Cheekh Episode 23: Saba Qamar and Bilal Abbas, A Strong Story Steadily Losing Steam
TV/Streaming Reviews

Cheekh Episode 23: Saba Qamar and Bilal Abbas, A Strong Story Steadily Losing Steam

Saba Qamar and Bilal Abbas’ Cheekh has continuously won over audiences – but has it dragged for too long?

With a strong, female-centered story that began in an intriguing manner, playing “guess who?” with audiences regarding Nayyab’s killer and a daring reveal early in the show, Cheekh won over viewers quickly and ranked as the must-watch show on television for months. Trending each week, Cheekh reigns supreme on the list of high viewership.  However, has the show become repetitive?  At present, the show relies heavily on emotional sequences with the original soundtrack playing dispersed throughout the episode.  Episode 23 seems to be an ode to the song in itself with little happening while we hear the lines “Na chup reh ke yun zindagi rol de, sittam ho chuka ab zubaan khol de…..” repeatedly.  Mannat (Saba Qamar) and Shayaan (Emmad Irfani) have done anything but keep silent, so the relevance of the song during these sequences is questionable, but viewers are given a healthy dose of it regardless. Coming to the episode itself, little occurred to move the narrative forward.

Episode 23 focuses on three plotlines, which heavily rely on the emotional quotient of the show. First, a party celebrating Wajih’s (Bilal Abbas Khan) acquittal is in full swing at Yawar’s (Aijaz Aslam) house where several big-wigs are invited.  Yawar requests Hayaa (Azekah Daniel) to join the party, though she is in a depressed state with Mannat’s situation.  Yawar and Wajih are in for a surprise when Inspector Amir Khan (Nayyar Ejaz) arrives uninvited. The inspector states, in straightforward terms, that he will not let Yawar and Wajih off easily and they are indebted to him for a lifetime, presenting Yawar with a bill for a new pair of shoes before departing. Yawar realizes Amir Khan will be cause for trouble. 

The second plotline that receives attention is Hayaa’s growing level of discontent and hostility towards her brothers regarding their treatment of Shayaan and Mannat.  Ramzaan (Noor-Ul-Hassan) visits the house, requesting Yawar to have Mannat released from the asylum.  When he is shut down, Hayaa’s anger boils over, cursing her brothers and herself for the situation.  One suspects Hayaa and Shahwaar (Maira Khan) will play a large role in seeking justice for Mannat in the coming episodes. 

Last, we witness Mannat receiving several visitors in the institution. Shayaan, concerned that she is receiving improper medications that are messing with her mental health, visits Mannat to check in on her well-being.  Distraught at seeing her vocally unresponsive condition, he feels helpless.  Mannat’s mother also visits her, talking to Mannat in an attempt to explain herself and alleviate her guilt, but is left carrying it as Mannat is not ready to forgive.  At the very end of the episode, Mannat’s third visitor is Wajih himself.  What will Wajih say to Mannat is yet to be seen, but based on the teaser for the next episode, Wajih will have some interesting words to share.

Based on the teaser for the next episode, the grey cloud of misery is yet to be lifted.  While Mannat will be released from the institution, a death is looming on the horizon and viewers are quite aware as to who the body will belong to, bringing a new wave of grief to the story.  When will strength and fearlessness reappear on the show?  When will the case reopen and how will the story move forward?  When will Mannat, Shayaan and Ramzaan get justice?  At the cost of what they have lost, will justice be enough to heal the wounds?  There is a lot to unpack with this story emotionally and the audience continues to hope for positivity to reappear on the scene.  

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