Doraha (Crossroads)

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I watch very few Pakistani dramas. I might see them in passing or catch an episode here or there because my mom is an avid drama watcher, but I hardly ever sit down and watch every episode of a Pakistani drama. But one of the few ones that caught my attention and held it for its entire run was 7th Sky Entertainment’s Doraha starring Humayun Saeed as Umar, Sonia Rahman as Sara, and Sanam Baloch as Shahla. The drama centers around one woman’s quest to get the man she loves, only to realize, once she has him, that their happily ever after wasn’t all she imagined it to be.

Shahla and Umar are cousins, and Shahla has been in love with Umar for a long, long time. Umar thinks of Shahla as a little sister, and is in love with Sara, a woman he goes to college with. Despite family opposition, Sara and Umar marry and Sara spends the next two years of her life being the perfect wife and daughter-in-law. She puts up with her mother-in-laws bitterness, she takes care of the house and learns to cook (even though she never cooked before), and she is a supportive wife to Umar. Sara comes from an affluent household but learns to live in a small house for Umar, and she adjusts to this lifestyle. She gives up the chance at a career to make her in-laws happy. Despite all of her efforts, Umar’s mother refuses to accept Sara and is always saying bad things about her and to her. Umar eventually gets tired of this and takes the easy way out; he divorces Sara. Sara goes into shock at Umar’s actions, and immediately leaves the house, barefoot and without any money.

I hate, hate, hate when that happens. Here, we have a woman that has spent the last two years of her life supporting this man, emotionally and financially. She has agreed to wait for children (I think), and wait for pretty much everything until he is settled. She has put up with his mother’s bitterness and a lifestyle she didn’t even know about until her marriage … and how does he repay her? He divorces her just so he doesn’t have to hear his mom going on and on about how horrible Sara is. Really? Was this the best this idiotic man could do? I think I almost gave up the drama at this point.

The audience knows that throughout all of this, Shahla has been the manipulator in the background. She is always ready and able to fill her aunt’s ears with bad things about Sara. She manipulates every situation to her advantage, and succeeds at separating Umar and Shahla in the end.

To add insult to injury, immediately after the divorce, Umar marries Shahla. Shahla gradually comes to realize that her life with Umar was not all she imagined it to be. She is dissatisfied with her life because, while Umar may have given her his name, Umar has yet to give her his heart. They have a daughter that Umar loves, but it creates no closeness between Umar and Shahla. The audience comes to see that Shahla has succeeded in separating Umar from his family, and they have moved into a modern apartment, leaving his parents behind. Shahla knows that she should be happy, but she isn’t.

On the other hand, we see that Sara has agreed to marry Asfer (played by Adnan Siddiqui). Asfer is also a divorcee, and turns out to be an abuser. He causes Sara to lose their child. Umar comes across Sara when she is in the hospital due to Asfer’s abuse one day. He immediately figures out that Sara is in an abusive relationship, and tells Sara’s parents. They immediately go and bring their daughter home. Umar realizes that he loves and can only love Sara, and he tries to begin their relationship once more. Sara has suffered a lot and is wary of trusting Umar once more, but she gradually falls under his spell. As soon as Sara tells him that she will be with him, Umar tells Shahla that he is leaving her.

In the end Shahla sits all alone in the dark, and realizes that despite all of her machinations she has ended up with nothing.

I really enjoyed the drama, despite the fact that Umar turned out to be a total wimp. I hate characters who have the courage to love, but are cowards when it comes to protecting that love. Umar was courageous enough to follow his heart and marry Sara, but when it came to protecting her, he abandoned her by saying “divorce” three times. Sure he regretted it later, but my philosophy is: don’t do anything that you’ll end up regretting. Because of him, Sara goes on to marry an abusive man and has to suffer through a hellish marriage. But Umar does step in and try to save her in the end, and has the courage to leave Shahla when he realizes what a stupid decision he made in marrying her.

I really liked Sonia Rahman in this drama. She has this calm maturity about her that I don’t see often in actresses. I think she was the perfect Sara and the perfect contrast to Sanam Baloch’s Shahla. Rahman was able to portray Sara’s confidence, despite all of the bad treatment she went through. She was able to portray the shock Sara felt after being divorced. She successfully portrayed Sara’s fear of Asfer, her wariness of Umar and final acceptance at the end. I really wish that I could see her in more dramas.

And I really hated Sanam Baloch in this drama. That says a lot for the actress and her ability to portray the crafty, wily, manipulative and cold character of Shahla. Baloch showed us a girl that felt no compunction in ruining Sara’s life, of hurting Umar, of manipulating her future mother-in-law. She felt no hesitance in separating Umar from his family, and she still had the nerve to complain in the end. I felt utter disgust for Shahla and felt that she got her just desserts at the end of the drama. And this was all because Sanam Baloch did an excellent job as Shahla.

Despite the fact that there was an unfair exercise of a man’s ability to easily get a divorce, I liked this drama and I think that it was worth watching once. If you haven’t seen it, I would strongly suggest you give it a try.

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