle this issue the same way ? So this is what made me stop watching it Plus this is what happened in epis later on Mom’s not so moral support to the victim n asking to HIDE it from the hubby n everyone was hard to digest :S But what made it a bit logical was Adnan’s confession to Ashi that IF this same thing happened to her, he would either die or kill that person .. Keeping mum on this made sense.. I find Adnan a weak guy.. and Ashi needed a STRONG man at that time who could handle this issue AND console her… BUT he was weak.. thats all I am gonna say here on her reason for being silent.

    This show changed its plot after a few episodes.. we saw the redemption phase of that culprit for the sin he did.. Slowly they revealed about their past n how they knew each other pehle se.. it was a nice touch.. Then the additional elements of his life.. where does he live.. with whom etc.. Salma’s character is introduced n I liked that girl too till now.. she was/is blindly in love with Shavez.. good.. I understand that.. But once she got to know about him being the culprit of HER.. she STILL was fond of him.. so I will most likely use.. that she is blindly obsessed with this man.

    The confession episode was very good.. very nicely executed .. showing the two confessions.. that scene was really good.. BUT.. Adnans reaction was hash ! REALLY HARSH.. the way he just threw that file on her.. main bhi darr gayi Stern Smile Araam se bhai sahab ! n that was it.. he acted like a typical man.. there too it was proved that he indeed is a weak man.. instead of asking her calmly.. he just threw it on her face.. according to him they loved each other.. n they knew each other.. so how can he even think k USS NE bewafayi ki ? I know he was shocked upset n all but still.. Iss tarah k bandey ko koi kaise sach bata sakta hai jo uss time Ashi k sath hua Ouch Ashi is wiser between the two… I hope they just stick to some solid decision n don’t focus on throwing her out of the house or something .. please Ermm

    This show has a great cast… everyone is brilliant in their respective roles.. Saba, Mikaal, Zahid especially these three as they have scenes the most .. n poora utarte hain.. I also like Kiran Haq here..

    Regarding the script and the storyline.. I am still trying to get where it is going actually. Like its for the first time we are seeing two sides of the coin.. Victim n Culprit dono ki lives.. I won’t say Its not good.. its fine.. but the only thing I want to know is the motive.
    Going by the title of this show Sangat.. its the little girl.. its nothing like what I expected.. I thought title would be something according to their relation or stuff.. but Sangat being their daughter’s name leaves so many questions in mind.. I wonder if the real story hasn’t even started yet ? Cuz for me now, its the story about that little girl.. about her life.. maybe.. the victim’s life ? how she will be accepted by her family.. etc.. I think there is so much more to be revealed in the show in the upcoming episodes.. so before giving any final conclusions on this show or its story.. I will probably wait for the show to end and THEN will think about it..

  • Kiran Akhtar

    Hi Sadaf.

    An excellent analysis.

    I didn’t follow this play for the same reason. After ” Ishq Parast ” , I don’t have the stamina or tolerance for such plays. While reading this piece, I couldn’t help but compare the hero/ rapist of this drama to that of IP. It seems the message the drama makers are sending to the public is that ” the rapist is basically a nice guy, he even loves his victim and he cares deeply for her, he would never hurt her if she married him in the first place. The only reason he had to rape her was because she rejected him … He was heart-broken, coming from broken families, these guys have already gone through enough, all they want is for someone to love them…so the victim shouldn’t have said no. It was her fault, if she hadn’t broken his heart, hadn’t pushed him, then he would not have raped her. He had no other choice, but still he didn’t mean to do it…so try and understand where he is coming from and forgive him, he deserves it…specially when the drama makers have justified his actions “.

    It makes me sick. Psychiatrists say victims of sexual abuse have a tendency to blame themselves, like they may have done something to trigger the abuser, that is why it is important to create awareness. People need to understand it is never the victim’s fault and the rapist is the criminal, who needs to be held accountable for his actions and should be punished. Sadly, on our TV the rapist’s are always the shareef aadmi and if after committing the rape, he says sorry…that should be enough.

    • Kiran your comment is so well written , as usual it is better than my article . I could not agree more with EVERY word . What is killing me the most is the concentration on the rapist and his hero like swagger . I do see Shavez crying now and then , but even that is presented as heroic suffering ..like some great fallen Greek hero whose one tragic flaw has undone him

      • Kiran

        You are too kind Sadaf :)

        I agree, Mikaal’s character in comparison is being portrayed as a complete insensitive villain. I wouldn’t be surprised if at the end, the writer tries to give us a happy ending by getting Saba’s character a divorce and marrying her off with Shavez…sigh.

