A review on Pakistani drama TV series, Sar-e-Rah (2023). The six episode TV mini-series is directed by Ahmed Bhatti and written by Adeel Razzaq & Abdullah Seja. Sar-e-Rah is a collection of short visual stories, perceived through the eyes of a female Taxi Driver, Rania (played by Saba Qamar). Known for its tackling of challenging subject matters, Sar-e-Rah was aired on ARY Digital in early 2023.
- Directed by Ahmed Bhatti
- Written by Adeel Razzaq & Abdullah Seja
- Cinematography by Luqman Khan
- Editing by Arsalan Waheed
- Music by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Mohsin Allah Dittah and Naveed Nashad
- Production by ARY Digital
Sar-e-Rah is a six episode mini-series which is solely focused on the tribulations that a woman (and minorities) have to face in a Pakistani society. Whether it is being harassed at work, being a single parent, having a viral video taken out of context or having a different sexual orientation; Sar-e-Rah highlights all those topics through short television episodes through the eyes of a female cab driver, Rania.
+ Main Cast
- Saba Qamar as Rania
- Sunita Marshall as Dr. Muzna
- Saboor Ali as Rameen
- Muneeb Butt as Sarang
- Hareem Farooq as Maryam
- Mirza Zain Baig as Shozaib
- Mikaal Zulfiqar as Amir
After tragedy strikes the family, Rania has no choice but to continue the family business on behalf of her ailing father i.e. working as a cab driver. While on the road, she encounters four brave individuals who share their life experiences with her.
+ High Points
i – In terms of its conception, Sar-e-Rah is brilliant, well throughout the mini series. By dividing each story into its separate episode, Sar-e-Rah gives a wonderful insight into the lives of individuals who suffer from taking a path which revolts against the misogynist norms of our society. Where Sar-e-Rah truly excels for me is the simple storytelling. Each episode ends with an introduction to a new character and the next episode then elaborates and builds up this individual’s backstory through a lengthy flashback. Not only is this a great concept for storytelling but also quite an engaging one as this strategy makes certain that the audience will most likely tune in for the next episode. Granted, this technique would get old fast in a longer TV series but for a six episode mini-series, works perfectly fine.
ii – Saba Qamar’s character is a perfect vessel for the audience to peep into the lives of the four individuals that she meets along her journey of self-emancipation. The questioning of her character to her clients are impeccably written as they ask the same question that the audience of the show might have in regards to their life stories. Her character Rania is a smart, confident woman who is open to learning from other life experiences around her.
iii – Not all episodes are a homerun but the ones that do shine are the most effective ones. Case in point, Dr. Munza and her struggle to adopt a child. The episode brilliantly exposes the hypocrisy from the society between a husband and wife. The couple cannot conceive a child so naturally it is the woman at fault. Dr. Munza is perplexed and heartbroken as her husband is comfortable with shoving the blame on her when he, in fact, is the one that cannot conceive a child. Along the way, Dr. Munza comes across an abandoned baby in her clinic and promises to protect and adopt the child at all costs. And as one would expect, her husband and mother in law disown her completely and she has no choice but to become a single mother.
Sunita Marshall is perfect casting for the role as she has the ability to play a tortured yet brave woman who can stand up against her so-called authority figures.
iv – Perhaps the most difficult topic to tackle for the show was (unsurprisingly) Episode 4; the boy who was different from others. Just for attempting to bring the topic of homosexuality and transsexual on Pak TV screens is enough to set the internet on fire. Whether you are for individual rights or not, these people exist in our society and are part of our daily lives. And it is important that they are represented as part of us on national television.
While personally not a fan of the network, ARY Digital should be praised for its “controversial” Karachi beach chat between the father and son. I can imagine how much pressure and anticipation for backlash the network prepared for before releasing this episode. All because the father told his son that he will love him no matter what sexual orientation he chooses in the future.
v – The original soundtrack of the show is splendid. Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s magnificent voice captures the struggle and intensity of the characters. The music accompanying each scene provides an additional touch to its emotional drama and never overstays its welcome.
+ Low Points
i – Sar-e-Rah had a great concept but faltered mostly in its execution. The illustrious cast of characters have great, individual personalities with serious, real life issues but the supporting cast of “villains” are depicted as cartoonishly evil with unrealistic dialogue and personalities. The show never went to the next level because the writing of the show never allowed it. There is no doubt that Sar-e-Rah is a show with a bold premise but if the problems are real, the world that it is set in also needs to feel realistic. The show is too busy depicting ‘Good vs Evil’ when in fact, the world is mostly consisting of gray areas.
ii – With all the good that Sar-e-Rah brought onto our television screens, not every episode worked to its strength (namely Episode 3 and 5). The Tik-Tok star episode really had genuine emotions behind its storytelling but the performances and cookie-cutter antagonists just ended up making the episode mediocre at best.
Episode 5 with Maryam (the career oriented woman) felt like it missed its mark by a long shot. Unlike the other protagonists in the show, Maryam felt very unlikable with her mannerisms as she felt that the society “owed” her success in her career rather than her talent earning that success. Her male colleagues are cartoonish scumbags but Maryam’s overconfidence also made her so unsympathetic that as a viewer, I couldn’t care less who wins the pitch with the client in the end. They were all fairly unlikable.
iii – The last episode was massively disappointing as each of the stories were forced into a “wholesome” conclusion from the show. Either all the antagonists were embarrassed or they suddenly gained a new perception in life which narratively made no sense. Sar-e-Rah started off with a bang and ended in a whimper.
Sar-e-Rah is a show with bold writing and a strong cast of characters but ultimately fails to capture the realism of the world that it sets itself in.
Rate: out of 5 stars