The term intersex is regarded as a taboo subject and is often swept under the rug. The entertainment industry of Pakistan have lacked in representing intersex people, but things have changed over time. Apart from the formulaic TV dramas, notable outings like ‘Khuda Mera Bhi Hai’ (2016) and the recent ‘Sar-e-Rah’ integrated intersex people into mainstream society.
It is also a welcoming change to see actors stepping out of their comfort zone and challenging their skills. One such actor is Ali Rehman who takes center stage in a ‘riveting story about an intersex’ in Bilawal Hussain Abbasi’s ‘Guru’. The drama serial that brings back the much-ignored topic on primetime is bankrolled by showcase productions (Wajahat Rauf & Shazia Wajahat) and is written by Likhari. The initial teasers were effective in creating a buzz, so does Guru manages to impress? Let’s Analyze.
Guru: The Story So Far
Episode 1: Wearing a pretty dress and bold makeup viewers are introduced to Sattar aka Guru (Ali Rehman) who leads a dance troop with her companions Surya (Ahmer Hussain), Bijli (Omi Butt) and Kashish (Hasan Kamal). They dance hard to entertain the guest but all they get back in return are terms like Khusra, hijra, etc. In a parallel track, we are introduced to Fakhra (Zhalay Sarhadi) who leads a miserable life just because she isn’t able to give birth to a baby boy. She already has two daughters and she gives birth to another twin daughters. She is petrified by the fact that her husband won’t tolerate them, so she tells the nurse to give one of the child to a couple in need of embracing parenthood.
The nurse fails to do so and keeps the child near a landfill. Guru while returning from the wedding spots the newborn. Her maternal instincts make her protective and she brings the child to her place. The members of her group aren’t much happy about Guru’s decision of keeping the child. They fear that society would label them as kidnappers. One of his neighbors Zaman gets an inkling about the situation and starts protesting outside Guru’s house.
Episode 2: Guru tries her level best to take care of the child but fails. He reaches out to the
Nurse but unfortunately, she refuses to accept her. Guru approaches Master Sahab (Shehreyar Zaidi) who is a guardian to him. The latter appreciates his gesture but informs him about the hardships and consequences of raising a child. Guru invites him to his place to keep the child’s name and he names her Mariam Sattar. Meanwhile, Bijli is not pleased with this development, she teams up with Kashish and plans to get rid of Mariam.
‘Guru’ is shot very well. The real locations backed up by stunning camera angles create the required environment. The director takes a safe route and keeps the proceeding at a slow pace. He takes his time in establishing his characters, and the narrative in the first two episodes never reaches a high point. Keeping in view of the sensitive subject, there were intense moments but not enough to get us goosebumps. The focus of course is on Guru and his desperation to raise Mariam. We could have connected more if we knew the backstory of Guru.
Also, some scenes could have been written more realistically for instance Fakhra handling her daughter to the nurse and transporting her away was a cakewalk. Another scene where Guru asks Kashish to boil the milk. Cut to the next scene, she opens the pack, pours it directly and brings it back to her. When did she boil the milk? (Strange). The intro dance sequence was poorly choreographed and performed. The spark was missing, especially in Ali’s thumkas.
Performances Leave a Huge Mark
‘Guru’ completely rests on Ali Rehman’s shoulders and he does a great job. He looks convincing as an intersex and rocks big time in the emotional sequences. He gets his gestures, postures and dialect just right. Watching Ali playing the urban guy was getting monotonous, the actor choose the right script at the right time to showcase his versatility. And it works big time. Ahmer Hussain, Omi Butt and Hasan Kamal are brilliant and give their best shot. Zhalay Sarhadi is decent as a helpless mother. Shehreyar Zaidi appears at the emotional junctures and is super dependable.
Verdict So Far
‘Guru’ is off to a slow start. The slow pacing diminishes the overall impact to quite an extent. However, it has the potential to get good viewership. The dramatic moments and powerful performance by its protagonist makes it a decent watch.