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As Dumpukht – Aatish-e-ishq paces along, it has started to confront the viewers with the reality, albeit a little dramaticized,  of the world it’s portraying. The show revolves around a Pir sahab, played by the brilliant Noman Ijaz, who has fallen in love with a girl and is now breaking all norms and traditions to make his marriage to her possible.

In the beginning of the show, Pir sahab is seen for the manipulating man that he is, but not once does the audience dislike him because he brings forward his vulnerabilities as well. He is considered a good man who has not ‘deviated’ from what is expected of him: for the sake of his family’s name and work, he takes up this profession and says goodbye to the real love of his life. He is devoted to the woman he does marry and is a good husband.

But when he sees Kulsoom, the girl who reminds him of the woman he was unable to marry, he suddenly loses his way. Although it can be argued that he already isn’t a very good man for profiting from the vulnerabilities of innocent people who genuinely believe in the power of the Pir.

Regardless, he secretly decides that he wants Kulsoom for himself and when his wife takes on the responsibility of getting Kulsoom married to her childhood friend turned lover, Bilal, Pir sahab starts his own campaign of making sure the wedding doesn’t take place. He asks one of his followers to overlook Bilal’s worship at the dargah, making sure he is unable to attend his own wedding. The follower makes Bilal drink bhang a few days before the wedding, causing him to faint and be sick. Pir sahab plans to take Bilal’s place at the wedding and uses his followers to convince the family that till Bilal is done from the worship, Kulsoom should be married off to the Pir sahab instead.

Now, this doesn’t go down well for anyone, of course. Any normal person will think: why are both the families of Kulsoom and Bilal getting played into the hands of this elaborate scheme? The whole idea sounds preposterous and you can tell from the families’ reactions that they are just as appalled at this suggestion, but they have such blind faith and belief in Pir sahab that they know that they have to follow whatever he is saying.

At this point, the audience is perhaps rooting for Bibi sahiba, Pir’s wife. She seems to be the voice of reason in this entire fiasco and is perhaps the most well-intentioned character, even though it is because of her meddling that things are going so wrong for Bilal and Kulsoom. Also, at this point, she doesn’t realize what her husband is doing so she is just as clueless.

Noman Ijaz has effectively changed the way the audience perceives his character. He almost has a villainous sneer as he pulls all the strings possible to make everything go his way.

As we wait for the next episode to reveal how the wedding between Pir sahab and Kulsoom will take place, one can only be angered by the sheer hypocrisy being displayed by all those people in authority in the world of the play. It makes you question the people who are considered ‘saints’ and ‘pious’ in our society and how they actually use their power to control people. Dumpukht