        • It is Ashy and her mother I cannot understand . Ashy doesnt want any reckoning , she isnt even angry .. niether is her mother ….again the writer has NO IDEA HOW REAL WOMEN THINK

  • Snow

    Wow. Your observations are impressive. Although I don’t watch the drama I’ve read the episode reviews on another website and their views were quite the opposite where the people think it is somewhat okay to show that Shahvez is remorseful and wants forgiveness. I think your opinion puts the story more in perspective for me. Essentially they are trying to glorify the rapist by showing that he feels guilty for his actions and that he is not the bad guy anymore, which admittedly, is cringe-worthy. I was thinking of watching this show but after your critique I think I’d rather not waste my time and make my blood boil watching these pseudopsychiatrists giving lame “advise” to rape victims. So thank you for that! :)

  • Farah Ahmed

    Thanks Sadaf, good to know that I was not the only who could not digest this drama. I watched the first episode but could not bring myself to watch another. Saa Qamar is a great actress but may be her make up could be toned down a notch.
    And I do not know but I do not like Saba’s nand topi like hair style.

    • Ha haa .. yes Saba Could think about appearing a little less perfect especially after the rape but from Chup Raho to Main Gunehgaar Nahi this how our victims roll , it is in effect a sanitization of the act . If they showed the victim looking exhausted and ugly perhaps people would understand the ugliness of the act too.

  • Kanwal Murtaza

    Thank you for this critique, Sadaf. I watched the first episode and called it quits. I was disgusted with how they shot the rape sequence in slo mo and made it somewhat of a glamorous occurrence. I don’t know what’s gotten into Hum TV- it’s line up of late has been disappointing.

    • High five on that Kanwal ! those oorti Zulfein should have been a warning

  • rumi52

    Slightly off topic but does anyone remember a drama called Kal from the 1990s starring Jamal Shah and Vaneeza Ahmed. It storyline was quite bold as it dealt with rape, AIDS and touched upon political oppression. It’s been probably over 17 years since I watched it but from what I can remember it showed the rape victim (Vaneeza) as a victim and the rapist as the complete villian. It was handle

    • Kiran

      Hi

      I watched that drama too and I remember the sensitivity with which the issue of rape was handled in it. The way they showed the trauma which the victim goes through, how her entire life is turned upside down, they did a splendid job. It was very realistic and it did shed some much needed light on this issue but most of all, they showed how ” It was OK for a victim to talk about her ordeal “, ” it wasn’t her fault ” and she had every right to take her rapist to court.

      They didn’t glorify the rapist, glamorize sexual abuse or told the victim to ” chup raho “.

  • afia

    Thanks for writing this Sadaf.
    A few days back the Hum morning show was discussing sexual abuse. A young girl was telling her story. She said when she told her mom about the abuse, she was told to hush it up. The abuser was someone known to the family- maybe an uncle or some such. The mother decided to act as if nothing had happened. The daughter said that she lost faith in her mom that day and was forever troubled after that day. The mom was at the show and was now greatly repentant as to why she had kept quiet at that time. She was crying away, saying that she had made the worst decision ‘n would do anything to go back and change it. She also mentioned “ke hum ne dramon mein yehi dekha tha ke chup raho…”
    Considering this was coming on Hum TV, it was ironical. The psychologists and experts were telling people on how important it is not to remain ‘chup’, whereas Hum tv’s dramas are telling another story….I wish the ladies at Hum TV wouldn’t be so regressive on this account.

    • Thank You Afia and yes QED .. point proved . Look I get all the Chup Raho God forbid I should judje someone for not speaking up BUT , BUT at least tell someone . In this story the Ashy doesnt tell her mother who the rapist is after she recognises him . SO the mother wanders around trying to adopt said rapist … oh and the professor mother has no time for her daughter , infact she tells her off a lot , even slaps her into keeping the baby

  • Amna Ali

    I stopped watching this Non- sense a long time ago but have a glance every now n then… This drama is totally ridiculous..

