By Maliha Rehman
39 episodes in, one of the main, much-loved characters in 7th Sky Entertainment’s drama ‘Mere Humnasheen’ suddenly died. Darakhzai, the volatile, cantankerous Pathan with a soft heart, played by Ahsan Khan, abruptly fell to his death, poisoned, while dancing at his wedding. It was a tragic turn to the story. The drama’s fans – there are many! – were very sad.
The next episodes have continued on in a melancholic note, with Darakhzai’s family and his bride-to-be grieving for him. Till now, Mere Humnasheen had followed a riveting trajectory, pulling the punches with a story that highlighted the need for women’s education and pointing fingers at the prejudices faced by students from tribal territories studying in universities in the city and the archaic notions that continue to prevail in many Pakistani villages. Now, as it inches towards its end, the drama brought on the waterworks.
Darakhzai’s sudden death does tend to solve one of the drama’s main puzzles: who would the main lead Khajista end up with, her fiancé Darakhzai or the earnest, upstanding Doctor Hadi who she meets while studying in university? She is on the verge of marrying Darkhazi when he dies, leaving the path clear for Khajista and Hadi to ultimately unite. However, while Darakhzai may have had been violent and intolerant towards the beginning of the drama, he has changed by the end, realizing his mistakes and having professed his love to Khajista. Their marriage hadn’t seemed like such a bad idea anymore.
But does actor Ahsan Khan feel that his character’s death was justified? He says, “When I read the script and signed the play, I thought that the ending was completely appropriate. Darakhzai had been tough on Khajista and it seemed to me that even later, when he develops a soft corner for her, it is because he selfishly wants her to come back and marry him. I didn’t know that the character would eventually come to life the way it did. Credit goes to the writer Ali Faizan for creating Darakhzai in a certain way and then, I gave my own input, giving Darakhzai a certain intensity, figuring out the way he spoke, his body language.”
“But yes, it isn’t easy to let the other hero end up with the heroine,” he laughs. “Once I started playing Darakhzai, I fell in love with the character. He is a man who is extremely rigid with some very regressive notions but eventually he learns the difference between good and bad. From a hard-hearted, rude person, he becomes more flexible because of the love that he has for Khajista. Earlier he had been taking Khajista for granted but once she leaves for her hostel, he realizes how much he loves her and gets irritated by how she stays away from him.”
Ahsan continues, “As I continued to play Darakhzai, I realized how much depth the character had. The audience appreciated this. They loved him and I am not just saying this. Ever since Mere Humnasheen has been airing, people have come up to me, commenting on Darakhzai’s body language, the way he speaks. They want to know where his clothes are from, where I got the cap that he wears and ask me if they can have the ring that he wears throughout, which has a lion on it. I keep getting asked to say a few lines the way he does!”
“I knew that people would react to his death and that a lot of people would not like it. Most of the drama was shot in order which helped the actors in character development. In the scenes where Darakhzai dies, even all of us on set were saddened!”
“Khajista’s affections were always divided between Hadi and Darkhzai. She did care about her fiancé and was very attached to her culture and traditions. All she wanted to do was study. It’s a brilliant message given out by this drama.”
Couldn’t Khajista and Darkhzai have had a happy ending?
“Yes, Darakhzai could have had lived happily ever after with Khajista. Still, he was such a larger than life character and perhaps his death has made him even more memorable. He became even more important.”