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.
- The Shavez “protects” Aysha after the assault from the other robbers preventing a gang rape … he isnt completely evil ….
- 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 ….
- 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 ?
- Salma’s parents fondest wish is to marry their daughter off to Shavez despite his goonda image and lack of a steady job.
- 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.
- 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 .
- Meanwhile Aysha’s husband Adnan is unsupportive and annoyed at his wife’s sudden withdrawal .
- While Shavez weeps and broods over the pain he has caused Aysha in one contrived meeting after another
- Shavez claims to love Aysha and actually donates his own blood to save the child conceived by the rape and Ayesha herself .
- 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 .
- 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.
- 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 ….
- 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 ?
- 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 …
written by Sadaf