'Dhoop Ki Deewar': Futility of war portrayed in ZEE5 drama
Streamer ZEE5 dropped the first two episodes of its Zindagi Original Dhoop Ki Deewar earlier today. Starring Pakistani actor couple Sajal Aly (Sara) and Ahad Raza Mir (Vishal), the cross-border drama has been directed by Haseeb Hasan and written by Umera Ahmed of Zindagi Gulzar Hai-fame. The series had to face a lot of resistance/backlash before release. Here's our review.
The first episode is built around an India v/s Pakistan cricket match, which is the talk of the town in both Amritsar (where Vishal's family lives) and Lahore (Sara's residence). However, 17 minutes into the episode and both families are forced to forget the match results, as real tragedy knocks on their doors. Both Sara and Vishal lose their fathers to an Indo-Pak conflict.
This is followed by an eerily accurate depiction of media sensationalism surrounding a soldier's death. Both Sara and Vishal give interviews praising their fathers and their valor. Things get escalated when the two publicly fight on social media, further feeding into the animosity factor between the two countries. However, nobody is bothered with the loss, except for the immediate family of the shaheed soldiers.
Speaking about the show to Variety, Shailja Kejriwal, Chief Creative Officer, Special Projects at ZEE Entertainment Enterprises Ltd., had said, "We've tried to capture the story of families who face the consequences of war and highlight their common struggles." They didn't want to glorify war.
Focusing on a sensitive issue, the show is brave in its attempt. Indians praising Pakistani plays and Pakistanis watching Naagin shows how inter-connected the neighboring nations are. The use of Nawab and Gopi, the two house helps, who are basically counterparts of each other, is clever. Parallel match cuts of the two households and characters is pleasing to the eyes.
However, more attention should have been paid to the accents and language. The Punjabi family does use some token Punjabi words, but the sentence structure is heavily Urdu-inspired, and it irks you throughout. The initial episodes are not magnetic in appeal, but there's a hope that the project will gain pace, as Sara and Vishal realize they can sympathize despite being "enemies." Verdict: 3/5.
When the trailer dropped, Ahmed was heavily criticized for writing a cross-border love story. Responding to the attacks, the acclaimed writer had clarified that she wrote this story in 2018, when relations between the nations were better. She deactivated her Twitter account later.