Betiyaan is the new soap on the block and while we might feel it’s just another regular story, we might be surprised at how many lessons it’s throwing our way.
Before you roll your eyes and take in the larger picture, 5 daughters and one doting father does a clichéd family drama make, consider this. The story is taking on a society in transition & presenting perspectives that speak both sides of the desi mindset – the one that refuses to budge, and the one that forges ahead to create ripples of change.
Confused much? Am I speaking in riddles? Okay, let me demystify the story for you.
Betiyaan is your new drama with players stuck in a time warp yet trying hard to climb out if it. Just like our present-day society and here’s why, with 6 episodes down, you can give this one a watch!
1. The rishta syndrome where the sister of the bride gets the guy
This is so very typical Pakistani drama cringe feels that you would switch off when the guy utters: “but I like the other sister”. And had no qualms about his insensitive decision-making skills. But then, the father of the bride retracts, so does the father of the boy in question, calling out this distasteful disregard of a girl’s sentiments. This behaviour is a far cry from what usually transpires when the sister is married off immediately. However, though the engagement comes to pass, viewers are challenged into knowing this is not a norm to follow.
Okay, let’s just ignore that the first sister was eventually married off as the second runs off from the altar last minute, but then, Pakistani dramas can do it if the runaway bride did too right? Yeah, that’s Hollywood they say, but so what! That’s exactly the point, if they can, so can we!
2. Consent is still a work in progress
Where Usama’s character can’t wrap it through his head that the girl has made a conscious decision to leave him, the girl’s (Ayeza’s) dad who is so loving towards his daughter also proceeds to get her engaged to a boy overnight, despite knowing she’s fallen for someone else. The script fails to address the ‘no’ in a girl’s mind and heart, but perhaps it will go on to show us why it was important to respect her wishes in the first place. As in, by disregarding consent, the drama will, by default, address the issue in coming episodes as all hell breaks loose.
Oh, and it did as I write this. See, that’s the fun in writing about a soap! True to form, Ayeza flees the altar (as predicted by) ahem, yours truly. But consent is still waiting in attendance as the first sister, Fizza, is married off and this time, both bride and groom’s wishes are ignored!
3. Doting father vs authoritarian love
Although the girls’ father exercises strict control over their lives – ahem, no smartphones are allowed. He spoils them and defends them before his, you guessed it, toxic family (aka phuppo). The point is, he is a true reflection of our society in transition. We want to hand over the reins to our daughters, we want to educate them and grant them the right to work, but we fear we will lose out in parental control. We trust by not trusting. We give space but hold the final call. We educate our girls but expect them not to make calculated choices – they must not taint the family honor else they will be married off to the first available rishta.
Betiyaan mimics a society in transition. Where the father wants to loosen the reins of power but is reluctant to let go completely. Isn’t that what we’re all about at present?
Betiyaan also serves up a dose of how fathers are often disregarded in households when a matriarch ridicules them before their children. Eg Fahad Sheikh’s mother repeatedly dismisses her husband’s balanced judgement before his son and though we see this often work the other way round eg. In Bakhtawsr with Dilawer’s dad belittling his mom, it is critical to know that men are also at the receiving end. So much so that their children often don’t take them seriously.
Betiyaan is offering content that is perhaps, a tad shallow for the discerning mind, a tad sensational for those who consider themselves above the rabble, but … iot is also serving up as a mirror to a society in transition. It has all the ingredients of a Pakistani turned StarPlus offering yet, we hope it will achieve more than that. Only because the views are, as I speak, 6Million views for Episode 1 and I sincerely hope the drama doesn’t slip into regressive mode before it picks up.
So, should you watch it or not? If you consider yourself a light-hearted drama audience who takes things in stride, doesn’t get too ruffled by forced marriages, men not taking no for an answer and daughters married off to preserve a family’s honor, you might be good with this one. For the rest, I’d say, much as I would like to give this drama a thumbs up, I am reluctant, but I’ll keep watching if only to tell you if things are looking up! Till then, watch Pinjra, Maula Jatt or look forward to the new dramas on the block, coming soon!
Betiyaan has been penned by Asma Sayani and directed by Meesam Naqvi. It is currently airing on ARY Digital. Its ensemble cast includes Fatima Effendi, Muhammad Ahmed, Mah-e-Noor Haider, Fahad Sheikh, Qudsia Ali, Tania Hussain, Emaan Khan, Beena Masroor, Javeria Saud, Shahrayar Zaidi, Sabahat Bukhari, Sajjad Pal, Saad Fareedi, Osama Tahir and others.
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