    1st if all, the hero, oops rapist , that actor Zahid Ahmed is disgusting. He’s a grown Buddha, he was quite old, fat n bald when he entered industry, but he acts as if he’s in his 20s
    Then a typical male writer who has no idea how a victim of rape reacts…he has presented totally illogical situations n reactions of people

    I disagree with u on acting & direction…I don’t like the direction of this drama …the way the rape scene was picturised was disgusting… In slow motion with the heroine hair flying around as if she is dancing to a romantic song

    nor the acting.. Esp Saba Qamar’s acting is so bad. She never misses her perfectly done hair or makeup whether she is freshly raped or just had a baby…Saba either needs to retire or take a long break

    • Sadaf

      You are quite right Zafar Mairaj has no idea how women think and I just found out that he was the genius behind ASHK …. Quick I need my tranquilisers …
      I didn’t say the acting was great only that Kashif Nisar has managed to weave this utter load of old cobblers into something compelling. Then again it could be all the excitement of watching a train-wreck happen …
      Actually Saba Qamar has not been THAT bad apart from the permanent makeup she was not that bad .
      I dont like to make personal comments about Zahid Ahmed but as to his acting I can comment . If he wants to be taken seriously as an actor he needs to think about his role rather than projecting a “hero like ” image . Atrue penitant is humble , even broken , this Shavez is full of attitude and swagger .

    • Falak Sohail

      Honestly this is most disgusting comment i have read Shows your own disgusting mentality You can criticize the content of the show but making such cheap remarks of a real person shows your own low mentality Thumbs down to you and shame on you I wonder are you educated ?You got no right to make such cheap remarks on a real person You seems to be pretty jealous of Zahid ahmed therefore barking rubbish on him sitting behind your PC as if you are some sort of beauty queen?who are you ? whats your identity ? Zahid is loved by masses and you ? who are you ?who are you make to such low comments on him? You are so dumb you cannot even differentiate real and reel ?Blame the writers why barking on the actor ?He didnt write the script He is doing his job just as we all do and Zahid is no Buddha you dumbest woman .He is pretty young If people of his young age are Buddhas for you then what is the definition of young ? Can you tell me ?By calling Zahid buddha actually shows what an idiot you are. He faced issues of hair loss these days many young men face and he also went through an accident which made it difficult to get up from bedfor him hence put on weight but he worked hard and he is where today is all because of his hard work but your pathetic attempts to put him down shows how you wasted your education and upbringing Shame Shame on you

    • Falak Sohail

      Honestly your comments on zahid ahmed are most disgusting comment and stupid comments i have ever read THUMBS DOWN TO YOU .it shows your own disgusting low mentality Are you educated ?where you have thrown your education ? You can criticize the content of the show if you find it objectionable Even if you dont like zahid’s acting Fine its your choice but your remarks on zahid are disgraceful , inhumane . disgusting and low mentality Shame on you You got no right to make such cheap remarks on a real person You seems to be pretty jealous of Zahid ahmed therefore barking rubbish on him sitting behind your PC as if you are some sort of famous beauty queen?who are you ? whats your identity ? Zahid is loved by masses and you ? who are you ?who are you make to such low comments on him ?Zahid has not written the script of the show He is doing his job just like we all do You are so dumb that cannot differentiate between real and reel ? and Zahid is no Buddha you idiot He is very young He is younger than mikaal and saba If people of his young age are Buddhas for you then what is the definition of young ? Can you tell me ?By calling Zahid buddha actually shows what an idiot you are He faced issues of hair loss these days many young guys face That does not make them Buddhe and they should be shamed for it Do you shame yourself and call your disgusting buddhi when you see your hair on comb ? Hypocrite ?and he also met with an accident and went through complex spine surgery which made it difficult for him to get up for some time hence put on weight You are shaming him for it ? How disgusting is that ?He worked hard and he has all that success today because of his hard work Its shameful how are trying to put him down Shame on you Before preaching others better redeem yourself

  • Ruma

    You did a good job with this review. I was sick to the stomach reading it. I have heard that the acting and direction of this drama is great but still cannot make myself to watch it. Not sure, why this and the other one Tumharey siwa is being aired. Are people sleeping at Hum TV? Airing dramas like these can only harm the image of this channel and it really did.

    • Message to HUM TV wake up and smell the coffee … SURELY someone reads your scripts ?

  • Rads

    Sadaf,

    I am so glad you wrote about this. I gave up watching this abomination after the second episode. There was nothing to hold my interest in this story or its treatment or the abjectly boring screenplay. Every now and then youtube suggests this but i steer clear.
    To know the story has progressed to points 12, 13, and 14 is beyond any normal human understanding. What do the producers at hum tv want after all? Can the director or the actor or the story writer look back at this without cringing? Its awful enough that they waste Mikaal and Saba’s talents in such roles but to subject viewers to such illogic and such irresponsible advise from the shrink as meaningful, actionable steps to recover from the trauma of rape is not a joke.

