The beautiful painting of Mahira Khan...Abida Parveen singing a mesmerizing song in the background…
Yaar ko humne jaa baja dekha…
Kahin zaahir kahin chhupa dekha…
Wherever I see there is only you….sometimes visible ...sometimes not...but I know , I feel it...it’s you !
Shehr e zaat is a very simple story... ( As they say , there are only a limited number of stories...rest all are variations of them ) a girl ( Falak ) falls for a man ( Salman ) she barely knows...gets married to him , only to be ditched by him for another woman . We see Falak chasing Salman who doesn’t care about her...marries her because..well..you have to get married to someone . Falak is ready to sacrifice everything..her life...her dreams..her relations ..she literally worships the ground he walks on .She doesn't bring herself here...she tries to become what he wants. What is portrayed is a clinging - dependant relationship … “ who am I ?.... ...Salman’s wife ! “
Outwardly a simple story...but if you peel the outer layers , you get to the inner , spiritual core. You also have to get past the hurdle of a religious , ritualistic layer...where most people would stop.
When her world crashes about her , she suffers a mental breakdown . Annihilation of older self and thus beginning of a newer one...rebirth . All her life , she was a superficial , rich , spoilt girl who cared only about external beauty , material things….she never had time for introspection or prayers . When the external layer is peeled off , what remains is a bare heart .
As the mist cleared , Falak became aware of many things...excess of things she had , futility of material possessions , and contrasting living conditions of lower classes . I was reminded of Buddha’s story here...witnessing of betrayal ( instead of illness ) , death , poverty.....and spiritual awakening .
When she finds prayer , she finds a way to communicate to God . Prayer is our communication while God communicates with us in different ways - through a book , through a movie , dialogue or sometimes through a person . What Falak experienced was a jolt into awareness - due to a crisis… causing her to confront the question “ who am I ? “
We are not our face , our bodies...we are our hearts , souls….full of God’s love ...love for our fellow human beings...love for the universe created by Him .
Coming back to story , one question that has popped into everyone’s mind , what did Salman see in that other woman - a fat , dirty , ugly , nasty , uneducated ,old woman in contrast to his beautiful wife ? ….or was this just to show us that love is blind...or catastrophe can come in any form ?
The ending is a bit controversial - Falak decides to go back to her husband , believing in his repentance . It seems a bit impractical - to forgive somebody is easier from far but to go and stay with him , knowing he doesn’t love you and can desert you again …..a bit simplistic / stupid / unreal . Or is it that by forgiving him completely , she is gaining an upper hand in their equation ?
But if we see this from spiritual angle , the end appears apt . To forgive - to give a person another chance , to believe in sanctity of the relationship , to believe in goodness in his heart , while no longer believing him to be a perfect man is the only course possible...that is what God does .
Some people may think that bad things happened to Falak because she did not pray...but that is too simplistic ! A punishing God does not exist . A bad event happens in your life and that helps to open your heart and mind to God . You turn inwards...and after introspection know who you are . That was a turning point in Falak’s life and she began communicating with God !