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It’s a very, very sensitive subject but Hum TV’s drama serial Udaari has not only managed to broach it but – in collaboration with Kashf Foundation – has managed to send out an incredibly important message: sexual predators may lurk in all shapes and sizes and parents cannot be too careful when considering their child’s security. This week’s episode was shocking and sent shivers down the spine.

There were actually two points of strength in this latest episode of Udaari.

The first is the attention drawn to pedophilia. Imtiaz comes as good looking, charming young man who has apparently taken Sajida (a widow) and her daughter Zebo out of the depths of poverty and insecurity. However, we have come to learn – in the last few episodes – that his real self is abhorrent. In this episode he preys on his stepdaughter who we suspect is subjected to rape. I have to say that Ahsan Khan outshines everyone in his portrayal of Imtiaz; he incites feelings of repulsion and disbelief.

The second point of strength in this episode is the budding relationship between Arsh and Meera. One cannot forego that fact that Urwa Hocane and Farhan Saeed are a real life couple – they are together, everywhere – and so when Arsh finally reconciles with Meera’s talent, the situation suddenly turns from an awkward and contrived scenario to probable attraction between the two. It seems there may be some romance for them on screen too; they certainly do look good together though Urwa Hocane has outdone herself in the character. Only after seeing her in Udaari so I realize how wasted she was in Na Maloom Afraad where she didn’t have much of a role.

Finally, Udaari is effective is driving several public service messages home. The pivotal point demanding attention is of course pedophilia and how it goes undetected and unregistered or punished in society, especially in the rural areas. Our maid, who watches the drama with us, commented with bewildered eyes that “this frequently happens in the village”. It is a heinous crime that has slipped to a norm due to ignorance. The second message is delivered by Milly, who gives Arsh a spiel on how he’s mistreating Meera because of her background; he would never have been so rude had she belonged to the same social circle. To his credit he apologizes. The fact that we have amazing folk singers like Reshma and Mai Dhai makes Meera’s story all the more convincing and real.

Looking forward to the upcoming episodes…

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