TV Talk: Eid Play “Sentimental” – more Mental and less Senti

Belated Eid Mubarak everyone. I am flabbergasted and disturbed at the kind of programs shown in the name of entertainment. Eid or other special occasion plays are become more and more mediocre or even below mediocre. Sentimental is one such play which was telecast by HUM television on Eid-ul-Azha 2014. I caught a couple of scenes here and a couple there, but the story was pretty clear in those few scenes I saw.

senti-mental

The Story

The main character Abdul Ahad or Eddie is the only son and grandson for his dad and grandma. He is a motherless child, and his grandma saves him from his dad’s anger on many an occasion. He is a classic bigra hua larka , who focuses more on friends and girls and less on his studies. He has an estranged uncle who live in UK, and has not been in touch with the family for at least 2o years. Abrar uncle had married a gori and refused to divorce her when his mother asked him to and cut off ties with his family in Pakistan. Eddie has one best friend Sameer, who is like a brother to him and accompanies him in all of his tricks.

Abrar uncle apparently calls his mother (the grandma) after 20 years and tells her about his daughter Fatima and informs her that she will be coming to Pakistan soon. He also gives the responsibility of marrying FAtima to his mother. His mother becomes very emotional and happy.

Fatima is a sophisticated young girl, wears a hijab, and is a very sanskari larki. She dons eastern shalwar qameez like she was brought up in Pakistan by a very traditional mashriqi family. She presses her uncle’s (Eddie’s father) clothes for the Jummah prayer becasue she used to do so for her father.

Eddie has a girlfriend. Fatima spots him in a shopping mall sitting with her girlfriend, where Fatima has come for shopping with her grandma and uncle. Eddie is caught by his dad and grandma, seconds after lying about a friend’s dying mother. The grandma blames his western attired desi girlfriend for leading her masoom grandson to wrongdoing. Eddie’s dad stops her, by saying that when our son himself does not have strong moral standards, how can we blame someone else.

Apparently (since I missed that portion of the show and deduced this based on a couple of upcoming scenes) , grandma announces Eddie and Fatima’s engagement, about which Eddi isn’t happy. He thinks Fatima is dull compared to his polished girlfriend. He goes on some training abroad, breaking the engagement. Fatima is heartbroken. Grandma is sad because she feels she has let Abrar down.

Eddie’s dad and grandma stop talking to him, do not recieve his calls and or return them. Eddie learns that Fatima is now engaged to his best friend Sameer. Sameer also calls Eddie ans thanks him for breaking his engagement, as a result Sameer now is engaged to Fatima and thinks himself to be very lucky. Sameer and Fatima are seen doing wedding preparations together. Sameer also tells Eddi that they are going to be nikkahfied soon and that his parents would not be able to make it to the ceremony. Fatima seems very quiet and not really enthusiastic about her marriage.

Eddie has a change of heart and starts remembering and missing Fatima. He is jealous that Sameer is getting married to Fatima. He suddenly comes back to Pakistan and attends Sameer and Fatima’s mayon ceremony with a very sad heart. The next day, he reaches late in the nikah ceremony and Sameer admonishes him. Eddie’s dad tells the qazi to start the nikah. The qazi starts with asking Eddie if he accepts Fatima as his wife. Eddie is stunned and Sameer gets up laughing that it is your Nikkah, and we were only playing a drama. Fatima is also surprised and places her hands in front of her face like a very sharmeeli larki. And then they live happily ever after.

Takeaway from the play

These dramas aren’t just comedy or time pass activity. These dramas teach a lot. My takeaways from the drama are

1. It is alright to bring up your children in one culture and then send them off to marry in another culture. This is the portrayal that teaches other desi parents the same. Since rela life isn’t comedy, most parents force their children and specially girls into marriages in Pakistan. Most of the times, the girls suffer as they are not used to Pakistani culture and its ways. And their suffering in no way means they weren’t good girls, rather it just means that they had a very different exposure to life.

2. A girl has no self respect. Eddie refuses to marry Fatima, and she is heart broken. If Fatima knew Eddie has certain personality flaws, why couldn;t it be Fatima who breaks the engagement or refuses to marry Eddie. The play could still have a happy ending, when Eddie could have tried to change to win Fatima’s heart. In the above story, Fatima does not seem to have any say in her future life.

3. A girl has no emotions. Fatima was going to get married to Eddie. Eddie refuses. Fatima is given the impression she is going to be married to Sameer. On the stage, in the last, moment she again getting married to Eddie. Is it so easy to switch between the person your are going to marry?

4. Sacrifice your child to repent for your misdeeds (or ego issues). You want to patch up with your estranged family? Offer them the chance to decide who your child marries, even though they have never met your child and don’t know anything about her.

5. Any girl wearing western dress is bad. That’s what grandma says when she meets Eddie’s girlfriend. These stereotypes are strengthened by such plays and cause grief to a lot of people. Also the guy in relationship with a modernly dressed girl is masoom, and the girl is the witch who has cast her evil spell on the guy, because obviously the guy can’t think for himself.

These are just some glaring lessons which affect the society subconsciously, giving rise to social wrongs, whether it is the case of forced marriages, or the case of the girl’s wishes not being taken into consideration. It also teaches girls to have low self-esteem, so that they are just thankful that someone is marrying them, even if the person changes just before she gets nikah-fied.

Seriously, Pakistani writers need to come up with better stories giving better lessons.

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