Despite a long trajectory, Diyar-e-Dil is maintaining a strong hold on its audience, surprising them with one dramatic turn after another.
With one elopement, two forced marriages, and – capping it all – the deaths of two main characters in quick succession, this serial is fast cornering the market in melodrama. Only a strong, well-planned story, coupled with some solid performances, could sustain such a pace; writer Farhat Ishtiaq and director Haseeb Hasan have provided us with exactly that.
From novel to drama:
The novel itself revolves around the relationship between cousins Faarah (Maya Ali) and Wali (Osman Khalid Butt), and apart from their grandfather, Agha Jan (Bakhtiyar Khan) and Faarah's mother, Roohi (Sanam Saeed), most of the other characters had only an incidental role to play in the last fourteen episodes.
However, this screenplay combined with some great performances from a well-chosen cast has established them as essential players in this saga.
The sudden death of sweet and loving Sohaib (Ali Rehman Khan), who sacrifices everything for family, came as a disturbing shock for Diyar e Dil fans and it’s a testament to Rehman’s skills that the audience was moved enough to share their “grief” across social media.
The story so far:
This intergenerational story begins when Behroze (Mikaal Zulfikar), the eldest son of wealthy zamindar Bakhtiyar Khan (Abid Ali) refuses to keep a childhood engagement to his cousin Arjumand (Hareem Farooq). Instead he chooses to elope with Roohi (Sanam Saeed), a girl he fell in love with at college. Meanwhile Behroze’s younger brother Sohaib (Ali Rehman Khan) is forced to marry Arjumand to prop up the family’s feelings of wounded honour.
This opens up a deep rift in Bakhtiyar Khan’s family, which by the end of episode 13 Behroze tries to mend by doing exactly what he hated his father for: emotionally blackmailing his daughter Faraah (Maya Ali) into marrying Sohaib’s son Wali (Osman Khalid Butt).
Sohaib’s sudden death sends Behroze into a storm of guilt and grief and ultimately he too dies sad and disappointed that he couldn’t get the support of his wife when he felt he needed her the most.
|Behroze apologises to Agha Jaan.
This other half of the story opens with two main protagonists dead, a new marriage between two strangers and a highly suspicious and antagonistic Roohi. She cannot find it in her heart to forgive and forget, blaming her in-laws for dividing her from her husband in the last moments of his life and forcing her daughter into an unwanted marriage.
Closer to traditions, closer to audience:
As a story, Diyar-e-Dil covers very traditional grounds: the honour and obedience we owe to our parents and the importance of family. These values are deeply ingrained in our culture, something the writer never questions but reinforces with each turn.
Before his rather sudden death, Behroze is full of regret for disobeying his father and tells his daughter that after Allah and his Prophet (Pbuh), we owe our obedience to our parents. This leaves little room for parents, like all human beings, to make mistakes. Behroze's request has put his daughter in a very difficult situation as she has been asked to marry someone her mother vehemently opposes and someone she herself hardly knows.
|Maya Ali and Sanam Saeed in Diyar-e-Dil. — Photo courtesy: HUM TV
Similarly Agha Jaan made a great mistake when he humiliated Roohi, an act she just cannot forgive. On the flip side, because of Sohaib’s wishes, Wali is now connected to a girl who is at best indifferent to him and whose family actively dislikes him. It remains to be seen whether such complete trust is rewarded.
Well developed characters:
With both brothers gone, the focus of the story is shifting towards the lead pair of Faarah and Wali. Just like their respective fathers, superficially they seem to be poles apart. While Wali is a kind, considerate young man, for whom responsibility and taking care of his family is second nature, Faarah is a headstrong, only child, outspoken and determined to “be something”. She mocks her cousin for being the kind who waits at home to get married and has different aspirations.
Wali is very much a modern young man with the ambition to study law at Stanford but knows he also has to help run his grandfather’s estate. His reluctant new bride can only see him through her mother’s biased eyes as a backward feudal.
|Osman Khalid Butt as Wali in Diyar-e-Dil
Yet both agree to marry for the same reason, a deep trust in their respective fathers. Wali manages to develop a soft corner for his new bride but Faarah remains aloof to him.
The other prominent character is Roohi, an insecure, possessive woman who cannot forgive, forget or see beyond her own feelings.
For twenty years she was a good mother, a good wife and a good sister but suddenly she fails her husband at his most crucial hour leaving him to die alone. Her character has been negative and her influence will cast a long shadow on Faarah and Wali’s relationship but there may still be some room for nuance in her character arch as the serial progresses.
The actors have done a phenomenal job:
This serial is studded with noteworthy performances. Abid Ali is an actor who never fails to impress and his Agha Jaan is the heart of this serial. Similarly, Mikaal Zulfikar has given a memorable performance as Behroze, the prime mover and catalyst for much of the woes the Khan family has to face. Sanam Saeed has also given a strong performance.
|Abid Ali as Agha Jaan is brilliant as ever.
Maya Ali’s portrayal was initially a mixed bag, with an overemphasised lisp and style of speaking no self-respecting teenager would use but she has come through and given an surprisingly good, even moving performance as confused young girl who cannot understand the sudden loss of her father.
Maya Ali and Osman Khalid Butt shared some fabulous screen chemistry in Aunn Zara and this serial is no exception. They look great together even when their characters are not sure of each other.
Osman Khalid Butt has matured as an actor and may well surprise those who have only seen him in his comedic avatar of Aunn. Despite all the melodrama around him, OKB keeps his performance controlled and underplays his role to giving Wali’s character both depth and subtlety.
Maryam Nafees is another great addition to this cast as Zarminey, Wali’s sister, her role has been minimal but from the looks of the promotional OST she may have an important part later.
Brilliant script and direction:
Farhat Ishtiaq does not shy away from making her heroes and heroines noble or honorable in some way and yet they easily form a bond with the audience, where supposedly more nuanced “true to life “characters fail.
Looking back at the height of the Humsafar phenomenon, Khirad’s popularity not only with the masses but with highly educated, working women sent shock waves through some quarters of Pakistan’s liberals prompting blog upon blog to be written about her flaws.
|Maya Ali, Sanam Saeed and Mikaal Zulfiqar. — Photo courtesy Diyar-e-Dil Facebook page.
Perhaps people simply want something to admire or at least to acknowledge that amongst all the compromises we make and all the pragmatism we have to show to get along in the world, there are times and there are people who take a stand, who are willing to think beyond self-interest.
Director Haseeb Hassan has executed this multilayered story with great skill and some deft editing, managing to make even forgone conclusions like Wali and Faarah’s nikkah seem thrilling. His understanding of the main narrative has allowed him to weave so many significant characters in and out of each episode without getting bogged down and this shows in the quality product on our screens.
Sadaf Haider is a writer at dramapakistani.net.