The drama ‘Khuda aur Muhabbat’ currently running on Geo TV is a classic case of selling toxic love to a sadist audience for ratings. Worse, it normalises a rather disturbing idea that if you don’t reciprocate someone’s feelings for you, you are bound to meet misfortune and disgrace. This belief degrades a woman’s consent in relationships, which is already considered unimportant in our society.
The name ‘Khuda aur Muhabbat’ implies that the drama is about sufism and the various notions about love for the Almighty — but the plot of the show is actually far from it. The story revolves around the misery of a young woman from a feudal family who becomes a widow on the night of her wedding when her husband is shot dead by her brother’s political rivals while the wedding party was on its way. It has been shown that she was condemned to this fate after she was cursed by her supposed ‘lover’ (who had somehow caught feelings for her despite the girl giving no such signs to him) for rejecting him.
The girl, Mahi Kazim Shah, is from a rich but highly conservative feudal family where women are supposed to be confined within the four walls and fully cover themselves while going out of their haveli. Mahi was out of the city with her bhabi (sister-in-law) to attend her close family friend’s wedding. It was at her friend’s house where she met Farhad, a boy from a financially weak background who was hired by the family to help with the wedding arrangements. Since Mahi was away from her conservative family, she had the liberty to interact with the outside world without being burka-clad. She gets along with Farhad who is her age, and tells him that he is her friend. In the next few episodes, the boy automatically assumes that there is some romance going on between the two of them and realises he loves Mahi. Within two days he becomes so emotionally attached to her that he decided to tell her about his feelings. But Mahi and her bhabi had to leave the city and return home in haste, and Farhad never gets a chance to confess.
He then somehow manages to get hired by Mahi’s brother as his driver in her city — so he could get a chance to see Mahi once again. At the huge haveli the environment was strict and women’s section was segregated from the rest of the house. He finally catches a glimpse of Mahi who is amazed after seeing him. He confesses and Mahi is dumbfounded. It is important to note that not once did Mahi imply that they were anything more than friends. How could the boy then deem it fit to confront her — this is a case of stalker behaviour that this drama has glamorised in the name of ‘love’.
Even when Mahi clearly says no to him and tells him she has no feelings for him, he continues to stalk her. Finally when Mahi gets engaged to another man, he curses her for ‘breaking’ his heart and says that she will also face the same misery in life. Mahi is to be married in an influential feudal family just like her own. However, her fate takes a turn when the groom gets killed — it happened when he was driving his bride home after the wedding ceremony.
Mahi is now a widow and the flashbacks show Farhad cursing him for rejecting his ‘love’. The message being given here is toxic as well as dangerous: If a woman rejects a man she has no feelings for, she is a villain and will never live happily herself. It is saddening that even in 2021 when the women rights movement has gained momentum and feminists are educating people about the importance of women’s consent, such mindset is being promoted on our national TV.
Another absurd aspect of the drama is that Farhad begins to live in a shrine after leaving his family while everyone thinks he is dead in an accident. He is shown to have left the worldly life after being immersed in love. If his intentions are so pure, why did he abandon his family that includes an ailing mother who loses her senses after hearing of her son’s sudden death? The drama makes no sense, yet somehow it is being viewed by a lot of people — if views on its Youtube channel are anything to go by. Perhaps all those people are also hate-watching it like I do.
Nevertheless, our dramas need to up their game and stop glamorising stalker behaviour and toxic one-sided romance as ‘love’. It is 2021, start accepting women’s ‘no’ for an answer!