    • The psychiatrist did a lot more than tell poor Aysha off she actually tells her that she needs to understand the whole situation in terms of -What if her husband came and told her he had made a similar “mistake ” .. would she be as understanding then and suddenly Ashy understands what a complete evil person she has been to expect Adnan’s support . Now what similar mistake can there be .. obviously getting raped is not a mistake so it must mean if he commits a crime like this on someone else …. Nauseating .
      Oh and the so called doctor tells her off for ahem …how shall I put this to innocent ears … distancing herself from her husband -how dare she

      • rumi52

        OMG! Seriously that’s the advice the psychiatrist gave? I knew the psychiatrist was bad but OMG. What kind of people are in charge of HUM TV? I am just gob-smacked at just reading your comment above.

  • Anwar.Suhail

    @Sadaf
    On lighter note, I’m surprised to know that Mikaal Zulfiqar is your favourite actor!

    • Lol I said ONE of my faves because He is actually a good actor see . KPKPP , Sheher e Zaat and even dayar e dil . Besides he is so cute -you might not understand that part ;)

  • Anwar.Suhail

    Well you have done it again! And I’m grateful for that.
    I watched only first 2 episodes, and that was it.
    I was utterly shocked. Since then…out of sheer curiosity, I glance at it for a minute or two.

    Not that Sangat just lacks sensitivity, it’s insane and callous. I mean how can one justify this innovation ie sympathising and sanitising the predator.
    HIM Tv should know better than ramming such rubbish down our throat.
    Thanks again for timely Critique.

    • Thank you kind sir . I really had better things to do but this drama is so outrageous that I put everything down and wrote. You are quite right the new name for HUM should be HIM TV .

  • Aumar

    Excellent analysis. Couldn’t agree with you more. Hum tv dramas are touching all levels of absurdities ….. In one form or the other. Better would have been to show a strong ayesha taking this guy shavez to the gallows.
    But sadly there is hardly any sanity prevailing in dramas these days.

  • rumi52

    Firstly Sadaf – Thank You. Thank you for writing this. As you said critiquing dramas is not what this website’s about, if its bad you just leave it alone but sometimes it needs to be said. When I watched some of the first episode of Sangat my initial thoughts were this is something different. Perhaps we are going to see what a woman goes through after such a traumatic experience without the annoying crying, mazlomat and ‘oh my life is over’ scenario. We might get to see a woman who is mentally damaged, trying to be strong and get on with her life. When they bought the psychiatrist character I thought okay another mature portrayal of the situation. But then it went down hill from there. I have no idea where the psychiatrist got her qualification from,but perhaps someone at Hum TV needs to go and see a qualified psychiatrist to see what a real psychiatrist would advise in such a situation. Then they showed the rapist. I only ever watched 10 or 15 minutes of an episode and usually catch the repeat episode. Somehow something didn’t seem right and I couldn’t get myself to commit to this drama, my first thought was that this drama should have been about Ayesha and her recovery and I couldn’t quite believe it when they showed Ayesha’s mother treating the rapist as a son (okay she didn’t know he was the rapist). Something didn’t seem right and I couldn’t work think why. I think it was during the Dayar-e-Dil forum that you made a brief comment about Sangat and I realised what was wrong with this drama.

    OMG yes they are showing the rapist in a sympathetic light, its so obvious but before you pointed it out it didn’t quite click with me. And now I can’t even get myself to watch even 5 minutes of this drama I am so disgusted. Perhaps it was just me but I am thinking how many other people are missing this point and are getting sucked into the whole back story of the rapist and his character without quite realising that the drama is redeeming a rapist one of the worst crimes anyone can do. Perhaps the producers were trying to be clever and trying to show that not everything and everyone is black and white after all we are always asking for nuance for our drama characters. This may work in a western TV production but not in South Asia. In the context of our cultural setting this characterterisation is irresponsible.

    I will repeat what I said before. In South Asian society when a woman is raped the first thing people often ask is ‘what did the woman do to provoke the rape ’was her dress to tight, did she smile at him or was she out alone and if its any of these then perhaps she was asking for it. Sympathy for the victim is the not society’s first reaction. Sangat seems to be going down this route as it seems to be implying some prior contact or incident between Ayesha and the rapist and as a result of that contact the rapist became obsessed with her. This is possibly going down the route of apportioning at least some of the blame on Ayesha, the
    victim which is sooo wrong.

    • Its not just the victim blaming that gets me its the husband blaming . what made me sick to the stomach was the way the husband is shown as uncaring and unsympathetic , except when Aysha is doing what he needs and wants . then the contrast is created with Shavez who is actually quite concerned for Aysha and donating blood etc .
      As to Est or West , I think that it might be acceptable if it had been shown in an honest way . If the writer really wanted a penitent rapist , then Shavez needed to go through it the hard way instead of this convenient blood donations .and contrived hero-pana . The penitence should not have been on Ashy’s shoulders .

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