Humsafar (Urdu: ہم سَفر) is a Pakistani drama directed by Sarmad Sultan Khoosat, based on the novel (Humsafar) of the same name written by Farhat Ishtiaq. The story revolves around the trials and tribulations of a married couple, Ashar Hussain (Fawad Afzal Khan) and Khirad Ihsan (Mahira Khan), and the jealous forces that work to break them apart. The story of Humsafar (Novel) was laid out in retrospective manner and was mainly told in flashbacks. However the drama’s narrative is mostly linear. The drama airs on Hum TV and has gained a cult following globally and is critically acclaimed.
The drama’s first episode begins with a glimpse into the lives of the three main characters. Khirad Ihsan (Mahira Khan) lives in Hyderabad, Pakistan with her mother, Maimona Ihsan, a school teacher. They belong to a lower-middle class family. Maimona’s wealthy nephew, Ashar Hussain (Fawad Afzal Khan), is also introduced alongside his best friend (and maternal cousin), Sara Ajmal (Naveen Waqar). Unknown to Ashar, Sara is deeply in love with him. Both Ashar and Sara’s mothers, Farida (Atiqa Odho) and Zareena (Hina Khawaja Bayat), assume that Ashar will eventually propose to Sara since they have always been so close.
It is soon revealed that Maimona Ihsan is diagnosed with cancer and she requests her brother, Baseerat Hussain (Behroze Sabzwari), Ashar’s rich father, to help her in this dire time of need. Out of guilt for neglecting his sister’s welfare for so long, Baseerat decides promptly to bring Maimona and Khirad to his Karachi mansion and provide first class treatment for her cancer. However, the doctors state that there is no hope of saving Maimona’s life as her cancer has progressed to an advanced stage. Hearing this, Maimona becomes worried over what will happen to Khirad after she is gone, and she requests Baseerat to find a decent proposal for Khirad. Ridden with guilt, Baseerat decides to get Khirad married to Ashar.
Baseerat later conveys his desire to Ashar, his son is taken much aback as he has no plans of getting married to anyone at that moment, let alone a girl who seems like the exact opposite of him. After Ashar shares this news with Sara, she becomes very angry and heartbroken, revealing to Ashar that no one has any right over him since she has loved him all her life. Ashar strictly tells Sara that he does not share the feelings that Sara harbours for him; in his eyes, their relationship has always been limited to friendship. Sara promises Ashar that she will not let him ruin his life by marrying Khirad and she will not be rejected in favour of the “veiled and backwards” Khirad since she is better in every aspect (education, background etc.). However, Baseerat breaks down in front of his son, begging him to marry Khirad, as he believes that no one else could take better care of her.
Eventually, Ashar agrees to marry Khirad under his dad’s immense emotional pressure. Farida, who is extremely possessive about her son, feels neglected during the whole process and lashes out at Baseerat, begging him to think of his son’s welfare and reconsider the decision since Khirad and Ashar are such a mismatch. Baseerat threatens his wife with a divorce if she tries to come between Ashar and Khirad’s marriage. Meanwhile, Khirad is even more shocked than Ashar to hear about her proposed marriage to Ashar. Khirad decides to talk to Ashar but overhears Ashar conversation with a friend about her being backwards. Khirad who is revealed to be very egoistic is deeply hurt. Being her dying mother’s wish, Khirad has no choice but to agree to the wedding . Sara attempts suicide but is rescued in time. Ashar and Khirad are married in a rush (and with a simple Nikaah) due to Maimona’s failing health. She dies soon after, leaving Khirad very depressed and lonely. Ashar and Khirad begin their marriage on a very somber note, where both of them feel that they have been included into each others lives without consent and are being enforced on each other. None of them are happy about the union, however Ashar promises Khirad that he will try his best to make her feel comfortable and this marriage work even though he knows that it will take them a long period of time to come to an understanding. Khirad is deeply hurt by the fact that she has been forced into Ashar’s life and feels that her self-respect has been lost.
Later on, however, they both begin falling in love with each other, and Ashar believes it is her innocence, simplicity, and purity of heart that attracts him to her, saying that she’s unlike any other girl he’s ever come across. Even as Sara pretends to befriend Khirad and humiliates her in front of her friends, Ashar rebukes Sara for her cruelty and tells Khirad that she is the most perfect, beautiful girl he could have ever asked for. He tells her that people normally like each other, love each other, and then marry. But with them, it was the opposite. He tells her he loves her, and she loves him too, and that he thanks God every day that he agreed to the wedding.
