You’ll often find people discussing the outfits and makeup present in the shows that they watch. “Kal wala episode dekha? Uska suit kitna acha lagraha tha na?” (“Did you see yesterday’s episode? How great was her outfit?”)
Okay, I know, checking out the latest outfits and trends are all part of the fun of watching serials, I’m guilty of it too, but what you’ll rarely find people discussing are the highly relevant social issues that are addressed through the plots. If you’re familiar with Pakistani serials you would have heard of (or have obsessively watched) Mann Mayal, a Pakistani serial which just came to an end after 33 episodes. While this infamous Pakistani drama had some remarkable faults, if there was one thing it managed to do, it was bring to light some important issues.
The ridiculous notion that marriage will solve all your daughter’s/son’s problems, regardless of whether they’re interested or not
It’s 2016 and Desi parents are still meddling with the lives of their adult children and trying to do what’s right for them, but unfortunately sometimes this means that things can get very very messed up. The portrayal of two characters in Mann Mayal, Mikael and Manahil, allowed us to see the huge issues that can arise from the crazy idea that marriage solves all problems. Manahil was in love with her neighbour’s son and so of course her parents married off to the first eligible suitor with the intention that their daughter will become so busy in her new life that she’ll forget all about her old lover. On the other hand, Mikael was an outgoing young lad with absolutely no sense of responsibility. He was an avid gambler, spent all his night out with friends and never worked a day in his life, but alas, his parents decided to get him married, because what better way to teach a reckless young boy responsibility than handing him a wife to take care of?
It’s time that people learn. Finding a good girl for their awaara son in the hopes that she’ll be a good influence and teach their son some responsibility is not the way. If his parents weren’t able to show him the right away, how will his wife? All it will do is put her in an uncomfortable situation and deprive her of the happy relationship she could have had if she were married to a responsible guy who actually wanted to be married. Additionally, marrying your daughter off to the first guy you find simply because she has feelings for somebody/was in a relationship with somebody isn’t the right course of action. Us Desi’s are so quick to watch the latest love story, but the second one of our own develops feelings for someone, all hell breaks loose. We need to slow down and learn to put ourselves in other people’s shoes. We need to love each other and take care of each other’s mental and emotional health. We need to stop worrying about “log kya kahenge” and start worrying about the feelings of our loved ones. So many parents would prefer that they’re children are stuck in a bad marriage of the parents choosing, as opposed to in a happy loving relationship of their own choosing, and that makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. This needs to change.
The idea that you should put up with your abusive partner because divorce is not an option
Nobody should have to tolerate a bad marriage because “it’s the right thing to do” or because he/she doesn’t want to upset their family and deal with “log kya kahenge”. Asking someone to stay in an unhealthy relationship is incredibly selfish as it not only affects the mental, emotional and potentially physical health of the man/woman stuck in the abusive relationship, but also impacts any children involved. By staying in such a relationship he/she isn’t doing their children any favours, the children don’t need an abusive or unwelcome parent in their lives, what they do need is a happy and safe home environment. Often times in Desi societies people get stuck in bad marriages with no hope of escape because it isn’t deemed acceptable. Here’s something people need to understand though: Not only are you entitled to a divorce legally, but you are also entitled to one religiously and I think this is something that people tend to forget. Mann Mayal captured, to an extent, the perils of being stuck in a bad relationship and shed some light on the issues surrounding divorce for a Desi Muslim woman. Manahil didn’t tell her parents about all the ordeals that she went through in her relationship because she didn’t want them to worry. She didn’t even consider getting a divorce because she didn’t want her family to upset her family and bring them shame. Instead, she tried to deal with it over and over, tried to do anything and everything in her power to maintain the relationship, in spite of the effect it had on both her and her children.
It’s about time that we start addressing these issues as a society. It’s a great step to have these issues being presented and discussed within television serials and films, but the real change will be when people begin to discuss these issues in the households. When they can come together and talk about the portrayal of such social issues and the need for them. When people begin to change their own outlooks, behaviours and actions.
When conversations at daawats move on from simply discussing the clothes and makeup of the characters, to discussing the mental and emotional plight of their suffering due to the unnatural expectations we’ve placed on them as a society, we’ll know change is finally coming.