Kankar: Standing up for the abused woman

Published: October 24, 2013
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Mustafa grew up seeing his mother being regularly beaten by his father and then showered with flowers and jewellery once the guilt set in. So, if that was acceptable to his mother, surely it would be good enough for his wife. PHOTO: https://www.facebook.com/KankarHumtvofficial

Hum TV has outdone itself once again by airing the drama serial, Kankar, which is unfortunately, the story of every other household in Pakistan. What is even more remarkable is that as the plot unfolds, we find the lead actress making decisions that most would not have the guts to make in real life.  

In this serial, Hum brings to light the matter of physical abuse, highlighting that this downright degradation of women is not limited to the lower echelon of society; in fact, it is prevalent among the educated and affluent class as well. Marvellously penned by Umera Ahmed – the author who gave us brilliant works such as Meri  Zaat Zarra-e-BenishanDurr-e-ShehwarShehr-e-Zaat and Zindagi Gulzar Hai – the story revolves around yet another strong female character who is meant to endure all the hardships that our society imposes on women.

Kiran, the lead character, played by Sanam Baloch, is a cheerful and quick-witted girl, in the full bloom of youth. Unintentionally, she manages to attract the affection of her best friend, Arzoo’s intended prey, Sikandar who happens to be Arzoo’s cousin. Sikandar, played by Fahad Mustafa, belongs to a well-to-do family, has studied abroad and is in every sense of the word, an ‘eligible’ bachelor.

Well, long story short, Kiran and Sikandar get married. Although Sikandar is shown to be extremely besotted by his wife initially, reality soon sets in and it turns out that this much sought-after man has a dark side. He harbours an anger that knows no bounds, which first unveils itself in the form of scarcely deserved words and soon turns into physical abuse with the passage of time.

The story, sadly not uncommon to many in Pakistan, thus unfolds. Trapped in the face of such evil, Kiran tries to talk to her husband and her in-laws about the issue. When that does not help, she becomes withdrawn and tries to deal with her pain alone. She goes through all stages of grief and isolation in the hope that Sikandar will realise the pain that he is putting her through and will stop. Her hope is that perhaps, guilt or shame will set in and she continues to live in the delusion that it cannot get any worse.

However, it does. Like every other case of marital abuse, it keeps getting worse and it is only when she loses her child at the hands of Sikandar’s ill-timed rage that she realises that she has had enough.

The main factor that makes Kankar different from serials portraying a similar story line is that in spite of social and family pressure, Kiran stands up for herself and asks Sikandar for a divorce. Think about it – a girl from a lower-middle class family stands up against her affluent husband and in-laws, and does the ‘unthinkable’.

How many girls do you know who would dare to do that?

Moreover, the issue highlighted in this drama is not just that a middle-class girl was the subject of physical abuse by her husband. In fact, the serial also attempts to explain one possible root cause of marital abuse. As the story unfolds, the audience is made to understand that Sikandar grew up seeing his mother being regularly beaten by his father and then showered with presents once the guilt set in. Hence, from a young age, he understood physical abuse to be a ‘norm’ in the marriage relationship. Growing up, he perceived that it was completely acceptable to be aggressive towards your wife as long as you made up for it through flowers and jewellery. Therefore, his rationale was that if such treatment was acceptable to his mother, surely it would be good enough for his wife.

Within this narrative, lies the second focal point of the story, one targeted at women. If a child sees his mother being beaten and not reacting, he will think it is perfectly all right to abuse his own wife in turn. Marital abuse, therefore, can become a vicious cycle.

Needless to say, Kiran is criticised by her family and friends for her ‘mistake’. She is constantly warned about the outcome of a divorce; something which the serial will surely depict in the coming episodes. She will certainly be seen to face hardships being a divorcee in our society and is likely to be depicted as the ‘villain’ for asking for a divorce.

There have been many plays regarding marital abuse but no matter how many times the issue is raised, it is always refreshing to see a woman standing up for her self-respect. I hope that Umera Ahmed gives our protagonist a happy ending and I hope that Kiran finds her place in the world, against all odds, so that she may be a beacon of hope for those going through the same trauma in their lives.

Bravo to Hum TV for showing women all over Pakistan that it is okay to stand up for themselves;  that no matter how hard the journey or tough the obstacles may be, a woman should never allow herself to be degraded. Most importantly, I hope that women suffering from marital abuse find solace in Kiran’s story because for every hundred women who quiet down in the face of abuse, there has to be one who stands up and says,

“ENOUGH!”

 

An earlier version of the post incorrectly stated the male lead’s name. The mistake has been corrected. 

Batool Haider

Batool Haider

A professional accountant who often writes and occasionally free-lances, she enjoys viewing the world with a cynical eye, hoping to be pleasantly surprised.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Do you even watch the show?

    His name is Sikander!!Recommend

  • hina

    if i am not wrong, “Mustafa” is “Sikander” actually. right?Recommend

  • batool Haider

    yep! my bad ..confused the characters name with that of the actor.. Sorry!Recommend

  • Nandita.

