Written by: Sophia Khurram
Directed by: Mohsin Mirza
Produced by: iDreams Productions
With a stellar cast, impeccable writing and a social issue which is persistent all around us, ARY’s new series “Beti” started off with a bang. After the hype surrounding its trailer, the drama certainly delivered in its first episode. The story revolves around a well-educated young girl Mariam, played by the newcomer Saheefa Jabbar, who gets married to Azhar(Fahad Mirza) and finds herself amidst a conservative family which has rather regressive views on the role of women. Azhar’s grandmother(played by Asma Abbas) in specific lords over the household as the matriarch and resorts to black magic to ensure that no daughter is born in her house.
There was quite a lot to unpack in just one episode, and since it deals with such a sensitive topic, it became an emotional rollercoaster as well. The obvious backward thinking of how daughters are useless members of a family is the central revolving theme of the plot. It tackles not just the patriarchal society but also how women themselves internalize this misogyny over the years, as shown by the grandmother. What is most moving about this is that it is not something fictional or made up; killing newborn daughters because they are considered “useless” is very much a reality for us. And what a lot of dramas that address this issue get wrong is that many times, this bigotry stems from women in positions of influence themselves. The twisted thinking of the grandmother is not merely for dramatic purposes. It is painful, but it is real. The lengths to which she goes to ensure that her other son’s child is a boy and not a girl is reflective of this very fact. It is refreshing to see a drama address this sensitive issue with such grace and not rely on stereotypes just for the sake of increased viewership.
View this post on Instagram
While the seasoned actors such as Javed Sheikh and Asma Abbas deliver stunning performances, the lead model-turned-actress Saheefa Jabbar truly shined in her role as Mariam. Although the character’s true difficulties will begin later on, Saheefa Jabbar seems to be tapping into her acting prowess from the get-go. This is sustained by Asma Abbas’ depiction of the evil grandmother, which she plays to utter conviction. So much so that it is almost effortless to despise her. All the actors offset each other perfectly, with a balance between the victims and the villains.
But the real villain is not the grandmother or the father but this ideology deeply imbedded within our society that daughters are useless members of the household. As previously mentioned, unlike most dramas that talk about any social issue, Beti does not disregard the wide influence our societal beliefs have but instead embraces the problem. Notwithstanding gender, misogyny is very much real and alive; the mess is created not because we are unaware, but because we choose to highlight the parts that appear sensational and obscure the grittier ones. In that regard, Beti bares every dreary part for society, exposing our own hypocrisy to us.
Umaima Munir is a film and theatre nerd who is extremely passionate about well-written scripts. Her love for television stems from days of watching old PTV dramas such as Andhera Ujala.