Sang-e-Mah sheds light on Pashtun practice, Ghag

A Pashtun man fires three bullets outside a girl's house to declare his ownership of her while a Jirga decides what needs to be done

By Farheen Abdullah

KARACHI: To say that episode 1 of Sang-e-Mah lived up to the expectations of audiences and did justice to the hype that had been created by the team would not be an overstatement. The drama begins like any good piece of art should; it establishes its main characters and their natures, establishes their relationships with each other and dives right into the main theme of the story. For Sang-e-Mah, the main theme or rather social issue that is introduced to viewers in the very first episode is that of Ghag. A Pashtun practice, Ghag is a form of forced marriage where a Pashtun man fires three bullets outside a girl’s house, claiming her to be his and thus, declaring that no one else can marry her.

Before episode 1 delves into the issue of Ghag, Sang-e-Mah introduces viewers to its characters in a rather entertaining way. Sania Saeed plays the role of Zargona, a strong headed woman who rides a horse with a command that few have and hunts animals like a pro. Her daughter, Gulmeenah (played by Hania Aamir), is in love with her maternal cousin, Hikmat (played by Zaviyar Ijaz), but because of the tension between Zargona and her sister (Samiya Mumtaz), the match cannot happen.

While Hikmat navigates his way through love and hatred, his brother Hilmand, played by the newbie who comes across as a pro straightway, Atif Aslam, is on a path of his own. Clearly a deviant individual, Hilmand refuses to come home for reasons unknown and seems quite into sufiism. While his dialogues may be mischievous and Hilmand manages to make his audiences laugh more than once, he is not a nutcase. He is unapologetically himself and in his unfiltered opinions, he actually manages to influence other people.

In direct opposition to him is his father, or stepfather so it seems, Haji Marjaan Khan essayed by none other than Nauman Ijaz. The tension between the two men is exciting as both of them are smart, opinionated and stubborn with neither willing to meet the other half way.

Ghag is introduced into the plot when one of Hilmand’s friends shoots fire outside a girl’s house and chickens out when a Jirga (a tribal council) headed by Haji Marjaan Khan is called for. The decision is reached after much speculation and is an interesting one at that. On the other hand, Gulmeenah begs Hikmat to pull any strings he wants to in order to marry her but not practise Ghag.

Exactly how Hikmat is able to convince their families will be interesting to see but the bigger mystery lies in how Hilmand is going to cross paths with Sheherzad (Kubra Khan), a researcher who is on her way to explore the practice of Ghag.

Speaking of performances, it is no surprise that Nauman Ijaz, Sania Saeed and Samiya Mumtaz deliver their best as always. With talent like theirs, it is difficult to imagine anyone else matching their aura but Zaviyar Ijaz and Hania Aamir impress in their own capacities. Zaviyar Ijaz fits well into the role of a sweet, playful man who is very much in love while Hania Aamir’s pashto accent is commendable. The biggest treat, however, lies not in the beautiful landscapes of Pakistan captured in Sang-e-Mah, or the A-list cast, but rather in the debutant Atif Aslam who steals the show from the get go. Watching the episode, it is hard to believe that we have never seen Aslam on our TV screens before, specially not in an avatar like Hilmand’s. The man looks his part like he was born to play the character, walks with the confidence that only Hilmand can have and does complete justice to the insightful dialogues scripted by Mustafa Afridi. Aslam may have taken 17 years to choose a character, but he has surely hit the nail on its head with this one.

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