It is a glorious time to be a drama viewer in Pakistan. The roster for the week is full of shows that are diverse and honestly, a treat to watch. Another drama garnering a lot of praise on television is Sar-e-Rah, a mini-series which aims to break stereotypes by addressing issues like the rights of the intersex community, gender equality, women empowerment and infertility. Sar e Rah has been conceived by iDreams Production, is being aired on Ary Digital, it’s been written by Adeel Razzak and directed by Ahmed Bhatti.
The 7-episoder has a simple storyline. A young woman takes up driving her father’s taxi when he becomes bedridden due to some illness. Every day when she goes out, she meets a new person and finds out their story. Each episode is based on a simple story with a powerful message. The concept of the show is not unique, but what sets it apart is how well the showrunners manage to discuss a sensitive topic in less than an hour. Often, we have seen badly made, pointless 40-episode dramas on these topics and in contrast, here we have a single episode, focused on driving a critical issue home and delivering each time.
The first thing noticeable about the show is the fresh directorial lens through which we see the action happen, the hues on screen, the way scenes have been shot, all are appealing to the sensibilities of the viewer. The direction of the show has been smooth and the plot has flowed at a brisk pace, while not losing track of interesting dialogues and emotional moments that strike the point home with remarkable delicacy. The imagery of Karachi brought so much character to the photography and narrative, that it is encouraging to see drama producers sticking to the script and keeping the story interesting.
Saba Qamar fits the role of Rania like a glove, it is as if Razzaq wrote the role with her in mind. While we really appreciate Saba’s performance, we wish more mainstream actresses would choose to perform such roles instead of opting for the conventional ‘heroine’ persona.
In the first episode, we see Rania evolve from a young girl in love to a daughter who was aware of her responsibilities, to a sister who at first had been reluctant but then enthusiastically took charge, to a woman who knew there was no turning back, and so she just kept going. In only one episode, Rania’s portrayal inspired numerous young girls, defied gender norms, and overcame her own conditioned attitude of waiting for a man to save the day.
Saba Qamar’s dialogue delivery is impeccable, it is like she herself is saying those things instead of her character, Rania. It was the convincing manner with which she rolled out every syllable that not a single line or sentence felt out of place, for it was the appropriate balance of sorrow, wrath, respect, melancholy, remorse, love and then suddenly, that dazzling glimmer of optimism reappeared. Rania’s role could not have been written any better!
Moving on to the other characters and storylines, we see Suneeta Marshal play a childless doctor, who has been left with an abandoned baby. On one hand, she realizes that the child is not hers and needs the safety of a loving home, on the other hand, she is conflicted by her own unfulfilled wish to be a mother. This episode brought home a discussion on difficult themes such as infertility, and the need to walk away from a relationship when it leads to disagreement and conflict. Marshal does not get enough powerful roles that match her caliber as an actor, and the way she has portrayed this character, shows how much potential she has.
The story surrounding Saboor’s character was about a social media influencer, whose dance at a private family event goes viral, unintentionally bringing backlash for her. While her family, on one hand, asks her to stop using the platform, on the other hand, not all of them blame her for what has happened. Her own mother, as well as her fiancé’s mother, are shown to be refreshingly supportive, and we see the difference that parental support makes in the lives of young people. Also, her partner is shown to be such a positive influence on her life, as he stands by her and tells her to follow her dreams and assures her of his support.
Then we see the much-discussed Muneeb Butt episode, an intersex individual, whose father has had a positive influence on his life. Instead of shaming him and shunning him away, the father drives home an important point, one’s gender is secondary, the first thing they have to worry about is being a good person. Nabeel Zafar was adept in performing the role of the father. Muneeb Butt must be commended for the way he transformed himself for the role, as he proved to the viewers that he can be more than just a conventional heart-throb on television.
We are probably on the final stretch of stories with Hareem Farooq’s character, who makes an appearance at the end of the 5th episode. What the other two episodes are going to be about, we cannot wait to find out. This is one drama that is nearly flawless and is highly recommended to all viewers, even to those who do not generally watch Pakistani television drama serials.