The much awaited series known as “Aakhri Station” finally aired its first episode. Airing on ARY Digital on Tuesdays at 9 pm, Aakhri Station, a seven episode miniseries is directed by Sarmad Sultan Khoosat and written by Amna Mufti. Produced by Kashf Foundation, that earlier gave us plays like Udaari and Rehaai, Aakhri Station focuses on taboos, social issues and thought provoking phenomena in our society.
The play starts with a statement ‘un aurton ke naam jinhon ne mushkilon ke aagay sar jhukaana nahin seekha’. The first episode begins with Sanam Saeed walking along Lahore’s railway station where she buys a ticket to Karachi. Sarmad Khoosat’s eye captures the chaos and the hustle bustle of the station where a woman walks with a serious expression on her face, with some determination and a clear sense of direction. She seems to be the anchor of the other women’s stories as well as she sits down in a train compartment along with other women – and also offers a transgender to sit on a seat instead of on the floor.
A young woman, named Yasmin, also comes and sits into their compartment along with a small child. We see in flashback, the story of Yasmin and her daughter. Yasmin’s husband is a gambler and loses the little money his family has in a game. Yasmin has taken loan from everyone to the vegetable vendor to the milk vendor. When she demands that her husband pay for the stuff, he abuses her and physically threatens her. Later, her husband loses another game and since he has no money, he is convinced by his degenerate friends that he can offer his wife instead of money. He agrees and that is how Yasmin is forced into the sex trade.
The dialogs are authentic and impactful with great performances from all the actors, especially Eman Suleman, the girl who plays Yasmin. The script is watertight, impactful and Sarmad’s use of symbolism and imagery is fantastic. It creates tension and relief, it feels like you’re walking a tightrope of emotions but eventually see the end in sight because amidst all that darkness and pessimism, there are some glimmers of hope and warmth. From the pacing of Yasmin’s in-laws in the small baraamdah to her scratching of her blue nailpolish, the sepia toned grading with which Sarmad Khoosat expresses squalor and the silent gazes by the lead female protagonist that communicate the visible burden of sacrifice that women have to bear when it comes to abusive, good-for-nothing husbands, Aakhri Station grips you and holds you. The dialog is incredibly impactful as it provides insight deep within the ways how men coerce and force women into the sex trade. How they call it the ‘will of God’ or off handedly accept that they simply cannot function unless their wives and daughters cooperate with them in this business. Poverty and gender discrimination is at the root of prostitution in developing nations is portrayed clearly in this drama.
Akhri Station is the drama you may not be able to watch easily – because the subjects aren’t easy and the painstaking detail in which it goes in order to expose the bitter and harsh reality of the silently suffering women around us – are not exactly our cup of tea. We like to watch the happy heroine, the dancing, romancing man and everyone living happily ever after. We even can accept the glorification of violence. But what is tough and real and for me, at least, thoroughly critical about Aakhri Station, is how it shows you that there is nothing beautiful about violence against women, there is nothing glorious and glamorous about the sex trade business and poverty is a curse that is often the root of many many evils.
With music from Arshad Mehmood and a rendition from Shabana Azmi of the Amjad Islam Amjad poem, “Mujhe apne jeene ka haq chahiye” Aakhri Station is a compelling must-watch.
Watch the first episode here
And watch the full review here.