Saba Qamar starrer “Baaghi”, currently airing on Urdu 1, is the story of Qandeel Baloch. While the play has garnered some serious ratings and acclaim, this is where my problem is:
Umera Ahmed’s heroines are always empowered and regressive at the same time. There is a maddening dissonance yet relatability in her heroine. In Shehr e Zaat, Falak was a rich, proud, spoilt woman. In Durr e Shehwaar, she was an intelligent but patient woman who deals with an emotionally abusive husband. In Meri Zaat Zarra e Benishaan, the female central protagonist is the silent martyr who never speaks out for herself even though she has a lot of ego and self-esteem. It is this curious contrast of personality traits that makes Umera’s writing fascinating as well as aggravating.
In the current play “Baaghi” which is based on the famous social media celebrity who was murdered in the name of honor, Qandeel Baloch, Umera Ahmed’s classic portrayal of the female protagonist is seen again. “Kanwal” Baloch (played by Saba Qamar) is always weeping or unhappy or frustrated or breaking down. While the fact that a strong character-actor like Saba is portraying the role makes one hate the writing a little less, the fact is that the character seems like a forced attempt to make others like Qandeel by someone who did not like Qandeel in the first place.
That said, it is important for conservative audiences to help understand women like Qandeel and have the empathy with a woman in her circumstances instead of judging her and making her the subject of a moral witchhunt. It is important for characters like Qandeel to be human – but it is also necessary to remember their legacy and the truth of their lives.
Here is a detailed review that you can listen to on Patari.