Cheekh: Saba Qamar's Drama Is Running on Performances
TV/Streaming Reviews

Cheekh: Saba Qamar's Drama Is Running on Performances

While the pace of Cheekh has slowed, the performances keep it sailing

Audiences have waited in anticipation for a new Cheekh episode, to the point that Cheekh has been trending on Twitter due to this question: “Where is Cheekh?” To their frustration, Saturday came and went for two weeks without a new episode on air.  The reasoning for this was fairly simple.  The day episode 21 was set to air was one of the final days of Ramadan, compelling ARY to focus on Ramadan transmissions in its place.  Likewise, the following Saturday fell within the Eid programming confines, therefore episodes 21 and 22 were not telecast in a timely fashion.  Finally, this week, Cheekh will return to our television screens. 

In the last episode before the break, viewers witnessed a rather uneventful episode.  Mannat, is healing in the hospital after suffering a miscarriage caused by Wajih.  Wajih drops in with flowers in an attempt to shake Mannat further, upsetting Shayaan and Mannat’s mother. 

Hayaa, remorseful for her friend’s death and her family’s role in it, gets an apartment for Ramzan and his family as repentance.  On the other end, Yawar decides their home is lurking with negative memories and moves the family to a new house.  In court, due to her condition, Mannat is unable to make an appearance.  Nayyab’s falsified suicide note is presented and Ramzan’s financial situation is used against him in an attempt to prove his testimony false. 

This is the story at present, but one has to wonder:  In a story that started off so strong and with multiple strong female characters, what happened?   In a show where women should have ruled the screen, Mannat (Saba Qamar) is the only character that displays true inner and outer strength.  Every other female character is shown in a weak light, presumably to draw attention to Mannat’s strength.  Isn’t it possible to create multiple strong female characters?  Hayaa’s transformation from a supportive sister to a repenting friend happens almost overnight after spending much of the show cowering in the shadow of her brothers.  Likewise, Shahwar (Maira Khan) is initially shown as a strong woman, but gradually, she develops into a wide-eyed, meek, dominated woman.  Mannat aside, the only other consistently vocal woman on the show is Shamsa (Saima Qureshi).  That being said, Shamsa is not a particularly likable or logical character.  While the show still has its strengths, viewers are itching to see woman with intelligence, inner strength and outer strength on their screens.  One would hope Cheekh is still able to deliver.

Currently, it is the performances that are holding the show in a high position.  While every actor in the show is doing justice to their roles, there are 4 stand-out performers.  Saba Qamar does not falter as Mannat, depicting her strengths and weaknesses with equal sincerity.  The miscarriage angle, while painful to watch, serves well to show Mannat’s humanity.  Mannat isn’t just a strong woman fighting battles; she is a wife, a daughter and a mother mourning the loss of her child.  Saba’s performance makes Mannat lovable.  Bilal Abbas Khan, as our super-villain Wajih, is in perfect form.  Wajih is aptly described as a “jaanwar” (animal) by Shayaan and Bilal puts his full force into presenting Wajih as an animal in human form.  While Wajih is brash and childish in his reactions, his arrogance and cruelty is brought to life through Bilal’s expressions.  If Mannat is a lovable character, Wajih is detested.  Emmad Irfani is the light in this grim tale, playing Shayaan as the loyal, trusting, supportive husband that Mannat deserves.  It’s so rare to see a character like Shayaan on-screen, a character that is a good, logical human being, and Emmad shines in this role.  Last, but not least, Noor-Ul-Hassan as Ramzan is a natural.  Playing the deceased Nayyab’s father, Ramzan is a broken man, conflicted between caring for his remaining family and seeking justice for his murdered eldest daughter.  Defeated by the justice system,  helplessness and grief that Ramzan feels is displayed on Noor-ul-Hassan’s face without an iota of “acting” visible – he IS this character. 

These performances are what is currently keeping the show on its feet.  With only a handful of episodes remaining, the show will need to pick up the pace in order to end on a high note.  Viewers want to see the return of strong female characters in the show, wanting to see what the show promised for the first half.  Here’s hoping that the writers move past the filler episodes and resume delivering solid, power-packed episodes.

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By Sophia Qureshi
Pakistani Drama enthusiast, Bollywood fan, elementary school teacher, writer, reader, photographer, lifelong student and mother