Drama serial Ishqiya was on the receiving end of quite polarizing reactions during its entire run. On one hand, the rather flimsy premise of the drama and the characters’ frustrating reaction to the situations had the audience criticizing the drama for being unrealistic and absurd. But on the other hand, the drama trended every week and raked up views in millions on Youtube for its every episode, showcasing how despite all the drama’s weaknesses, it had the audience fully invested in it.
So, when Ishqiya finally ended its journey with a special double episode broadcast, the reactions on the show’s ending poured in quickly all over social media. “#Ishqiya” “Hamza” “Rumi” trended on Twitter as netizens rushed to share their reviews on the show’s finale which gave the drama’s most beloved characters, Hamza and Rumi, the ultimate short end of the stick.
But was it really all that bad? Well, this question calls for some elaborate discussion. So, let’s discuss it.
Inarguably the best thing about Ishqiya was the way it gave the audience a female lead character that was truly written and presented as a strong woman. Romaisa or Rumi for short played by Hania Amir was a woman that is rarely, if ever, shown in Pakistani dramas. Rumi was loud, spunky, bratty, came across as insolent yet was full of love and affection for the relationships she shared with everyone. She didn’t compromise on the love and the respect that she had a right on from all the relationships she was a part of. As a daughter, a sister, and a wife – Rumi never stayed quiet when it came to demanding love and respect.
And the drama never uses this against her. When the truth about her marriage and her husband’s past with her sister is revealed, Rumi is not only rightfully betrayed but she is enraged. She doesn’t wallow in self-pity but confronts her husband and makes a decision to walk out of her marriage. She doesn’t forgive a man for planning to ruin her sister’s reputation, even if that man is her husband whom she loves. Even Rumi’s own mother-in-law is shown telling her not to compromise on her self-respect by giving her marriage a second chance.
What might be Ishqiya‘s most powerful moment is how it showed Rumi continuing to live a fulfilling life with her job and by being with her mother’s side. The bitter ending to her marriage does not equate to a bitter ending for Rumi. She goes through her grief, comes to terms with it, and continues to make the best of her life.
However, where the show failed miserably was the way it treated its own audience’s investment and emotions. Hamza, played by Feroze Khan, is the show’s anti-hero as he is the one who devises the whole revenge plan that entangles the life of all four main characters. But the way Hamza’s character was written paired with Feroze Khan’s solid performance that never faltered, Hamza was the one character whose ending the audience were the most invested in.
Hamza’s story arc shows him from being a betrayed lover out to seek revenge to being a man reformed by the love he gets after getting married to Rumi. Despite all of Hamza’s “evil” scheming, he is shown always shown to be a loving, attentive, and respectful husband towards Rumi. Hamza and Rumi’s relationship was what carried the show as the fresh on-screen chemistry of Feroze and Hania that gave life to Hamza and Rumi’s cute and playful married life had the audience heads over heels for them. They were the show’s strength as the better writing and the better scenes all belonged to them.
But the show ends by giving them an ending that made the audience’s investment in them all feel for nothing. Hamza remains the only character who is unforgiven by everyone around him. His wife leaves him, his parents disown him, and he is left all alone to deal with the grief of losing his unborn child. He is punished for being a loyal lover not once but twice.
What is rather absurd is the way that by the end, the show dismisses every wrong done by the other characters. Hamna (Ramsha Khan) who is at the root of all the mess is never questioned for her mistakes. Her silence and inability to stand up for either herself or her sister when the time was right were completely brushed under the rug. Hamna, who spends the entirety of the drama making decisions that only cause further troubles instead of every providing solutions, actually gets rewarded for causing much ruination to three people.
The character of Azeem (Gohar Rasheed) is also shown in this glorified light when he too had exhibited very questionable behavior as a husband when he finds out about Hamna’s past. A lot of his confrontations with Hamza came from the point of a man with a hurt ego instead of a husband wanting to defend his wife. The last few minutes of the drama give a complete 180-degree flip to the story that has been told about these characters by giving them an ending that just does not feel logical.
In Ishqiya many characters did many bad things. Yet, the burden of punishment ultimately fell on just one character. While everyone else enjoyed a happy ending despite never paying for the bad things they did, the one character who got the most proper storyline that actually developed his character from bad to good, the one character who actually repented, is the one left the most miserable.
The way that the drama spent weeks getting the audience invested in the story of two characters, getting them attached to their journey, only to give them an ending that provides no logical closure to their story just feels so unjust. Had the show spent time in giving Hamna and Azeem the kind of well planned and executed story the way it gave Hamza and Rumi, the ending wouldn’t have felt so absurd.
The drama Ishqiya thrived on being Hamza and Rumi’s story. The ending of the drama Ishqiya was not about them. And that is where the absurdity of Ishiqya’s ending lies.