    When will this be uploaded on youtube? I never watch dramas ( Ekta Kapoor has scarred me for life in this regard) but someone suggested I watch Zindagi Gulzar hai and after the initial reluctance I did watch it on youtube and honestly speaking, I loved it. What a fantastic drama it was! So, I would love to watch this Hum Tv drama as well.. I haven’t read the review, but the first line seems encouraging so I’ll wait for the episodes to be uploaded on youtube.FRom what I’ve heard, Pakistan seems to produce good dramas, way to go!

    Recommend

  • sabah

    Just in addition, Sikander’s mother is the key source for the issues the couple has faced. Her fondness of her sister and niece never let her truly accept her daughter-in-law and though she gave into her son’s demand for getting him married to the girl of his choice, she never really wished well for them, her continuous bad mouthing impacted her son’s perception – this too is not uncommon in our society where family instead of supporting a marriage works all end to create tiffs & complications.Recommend

  • bangash

    Pakistani dramas are uploaded to the internet very quickly, including YouTube. Do an internet search for Kankar Episode 1 and you will get it.Recommend

  • Sadaf Naz

    hmmmm niceRecommend

  • DM

    You can find it on dramasonline, tune pk and several other sites including Youtube.Recommend

  • Tamkeen Pirzada

    This drama also clears a very big misconception in our society,that ” it is written in Quran to beat women” . Majority of people/men/mom in laws refuse to read the reason for raising ones hand on the wife. I salute the author of the drama for writing such beautiful dialogues on the topic & also the director to bring out the importance of the matter.Recommend

  • Ifrah

    Nandita, try http://www.dramasonline.com…you‘ll find all the dramas there including Kankar.Recommend

  • x

    Greetings from across the border.
    If you liked zindagi gulzar hai, which i found just ok, you will love some other dramas which were fantastic.
    Daam, Vasl, Malal were all different and amazing. They all tackle social issues and are infinitely relatable. They have been directed by Mehreen Jabbar is a master at her craft par excellence.
    Dastaan on the topic of partition is also brilliant, poignant and very nuanced. It gives a heart felt account of human stories with no anti India stance. You will definitely cry with it,feel for the people, love it.
    Happy watching!Recommend

  • Nandita.

    @Ifrah,DM,Bangash and x : Thankyou for your suggestions and comments :)Recommend

  • Jaren

    Although the message of the drama is good and under no circumstances should a woman put up with abuse of any kind, comments on certain online portals where the drama has been uploaded show the general perception of our people and how much they need to grow up. About 80% of those who commented believe that the protagonist i.e. Kiran should have tolerated the abuse, changed her ways and not spoken a word against Sikander (zaban na chalati uske samne) in order to “save her marriage”. Mind you most of these commentators are women. This shows how deep-rooted this menace is in our society. We have a long way to go till we stop blaming the abused woman of not being able to have a successful married life. If a man raises his hand once on his wife, there is a very high probability that he shall repeat the same again. Abuse even if it is “just a slap once” as many people put it, is not acceptable at all. Such men don’t deserve a woman in their life, period.Recommend

  • Kiran

    Hi Nandita. Quite a few episodes of Kankar are aired, about 18 or 19. You can find them on YouTube or thepaktv.com. Also watch Humsafar (if you haven’t watched already). Shehrzaat is a great one too, however it’s message is more focused on spirituality. Recommend

  • a reader

    Of course there will b a hAppy ending….isn’t the phupa’s son waiting in the wings? Unfortunately in the real world a divorcee frm kiran’s background wud not have found another so hopelessly in love withher so soon…..however, a serial is allowed some liberties of corse…..Recommend

  • nasir mehmood

    @nandita
    Try these dramas on the pakistaniolddramas or yoy may get their dvds also …..and beleive me nandita….actual humur , story …everything ….you would love them…
    Tanhaaiyan , an-kahi , dhoop kinarey , aanghan-terha , humsafar , …..there is a long list but i just dont remember their names :-/Recommend

  • dujaize Duja

    Watching pak serials from KAshmir
    Its a Brillant peace of work …kankar has showcased the ugly truth of marriage which is going through India and Pakistan
    Hatts offRecommend

  • Nicky

    I like the drama but the “comments” on youtube of people condemning the victim and calling her “hasty” and not “patient” with her abusive husband boils my blood everytime.Recommend

  • Samra

    I am constantly following this drama and I really like the character being played by Sanam Baloch n I hope the drama will end with good morals. They also showed that inspite of the fact that Sikandar was a very caring husband but he disrespects his in laws as they belong to a lower middle class family. So, people should also keep in mind being parents of a daughter money is not only the key factor of happy married life..Recommend

  • Samra

    I am constantly following this drama and I really like the character being played by Sanam Baloch n I hope the drama will end with good morals. They also showed that in spite of the fact that Sikandar was a very caring husband but he disrespects his in laws as they belong toa lower middle class family. So, people should also keep in mind being parents of a daughter money is not only the key factor of happy married life..Recommend