Starring: Rajeev Khandelwal, Surveen Chawla, Parul Gulati, Parvail Gulati
Directed by Ken Ghosh
It requires an abundance of guts and a residue of audacity to yank Louisa May Alcott’s 19th century novel about women’s empowerment into a modern day tale of love lies and heartbreaks in Kashmir.
Director Ken Ghosh, with the persuasive help of writers Devika Bhagat (didn’t she direct an Abhay Deol film once not too long ago) and dialogue writer Renuka Kunzru, translocates and refurbishes the original with a full lot of flair and feelings.
I was hooked to the deeds and misdeeds of the women in the Mirza family — their patriarch has gone missing at war — from the first episode. While one sister lives in the world of music and poetry another thrives on being Kashmir’s hottest supermodel(strictly in her mind, that is). There is an aunt (played with grace and restrain by Simone Singh) who is in a doomed and disgraced relationship with a spineless politician
Ghosh captures the romance of Kashmir and the giggly romance in Kashmir without undermining the present day tensions in the Valley. We must remember that Alcott’s novel was more about finding love than pursuing dreams. Ghosh’s series is not only about love and dreams but also the accompanying nightmares in a society that is in a febrile state of bloodied flux.
The series captures the sweaty tensions of a people who assume a life of ‘normal’ pursuits like courtship, romance, commitment and heartbreak as guns blaze and fires rage across the horizon.
The performances are evenly compelling. All the women in the Mirza family are played by beautiful credible actresses who don’t spend time on screen posing and preening in local outfits but are actually seen getting into the skin of their characters. Surveen Chawla as the progressive yet repressed doctor-daughter of the family and Parul Gulati as the outspoken blogger-beti stand out, as do the ever-dependable Rajeev Khandelwal and Pavail Gulati as the two men in their lives.
There is a constant flow of interesting events, bolstered by dialogues and lines that do not appear to be borrowed from greeting cards and online poems. These people speak a convincing ménage of Hindi Urdu and English and the Mirza sisters often lace their heated arguments around the house with the ‘F’ word.
Haq Se is well worth your time. Interestingly, this is the second series in a row produced by Ekta Kapoor after the riveting Test Case to show women challenging men at their work places. This social awakening on the digital platform is welcome. Perhaps Ekta Kapoor can finally stop making regressive serials for Indian television.