Zara Noor Abbas is part of one of the influential families in the Pakistani Entertainment Industry. Her mother, Asma Abbas is a renowned TC actor, and her khala, Bushra Ansari is a TV and film legend. There’s clearly a lot of talent in this family, now imagine if all this talent was together in one drama. ‘Deewar E Shab’ started airing this past Saturday and it stars Zara, Bushra Ansari, and Asma Abbas.
‘Deewar E Shab’ follows the life of a courtesan family in the 1980s.
The matriarch of Sitara Mehal is none other than Sitara herself (played by Bushra Ansari). Her younger daughter, Feroza (Zara Noor) is her prodigy and one of best, among all the girls living in Sitara Mehal. Sitara has another daughter, Nagina, who is rather rebellious and is the total opposite of Feroza. Lastly, we have Dildaar, Sitara’s sister (Asma Abbas).
Other worthy mentions are Mohsin Abbas Haider who plays Faiz Ali, Syed Mohammad Ahmed who plays the Ustad at the house, and the character of Shama, who is Sitara’s, right-hand woman.
The drama’s first episode is an introduction to life at Sitara Mehal.
You are constantly shown the visual of women practicing kathak, and we also see the importance of Sitara herself. She sits in her prized location, in the middle of the household. She wears her heart on her sleeve especially when it comes to her daughter, Feroza. Feroza is exactly what Sitara wanted in her daughter. She dances well and has honed the craft of adab lihaaz around the house.
We’re immediately introduced to the villain of the story. Dildaar is jealous of her sister’s success and equally spiteful of Feroza, but she never shows it. She’s also able to convince Feroza that she’s on her side, however Sitara herself is always skeptical.
We see Dildaar sneakily hand Feroza a letter from her lover, it seems like Dildaar is the messenger. After doing this, she convinces Sitara to let Feroza go for this bari mehfil, which has big shot men in attendance. Dildaar is relentless in her campaign to take Feroza with her, and eventually, Sitara breaks down. We don’t know yet if this ‘lover’ is even real, given that we know that Dildaar has other intentions and feelings for her sister and niece.
Even as Feroza and Dildaar leave for the mehfil, Sitara is wrought with anxiety; she continuously curses herself for letting Feroza go with Dildaar. The first episode ends with Dildaar coming back home, but there is no sight of Feroza.
‘Deewar E Shab’ has only just had one episode and the story is still developing.
That being said, the show definitely has a strong hook. The courtesan storyline is one we’ve seen but it is often mixed in with the world outside the house. ‘Deewar E Shab’ shows the inside of Sitara Mehal with a lot of intimacy and closeness. You can see everyone’s lives in and around the Mehal, and how relationships and power are established in the setup.
Like most Pakistani dramas, this one is still, however, susceptible to walk down a very typical path. The story needs to continue being authentic without being ‘stereotypical’. Of course, there are a lot of things about the courtesan culture that is extremely stereotypical, however, this drama has a unique opportunity to show us a side of that culture that we’ve never seen on TV. The only drama that comes to mind, in recent times, is ‘Alif Allah Aur Insaan’.
While watching this episode, I felt like maybe the show romanticized the idea of courtesans and the culture of the gharanas, however, it is a big part of our past cultural experience and is an important story to tell.
Have you seen the show yet? Let us know what you think 🙂
Cover Photo Courtesy: HUM TV