“Cheekh” upset audiences greatly with the death of Shayaan, altering the audience opinion of the show. A show that began with a strong message about empowerment, speaking out and utilizing a voice for good – and most importantly, to not fear social stigma and influence of “the powerful” – lost track when Mannat (Saba Qamar) lost her unborn child, her mother, her sanity and, ultimately, her husband. Now finally released, her character has been left with nothing. What, therefore, is the point of the show? Unfortunately, this is a pattern with shows written by Zanjabeel Asim Shah. The last show, “Balaa,” while a great show, also followed this premise – stripping the main character of everything before he/she is finally able to fight back. What drive does an individual have when their purpose for living is gone? This is the point where shows like “Cheekh” lose the audience.
In this episode, Shariq and Mannat have now teamed up to propel Wajih to his doom. Wajih had conspired to have Mannat committed to an asylum and now Mannat is out for revenge, looking to pay Wajih back for all she has been through at his hands. Now supported by practically everyone on the show (what a change), Mannat and Shariq come up with a plan to scare Wajih into believing Shariq Is going to hurt Hayaa in revenge. Wajih begins to stress and “lose it” in a way – because when something bad is done to your loved ones, you then realize how others feel. What’s a little unpalatable about this is that Wajih murdered a girl, killed his own brother, caused his eldest brother to be paralyzed. and now we are supposed to believe that his sister being kidnapped would drive him mad? This one is questionable – though possible, as Hayaa is his only “healthy” relative left. Hayaa and Shariq get married, Shariq choosing to protect Hayaa through the madness and Hayaa understands the necessity of the plan against Wajih. This sums up the happenings of the episode and one does not have to use too much brain-power to guess Wajih’s ultimate end.
Despite all of this, the acting team of “Cheekh” deserves a round of applause for their performances in this episode (and all of the past episodes as well). While Saba Qamar is a powerhouse of talent and has made her acting capabilities known to the country consistently with each show, she continues to keep viewers hooked due to her great performance as Mannat. Mannat has gone through more than an average person would ever go through and has connected with viewers through Saba’s humanization of her. Aijaz Aslam deserves a standing ovation for his performance as Yawar. Whether playing the strong, confident patriarch of the family or now playing the downtrodden, paralyzed, full-of-regret version of Yawar, Aijaz Aslam has made the audience do a full 180 on their feelings towards the character. He is that protective, loving, I’ll-do-anything-for-my-family character that fell prey to his own actions. It’s tragic to see Yawar’s current state and that’s due to Aijaz and his acting. Of course, who can forget Bilal Abbas Khan? One of the best performances of the year, Wajih is a character who is spoiled, entitled and unapologetic for his actions – even if those actions involve murder. What’s fascinating about Bilal’s portrayal is that when Wajih is described as “jaanwar” (animal), the otherwise soft, sweet-faced Bilal makes this label come to life. The entire ensemble cast of Cheekh deserves credit, including Noor Ul-Hassan, Azekah Daniel, etc. While “Cheekh” no longer falls in the list of “powerful shows” for this viewer, the show overall has delivered something different for viewers, much like its predecessor “Balaa.”