Kashf: Entertaining Despite Kitchen Politics
Kashf, starring Hira Mani and Junaid Khan, continues to entertain despite its kitchen politics
Kashf is a hard drama to watch. A heroine who seems to have her thumb permanently pressed on the self-destruct button and abdicates every opportunity for agency or self-preservation is difficult to empathize with. So, what keeps me coming back to watch? In between the usual “zalim samaj” tropes is a refreshingly, insightful story which holds out the promise of something deeper as it progresses.
Kashf (Hira Mani) doesn’t see dead people but she does see what might happen in the near future. These dreams are obviously not prophecies because what she sees doesn’t always come true, for example when she warns her Khala about a flight, the Khala misses it and has a lucky escape. Although she hasn’t articulated or understood it, Kashaf dreams are of possible futures and the interpretation of them is not always obvious. Writer Imran Nazeer has chosen an apt name for her heroine in Kashf, superficially it means one who discovers or finds, but the deeper Sufi meaning is one who unveils the truth, or can see past the veils that stand between the seen and unseen worlds.
The other characters in this drama are Kashf’s family and her cousin Wajdan (Junaid Khan), to whom she is engaged to Wajdaan, loves Kashf more than Kashf loves herself and unlike her selfish father, is a supportive and faithful man, who stands up for her at every turn. Junaid Khan is a pleasant surprise in this drama and plays his part with so much sweet, a simple charm that he is one of the main attractions of this serial.
Junaid Khan, Hira Mani and Hajra Khan in Kashf. Courtesy Screengrab
Hira Salman has become a staple on our screens playing one weeping victim after another, this has gained her a lot of name recognition but too often obscured her skills as an actress. It's sometimes hard to believe she is the same talented actress who played the confused young woman in Pagli or the formidable Shagufta Shehzadi in Preet Na Kariyo Koi. However, as the story and Kashf’s character arc progresses, I hope we can see some of that ability on display again.
So far Kashf’s role has been one of an easily intimidated girl, who is at times afraid to sleep in case her dreams cause her more trouble. Already her dreams have cost her the goodwill of her Wajdan’s mother who feels one of Kashaf’s dreams jinxed her daughter’s wedding. When her daughter’s wedding is called off and the groom dies, as per Kashaf’s prediction, Wajdan’s mother blames Kashf and cancels her son’s engagement. However, a news report tells her that actually her daughter had a lucky escape because the groom was known criminal and it seems as if she may ask for Kashf’s forgiveness soon.
This might seem an end to the heroine’s problems but it just further cements her role as different, and perhaps a Pir. Kashf’s main problem is not so much poverty but the oppressive culture of male supremacy that rules her family. Her father Imtiaz (Waseem Abbas) is a lazy good for nothing who likes to gamble and is quite willing to sell his daughter or sister to the highest bidder for money. Despite his obvious faults Kashf’s grandmother is her son’s constant supporter and has scant sympathy for the other women in the family choosing to ally with what she sees as the power base in their little hierarchy.
Kashf’s mother is the biggest victim, trapped in a loveless marriage, the constant butt of taunts for not producing a boy, yet she struggles on for her girls. Kashf’s Phupo played by another excellent actress Hajra Khan, is another victim of this family’s misogyny. Despite being the one regular earner in the family, she receives no respect from either her mother or her brother. Imtiaz sees the females in his family as business assets, selling them off to whoever will provide the highest Mehar.
This is where the writer has done hard work of lifting this drama above the ordinary in one short but incredibly telling conversation between father and daughter.
In episode six, we see all the trite little phrases that extol traditional family life turned on their head. Imtiaz was bent on selling Kashf to a man old enough to be her father but gets a better offer from her Phuppo’s ex-husband who is a professional, fake “Pir” who has heard of Kashaf’s gift and wants to use it to earn money.
All the traditional protections Pakistani culture is supposed to afford a woman are used by Imtiaz to abuse and exploit. What is strange is Kashaf’s resigned acceptance, Wajdan and her Phuppo show her there are ways out of this situation but time and again Kashaf plays the sacrificial lamb refusing to make even the slightest effort. While it is frustrating to watch it is a fantastic illustration of the fact that traditions of guardianship, respect for parents and family honour can easily be used to manipulate and suppress women.
This serial is nicely put together with solid performances elicited from all the actors and the credit goes to director Danish Nawaz. Danish Nawaz’s earlier effort Khaas was also a big hit last year and this serial shows he has matured even more as a director, with shorter scenes and a faster pace more suited to this mystery genre.
If there is one shortcoming it is the tiresome scheming sister track that has been given to one of Kashaf’s sisters, who it seems must follow her father in villainy. She hopes to wrench Wajdan from Kashf but hopefully, the writer will use her role just as subtly as she has with the other characters. While Kashf is never far from the kitchen politics much loved by producers and domestic audiences, it still manages to be very entertaining and rise above average with the supernatural twist in its plot .