Review: Qudoosi Sahab Ki Bewah
“Bhanumati ne kunba jora, kahin ki eent aur kahin ka rora,” utters Amma aka Qudoosi sahib ki bewa, Hina Dilpazeer’s sexagenarian character as she passes a scathing comment on her erstwhile children.
Following her success as Momo in Bulbulay, Dilpazeer goes a notch further as she plays the four main characters in Qudoosi Sahib Ki Bewa (QSKB) from ARY Digital, the story of an elderly woman with a razor-sharp tongue. It is a play that sheds light on the issue of ageing spinsters and great expectations.
Amma lives with her three overweight and frumpy daughters: Khajusta (Shahnaz Pervaiz), Badarqa (Dilpazeer), Shagufta (Uroosa Siddiqi), and Wadood (Waqar) who is her only son in a middle-class neighborhood somewhere in Karachi.
Living in a rented portion, the Urdu-speaking family is shown suffering from serious monetary issues. Given that a major chunk of earnings come from the salary of Badarqa, an education department employee, Amma is reluctant in getting her married off fearing that her other children will suffer.
Then there is the track where the landlord and his family have their scuffles with the Qudoosi clan: the landlord Aleemuddin (Mirza Shahi) is always on the prowl and despite his advancing years, he acts like a love-struck youth. His wife, Nanhi, is a woman of weak faith and who believes in the magical charms of Bengali Baji (Dilpazeer), a con woman who is often seen dispensing harsh advice. Their dwarf son, Maqsood (Maqsood), is married to Rooh-Afza (Dilpazeer) who has her share of insecurities and is excellent at filmi tantrums and histrionics.
Connecting the two families is the butter silk burqay wali matchmaker Aqeela (Badar Khalil), a sharp woman who is more intent on her commission than getting people to settle down.
Things go haywire when Amma finds out that Badarqa has married secretly and from then on things gain speed. The entry of Bhunno (Shabbir Jan) plays havoc with the hearts and minds of all the women involved as they vie for his attention.
Written by Fasih Bari Khan and directed by Muzzafar Moin, the play’s USP is Hina Dilpazeer. Playing four different characters with ease, she outshines all her earlier performances. As Amma, she seems perfect as a cynical and jaded elderly woman who sees through things and people, and as the love-struck Badarqa (a woman with little looks who desperately wants to settle down) she melts many a hearts. Then there is the eccentric Bengali Baji who dispenses strong advice in her thick accent, and also Rooh-Afza who is a case of style gone horribly wrong.
Noted for its strong performances, QSKB is a vehicle that showcases how far an actor (in this case Dilpazeer) can go when it comes to delivering a sterling performance. Not far behind Dilpazeer is Badar Khalil’s matchmaker who more often than not is seen eloquently praising her butter silk burqa. Any scene where the two actresses are in the same frame is simply a delight to watch.
However, the other cast members falter at times with Siddiqui being a case in point. Her character with an irritable laughter is more annoying than entertaining, and at best looks like a bad parody of Kajol’s character in Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Ghum. Waqar as Wadood needs to work on his dialogue delivery and try to sound less Punjabi, given that he is shown from a typical Urdu-speaking family.
The play is entertaining but at the same time highlights the harsh treatment meted out to single women. It also shows how the selfishness of parents prevents a family “cash cow” from settling down and carrying on her life. The play also touches on the theme of gender identity disorder, but given that it’s meant for the masses it stays focused more on Wudood’s feminine side and his fetish for dressing up than anything else. Given that both Bari and Moin want to keep things light and suitable for the general audience, these issues are kept in check. With excellent script and strong characterisation, Qudoosi Sahib Ki Bewa offers a humorous and entertaining insight into the lives and complex issues of people living on the far side of the social spectrum.