By Sanniah Hassan
What seems to be the typical run-of-the-mill series about a poor family trying despite the odds to maintain their lifestyle and provide comfort to each other, none the less, is also a drama showing great strength through the character of their female protagonist.
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher whose knowledge of theatre was so vast, that it is still applicable in modern day as well. He is known to have presented six elements that make a well executed play. These elements include: plot, character(s), theme(s), language, rhythm, and lastly spectacle. It is believed by a layer of the society [since it is made up of multiple layers] that Pakistani dramas do not always succeed in executing these six elements, they either have a good plot but half-baked characters, bad plot but good language execution due to which they are seldom able to properly present their themes to the public making it at times impossible for the performer and the viewer to connect with each other. However, the last few years have seen a somewhat pragmatic change in the view of what the media wants to present as well as what the audience wants to see. Khamoshi is one such endeavor by Hum TV that works towards representing the new woman.
Why is this woman ‘new’? Because she goes out into the world to support her family, to earn for them like a son is expected to do, she is anticipated to not stay silent and humbly obey her parents’ demands even if it means sacrificing her dreams and wishes yet, she can choose to do just that. She can make her own decisions [though she has to earn the right to do so]. None the less, although this woman is new she is by far the oldest woman at the same time. This is because, she represents not just a gender, but also a class, a society, a faith, she represents all the roles a woman has ever been expected to play throughout her life. Ursula (portrayed by Zara Noor Abbas) is that very girl/woman in Khamoshi.
Khamoshi has a mix of the serious to the trivial, the thought provoking to the comedic, all in one drama. What seems to be the typical run-of-the-mill series about a poor family trying despite the odds to maintain their lifestyle and provide comfort to each other, none the less, is also a drama showing great strength through the character of their female protagonist. Ursula is a young girl who is sent away to Karachi with a distant uncle [Mudassar Chacha] from her father’s side of the family, so she can care for his ailing wife. However, as Ursula soon realizes, she is in fact taken away to work as a domestic help in Mudassar Chacha’s home. Although the Chacha’s wife, is harsh in her disposition towards Ursula, the latter shows great strength and endures the insults thrown her way.
From there she moves on to work for Beejaan, a lovely old lady, who appreciates Ursula for the gem she is shown to be: a hardworking, honest young girl who welcomes suffering so long as she can be a source of support and comfort for her family, especially her parents. Time and again she is advised to return to her village but, she refuses to do so. Beejaan along with Sharam understand her reasons for wanting to stay behind in Karachi, insistent upon taking odd jobs just so she can financially support her family. Multiple times they [Sharam and Beejaan] want to help ease her burdens yet, she refuses to be helped beyond what she has worked for. Despite her hardships, Ursula is shown to be a girl who wants to keep learning and studying so she can improve her station and hope for a better job. Which is when Sharam (the male lead played by Bilal Khan) silently, and through Beejaan, helps Ursula in getting admission in a good college so she can continue her education. This becomes a turning point in her destiny. Not only does the drama advocate the principle of girls having the right to a good education but, it also promotes the idea that a girl can simultaneously juggle her education and job with other responsibilities just as well if she has a good support system to help her through it. This support system is what Ursula receives in Karachi [through Sharam, Beejaan and later Tehseen Baji].
Ursula desires to better herself yet stay humble and modest which impresses Sharam to the extent that he falls in love with her [traditional cliché], shattering yet another stereotype. Although he is extremely rich and affords the luxury to aspire for any and everything, he does not care for pretenses and wishes to be a simple, down-to-earth type of person who would rather marry someone below his station than marry a shallow, rich snob like his cousin, Zobia. When Zobia and her family find out that Sharam is interested in Ursula they fire her and throw her out amidst a flood of accusations.
Eventually, Ursula starts working in an NGO for Tehseen Baji, she further helps Ursula in confidence to Sharam who feels embarrassed by his aunt’s [Zobia’s mother, his paternal aunt] behavior towards the underprivileged young girl. This is where Ursula finally flourishes in her studies as well as at work. Tehseen Baji is a kind-hearted person who decides to help Ursula whichever way she can, so Ursula’s hard work does not go to waste. Through Ursula’s character primarily, Khamoshi presents the multiple themes of: poverty, hard work, the power of the human will, family dynamics, the social hierarchy among others et cetera. These thematic concerns are important to understand where Ursula comes from; why she reacts, the way she does towards Sharam and Atif as well as other male characters she is not related to by blood.
By the latest episode that aired on the 21st of April, 2018, Ursula is finally in a position where she can respond to people with strength and dignity without having to worry about what people will say because she has established herself enough to hold that power. She does not need to prove herself to anyone, not her family and no one else. Although her father who was old and weak has died, it does not hinder her. Before he dies, her father has a talk with her, and he gives her his blessings to marry Sharam so she can follow her dreams and achieve the happiness she truly deserves. This simple act of her father’s gives her enough strength to stand up against her many oppressors. For instance, when Atif [Ursula’s ex-fiancé, who is currently married to Ursula’s sister Naima] comes to her office, unbeknownst that he is about to meet her, as his superior. The scene where they finally meet is absolutely amazing as Ursula finally embraces the confidence within her to remind Atif of all his accusations and wrongdoings towards her, simply because she refused to accept his pleas of love and marry him.
The focus of this [Khamoshi ] being that education liberates women enough that they can support themselves if need be. Irrespective of one’s class, anyone can make something of themselves with good education.
The latest episode highlights Ursula as an independent, 21st Century woman who does not necessarily need a man to care for and support her, although it does not hurt to have that sense of comfort, Khamoshi highlights how it is a want and not a need. The focus of this [Khamoshi ] being that education liberates women enough that they can support themselves if need be. Irrespective of one’s class, anyone can make something of themselves with good education. Furthermore, the title is representative of Ursula’s silence throughout the series. This silence is significant because it shows how actions speak louder than words. Although she never voices her opinions in front of or against her parents and elders, she is not afraid to take a stand in front of others such as Atif. I would like to see how Khamoshi will continue breaking away from the stereotypes and showing through women that good principles and great education can take you a long way if you have the blessings of your parents and the strength to face a multitude of attacks from those who may be threatened by your potential.