Ranjha Ranjha Kardi shedding light on marital rape has people divided

Ranjha Ranjha Kardi is a drama that almost everyone has seen and even if they haven’t, they’re most likely familiar with the one of its main characters – Bhola.

Bhola and Noori, played by the terrific Imran Ashraf and Iqra Aziz respectively, are one of the on-screen pairings reigning over our television screens as of late. The way the characters haven been written and specially, how wonderfully they have been portrayed by the actors, are the major reasons why the story of Bhola and Noori has become a topic of conversation in many drawing rooms across the country.

The most recent conversation that the drama has kick started is on the topic of marital rape.

How did it come to this?

The drama had worked on establishing the relationship of Bhola, a mentally challenged man with all the actions of a 8 year old boy, and Noori, a girl belonging to the lower social class who struggles to break free from those shackles, from the very beginning. Their relationship was based on friendship and innocence and the drama had treated it with such care and tenderness that much of the audience became their fan and started rooting for their happy ending.

However, recently in the drama, the innocent friendship and relationship between the two characters took a dark turn when Bhola, influenced by his friends and a certain medicine given to him by his uncle, ended up raping Noori. Although no explicit details were shown but such is the brilliance of director Kashif Nisar and writer Faiza Iftikhar, that everything about the ordeal was clearly shown onscreen without divulging in the disturbing details. Noori’s bruised body, the destruction in the room, Bhola waking up with a chunk of Noori’s hair in his hands – all of it had shown a pretty clear picture of yet another tragedy that had befallen Noori. The episode, which aired a few weeks back, had sparked some controversy over the issue and started a lot of discussion on the issue. And as of yesterday Iqra Aziz took to her instagram and made a post addressing her issue and her performace.

What the actors have to say.

Iqra talked about marital abuse being one of the most pressing issues today and said that she has tried to highlight it through Ranjha Ranjha Kardi. In her post she talked about the mental, emotional, and physical abuse women suffer after marriage as they constantly fight for consent. Iqra wrote, “we think of marriage as a binding contract to anything and everything, but marriage is based on trust and love and consent. Consent to live, to breathe, to be able to say no.” It is a sentiment that we agree with.

Imran Ashraf a.k.a Bhola, then commented under the post in his character’s defense. He talked about Bhola’s mental condition, his uncle’s medicine and friend’s influence to be the reasons for his behavior. The actor did, however, acknowledge the importance of doing a play on marital rape whereupon he also praised Iqra’s acting and supported her in raising voice on this important issue.

Another comment that sparked interest was Yasir Hussain’s reply to Imran’s comment. Yasir said that Bhola’s condition or reasons do not matter. Rather the fact that an innocent woman got raped. He further said that marriages do not mean buying a woman and that rape is rape no matter who does it.

Why this topic is so important.

Although the comments on Iqra’s post have been disabled but how Imran and Yasir reacted to the post says enough about how the society at large deals with the topic. It was good to see all three actors remain cordial with each other, and have a respectful exchange of ideas about the topic. But it also goes on to largely point out how our society is so divided about the topic of marital rape.

We are, of course, in no way blaming any actor or taking any side. But how Imran reacted to the issue, which was valid as Bhola is also a victim here, is how the society at large reacts to such situations. We have somehow mastered the art of making excuses and giving defensive explanations. Excuses and explanations which may be valid but they do not take away the from the hurt and suffering of those who have to suffer the consequences of those actions.

Regardless of Bhola’s condition, Noori is the one who has to live in the constant fear and suffocation. As it is being shown in the drama, Noori is afraid of even being in the same room as Bhola. The drama makes sure to repeatedly show that Noori is suffering because her consent is neither being asked nor regarded as being vital. It shows the hidden truth of marriages in our society where so many women have no option but to be silent about their sufferings because no one supports or encourages them to know their rights.

This is a sensitive topic. Even Iqra has changed her original caption and taken out any mention of marital abuse from it. The society at large still isn’t ready to talk about these things openly. The brilliance of Ranjha Ranjha Kardi lies in the way how Bhola and Noori are both victims of their situations. But while the Bholas can get away with explanations like harmful medicines and mental conditions, it is the Nooris of the world who need to be given voices to talk about sufferings. Ranjha Ranjha Kardi is a step in that direction.

What are your thoughts on the exchange?