Watching the third episode of TV One’s mystery series Dhund made me realise that the title of the series has been chosen after scrutiny and is not a random selection. Its aptness can be deduced from the fact that this Urdu word for fog not only refers to dark, starless nights in which haunting figures make their appearances, but there are a number of problems of our society that are engulfed in the mist, waiting for the spring flowers to bloom so that they may be solved. Puffs of fog have kept so many harsh realities, cruelties and discrimination hidden that it is impossible to find their solutions until a season of hope and happiness comes and clears the mist away.

While this episode reveals the fact that not Arjumand but Maria was the second wife of Imran, it talks of two couples. One is of Saughanda (Christina Albert) and Mehmood (Saad Qureshi), two ghosts of a Hindu girl and a Muslim boy who could not marry each other since they belonged to two different religions. But the fact that their ghosts are together after death introduces us once again to the fact that true love is based not on flesh but on spirituality.

I recalled the very first scene of the film Heer Ranjha based on a Punjabi folk tale by Waris Shah in which the ghosts of the lovers are together while they were not allowed to live together in their lifetime. Whereas the aspect of true love is concerned, the episode also brought back the character of Nirmalta from Noor-ul-Huda Shah’s play Meri Adhoori Mohabbat, who was ready to cross every figurative border in order to achieve her Muslim lover, but failed. How Saughanda is ready to convert into a Muslim and do anything for her beloved makes us realise that when it comes to love, a woman is far better at not only expressing it, but also at sacrificing everything for it. Saughanda is a girl who jumped from the train in order to meet her loved one, but unfortunately was surrounded by bullies and killed.

This episode of Dhund also has a light Manto touch to it. Saughanda’s name resembles Manto’s character Saughandi and the fact that the Hindu-Muslim lovers were not united makes us think of the Hindu lawyer from the short story Toba Tek Singh, who himself was from Lahore but his lover was in Amritsar. This aura related to partition has been beautifully directed, especially the scene in which the camera focuses on the radio announcing news. Saughanda’s character played by Christina Albert could not have been performed in this manner by any other actress, for when it comes to unrequited love from across the border, Christina Albert is best at romanticising it, like she did in Goya.

The other couple, that of Zain (Tauqeer Ahmad)and Rida (Anum Aqeel) and one which is being observed by Saughanda and Mehmood, is the real object of scrutiny in this episode. Both the Muslims are badly entangled in the act of love perpetrated by their siblings and are being punished only because Zain’s sister and Rida’s brother have eloped, which is intolerable for the rigid elders of both the families, especially Sakeena’s father played by Aslam Sheikh. Since the writer’s pen has been very subtle in describing this huge problem of the society and the director has also remained careful not to show extra symbols, it remains a duty to not openly exhibit the idea, but the facts that even two people belonging to the same religion are being forced to keep a distance and the son is insisting the father not to murder the girl in order to avoid certain riots and the dialogue of Mehmood in which he says that both the Muslims call each other non-Muslims suggests that the problem of sectarianism has been addressed, as a consequence of which several people become the target of hatred here and die a brutal death, but nothing is done in lieu.

Zahid Batool through her character of Nasreen continues to make us happy and frees us for some time from the ropes of confusion and mystery with her humorous expressions at not being able to adjust herself to the presence of the supernatural even after four years of working for Maria. However, the presence of ghosts in this episode is not as intriguing and mysterious as in the previous episodes which made us jump out of ourselves. There is less haunting music, less dark scenes and no restless ghost at all. It does make the episode a little less interesting but nonetheless prepares us for the fact that we will encounter all sorts of ghosts, from sad and restless ones to gleeful ones whose lives were terrible on the earth but better after death.

Another aspect that makes this episode different from the previous ones is that it seems as if things are moving rapidly and the story itself is in a hurry to come to a conclusion. The scenes seem to be broken into a lot of chunks. The calmly moving style of Mohammed Ahmed’s storytelling and Farrukh Faiz’s way of depicting it is not observed like always. An absence of a mature artist like Sania Saeed who is able to hold the whole story strongly together and make it revolve around himself or herself makes itself prominent. But it must be said that the last scene, in which all the ghosts with candles in their hands gather around Maria’s bed expiates for all the shortcomings. It has been so well-shot that it goes without saying that a still from the scene could have been an excellent title for any horror book.

Mohammed Ahmed, through this series set in a lighter tone, is trying all his best to address significant problems of our society that are deliberately ignored and are considered to be forbidden realms on which at least an artist can in no way raise a voice. Every era has had its problems, and the advocates of those problems have faced countless difficulties including many poets and artists. This series may not reach the upper stratum, but we as viewers, if are so curious to watch it, can also strive to make the world a better place to live in.

Farrukh Faiz, through this series, is introducing a lot of new and fine actors for our drama industry, such as Haniya from the previous episode and Mehmood from this one. Saad Qureshi has turned out to be not only a good-looking actor perfect for any lead role, but has spoken all dialogues carefully and with mature and natural expressions. The director must be commended for experimenting and not fearing the risks in the times when makers have started to cater to the demands of the viewers in order to gain more and more ratings.