Soon, Baseerat becomes very sick, and while he’s in the hospital, he warns his son against hurting Khirad, saying that she’s very innocent by nature and doesn’t know the realities of this world or the people in it. He asks him to treat her with constant love and kindess and to always forgive her for anything she might ever do. Ashar, already in love with his new wife, agrees. Baseerat later dies in his sleep.
While Sara pretends to befriend Khirad, she falsely tells Khirad that Ashar makes fun of housewives by referring to them as “desperate housewives” in order to make her feel more embarrassed. Already well-educated with a BSC in physics and mathematics, Khirad decides to enroll in graduate studies to further her math skills in order to impress Ashar and reach more to his standards. There, she meets Khizar, Sara’s paternal cousin who has strong feelings towards Sara. Still, Sara expresses no feelings for Khizar and is still not over Ashar. When Khizar starts to come to Ashar and Khirad’s house, where he praises Khirad at how smart and beautiful she is, Ashar starts to get irritated and slightly jealous. Unbeknownst to Ashar, Khirad is pregnant and can’t wait to tell him this great news.
Meanwhile, Farida, Zareena, and Sara come up with a plan to separate Khirad and her husband. Farida plans on paying large sums of money to Khizar for him to be able to study abroad as well as have him marry Sara if he can convince Ashar that he and Khirad are secretly engaged in an extramarital affair. Sara lies to Khizar by telling him that she’ll marry him when he returns from his abroad studying. The scheme goes into action (before Khirad could tell Ashar she was pregnant), and Ashar sees what falsely appears to be Khirad and Khizar alone in his apartment. He storms off angry. When Khirad later asks Farida why she did this, she responds that she would never allow a public school teacher’s daughter to be her daughter-in-law. She goes on to say that she raised Ashar in such a perfect way with his education and work and that she won’t allow him to waste it all on a lower-class woman. Khirad tries to protest and calls Khizar, who falsely keeps insisting that she is in an affair with him. However, Farida backs Khizar’s lies and kicks Khirad out of the house before Ashar has a chance to speak with her. Before leaving, she quickly manages to write a note for Ashar and leaves it with a servant. Although Ashar returns expecting to be able to speak with Khirad to hear her explanation, his mother lies and says that she and Khizar have already eloped together.
Heartbroken and alone, Khirad takes refuge at the house of her mother’s old friend, Batul Khala, in Hyderabad, Pakistan. Throughout her time there, she calls Ashar at his cell phone and his office, but he promptly hangs up whenever he finds out it is Khirad calling. Believing his mother’s story that Khirad eloped with Khizar, he says he no longer knows anyone named Khirad. After a few months, Khirad goes into labor and calls Ashar one last time. Again he hangs up, and she prematurely gives birth to a baby girl whom she names Hareem. While in the small clinic with her newborn baby, Khirad vows that even on the Day of Judgment in front of Allah, she won’t forgive Ashar for what he did. Her desperate attempts to reach out to Ashar have now turned to heartfelt anger and possibly hatred.
Four years pass and Khirad learns that her daughter is a patient of congenital heart disease, and needs immediate open heart surgery. Since she knows she will not be able to afford Hareem’s treatment, Khirad hesitantly pays a visit to her husband and tells him about the current situation. She comes back a changed woman, one with more power and anger than she had before. At first, he doesn’t react and refuses to help, but later, as he realizes his sudden love for the daughter he had never met, decides to treat Hareem. Ashar brings his wife and four-year-old child to his house, but does not reveal this to Sara, Farida, or Zareena. He bonds with Khirad and Hareem over time, though Khirad still thinks he is a weak and horrible husband as he did not believe/listen to her four years earlier. In addition, she states that she’s only there for her daughter’s treatment and no longer cares about being with Ashar, and it is because of this that she hasn’t told him the realities of what his mother did to her four years earlier.
When Sara finds out that her “enemy” has returned, she is outraged, and informs Farida. Farida quickly returns to Pakistan from a conference in the United States and explains to Khirad that she can easily throw her and her daughter back on the streets again. No longer afraid of her mother-in-law, Khirad tells her to do as she pleases, as she is only there for her daughter’s care and no longer cares for the Hussain family. She says, “I was afraid of you back when I actually wanted to be with your son…” As Hareem demands to see old pictures from their wedding, Ashar brings out an old box, which contains the note Khirad left for Ashar four years earlier as she was being thrown out of the house. He doesn’t see it right away, however.
