The mini web series Saat Mulaqatein explores relationship, or lack thereof, of a seasoned couple
Audio books are all the rage these days, but have you ever read (seen) a video book? You might argue that isn’t watching movies adapted from books a form of a video book? No, those are visual interpretation of the written word; even if you watch those movies without the audio you’ll get the gist of the story. Saat Mulaqatein, on the other hand, relies solely on dialogues and dialogues only. It is all about the script and not the screenplay, hence, watching it was like reading a book. And it is safe to say, that the script doesn’t disappoint.
This format has its shortcomings though.
Since the visuals mostly include Zara Tareen – playing Saniya the frustrated wife – and Nouman Ijaz – playing Noman AKA Nomi the entitled husband – sitting on different forms of a couch in various settings, there wasn’t much to watch. So the eyes naturally wander to nasty little intruders such as the mobile screen.
But if you listen with all your heart, you get to live the saat mulaqatein of Nomi and Sano. You clench your fists as Noman refuses to admit his shortcomings as a husband and you roll your eyes as Sano claims, “Mujhe uss shaqs [Noman] ki zaroorat nahi”.
Spoiler alert: The stubborn husband and wife need each other as much as chlorophyll is needed in green plants. Their life is bland and colourless without each other, but they don’t know that. Even the narrator, Hamza Firdous, doesn’t realise it till the every end.
Firdous Jamal’s son, Hamza Firdous, who was miserable in O Rangreza, is wonderful here, as he, in addition to propelling the story, voices the feelings of the audience.
Zara Tareen, Nauman Ejaz, and Hamza Firdaus nailed the non-verbal gestures, and Kashif Nisar might’ve played a bigger role in that, than the trained actors themselves. Looking at his body of work, Ranjha Ranjha Kardi and O Rangreza to name a few, we do know that Nisar is capable of squeezing a performance of a lifetime from his actors.
The Simple Plot
Saat Mulaqatein is a simple story of a seasoned couple, who decides to go for separation on their 15th wedding anniversary. Noman is an award winning play writer and Saniya is his disgruntled wife, who has had to sacrifice her dreams so that he can fulfill his. Two kids and 15 years later, she decides that she’s had it with a man who is too full of himself and habitually cheats on her.
As the narrator puts it, “Har naya romantic drama likhne se pehlai unhe ek muhabat karni hoti hai taakay feel develop karsake. Shukar hai crime drama nahi likha warna law and order ka masla hojata.”
It was by the end of the third episode that I started warming up to Saat Mulaqatein. I wasn’t picking up my phone anymore to check if people had calmed down about Mansha Pasha and Jibran Nasir exchanging jaiz rings and (alleged) najaiz pecks.
I was fully invested in Nauman and Saniya’s lack of jaiz pecks.
The Poignant Prose
But what really forced me to put my phone down was this monologue by the narrator:
“Aur ye thi unki pehli mulaqaat aur iska anjaam bhi ye hua jo unki marital life ka hua. Achi opening aur tragic end. Yaad rahe ke iss mulaqaat ke baad to dono ne ek doosre ke khilaaf khoob zeher ugla. Jahan bhi koi aisa shaks milta ke jis ka yaqeen hota ke woh ek do din mein mukhalif party se zaroor milengay tou uske saamnay tou haal e dil khol ke rakh detay.
Nafrat aur shikaayaat ka aik samandar tha jo apna sar peet raha tha aur issi mei waqt guzarta raha, din guzartay rahe, mausam badalte rahe. Aur phir kya tha? Samandar thuk gaya. Dono taraf ke sipahi chup hogaye.”
Let’s take a moment to appreciate the prose.
After the said mulaqaat in the above monologue, we witness six more meetings; each decreasingly volatile. By the fourth episode, Permission, we see Noman become more accepting of his shortcomings and Saniya’s intelligence.
Him: Tum tou shuru se leader thi
Her: [looking at him incredulously] Tumhara vote tou kabhi nahi mila mujhe
Him: Tumne apne muqablay mein kisi ko khara hi nahi hone diya. Bila muqabla jeet-ti rahi.
The Relatable Relationship Woes
By this time, much like most Pakistani men – who behave like overgrown children high on hormones – he seems to crave for Saniya’s approval for his life decisions; and one such decision is his second marriage with Seemi.
At this point I did notice a few stereotypical generalisations seeping in the dialogues, creating a bad taste in my mouth. And as I was having chai at the moment, the bad taste was SO not welcome.
“Ek middle class aurat ek doosri aurat ko apne khawand ke bed per tou share karleti hai lekin nikah nama share karna uss per bohat bhaari guzarta hai,” says the male narrator and I’m sitting here thinking, “Where did this class generalisation come from? Middle class or not, no woman, or man, likes to share their spouses with other people whether contractually or physically!”
Anyway, fifth episode, Solicitation, best explains the couple’s relationship dynamics. He is a needy child and she her saviour. A perfect toxic marriage.
Speaking of marriage, Nomi’s suddenly acting all needy and saying stuff like, “Mujhe tumhari god [lap] ki zaroorat hai…mera bojh baant lo please,” because he has decided not to marry Seemi the Sitarist and is going through a self-imposed heartbreak. After an inner debate, Sanya relents, but tells him to leave before the kids wake up.
“Tumne bhi [Seemi ki tarah] shart rakh di na,” says the drunk man-child with a laugh on his lips and tears in his eyes.
That’s when, as a viewer, I felt sorry for him. All he is asking for is unconditional love.
Maybe that’s how toxic people manipulate you, making you feel as if you’re this brutal stone-hearted person not willing to help when all you’re being is sane unlike them!
The Heart Tugging Moments
Noman pronounces that he is going to leave, and I almost reached my hand out to wipe his tears and make him feel safe. Heck, I almost offered him my god (lap). Sanya, apparently, was also going through similar emotions, because the episode ends on the couple not-so-artistically sprawled on the couch. Well, Noman was sprawled with his head placed in…you guessed it right…Saniya’s lap as she combed her fingers through his hair.
He got what he wanted. Saniya gave in. Unfortunately, that’s the story of every woman’s life. We’re too empathetic for our own good. Sigh.
I was happy that makers didn’t ruin the mood of the moment by plugging in the narrator with his all-important monologues. The moment was self-explanatory: Noman is all the things Sanya accuses him of: selfish and self-obsessed.
The Final Call
To know what happens further – for that you’ll have to search for Saat Mulaqatein on Nashpati Prime on YouTube and watch 7 Mulaqatein. And now this entire article sounds like an advertisement. But ladies, do watch the web series if old PTV dramas shot in studios, with static shots and engrossing performances, are your thing. Oh, and how can I forget – the dialogues. They aren’t poetic or trying to be overly intelligent. They are just right with a little bit of dry humour sprinkled here and there. You might feel like Saniya is a poor doormat wife, who always caves in, but she’s extremely forthcoming and brutally honest with her insults for Nomi, so that will satisfy the woman in you.