On my deathbed, I don’t want to be scared of facing my Lord,” Kubra Khan.
While the season is giving us many spectacular dramas. Lovestory/PsychoThriller Yeh Dil Mera to Soap opera-ish/Danielle Steele-esque MPTH, and resounding Social commentary with Ruswai, but for some – it is Alif that is actually offering fresh, thought-provoking content that is appealing to the finer senses.
Most dramas tend to woo audiences with a star cast, costumes, slick sets, sharp direction, stellar performances and of course, crisp dialogue. Alif has chosen to go the quiet way. It is doing all of the above, but without any explicit shosha, loud banners or social media shout-outs, (unlike, ahem, close competitor MPTH). What it IS doing however is, touching souls. And not only those of the viewers, but the actors as well.
First it was Hamza Ali Abbasi, who announced his spiritual awakening on YouTube, and now it’s Kubra Khan, who has been sufficiently touched by the story line to feel she might be treading a more spiritual path in life.
What makes Alif’s story so powerful that it resonates so deeply with performers and audiences alike?
1. Does Alif tell us not to judge?
Alif gives us dialogues that stir something deep within our tired souls.
“Everyone’s journey towards Allah is different.” When the calligraphy teacher explains this to dada, we realize that we are in no position to judge each other’s actions. We are each on our own path and how we reach our destination will be different. Where we are on our road is also different. So let’s focus on our own journeys rather than those of others.
2. Is Alif teaching us how to be happy, or at least, making us question our ‘happiness’?
When dada asked Qalb-e-Momin: “Kya tum Khush Ho?” How many of us asked ourselves the same question?
Does happiness mean amassing wealth, fame or popularity? Does it mean having limitless power or authority? Or, does happiness mean a good night’s sleep?
‘The man who can sleep well at night, is the man free from all worries.’
This phrase couldn’t ring more true when the restful dada sleeps on peacefully as the restless Qalb-e-Momin lies awake. How many among us felt Momin’s pain? Happiness might not mean what we thought it did. Is it really about spirituality, or is this just a fictional drama? Our conscience is awakened but only just, yet our curiosity is piqued just enough, so we watch successive episodes to know more. Perhaps the restless among us want to learn the secret to a good night’s sleep from dada and we hope he will divulge it soon! Which brings us to our next point.
3. Do we all need a Dada in our lives?
Momin’s dada is the voice of conscience. In a world where we are so busy interacting with friends, family and colleagues, do we even have time to interact with our selves? Do we ignore that inner voice that echoes what we really want, but we dismiss it in haste or disregard the significance of it in a crazy race to the goalpost (ticking off our life achievements on a mind map) to achieve everything we think we want in life?
Once Momin has everything (he thinks he dreamed for), he realizes he actually has nothing. The restless nights, the anger management, the shallow relationships seem to bring forth a mid-life crisis probably launched by the subtle dada observations. These quiet remarks preyed on Momin’s conscience till they resurfaced in the form of his old letters to Allah.
Do we all need a voice of conscience, to steer us in the right direction? How many of us have prayed fervently to Allah when we were young, had full blown conversations with Him, reprimanded Him, asked for forgiveness, or just prayed to ease our conscience? How many of us still do that now? Or wished we did?
4. Can we fully enjoy this life and also reserve space for spirituality?
Alif’s characters are so absorbed in the world of love, lights, glamour and wealth that they might lose purpose of why they are in this world in the first place. Are they mirroring our (the viewers’) lives?
Is Momina the constant that anchors spirituality? Can she feel herself being swept away in the fame and popularity lottery even as she tastes her very first successes? When she calls her father to explain that she feels she can see her future in Husn-e-Jahan, is she attempting to steer clear of the future that awaits many who lose themselves in the transience of shining stars, lights and glamour? Will she be able to keep her innocence, her idealism and her values despite the tempting, magnetic pull of the real world? She has her eyes on the future even as she savours the present; she experiences flashbacks of Husn–e-Jehan’s fall from fame. Will Momina be the one who ultimately teaches us how to connect the real world to our spiritual selves and find a semblance of peace?
5. Finally, will Alif be the harbinger of newer, more spiritual themes in our industry?
Hamza Ali Abbasi plays Qalb-e-Momin and soon after, delivers a YouTube speech on taking a more spiritual role in life. He plans to air spiritual-religious themed content with an aim to start conversations. Hamza has specifically reached out to the youth of our nation; those who feel isolated, lost, or disconnected with God.
Kubra Khan plays Hus n-e-Jahan in Alif. Kubra has also come out with her spiritual journey of late. She explained to BBC Asian Network:
“If I could have 50 awards today, … but if I’m not a good human being, what does that all stand for?” Points to ponder for the thinkers among us.
To sum it up. Alif may be delivering some great dialogues, a gripping story line and breathtaking visuals of Turkey, but what it’s really doing is, changing the way we think. If this planet is tired of material accomplishments, meaningless conversations, pretense, wealth accumulation and kamzor relationships, perhaps this is the drama to tune in to. It might not change our lives, but it will certainly challenge our perspectives on it.
The question is, once we finish watching the drama, will we be as brave as Hamza and Kubra and come out in the open, or will we implement some quiet changes in our daily lives to take that one step that reconnects us with ourselves, and with a supreme being?
Either way, we all follow our own journeys to spirituality, so let’s not judge. There are many ways to achieve the end. How we do it, is up to us.