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Telefilm: The replaceable gender

August 01, 2010

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All the six telefilms screened so far at the Hum Telefilm Festival 2010 have been such joyless affairs that one feels the festival organisers want to hammer in depression and misery — as if there isn't any of these in people's lives!

Moreover, all the themes more or less have centered on women's pitiable state in the society; such as honour killing, Aids or their trapped status in marriages. Admittedly these are issues that need to be highlighted but newspapers and news channels are already emphasizing them, need we more shoving of it down people's throats in the guise of entertainment? It would have been refreshing to view at least a couple of telefilms that were fun, satirical and witty, and tackled diverse themes.

Zainabay, the seventh telefilm of the series, was yet another morose subject shown on July 17. The story, penned by Rukhsana Noor, is about two brothers who live in rural Punjab with their wives. The wives can't stand each other and are constantly bickering while their husbands are away for work. One day, the brothers return after a hard day's work at the Chaudhry's haveli. He hasn't paid them nor given them food and so they arrive at their house hungry and tired. The older brother has a spat with his wife and in a fit of rage kills her. Hearing the ruckus, a village elder Chacha Feeko (Nayyar Ejaz) drops by to inquire. Deeno, the younger brother (Kashif Mehmood) in order to protect his older brother, tells him that his wife Zainabay (Noor) has killed his sister-in-law. This is a credible story as it is well known in their village that the wives were at loggerheads with each other. Also as Deeno says to Chacha Feeko, “I can get a new wife but I cannot get a brother.” Zainabay is nearby when Deeno utters this shocking sentence thus completely shattering her.

Zainabay admits to the crime and is arrested and put in police lock-up. While she is awaiting her trial, the rest of the telefilm goes in flashback mode depicting the happy moments of Deeno and Zainabay's lives. Deeno is filled with remorse over his action and tries in vain to get the case reversed. But Zainabay refuses to retract her confession, obviously since she has been cruelly betrayed by him and feels it's better to spend the rest of her life in prison. The only positive element in Zainabay was that for a change the men were mourning the loss of their wives rather than the other way around. Overall the acting, cinematography and direction were adequate with nothing outstanding that stayed in one's mind.