TV Serial

Raqs e Bismil

Matters of the Heart

By Muhammad Ali Khan | February 2021

Raqs e Bismil

The TV serial sector in Pakistan seems to be quite busy. While 2020 was known for ‘Mere Paas Tum Ho’, 2021 might be known for ‘Raqs e Bismil’.

Since the poster of ‘Raqs e Bismil’ came out, the serial is making waves and its clips are being widely circulated online on social media platforms. Produced by Shazia Wajahat and MD Productions, ‘Raqs e Bismil’ is seen on HUM TV. With Imran Ashraf and Sarah Khan as lead characters, the serial is a treat as the two actors are together on-screen for the first time.

Directed by Wajahat Rauf and written by Hashim Nadeem, the serial is an unconventional take on the love and drama that revolves around two characters who have different ideologies and understanding of love, life and relations. Just like most of Nadeem’s writings, there is an underlining message that deals with matters of the heart and love, coupled with the love of God. While Rauf has returned to television after a long time, Nadeem comes back after ‘Khuda aur Muhabbat’.

The story of Raqs e Bismil starts with the introduction of the patriarch of Kashana-e-Pira, Peer Qudrat Ullah Shah (Mehmood Aslam) who heads a Syed household. His sons are Moosa (Imran Ashraf) and Essa (Momin Saqib). When the two come to know that their cousin Sakina (Anoushay Abbasi) is secretly getting married to a man who is not a Syed, they gatecrash her nikkah and forcibly take her home as their dogmatic beliefs do not allow anyone to marry out of the Syed gharana.

While Moosa seems to be a heartless and hot-headed man, his brother Essa has a soft corner for Sakina. When his father arranges his marriage with Sakina, he not only acknowledges that she is older than him but also realises that she is more educated and, most importantly, is in love with another man. This shows how the two brothers might have turned out differently with a different upbringing.

An angry Sakina then curses Moosa, saying, “Khuda karey tumhe bhi kisi say pyar ho aur woh tumhe na miley”. Things take their course and eventually Moosa is witnessed falling for Zohra (Sarah Khan) without knowing much about her. He thinks Zohra is a pious girl whom no namehram has ever seen. But the truth is otherwise. While Moosa belongs to an orthodox line of noble peers, Zohra is a dancer at private events. From his denial and disbelief to acceptance of his love while facing opposition from his family, Imran Ashraf showcases his inner turmoil brilliantly.

Sarah Khan as Zohra carries an abaya and veil with perfection. With her kohleid black eyes, she creates magic on-screen. Anoushey Abbas as Sakina plays a pivotal but manipulative role in the story. Peer Qudratullah Shah as Mehmood Aslam plays the character of a patriarch having a misogynistic mindset. His transition from his most famous role as the silly Mehmood Saab of ‘Bulbulay’ to Peer Qudratullah Shah is quite impressive. Gul-e-Rana is another brilliant choice who can make any role her own. Her character as Anna Ji is a delight for the eyes. The drama also includes model Zara Sheikh, for the first time, Furqan Qureshi, Rashid Farooqui, Juveria Abbasi, Saleem Mairaj and Nida Mumtaz.

The drama portrays the harsh realities of society where many people still do not consult their children about their marriage. Just like in the story, women have no say in matters of life and death and are merely showpieces who must be guarded to protect the family’s pride and honour. The serial clearly shows double standards: Moosa chooses his wife but never allows his cousin Sakina to do so.

With a strong plot, intelligent direction and good cinematography, everything is well put together and attention to detail is visible. It is refreshing to see a different story on television. Nida Mumtaz and Javeria Abbasi support each other, irrespective of the fact that the former is the wife of a patriarch and the latter is a widow. Even the character of Sakina, who is bold, confident and not afraid to speak her mind, exists in such a suffocating environment. There is no unnecessary bitterness, drama and ill-will to get more ratings. The drama’s great production quality and the actors’ strong performances make ‘Raqs e Bismil’ captivating.