THE WEEK THAT WAS

Dour | Geo, Thursdays, 8pm

Saji Gul is known for his keenly observed, deeply layered scripts and, despite the Star Plus-style teaser, his latest offering, Dour, does not disappoint. Sporting an incredibly bad wig, Sania Saeed still manages to impress, hamming up the melodrama to bring a deliciously dark and twisted edge to Mrs Ehteshamuddin, who is a cruel and vindictive woman who donates money for show but refuses to pay her workers. Her son, Abaan (Azfer Rehman), is just as warped, becoming even more frustrated and angry after an accident leaves him wheelchair-bound. Abaan’s brother, Ruman, is the superficial “good guy” but is actually weak and emotionally stunted, which Ali Abbas skillfully presents as a subtle parody of all the blindly unresponsive husbands we see on our screens. Ruman’s wife, Asma (Hina Altaf), thinks she can escape her sister’s fate; that an educated woman with self-respect, would never allow herself to be trapped by abusive in-laws, or an uncaring husband. Will her relationship with Ruman shatter that confidence?

Dunk | ARY, Saturdays, 8pm

Despite a promising start, neither the writer-director team of Mohsin Ali and Badar Mahmood, nor the casting of major talent like Bilal Abbas and Sana Javed, have been able to save this disappointing script. Based on false accusations of sexual harassment and rape, the story devolved into the usual marriages and family dysfunction common in every second serial on air. The constant confrontations and empty threats in hallways and dining rooms have made for a few compelling scenes, but ultimately the lack of chemistry between any of the leads makes even those tiresome after a while. A powerful individual performance from Javed, backed up by Laila Wasti’s wonderfully controlled portrayal of a mother trying to support her son, are the few saving graces of this serial. Just like their previous work, Cheekh, much of the potential this serial had has been drowned out by this creative team’s usual focus on stretching out a drama for ratings rather than the issue the story had meant to raise.

What To Watch Out For

Phaans | Hum TV, Wednesday & Thursday, 8pm

This psychological thriller is finally picking up the pace. Zeba (Zara Noor) is raped at an engagement party, but no one will believe her when she accuses her mother’s employer’s son, Sahil (Shehzad Shaikh). This drama could be better, and possibly more popular, if less time were spent on the jealous sister track and more on Samad (Sami Khan) and Zeba’s relationship. A more nuanced script would also allow Zeba’s sister a personality rather than casting her as an evil shrew at every point, but she is not the only one: all of the women in this drama fail to show any basic empathy for Zeba until her “innocence” is proved. What this drama gets right is the way predators roam free while victims are too often not believed and put on trial instead. With this serial, both Zara Noor and Shehzad Shaikh have proved that they are better actors than their recent outings in Zebaish and Raaz-e-Ulfat indicated. Noor ditches the glamour and carries her role well. Shaikh gives one of his career-best performances as a sexual predator pretending to be man with learning difficulties.

Published in Dawn, ICON, July 11th, 2021

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