A reflection of Pakistani society’s obsessions can be clearly seen in our dramas. So many of our dramas, from classic hits like Humsafar to recent successes like Do Bol, are centered around the topic of marriage and more specifically, revolve around the relationship between a husband and a wife. The audience clearly loves such stories considering how there is no dearth of such dramas. Since it doesn’t look possible for this situation to change anytime soon, the challenge now is to write the realities of marriage from an unexplored perspective.
What Khaas is all about
The Sanam Baloch-Ali Rehman Khan starrer Khaas, which airs on Hum TV on Wednesdays, sheds light on one such reality of some marriages. Written by Sarwat Nazeer, the writer who penned the recent phenomenon Do Bol, and directed by Danish Nawaz, Khaas tells the story of Saba who is married to the self-obsessed and narcissist Ammar. The drama’s main theme can be summarized easily as ‘all that glitters is not gold’ as it shows the hidden reality of a seemingly perfect marriage.
A quick recap for those who haven’t been following the show – Ammar is a charming man blessed with good looks, smart brain, and a wealthy background to complete the package. Saba is also a beautiful woman, blessed with a smart brain, and a well-off background. Ammar sees Saba, he falls for her at first sight, and within the next few days, the two are married. This all looks like a perfect happy ending for both Ammar and Saba’s family. Ammar is handsome, has a way of charming everyone around him, and has his entire family dotting on him blindly. Saba is the sughad woman who knows how to win the hearts of those around her with her obedience and good nature. It is like a match made in heaven.
Ammar’s emotional abuse – A conversation starter
Except it is not. Khaas goes deeper into the issue of what happens when the husband and wife do not share the same sensibilities. A lifetime of being admired has made Ammar into a self-obsessed man who doesn’t think twice before hurting people with his comments. He flirts with a waitress in front of his wife and then brushes it off as just friendly banter. He says hurtful comments about his wife’s appearance in front of his friends and doesn’t realize how he is basically insulting his wife. At the end of it all, he doesn’t have the sense to even comprehend, let alone accept, that what he calls his humor is actually akin to bullying.
Saba was emotionally blackmailed into saying yes to the marriage, as is the case with so many of the girls in real life. On the surface, there is nothing wrong with Ammar. Even when Saba had an inkling that Ammar’s self-obsession isn’t all that harmless, she had to ignore those feelings because everyone around her was saying just how perfect the man is. But when Ammar started his hurtful behavior of insulting Saba right from the beginning of their wedding night, Saba had to face the truth of her suspicions.
What makes Khaas really special is the way it does not exaggerate the situation. Ammar is not a villain because we have seen people like him around us. As Saba’s sister says in one episode, “There are people who have no impressive quality to them and yet they act like they are royals.” He simply lacks the empathy which could allow him to think about what his words could mean to the other person. It is a flaw in personality, further accentuated by how nearly everyone around him is too intimidated by him to call him out on his behavior. Even his best friends, who have been witness to his horrible behavior, are too scared of him to tell him to mend his ways.
Saba is trying her best to make this marriage work. She is an obedient wife who is ready to change herself to fit the mold her husband wants to see her in. However, despite all her efforts, she ends up coming short of something that gives Ammar the opportunity to insult her. Furthermore, Saba’s efforts are not even being acknowledged because Ammar is too used to having things his way that when Saba even merely mentions exercising her right to dress as per her own taste, it feels like disobedience to Ammar.
Ammar does not physically hurt Saba. He doesn’t even raise his voice at her. Yet, Saba gets wounded horribly by his personality. The tragedy for Saba is that she cannot even show those wounds to anyone. For everyone else, Ammar is the charming prince; a façade that Ammar has perfected over the years. Whereas his ugliness shines in his remarks about those he deems lesser than himself, which means almost everyone that is not him. For a sensitive soul like Saba, this is nothing less of psychological abuse.
Khaas on society’s obsession with materialistic perfection
The title of the drama Khaas, which means special, is quite ironic if we see the drama. Ammar is constantly called Khaas by his family, his friends, his in-laws, but the reality is very different. Just because someone looks beautiful, dresses rich, sounds charming does not mean they are special. It is what is on the inside that actually counts, as cliched as it may sound. And Khaas is really pointing out this basic fact to the audience via the story of Ammar and Saba.
As for the acting, both Sanam Baloch and Ali Rehman Khan are brilliant in their respective roles. Ali Rehman has the looks and the grace to effortlessly pull off Ammar. It is Ali’s natural charm that makes Ammar come across as this perfect specimen of a man that has the world wrapped around his finger. He delivers Ammar’s ugly remarks with an ease that is enjoyable to watch. Sanam Baloch is a true blessing to watch on-screen and it is a delight to see her get a script that does justice to her acting prowess. Sanam does not need words to express herself, a quality that was most needed for a character like Saba who feels everything but isn’t allowed to express her feelings in words. She looks absolutely beautiful, portraying Saba with a dignified grace that is her specialty. It just feels good for old-time Sanam Baloch fans to experience her magic like this.
It is very easy to show the ugliness of some marriages with the portrayal of the obvious, physical domestic abuse. There is so much of that on-screens that the other forms of abuse barely even get a conversation. Khaas is a wonderful conversation starter which shows the quieter form of abuse in a marriage that wounds on a psychological level that ends up deeply affecting the spouse on whom the abuse is inflicted. The situation like the one Saba is in, leads to mental illnesses for many people. With five episodes into the drama, it has so-far very brilliantly showed this reality of our society. Fingers crossed that it will continue like this and end up showing what it really means to be Khaas.