THE WEEK THAT WAS

Parizaad Hum | TV, Tuesdays 8.00pm

With a name meaning “of a fairy family” (denoting classical beauty), Parizaad (Ahmad Ali Akbar) is a sensitive, humble soul but often ridiculed because of his dark skin tone. Like much of Hashim Nadeem’s work, this is a male-centric story with the endearing lead character on a journey of self-realisation beyond the limitations that fate and society have set for him. Director Shehzad Kashmiri invests a freshness into even the most mundane interactions of this captivating first episode. Though initially jarring, the decision to put acting ability over age-appropriate casting is working. Akbar underplays the victimhood, connecting to his audience with charm over melodramatics and even a glimmer of humour. Parizaad has been criticised for the use of “black face” because Akbar darkened his skin for the role. It is unfair that darker actors with equal talent and presence have been passed over, but terms like “black face” have a specific western context, rooted in the institutionalised enslavement of African people. Colourism (prizing a fairer skin tone —something the story is paradoxically supposed to condemn) is a term that might apply. Apart from Akbar, Ushna Shah, Raza Ali Abid and Adnan Shah Tipu stand out in this promising start.

Pehli Si Mohabbat | ARY, Saturdays 8.00pm

Despite a glamorous star pairing (that were at times a little over-dressed) and a script from acclaimed writer Faiza Iftikhar, this serial has flown under the radar. Aslam’s (Sheheryar Munawar) romance with his neighbour Rakshi (Maya Ali) is doomed when her father Faizullah (Shabir Jan) marries a courtesan, shocking their conservative family into his boycott. Munawar’s acting is a highlight of the show, followed by Rabia Butt, Uzma Hassan and a good debut from Hassan Shehryar Yasin. Maya Ali does better with a stronger director and has been patchy at best. The story makes great points about forced marriages and the burden of “family honour”, boosted by Iftikhar’s trademark authenticity when writing about middle-class families. There are a few loopholes, such as Faizullah, who is whitewashed as a saint for marrying a “fallen woman”, but continuously ignores his daughter’s needs or happiness, allowing her to face the consequences of his choices. Director Anjum Shehzad has put together a fairly entertaining serial, but it misses some of the urgency and charm that love stories thrive on.

What To Watch Out For

Rang Mahal | GeoTV, Wednesdays 9.00pm

Geo continues its push towards garishly bright, StarPlus- or Indian-style dramas that have brought it success, with this latest Cinderella story of a servant girl treated like family. The story is predictable, with black-and-white personalities that don’t require too much thought on the audience’s part, but provide easy entertainment.

Published in Dawn, ICON, August 1st, 2021

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