Cheekh, when it began, promised to be the story of a strong woman, a woman who would no longer remain silent and had the strength to fight against injustice. In one scene, Wajih’s lawyer looks into Mannat’s eyes and later describes her as a “sherni” (lioness), one who will not back down or be afraid. Saba Qamar’s Mannat was meant to be an inspirational character, one who would fight against evil and show viewers that staying quiet is no longer the way. Unfortunately, along the way, the storytelling weakened and somehow, at the present point, the message relayed is the following: Do not fight for what is right, because you will not only lose your unborn baby and your mother, but you will also end up in an asylum.
Episode 24 begins with Wajih (Bilal Abbas) visiting Mannat (Saba Qamar) at the asylum. Seeing the condition of the asylum and Mannat’s environment, Wajih shows a rare moment of discomfort and sadness. Speaking to Mannat, he shows empathy and compassion, telling her that he misses their family life and wishes it hadn’t turned out like this. But before the viewer can become encompassed in his soft demeanor, Wajih tells Mannat that if she gets out, he will not be able to live his life – he will care for her, her well-being and anything that she needs, but he does not want her to get out. Angrily, Mannat leaves, unwilling to hear him speak anymore.
Of course, Mannat and misery go hand-in-hand these days. Neither Mannat nor the audience are allowed to experience a moment of relief, so the writers threw in one more wrench – the death of Mannat’s mother. Mannat is awarded a release for her mother’s funeral, however no one informs her of this until she arrives at home. In what world Shayaan, Hayaa, Ramzan and the entire lot could have thought this was a good idea to not inform her beforehand, it’s difficult to understand. The shock of the situation traumatizes Mannat and she spends several moments running around, trying to escape in order to absorb it. Saba Qamar’s acting as Mannat in this episode is absolutely brilliant – she brings viewers to tears, depicting Mannat’s despair with perfection, to the point that anyone who has ever experienced the loss of a loved one can relate to this character in this moment. Mannat is allowed to grieve only for the day before she is taken back to the asylum. Shayaan (Emmad Irfani) does his best to support his wife and remains by her side – even as bars separate them.
In this episode, it’s also made clear that the lawyer (Shabbir Jaan) is in control of the asylum and he is having Mannat injected with extreme doses of incorrect medications to make her “paagal” (crazy). On the other end, Yawar (Aijaz Aslam) begins to feel the loss of his family more each day, realizing he’s only left with Wajih, a selfish brother who only cares about his own freedom. Yawar’s shift in attitude is rising to the surface and it’s not surprising at the end of the episode when he arrives on Shayaan’s doorstep.
The episode overall can only be described as miserable. ARY has an affinity for showing intense death and janaazah (funeral) scenes that make the viewer want to scream in anger. This episode is not any different, except the fact that Saba Qamar’s acting is so good, it makes the scenes worth watching. Shahwar’s (Maira Khan) reappearance is a cause for temporary relief, as at least the viewer can assume she will come to the forefront to speak against Yawar and Wajih, alongside Hayaa (Azekah Daniel). It is becoming difficult to watch Cheekh and it has been for the last few episodes. The misery simply does not lift, the writing does not provide any moment of relief and the blaring soundtrack is played for over half the episode without any reason – the song will not match the scene, the lyrics will not match the scenario, yet the audience is forced to hear these lines over and over again. Please Pakistani drama writers, understand that while OSTs are wonderful, it’s not necessary to play them during each and every dialogue-less moment. Invest in some instrumentals, but stop doing this. It’s distracting, shatters the mood and makes the otherwise powerful, beautiful song seem foolish. To end, Cheekh has lost its strength at present, the good have fallen and how. The rich and powerful are living their lives and viewers are wondering when this show will depict what it was meant to: a strong woman who fights evil without fear and proves that justice will prevail.