Rani Beti Raaj Kare
I have been currently watching a Pakistani drama about parents with five daughters, and their all consuming need to get their daughters successfully married off. The title of the drama, Rani Beti Raaj Kare, basically expresses a desire of the parents, where they are wishing that their precious daughters live happily (in their in-laws home). I am stuck watching this drama because I don’t want to get up and leave when my mom watches it. She seems to love these types of melodramatic, unhappy dramas; dramas that seem to center around the desperate need for parents to marry their daughters off. And if there are multiple daughters involved? Even better.
The drama is about a husband, Rifaqat, and wife, Guddo, and their three daughters, Haya, Saima and Uzma. Rifaqat also has two daughters from another marriage, Rahila and Shakeela. And 50 episodes into the drama, it isn’t getting any better.
The drama starts with Saima’s engagement. Amidst the celebrations, we see another household, where two girls (Rahila and Shakeela) are being terrorized by Jagu Dada (the neighborhood thug). When their father, Rifaqat, comes, he takes them away from all of this. Rifaqat takes his daughters home and stupidly has them join the engagement party. When the other guests start badgering Rahila and Shakeela, demanding who they are, Rifaqat says that they are his daughters from another marriage and their mother has died. Saima’s future in-laws break the engagement and leave.As the drama continues, we see that Guddo resents Rahila and Shakeela because they are a reminder of her husband’s betrayal. I think it’s perfectly fine that she feels anger with her husband, but her treatment of her stepdaughters puts her in the wrong and that’s just not right! Because of her treatment of her stepdaughters, we cannot sympathize with a woman who has been betrayed on the deepest level by her husband. Rahila and Shakeela are the interlopers in the house, and, despite being treated horribly by their stepmother, they are “good girls”. They want to be part of the family, and will sacrifice for this family.
We find out that Rahila has an admirer, Adnan, and she has feelings for him, as well. Adnan sends his mother over with a proposal, but his mother ends up liking Saima instead. Guddo has no problem accepting the proposal for her daughter, since she blames Rahila and Shakeela for Saima’s broken engagement. When Saima’s new brother-in-law, Jahanzeb, comes back from abroad, mother (Guddo) and daughter (Saima) immediately start planning his wedding to Haya; it doesn’t matter that Jahanzeb likes Shakeela instead. Saima manipulates her mother-in-law and successfully lobbies for a place for her older sister in the home; mother-in-law herself has a screw loose, and has a history of ignoring who her sons like and wants to choose her own daughter-in-law. When mother-in-law goes to their home with a proposal, she discovers that Haya has spent the entire night outside the house and proposes for Shakeela instead. Mother-in-law gets to keep face with her son. Saima is angered by this, and decides to keep her in-laws happy but plans on making Shakeela’s life hell when she comes in.
Haya is the oldest daughter. She works and worries about her parents, who have no sons to support them in old age. Haya works for a rich couple, and takes care of their daughter. Haya borrows money from her boss (the wife) for Saima’s wedding, promising in return to spy/seduce the husband. 100,ooo rupies of that money is stolen during the wedding, and Saima and Guddo are quick to blame Shakeela for the robbery. Haya handles the situation at the time. Because of the money, Haya somehow ends up marrying her boss, but has to keep this a secret from her family. One day, her husband locks her up in a room, wanting her to tell her family of their marriage, and she cannot come home the entire night. When she returns, her family, one by one, find out that Haya has married and this pushes Uzma to the extreme.
Uzma is the third daughter. She stutters and desperately wants to marry, but feels that no one would want her because of her stutter. She has a boyfriend, who she steals for (she stole the wedding money) and secretly meets. When her mother tells her to break it off because he is demanding too much (he wants to be set up in a business), she threatens to run away with him. Rahila promises to fulfill his demands and Haya promises to help, as well.
When Rifaqat finds out that Haya has gotten married, he accepts it and says that he wants the man to come and take his daughter home with “izzat”. But when Rifaqat finds Uzma running away from home, along with all of the jewelry, his heart cannot take the shock and he has a heart attack. Rifaqat dies from the trauma of seeing his daughter trying to run away, and Guddo is unable to forgive Uzma for her actions.
Since I’ve been skimming through the episodes and have missed a huge chunk of episodes, I may have missed a few details.
