Normally, you never get to see bold Muslim characters on desi TV or web. But ALTBalaji’s Haq Se changes all that. The setting is the beautiful Kashmir Valley.
The story is based on the classic, Little Women. It traces the lives of four sisters, each as different as chalk from cheese. First is budding doctor, Mehrunissa Mirza (Surveen Chawla), who is jilted in love. Then comes hardcore-feminist, blog-writer, Jannat Mirza (Parul Gulati). Third is singer, Bahira Mirza (Aanchal Sharma), and last, but not the least, is wannabe model Amal Mirza (Nikessha Rangwala), who does not mind using her girlish charm to get her way.
The family is completed by mother, Rabiyah (Rukhsar Rehman) and aunt, Fatima (Simone Singh). The latter is involved with married Deputy Chief Minister of the state, Salman Baig (Waqar Sheikh), who is not even ready to accept her as the other woman. Jannat supports her aunt, while the others don’t.
No story is complete without romance. Hence, enter Tabish (Parvail Gulati), good friend of Jannat. He loves her but she does not. To add spice to the proceedings, younger sis Bahira is smitten by him. He helps her get her first gig.
Mehrunissa’s love life is completed by Naushad Rizvi (Rajeev Khandelwal), a hard-nosed, non-emotional doctor, having issues with the Mirza clan. His wife has left him, and he has a daughter.
The tempo builds up further, when conservative elements don’t like Bahira singing. We don’t want to reveal the story any more. Why don’t you check it out yourself?
The engaging narrative moves briskly. Each of the characters is very strong. The clashes between Naushad and Mehrunissa are both, serious and fun, e.g., she accidentally blurts out hospital gossip that he bumped off his missing wife.
Although the setting of the show is currently-burning Kashmir, all the women are shown to be quite modern. Jannat swears, Amal does not mind her drinks and even does a kind of bold photo shoot.
There is just one issue- in an attempt to be politically correct, most of the narrative focuses only on the women’s issues and never, on the raging terrorism. Mirza says she cares about Kashmir, but does not elaborate. It would have been nice, had director Ken Ghosh addressed the political angle from the perspective of educated Kashmiris.
One positive is that all the characters have been given equal importance. It is not that the story of one sister dominates. The nok-jhok among the siblings, especially when Jannat mentions STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) to Amal and Amal thinks of phones, is fun.
Here, we wish to point out that although the setting is Islamic, along with its required devices like covering of head and reading of namaaz, there is no religious or community talk. Rather, all the issues the girls face are very secular and similar to what any other normal girl in other parts of the country will be facing.
We must doff our hats to producer Ekta Kapoor for the very interesting casting. Taking hottie Surveen Chawla, in a very covered avatar, is smart casting. Also, ex-TV superstar, Rajeev Khandelwal agreeing to be part of ensemble, is a coup. Guess he has realized that his options are limited, after his films flopped.
If there is one actor who really stands out, according to us, is Parul as Jannat. She manages to prove her feminist credentials, without crossing the burn-the-bra line.
We would rate it 3.5 out of 5 stars.