Just a couple of months ago, Tuesday, the second most hated day of the week, became many people’s favourite. Reason: Diyar-e-Dil . The onscreen magic cast by Osman Khalid Butt and Maya Ali as Wali and Faarah have kept people hooked even though it’s been months since the serial has ended.
Wali’s character is, without a doubt, memorable. Who wouldn’t love a strong willed, educated, good looking, traditional man who prefers family over everything else? He can even give up the love of his life if necessary. The perfect hero, in short.
If Wali is the most beloved of all heroes, Adeel from Gul-e-Rana is the most hated one. Stubborn, abusive, misogynistic, narcissist, chauvinist, manipulative, you can go on and on about Adeel’s faults. He makes the audience want to strangle him with bare hands every time he tortures Gul-e-Rana (Sajal Ali). Feroze Khan’s brilliant acting makes it even easier to hate his character that he brought to life so effortlessly.
So let’s go over what Adeel did to make us all hate him. He kidnapped Rana, threatened to kill her, assaulted her both physically and verbally, forced her to marry him, made her position suspicious in front of her mother and yet, everyone around thinks of him as an angel. And we all know that despite all that Adeel did, at the end, Rana will not only forgive him but fall in love with him. All will be forgotten and we’ll have a happy ending because the Pakistani audience loves happy endings no matter how irrational they may be.
But Faarah too suffered most of what Rana did at the hands of Wali. He insulted her, shoved her maid away, literally dragged her out of her house, threatened to kill her and forced her to sign a contract to live at a place she didn’t even want to visit. At the end, Faarah didn’t even consider holding any of the above against Wali because she realised she was wrong and fell in love with him. Even him calling her ‘badtameez’ repeatedly didn’t bother her because he was being ‘romantic’.
I know this doesn’t make Wali a bad person because he was in a tough spot when he kidnapped Faarah and probably thought he had no other choice. But it’s still no justification for his actions. Everyone gets angry, doesn’t mean they get a ticket to kidnap their better halves. Yet, many thought of it as romantic. Some even consider Adeel’s violent behaviour romantic and an expression of ‘love’, which is disturbing to say the least because he actually is portrayed as a villain unlike Wali.
Fact is, the characters of Wali and Adeel both took advantage of the privilege that is bestowed upon them because they are men. Since Adeel is portrayed as the bad guy, most hate him without reservation but Wali is easily exempted of all charges because he is the ‘hero’. He is free to tell Faarah off for not wearing a dopatta in front of the gardener because that hurts his mardangi, but tackling her, dragging her out of the house, forcing her on a boat and insulting her in front of the boat riders, pushing her on a bed like she is a stick figure didn’t raise any question marks over his ghairat. How is it any different than what Adeel does to Rana?
So what are we reducing our women too? Puppets that can be played around with at will? Who are required to forgive everything at the end because that’s what makes them a true mashriqi aurat? How long will it take for us to stop romanticising violent behaviour? A female viewer said, ‘Rana bhi ab extreme horahi hai’. What makes her comment sound worse is that she is married.
That ghairat though!
I know entertainment serials shouldn’t be considered as moral lessons but in our society where abuse is already a huge issue and where many actually take dramas as a depiction of truth, they do send out a message intentionally or unintentionally. So it is time our producers and writers take some responsibility and try to change viewers’ perception of what is acceptable and what’s not.
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