Pehli Si Muhabbat may not be high on masala and is developing slowly, rather at a snail’s pace, but it certainly comes with a strong message. The latest episode of the drama (Episode 9) sheds light on a topic often overlooked in Pakistani dramas – the importance of a woman’s consent in marriage.

Aslam (Sheheryar Munawar) and Rakshi (Maya Ali) have finally started telling family members about their love for each other and their desire to marry. Aslam has broken off his engagement with Bushra (Hina Afridi) and has let his Mamu know that he cannot marry her. On the other hand, Rakshi’s father Faizullah (Shabbir Jan) has decided to finalise Rakshi’s rishta with his friend’s son. When he tells his wife Nargis (Rabia Butt) of this, the conversation that follows needs to be broadcast everywhere loud and clear.

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When Faizullah tells his wife that in their riwaj and culture, girls are not consulted before their own marriage, Nargis says: “Allah nay auraton kay baaray main jo ahkamat diye hain na, unkay baaray main bhi thora sa jaan lo. Waisay tum mard bhi na baray theek ho. Deen bhi sirf mardon ka rakhtay ho. Nikkah say pehlay Allah nay beti ki marzi janana zaruri kiya hai.

In response, Faizullah dismisses Nargis’ comments, saying that she doesn’t know anything.

Allah ki kitaab na humain bhi parhayi jaati hai Faizullah. Bismillah aur Ameen toh humari bhi hoti hai,” adds Nargis before leaving Faizullah to reflect on her words.

In a country where women are often overlooked in the rishta process and told that the elders (read: men) in their family decide their future, such scenes and conversations give the audiences food for thought and can enable the wheels of change. It is also refreshing to watch this on-screen because most dramas paint those women wanting to marry of their choice as besharam (shameless) and wanton with their end also usually terrible.

Kudos to Faiza Iftikhar for these brilliant dialogues and to Anjum Shehzad for wonderfully executing the scene. Butt has been a powerhouse of talent throughout the episode, conversing through her eyes and body language and delivering one blazing scene after another – whether it was her conversation with Faizullah, confrontation with Niggi Apa or the way she handled Rakshi.

Another person who is really standing out in the drama is Munawar. Sheheryar has owned Aslam to the very core and the scene in which he gives Niggi Apa a taste of her own medicine makes you cheer on him.

Now that Aslam and Rakshi’s secret is out in the open, it will interesting to see what happens next. All I hope is that the drama starts moving faster else audiences will lose interest.