Visually, Deewar E Shab is a stunning piece of art. The sets, the costumes, the dialogues all transport you to a different world – one you’d imagine to take place in the 1950s, which strikes the viewer as odd when the characters begin discussing films and acting. In fact, it’s this unusual scenario that makes the show all the more interesting. Set in what is appears to be Heera Mandi (though not stated), from the first episode alone, it is made clear that Sitara Begum’s (Bushra Ansari) haveli is not a place where women are bought and sold. Rather, Sitara Begum declares that they are artists who sell their art, specifically singing, dancing and musical talents. At the end of episode 1, Sitara Begum waits anxiously for Feroza’s (Zara Noor Abbas) return and just as her car arrives, the show ends on a cliffhanger.
As it so happens, with the opening of episode 2, the cliffhanger is purely for shock value with little cause for alarm, as Feroza, Dildar Begum and Shama all arrive back home safely. One point is made crystal clear – Dildar Begum is set to destroy Sitara Begum and Feroza. She arranges for Feroza to escape, running away to meet her “lover,” a lover that Dildar Begum declares will take her away from this world and into an “izzatdaar” (respectful) environment full of love. This statement sets off alarms for the viewer, as this lover has yet to appear on-screen. Does he exist or is Dildar Begum ruining Feroza’s life based on falsified letters? Feroza asks Dildar Begum to take care of Sitara Begum and makes her escape, chaos ensuing in the aftermath.
Faiz Ali (Mohsin Abbas Haider) discovers the backdoor open, a door that only opens from the inside and the house is enveloped in panic, Sitara Begum falling ill upon discovering Feroza’s absence. When Faiz Ali clears the doctor’s bills, Nagina (Nausheen Shah) behaves rudely to Faiz, reminding him of his lower status and treats him like a lesser being. This classist mentality is written is such a way that it forces the viewer to think – Nagina believes herself to be above Faiz Ali; however, their household is seen as being of lower status due to their profession. This mentality exists regardless of social standing – someone is always “beneath” another.
Separately, the story of a more “respectful” family runs parallel – the story of Shaista, Islam, Shakra and Izhaar. The joint family system is an age-old tale, one that works for some and does not for others. In this case, it is creating a hostile situation. Shakra (Shaheen Khan) is a crooked woman, always fighting for herself and her daughters in order to get the best in life. She raises her children to be the same, which erupts into an altercation when her young daughter accuses Saira (Saima Qureshi) of raising her voice to her and insulting her. This misunderstanding makes the living situation even more difficult.
Episode 2 falls into the category of “eventful, but uneventful.” While Feroza running away is a major occurrence, the scenes following occurred in what almost seemed like real-time events. Those who have read the novel will be well-informed as to what lies ahead for the show, but for those viewers who have not read the novel, time will tell.
However, based on the video for the original soundtrack, several characters have yet to be introduced and curiosity has peaked as to what will become of Feroza now that she has left the comforts of her home – and for whom?