Khizar returns from his studies abroad and demands Farida fulfill her promise of marrying him to Sara. Sara, angered by his return, refuses, but Farida insists she go through with it since Khizar threatens to tell Ashar the truth of what happened four years ago.
Meanwhile, Hareem’s surgery takes place and is successful. Seeing how much he loves his daughter, Khirad decides to leave Hareem with Ashar as he can provide for her better. Ashar, on the other hand, has (again) developed feelings for his wife and decides to forgive her for her former affair (he still doesn’t know that it was a well-played lie). So far, Khirad tells Ashar that she is leaving and leaving Hareem with him, but Ashar says that he has forgiven her (although, actually, he loves her), and he asks her to stay.
Khizar returns to Pakistan and visits Farida. He demands her to give an answer to his marriage request for Sara within two days or else he’ll “destroy” her with everything he knows. Meanwhile, Ashar finds Khizar leaving his home, and when he confronts his mother as to why he was there, Farida responds by saying, “He wants for you and Khirad to get a divorce…” Ashar is seen visibly shaking with anger and sadness at this false revelation.
Sara continues to spiral down with her depression, saying that she can never get over Ashar due to her strong love and that she can never forget Khirad due to her strong hatred for her.
Ashar takes Khirad from the hospital (where Hareem is still recovering) to the seaside of Karachi and pours out his feelings to her. Still unaware of her innocence, he asks how she can walk around without feeling any kind of shame for what she did. He then says that he loves her just as he did four years ago and that he can’t remove her from his heart. He begs her to stay, if not for him then for Hareem. Khirad, seemingly untouched by his emotional speech, rejects his offer and, when pressed, will not tell him her reasoning. She says she only cares about Hareem’s health and happiness now and wants nothing else from this world, not even Ashar. She tells him she’s leaving Hareem with him so she can have a better life.
In a promo for the next episode, it shows Ashar finding a note Khirad left for him, implying that she’s already left for Hyderabad, leaving Hareem at Ashar’s home for good. Later on, he finds the note Khirad left nearly four years ago when she was being thrown out of the house by her mother-in-law. He is seen confronting Khizar for his lie and going into an emotional breakdown, realizing for the first time how innocent Khirad was in everything and how he refused to believe her for so long.
Changes from the novel
-In the novel, Sarah is a very limited character and is never close to Ashar and nor is his best friend or works with him. Sara’s role in the drama was expanded to a main character. Hareem was the portagonist; however in the drama she had a minor role and does not appears until episode 15.
-In the novel, Ashar and Khirad have a proper wedding ceremony and a grand reception after Maimoona’s mourning period has passed. In the drama, Ashar and Khirad never have a proper wedding, instead they have a simple nikkah ceremony and soon afterwards Maimoona dies. There is no mention of a wedding nor a reception (Walima). However, in episode 19 when Hareem requests to see the wedding pictures it is never explained where the pictures of the wedding came from if the two events never occurred or weren’t mentioned.
-Khirad and Maimoona reside in Nawabshah in the novel however; the drama’s location is changed to Hyderabad.
-Khizar in the novel is never in love with sara but to another girl, named Mehreen and never comes back from America.
-In the drama it is never explained how or where Hareem has seen Ashars picture or why she suddenly becomes so attached to her father even though she has never met him before. In the novel, it was explained by the heart necklace that Khirad is wearing when she is kicked out of the house which contains a picture of ashar (a birthday gift Ashar bestows on Khirad). When Khirad takes the necklace out after four years before her move to Karachi, Hareem becomes interested in the picture and Khirad explains to Hareem that it is her father who loves her a lot but lives in a different city and will bring her loads of toys and dolls. Khirad does not want to instigate a bad image of Ashar in Hareems mind at such an early age. She also gives the necklace to Hareem to keep, so can learn what her father’s image looks like.
-Ashar does not bring Hareem and Khirad back to his house in Karachi (like it is shown in the drama) but rents a separate apartment for them in the novel.
-The Drama’s end was changed significantly from the novel, as in the novel the only confrontation that occurs is between Ashar and Farida before it’s concluded.