The first episode of Baaghi was aired today on Urdu1. This is a Pakistani drama that is based on the life of social media sensation Qandeel Baloch who tragically became an honour-killing victim in 2016. Qandeel’s death sparked just as much intrigue and debate, as her life had. There are many polarized opinions about Qandeel’s means to fame. Qandeel Baloch became one of the most well-known names in Pakistan after rising from a small village in Punjab. Baaghi is her story and gives us an insight into her life behind the selfies and the viral videos.
The cast of Baaghi is stellar with big names like Saba Qamar, Ali Kazmi, Sarmad Khosat, Nadia Afghan, Irfan Khosat, Osman Khalid Butt etc. I was excited to read that Umera Ahmed was part of the team and had big expectations from the first episode. While I watch most dramas on my phone, I watched this one on YouTube on my TV Screen. And am I happy I did that! The first episode of Baaghi beautifully shows rural life from Qandeel’s small village when she was still Fauzia and had not yet become “QB”. The canola fields, mud houses, wood-burning stove, charpaye, the wedding decorations, all showed attention to detail and added authenticity to the story telling.
The first scene of Fauzia (later Qandeel) with her brother sets the tone of her character: She loves her family, spends whatever she earns on them, and challenges the norms of society especially in the interpretation of Sharam (shame). Her life is humble but she dreams big. She sings and dances while doing mundane tasks around the house. She is not afraid to shine, be the centre of attention and defend herself. In a village entrenched in dogmas of the superiority of men, one girl believes that she is the hero of her own story. This in fact was my favourite line from the drama today: “mein apna shehzada khud hon” (I am my own Prince).
Today’s episode made me extremely emotional. Watching the poverty, depravity and hardships from Qandeel’s life gives more dimensions to her story. How easy it is to mock, pass on moral judgements and write self-righteous status updates on our smart phones, as we sit on comfortable sofas in our air-conditioned houses on a full stomach. To empathize with the other, be in their shoes, imagine sleeping on that hard charpaye in hot summer nights, bitten by mosquitoes all night and with the smell of the neighbouring cattle, is the less comfortable option. So we judge, we mock and we categorize people as black and white.
I have always been a big Saba Qamar fan and I feel she is the right choice to share with us the story of Qandeel Baloch as the Baaghi. The soundtrack is catchy with beautiful lyrics and was introduced at just the right times in the episode. I’m looking forward to watching Qandeel’s story through Baaghi. It was interesting to note the disclaimer in the beginning that this drama is not a biography and only inspired by true events. I feel Qandeel’s actual story was more dark. Just one example is the actual house, where she breathed her last, was much smaller and humble than the one showed in the drama. Even if we see 10% of her story, it might give people insight and hopefully the wisdom to pause before passing on the next drawing room verdict.
Great job Team Baaghi! I’m looking forward to next Thursday already.