Pakistan’s drama industry has recently taken a new turn with its rebellious nature, rebelling against traditional family politics plots. Or should we say, the screen has realized the potential it has to impact people’s minds. While we have seen some breathtaking drama serials with stories addressing evils of the society, ARY’s ‘Meri Guriya’ stands out with not only the grave issue it addresses but how well-thought the execution of the drama, selection of cast and role-playing is.
The story revolves around a strong mother Shehnaz, played by the legendary Sania Saeed, who takes a stand for her three daughters and fights for their right to education and choices. Shehnaz’s husband loves his daughters as well but is not too expressive about it due to his mother and divorcee sister being bitter about it. Two of Shehnaz’s daughters go to school while the youngest one, Abida, is a student at Madrassa.
In their neighbourhood lives Dabeer, played brilliantly by Mohsin Abbas Haider, and his wife Safeena (played by Sonia Hussayn). Dabeer is everyone’s favourite due to his ‘innocent’ nature while Safeena is a strong woman, hated by her community for being a badminton player and marries Dabeer for the sake of family pressure. However Safeena and Dabeer form no emotional connection after marriage, but both decide to keep the commitment without any restrictions on each other.
Safeena befriends Shehnaz and her three daughters, while she had a special affection for Abida and used to regularly meet her. Due to their frequent interaction, Dabeer would also buy Abida sweets and try to make her comfortable around him.
While the rest of the world sees Dabeer as an innocent, pious young man, Safeena notices some strange traits in his behaviour, like his obsession with dolls. Always finding it strange and unusual, she still never talks to him about it because of how uncomfortable he gets around her.
But then, something happens that shakes both of these families to the core. After gaining her trust, Dabeer who is actually a paedophile rapes Abida and murders her. With the issue it addresses, there are a few specific aspects associated with the drama that are thought-provoking and actually educating for the general public.
The first aspect that it highlights is the typical patriarchal mindset that prevails in our society. The drama shows how the mother-in-law would force Shehnaz to go to a ‘peer’ and pray for a son rather than spending money on her daughter. She is also seen critically opposing her girls’ education as it will make them disobedient, saying they should go to the Madrassa like Abida.
The second imperative aspect it highlights is Dabeer’s behaviour, his unusual obsession with minor girls’ toys and how he gains Abida’s trust first, makes her comfortable around him to decrease the chances of retaliation. This behaviour is similar in all such cases where kids are the targets. 83% of victims are said to know their assaulter, hence it is someone we allow around our kids or a stranger who will slowly gain the trust first, showing unusual affection and buying gifts.
Third and most important aspect it highlights is how victim’s own grandmother and aunt tries to silence the issue and ask to restrict other two daughters to home. Those who should’ve been standing with the parents in their fight for justice become the worst opponents, saying this will bring a bad name to the family and the community.
While the influentials and police try to silence the issue and victim’s father surrenders to their pressure, Safeena records Shehnaz’s video pleading the social media community for help and justice. The women decide to do a sit-in protest to demand punishment of the culprit while Dabeer, keeps hiding all proofs and destroying pieces of evidence as the situation intensifies.
The story is a heart-wrenching tale of resilient Shehnaz who shows more courage than her husband and fights for her daughter accompanied by strong, rebellious Safeena who doesn’t let Shehnaz lose hope. Both Shehnaz and Safeena realize they have to fight this on behalf of all the victims, against the deepest evil that the society has kept protected for centuries.
With an exceptional tale of strength, suffering and societal stigmas, the drama actually raises a lot of questions that we need to collectively answer before another child falls prey to it.
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