“Jab bhi baarish hoti thi, usse apna watan bohot yaad aata tha” – when discussing Torah Khan’s Mother
‘Sang-e-Mar Mar’ is incredibly underrated. The drama centered around a Pashtun family and all the bundles of tribulations various members went through as they strived to gnaw their way through the rigid and at times controversial norms. A particular scene, rather a little bundle of scenes regarding Torah Khan and his Bengali mother stand out and undoubtedly shaped the drama into what it was. While the serial was nothing short of perfect, it was this shortlived storyline that molded the entire plot and aided the toplining of unarguably one of the finest pieces of Pakistani television.
Director Saifee Hassan sets up this particular substory so effortlessly, and so magnificently that what you end up witnessing is an emotionally-bound odyssey
Torah Khan is essentially the ugly duckling, as declared by members of his family who isolate him for his hybrid Pashtun and Bengali heritage. His father hailed from a rigid Pashtun background and married a Bengali woman he couldn’t help fall for, defying his clan. A young Torah is left utterly broken after his mother is beaten to death by his uncle (the terrifying Noman Ejaz) when he is merely a child; it clouds his being, and time only digs deeper at the void he harbors (since when has time ever been medicinal).
Torah’s face is speckling ruthlessness throughout his day, and then an awful haze of pain when he’s alone and it’s just a shimmer of Saifee Hassan’s projecting subtlety.
The director exquisitely captures the recluse that Torah has become, both (i) aesthetically as he sits in a darkened room, living in his mother’s past and (ii) through the lagging of any form of developing his character has through the drama. It’s very different to other protagonists whose actions morally fluctuate; he is cold, rigid and has vengeance boiling his veins throughout.
Two evocative items are all that Torah has to hold onto; his mother’s saree she wore the night she was killed, and a little radio playing her Bengali melody
…And it is when he immerses himself in both that we no longer see a man; instead, we see stripped before us a boy who longs for his mother. This remarkable transition back and forth in broken pauses is spectacularly done; we’re aren’t told who this mysterious woman dancing so gloriously in the rain is until a little further into the flashbacks.
The delicate and melancholic scene where Torah’s mother is forced to undergo as we see her in her saree first, then a shalwar kameez and a burka is collectively heartbreaking
It’s kept purposefully short, and we don’t really want much more really – her suffering drips through her skin as she gazes at herself in the mirror, watching her slowly lose her own self as all the years progress.
The rain and draping herself in her sarees were her safe haven, and this simple storytelling wasn’t strawed out in any particular way
Rather, Saifee Hassan’s crafting of such naïveté displayed is quite brilliant; he sets up a warmth with the audience, peaking with the dance in the rain, only to suddenly peel it all away from us before she dies. There’s nothing unheard of in all this, but that’s the magical touch of Saifee Hassan – he leaves you in absolute awe.
What did you think of ‘Sang-e-Mar Mar?’