Durr e Shehwar – an extremely regressive play
By Haseeb Ahmed
While penning this down I am totally aware of the loyal fan base that this play has especially females who were left teary eyed by this play and all that it contained. I am also aware of the barrage of criticism and ‘no you are wrong and it depicted reality’ which is going to come my way once the readers go through my article, still I am going to say what I have to say since it’s a free world and we all are entitled to our opinion. No one should be persecuted just because he holds an opinion diametrically opposite to yours.
I have always believed in art for the sake of reform and not art for the sake of art. Hence, the problems presented in any art form be it theatre/paintings/music/drama should give a resolution in the end. In case of Durre Shehwar a resolution was definitely presented but a resolution which was totally and utterly regressive. For centuries, we have taught our women to be submissive and to accept all the injustices of their husbands and in-laws to save their marriages and family lives. Women are projected as ‘epitome of sacrifice’.
And it is this resolution which I am totally against. Our religion tells us that not fighting back an injustice is akin to accepting this injustice and strengthening the oppressor. Therefore, teaching women to take all the injustices of their husbands and in-laws without uttering a word is grossly wrong. This play also overlooked the fact that according to our religion, it is not obligatory for a woman to do household chores for her husband or in-laws. If she does household work, it is her favour to them.
Ignoring these realities, the play stressed upon ‘accepting oppression and accepting injustices’ in the name of ‘saving your marriage and family life’. This extremely wrong message was sugar coated with emotional dialogues and letters exchanged between ‘abba and durre shehwar’ which left women sobbing and consuming boxes after boxes of tissue papers.
As for those who claim that women should be the ones who should be flexible in a marriage as men remain inflexible, I would like to ask how would societal attitudes especially those of men change if women continue to sacrifice and men continue to enjoy at the expense of their women. Plays should enlighten, educate and aware men of their responsibilities towards their wives and in saving a marriage rather than sugar coat wrong messages with emotionalism. Renowned production houses boasting of the brightest media people should also avoid financing such projects which send out the wrong kind of messages to an already messed up society.
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