Uzma turns out to be pregnant, and Guddo marries her off. She goes into a household that knows about her condition, but they “accept” her because Uzma’s husband may be impotent. Uzma’s mother-in-law and sister-in-laws treat her like a servant, and her husband tries to protect her, going so far as to suggest moving out. Uzma also gets to apologize to her mother for her actions.
Haya moves into her husband’s house, and takes care of her husband’s first wife, who is now sick.
Shakeela is now pregnant with Jahanzeb’s baby. Saima continues in her campaign to get Shakeela out of the house; she tries to make everyone think that Shakeela was in love with someone else and has been having an affair with him. Jahanzeb begins to believe Saima, and angrily leaves Shakeela in a bazaar because he sees her talking to another man. Shakeela comes home and tries to defend herself, and, when that fails, Shakeela slaps him for his accusations. Shakeela then tries to commit suicide, and Saima takes this opportunity to feed Shakeela some abortion medicine. Complications from this medicine kill Shakeela, and Saima delights over the success of her plan to get rid of Shakeela and her baby. When Adnan finds out about Saima’s behavior, he tries to shoot himself because he cannot face his brother. Saima gets in the way and Adnan accidentally shoots Saima. Adnan is arrested, and Guddo is heartbroken over the loss of her daughter.
I hate how this drama portrays women; it is filled with cliches that I could do without. Guddo is the cliched evil stepmother. We know the anger and resentment is coming from her betrayal, but she is just so hateful! Her tantrums and disgust are never tempered with humanity; she doesn’t see the girls that she is mentally torturing, it’s just about her pain.
We have the manipulative daughter-in-law in Saima. She pretends to be nice for her mother-in-law, but you can see that she has all sorts of nefarious plans for Shakeela. I don’t see why dramas feel they have to show this character. There’s one in every drama; a woman who hates her sister-in-law or mother-in-law or stepsister. She doesn’t think about the relationships she’s ruining or who she’s hurting, as long as she gets to beat the person she hates, which almost always seems to be another woman. It seems that these daughter-in-laws have too much time on their hands and brains that need to be occupied by something; it might as well just be tearing another woman down.
I hate stupid girls, who get conned by men and enter into a secret marriage or get pregnant and abandoned. Haya, this caring and intelligent woman ends up marrying her married boss! What the heck is with that? We are told that she is smart. We are told that she cares about her family and worries about her parents and sisters. But she ends up marrying in a way and to a man that will just break her parents’ hearts. Haya says that she sacrificed herself for her family, but I’m not seeing it. It’s an act that makes no sense at all in the world that has been created in the drama. Uzma has her secret boyfriend, who she meets at night and steals for. I believe a glimpse of a future episode showed her married to another, with a questionable mother-in-law, and she is pregnant with her boyfriend’s child.
Additionally, we have Rahila (who sacrifices her man for one sister and promises money for another) and Shakeela [who gives away her jewelry (a memory of her mother) to Uzma]. They are saints, and people like that don’t exist in real life. I don’t get why they have to be so sacrificing to show their “goodness”; you know they are like that so that they may eventually win their stepmother’s love.
I don’t understand the characters in this drama, hate them, but can’t seem to get away from them. I am tired of the evil stepmother, manipulative daughter-in-law, the sacrificing daughters, and the stupid girls that get conned by men. Why do we need these cliches? Why the need to bring a woman down to the lowest common denominator and revel in her ability to do evil? Why the need to make women saints or sinners, with no middle ground? Why the need to make them manipulative or be “innocent” which is really stupidity masquerading as innocence? Why can’t we have complicated characters that have weaknesses and strengths? When will Pakistani dramas diversify from the 3 main female personalities they seem to have on hand for their characters? Also, why this emphasis on marriage? It seems that every drama is about marriage, multiple marriages or possible divorce. Everything seems to revolve around this desperate need to get married and stay married. I’m sure people in Pakistan have other problems, but you don’t get to see that in the dramas. Why not a drama about a woman’s desire for a career? And a supporting husband in the background? Why not a drama about women who get along? Why not a drama where women understand each other, and, instead of tearing another down, one woman (completed biologically unrelated to the other) raises that other woman up? I don’t see them as much as I would like.
A small percentage of dramas dare to be different, but this isn’t one of them. This drama is highly skippable, and I would suggest you don’t give it a watch if you want something fresh.