By Maliha Rehman
A drama revolving around fat-shaming and promoting body positivity could very easily have downslided towards a sob-fest. The stories could have droned on, harping on about the pains of women victimized because of their weight. Express Entertainment’s ‘Oye Motti’, however, is flippant even when the underlying message is a powerful one.
A different story is told in every episode, with a separate cast, but what remains constant are witticisms that pepper the script. They make the audience smile rather than cringe in pain and somehow, in the flow of dialogues and some stellar acting, the moral rings out loud and clear: an individual should not be judged on the basis of weight.
Three episodes in, the drama has already showcased performances by Hajra Yamin, Hina Dilpazeer, Javed Sheikh and Sabina Farooq. There’s the bright fatherless girl, wanting to make a living in order to ease her mother’s financial constraints, judged by her senior because of her weight while her capabilities get overlooked. There’s the aging wife, assuming that her husband is cheating on her with a younger girl because she has gotten fat. And then, there’s the garrulous young girl who gets overlooked by the boy she likes because of her weight until, one day, he comes to his senses.
The premises of the stories are stereotypical: a mother who doesn’t want to live off her daughter’s earning until she understands better, a young daughter-in-law cooking for her in-laws while her husband is abroad, a girl whose mother wants her to get married. Perhaps, this is deliberate. There is a certain way of thinking that prevails across Pakistani society and that the TV watching audience particularly relates to it. The drama, while functioning within this familiar territory, upturns conservative notions subliminally rather than in overt, radical ways. The message sinks in, implicitly agitating against the restrictions that tend to get weighed upon girls and of course, asserting the fact that weight doesn’t matter as much as intelligence, personality and loyalty.
What have made the episodes regaling are the dialogues. In the third episode, Sabina Farooq’s character makes a jab at rishta culture when she says to her mother, ‘Pichhlay 6 maheenay say chaye ki tray lay keh mein modeling kar rahi hoon, itni Sunita Marshall nay ramp pay nahin walk kee hogi jitni chaye ki tray ke saath mein nay kitchen say drawing room tak walk kar li hai’. (For the past 6 months I have been modeling before people holding a tea tray, model Sunita Marshall must not have walked on the ramp as much as I have from the kitchen to the drawing room!)
Then there’s Hina Dilpazeer’s character in the second episode, who is called by an anonymous well-wisher and told that her husband is cheating on her. Even while under immense stress, she can’t help but scold the anonymous caller every now and then. It’s classic comedy, enacted very well.
Our protagonists do get bullied because of their weight. They undergo feelings of insecurity and are overlooked by the people important to them. But as the story progresses, they also shine as confident women with strong personal streaks.
Sometimes, a message makes greater impact when sugarcoated and herein lies Oye Motti’s success. It is not be your staple Pakistani drama, it certainly doesn’t focus on overlong painful crying sessions and episodes of domestic torture in a bid to haul ratings. But when it comes to storytelling, watchability and wholesome good content, this one’s a winner.