Inrecent times we have been seeing quite a few issue-based serials, the most recent being Sammi. It has taken off to a good start. Having seen the promos a million times, the viewers were aware of what to expect - the drama quite poignantly focuses on the custom of vani, a custom still practiced in the remote areas of Pakistan. This is the second drama focusing on the same issue, the first one being Sang-e-Mar Mar.
Vani is an outlawed custom that parcels out young women in marriage in many rural areas of our country. It is an ugly tradition where innocent girls are traded between families in resolution of a dispute. Despite the fact that it has been outlawed, vani remains prevalent in many rural pockets across Pakistan. The family of an accused murderer promises to give one of their women, sometimes as young as two, in marriage and after she has reached maturity,10 or 15 years later, the wedding day arrives. But such events are no happy occasions. There are no celebrations as the unfortunate girl is delivered to her new husband without ceremony. It’s tragic.
In the first episode of Sammi we are introduced to Mawra Hocane who plays the lead as Sammi. She is a typical villager who is living a life of ignorance and bliss in her remote village. Life is simple for her. She has caught the eye of her brother’s friend Pervaiz who is desirous of marrying her. The father (Irfan Khoosat) is livid with his son Harris Waheed (Waqar) for letting his friend set eyes on his sister. While Waqar believes there’s nothing wrong with it as Pervaiz is interested in getting married. Sammi is very happy with this decision and has started daydreaming about Pervaiz. All is hunky dory till the time Sammi’s father decides to create some trouble. It’s the day of the wedding; the father is sitting on his charpoy looking at his son disdainfully accusing him yet again of letting things come so far. He then asks Waqar to make sure Pervaiz writes down the haq meher amount at Rs. 25 lacs. Waqar is surprised and unnerved and tells his father this is not the time for such things as they are about to get married, and how can he propose such a condition? The father is adamant that if Pervaiz does not pen down the said haq meher amount then there will be no wedding. Waqar, who knows his father well, acquiesces that he will get the desired done. Just before the maulana is about to start the nikah ceremony, Waqar asks Pervaiz to write down the said amount. Pervaiz is taken aback by this incredulous demand and refuses to do so. He questions his friend at this absurd condition but Waqar is adamant. Greatly offended, Pervaiz refuses to do so at which Waqar threatens him that there will be no wedding in that case. The infuriated Pervaiz retorts that he will for sure take Sammi as his wife and will not leave the premises without her.
While Sammi is getting ready for the nikah, the argument keeps on getting worse, reaching the point where both men are at daggers drawn. While Pervaiz continues repeating Sammi’s name, an enraged Waqar charges into him and throws him on a protruding piece of wood which has spear-like edges to it. Pervaiz dies on the spot to the mortification of the villagers. The happy household is plunged into darkness as the murderer is sure to be punished. But that’s where the custom of vani will come in. Sammi will be sacrificed in the name of the custom to save her brother from getting punished for the murder. We will see Sammi’s transition from a happy, carefree girl to a bitter woman. Watch this space for more.
Meanwhile, there has been a pleasant addition on TV in the form of old and contemporary Pakistani music being beamed on various music channels that have mushroomed on the national scene over the years. It was perhaps the only positive outcome of the blanket ban on Indian stuff that included movies and music. Stopped from airing movies and songs from the other side of the border, all these music channels have been forced to dig out countless classics from the vast treasure chests of Pakistani music. That said, one cannot support the banning of films, music and art, as in this day and age you cannot control the flow of entertainment or information. With the internet easily available, you can download and watch anything that you want which is why clamping blanket bans is not a viable solution. As for music buffs, do not forget to check out the local channels for the awesome Pakistani music we have started to rediscover.
Talking of interesting stuff, it’s that time of the year when Pakistan cricket fans are glued to their TV sets, making sure that they don’t miss any Pakistan Super League (PSL) action. The Twenty20 league began with a bang last year and is back with a second edition which promises to be bigger and better. With top stars like Shahid Afridi, Brendon McCullum, Chris Gayle and Kevin Pietersen in action, the PSL is all set to be a magnet for eyeballs all over Pakistan and beyond for four weeks.
One of the biggest reasons behind PSL’s meteoric rise is television. But PSL is not alone in benefitting from TV as many other cricket leagues around the world like the IPL have quickly grown into ratings behemoths. The romance between cricket and TV isn’t new. It was its symbiotic relationship with TV which began in the 70s with the first World Cup that changed cricket forever. Televised games fuelled the dramatic increase in cricket’s popularity and profitability. In the last 10 years, we have seen this relationship entering the next level with the rise of the slam-bang T20 format.
Reverting to the PSL, it was good to see that at a time when the Indian government is targeting Pakistan in all possible ways, one of the star cricketers from the other side of the border has wished his good friend – Shahid Afridi – best of luck for PSL 2 which is being played in Dubai and Sharjah. Harbhajan Singh hoped that Afridi, who has been going through a lean patch and has been overlooked for national duty, will perform well in the PSL. Afridi is at the helm of Peshawar Zalmi in the PSL. One hopes that Boom Boom and other stars of the PSL will indeed make the league a big success.
Following in the footsteps of Netflix, Asia-based video streaming firm Iflix has also lifted its operating footprint to Pakistan. It claims to bring to the country the largest library of Pakistan’s favourite TV shows and movies available from all over the world.
For the Pakistan launch, the company operating from Malaysia claims 160 studio and distributor partnerships. Its content at launch includes local TV drama series along with popular international shows.
All in all, it seems that TV viewers in Pakistan are facing a problem of plenty these days. Happy watching!