O Rang Reza is an Urdu language Pakistani drama serial which not only marks Kashif Nisar’s shift from a sombre look of drama serials to a bright and colourful one, showing that the director allows the story to seep into his soul first and then starts working on it, but also brings forth Saji Gul as a writer having grown more mature in the art of storytelling, with a firmer hold on the psyche of characters. After a long time, characters as strong as those of the popular playwright Hasina Moin seem to have appeared whose house owners as well as the house maids would make themselves conspicuous, and hence unforgettable.

Produced by Moomal Entertainment for HUM TV , the drama serial has a colourful outlook, in harmony with its very title O Rang Reza , the Urdu word for a cloth dyer. Deeply rooted in eastern culture, it is set in a Haveli owned by a duplicitous poet Khayam (Noman Ejaz) who despite having a servile, compliant and a loving wife Mumtaz (Irsa Ghazal) writes verses for another woman, the model Sonia Jahan whom he idealises. Thus, the tapestry is removed from the idea that poets are highly sensitive beings. Their sensitivity may not be for everyone.

The realism of the story lies in the fact that no gender has been given a label. If Khayam evinces a hypocritical attitude and has different masquerades for different people, his wife’s nephew Qasim (Bilal Abbas Khan) who is an orphan living with them and to whom Khayam has given a dying shop, is an empathetic boy with the same feelings towards everyone. If he has given ten thousand rupees to his salesman Ramzan (Omar Dar) for the treatment of his mother, he is equally sympathetic towards his aunt Mumtaz whom he calls Mammo and passionately bestows love upon his cousin Sassi (Sajal Ali) who happens to be Khayam and Mumtaz’s daughter. Similarly, if Mumtaz is a vulnerable and a compliant woman who has spent her entire life in trying to win her husband’s heart, her daughter Sassi is wayward and cannot be forced to do something she does not want to do, and is clever enough to give a cold shoulder to Qasim’s love for her but also exploit those feelings of his for her own benefits. This lively and bold girl seems to be the heart and soul of the play as far as her realistic and awe-inspiring acting is concerned, but when it comes to Sassi’s character, it seems as if she lacks emotion and sentiment, for neither her father’s insulting attitude towards her mother seems unjust to her, nor does Qasim’s passionate love leave any impact on her. This apparently attractive character seems to be someone possessing a complex psyche, for her inordinate obsession with her father and her idealisation of his personality’s every aspect including the negative ones, and her never-ending rows with her mother on not being able to appease Khayam which takes the form of a competition at times between the mother and daughter makes Sassi a Neo-Freudian character suffering from father fixation. She hates her mother for not fulfilling her father’s expectations and tries to compete with her by telling her the ways to win a husband’s heart. Sassi is young, and seems to be unconsciously doting more than usual on her father. Her dialogues ‘Kia roabdar shakhsiyat hai, kia awaz hai, kia style hai, kia mardana wajaahat hai’ have a dark side to them, which if probed into with the help of psychology, makes us realise that there is a competition going on between the mother and daughter to win the father, something associable with the term ‘Electra complex’.

The other side of the play that inclines us to move away from western psychology and delve into oriental mysticism is the fact that Qasim’s love for Sassi is more than passionate. The appropriate word for this sort of love would be ‘Ishq’, the kind of feeling mystics believe should be reserved for God only. Secondly, it is believed that worldly love (Ishq-e-Mijaazi) is a step towards divine love (Ishq-e-Haqiqi) because a person only tastes the affection of God towards his creation when his endearment for a human being bears no result. This makes one think that will Qasim, who is ready to step into debris for the sake of his beloved, keep trying to win her love or will he kill his ego before God too after killing it for a human being first. Do ordinary human beings step into garbage for each other? This however, cannot be said with assertion, for the wordings of the title song ‘Tujh mein hi mein ghul jaun, Rang Reza’ keep us curious as to who will dissolve into whom, for the rang rez is Qasim himself.

O Rang Reza is a fine piece of work with its most interesting aspect being its title which refers towards not a weeping female, but a male character of the story. Bilal Abbas Khan has established himself as a versatile actor with this innocent role. Noman Ejaz is excellent as always, this time with an indifference causing him to talk in monosyllables. There are no words to describe Sajal Ali’s natural performance and it is a treat to watch Fareeha Jabeen after a long time, and that in a slightly different role. The performer I believe who is to be praised the most in this episode is Irsa Ghazal, whose expressions changing within seconds in the last scene made tears form at the corners of our eyes. Her bafflement at not being able to decide whether her husband is admiring her or ridiculing her and then finally realizing that it is an insult, with not a single spoken word is a piece of chunk for which every word of appreciation seems little. Her acting is beyond the description of words as well as any worldly appreciation award.