After the noisy “Churails” of last year, here is the group of qaatil haseenayein, all deep, dangerous and tight. The connection between the two shows is producer Shailja Kejriwal, a group of Pakistani actresses with those delicious syrup-dipped accents and the platform they air on, ZEE5.
Men who take advantage of women, beware, your time is up. There are different types of male creatures in ‘Qatil Haseenaon Ke Naam’, none of them are worth anything – misogynist cops, seemingly innocent marauders, spineless husbands, lustful and vicious holy men. These men rule over the women, who are all at their wit’s end and all fighting to get out of the quagmire.
Co-written by Meenu Gaur and Farjad Nabi, and directed by the former, âQatil Haseenaon Ke Naamâ is a dark ride through a fantasy land where centuries-old wrongs are corrected and everyone lives happily afterwards. The director’s attempts to subvert the classic black gaze lead to upheaval and defeat: It’s feminist noir, and enough stuff is empowering and entertaining.
There are six stories, with different people, but the same traits. Two men in love with the same woman (Sarwat Gilani) come face to face on a dark night. One lied and got the woman; the other was treating a broken heart. And now the real lovers are about to reunite. A hairdresser dreams of his lover who lives with his wife. The woman is an artist, or thinks she is one. Who will get who? Or, in other words, who will win the fight? You get a feel for how this will end, but the gorgeous Zuvi (Sanam Saeed) supporting demeanor and a cheerfully ghoulish touch is one thing.
Then there is a nurse (Faiza Gilani) who is at the center of a story about aging (“dhalti umar ki auratein”) and “ordinary” women. This story features a hospital, a chase and a bunch of bad guys: everything is very filmed. But we know there will be a tight slap in the face of the Patriarchy, and we will applaud its reverberations. In the fourth, the suspicions of an old woman (Beo Rana Zafar) lead to a murder and her attempts at redress.
Aside from some of the places that feel like the here and now – fancy homes, college lawns – there are two others where much of the action takes place that could be timeless. . One is a building with a row of rooms on either side of a dark hallway where some of these figures float in and out; the other is remnants of what might have been a large haveli with a bustling courtyard. An elegant silver woman (Samiya Mumtaz), abandoned by a ruthless grand master named Najji Shah, wants revenge on him. A cohort of companions in misfortune is formed. Revenge isn’t just his, it’s all theirs, and who said if it’s served cold it isn’t as effective?
There are times when it all gets a little too baroque and cowardly and overtly dramatized, and yes, a little too familiar from other stories about forbidden love and lust and cheating, but then you realize that it is. is the tone the director is looking for. And when an Anarkali (Meher Bano) is dug up, literally, from a cemented wall, and along with two other women who suffered at the hands of Najji -Kanwal (Faiza Gilani) and Zehra (Eman Suleman) – makes a crisp comeuppance, you know why “haseenas” can be “qaatil”.
The title reminds you of the old-fashioned Urdu dialogue and songs that Hindi films sported, and the old-fashioned courtesies that new fiction can wear to make the case that is as old as time itself: the ancient rage of women is fatal. Enter at your own risk.