Comment: Who do we blame for what’s happening in Mohabbat Tujhe Alvida?

As the drama serial progresses, it only raises more and more questions about its characters and their choices

By Farheen Abdullah

KARACHI: There was a time when Pakistani dramas would be powerful, unique and have a strong message behind them. These days, however, the drama industry seems to be struggling with creating content that makes sense at the very least. With almost every show narrating a love story, there is barely any outstanding content for the viewers. Hum TV’s Mohabbat Tujhe Alvida, however, has managed to grasp the audience’s attention for all the wrong reasons. While it was established early in the play that Mohabbat Tujhe Alvida gaslights and victim blames Zahid Ahmed’s character, recent episodes have only left fans more confused.

The most interesting thing perhaps is that we as an audience can no longer blame one character or pinpoint a particular turn in the story from which everything went haywire. So here we are, trying to pen down the confusion in our heads in hopes that someone has answers.

What does Ulfat want?

It is very evident that Shahan (Zahid Ahmed) is in love with his wife, Ulfat (Sonya Hussyn) and is perfectly happy with her until she convinces (read: manipulates) him to marry Shafaq (Mansha Pasha). It takes her a few episodes (and a few threats by both women) to fully get Shahan on board with the idea. However, the very night that Shahan weds Shafaq, Ulfat starts creating issues. She gets upset every time that Shahan spends time with his other wife. I mean, what did she expect? That he would get married to another woman but still be able to spend all his time with her? Also, how is she not guilty at all about having literally sold her husband to another woman and then complaining about not getting enough attention? At one point Ulfat literally sets a photo frame on fire simply because it had all three of them in it and not just her and Shahan. What does she want and how much of it does she want?

What kind of transformation has Shafaq undergone?

Perhaps the biggest identity crisis is faced by Pasha’s character in the drama. Prior to her marriage, she is a rich, modern, successful businesswoman. However, after her marriage, Shafaq plays the ‘good wife’, never complaining, always wearing a three piece suit. In fact, she even wears a dupatta in the kitchen where she is alone while she cooks for her husband like the perfect domestic wife that she wishes to be. Did I mention that she even refuses to accept the wedding gift by Shahan because she only wants his love and nothing else? And why does she no longer go to work? Can a working woman never be domestic or is it necessary to always wear shalwar kameez to look like a bahu? How and why did she change who she was overnight?

When will Shahan go to therapy?

We love to see women in powerful roles and not succumbing to their husbands but what has been done to Shahan by the women in his life cannot be commended. He is a decent man who gets emotionally blackmailed into marrying a second time, sometimes by Ulfat threatening to leave the house while Shafaq tries to kill herself. However, Shahan’s guilt trip does not end after he marries Shafaq for now he must give equal attention and time to both wives otherwise the other one will get hurt. Not once does Shahan get impressed or carried away by how much wealth each of his wives have, and tries his best to keep them both happy. However, is any of this good for his mental health? Absolutely not. He has been a victim of gaslighting, victim blaming, blackmail and workplace harassment, and he should really seek professional help instead of running after two wives who will always be in conflict.

Is Shahan’s mother the only sane character?

The latest episode of Mohabbat Tujhe Alvida made one good point in a very long time. It was when Shahan’s mother makes him realize that perhaps the only reason he is so disturbed by Ulfat’s changing attitude is because she is finally doing things for herself. She highlights how Shahan never had any complaints earlier because Ulfat did things exactly the way Shahan wanted her to. She was a good, simple, middleclass homemaker. But now that she pays more attention to her wants, the concept does not sit well with Shahan. This is not to say that Ulfat’s choices are always justified. The mother-in-law also does not compare the two daughter-in-laws, nor does she point out shortcomings in either of the characters, a characteristic which is often found in mother-in-laws in mainstream Pakistani dramas.

Mohabbat Tujhe Alvida has a talented cast but is that enough to create a show that is praised by the masses? Probably not.

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