THE WEEK THAT WAS

Duur | Geo TV, Tuesdays 8.00pm

Duur has gotten some high ratings but fallen short of the high expectations of nuance and complexity that might have been expected of a writer such as Saji Gul, whose previous works include Sannata and O Rangreza.

Sania Saeed plays up the melodrama of her evil, murderous mother-in-law character, Mrs. Ehtashamuddin, to fabulous effect; giving us some subtle comedy with her barely disguised contempt for her tiresomely virtuous adopted son/nephew and daughter-in-law. The other villain is her son Abaan (Azfar Rehman), who does not hesitate to use his disability to sexually harass his new sister-in-law, and manipulate those around him. Rehman and Saeed provide most of the energy for this serial while Hina Altaf and Ali Abbas (Romaan) are left to make one saintly decision after another for the bad guys to take advantage of.

Altaf’s character, Asma, seems to make some spectacularly bad (and culturally inappropriate) decisions, offering to take personal care of her new brother-in-law Abaan, leaving viewers wondering why a man who has full use of his upper body needs to be spoon-fed or shaved? This is a very basic good-versus-evil in-laws story the masses can relate to.

Pehli Wali | See Prime

This telefilm has garnered over a million views, giving us a different, more modern perspective on life after divorce. Juggan Kazim and Omair Rana play a couple for whom the romance has long gone but the friendship and mutual respect they once shared has stayed. The heavy lifting is done by Juggan’s character, the exhausted but never bitter single mother with a career, and a sense of humour. Rana’s more immature character wants the mother of his children to help him decide if the new woman in his life (Sidra Niazi) is the right match for their hyphenated family. Written by Rida Bilal, this short but sweet story allows us to entertain the shocking possibility that it is possible to move on and be happy even after a couple breaks up.

What To Watch Out For

Parizaad | Hum TV, Tuesdays 8.00pm

Parizaad continues to be quality viewing, with well-etched characters and an out-of-the-box story. Putting aside the problematic use of a bucketful of fake tan, Ahmed Ali Akbar completely justifies the decision to cast him in this role. Parizaad is well-aware of how others perceive his looks, but Naheed (Ushna Shah) and Majid’s (Ahmed Taha Ghani) cruel deception to use him as a patsy for their secret love affair pushes him to the edge.

He is saved by a new friend, a poet called NaSaaz (Adeel Afzal), through whom he meets Saima (Saboor Aly), who calls herself Bubbly Badmaash. Saima is deeply confused about her gender identity as a woman because she was brought up as a boy but, as this is a Pakistani drama, nothing matters except getting her married off before her father’s shaking hand becomes the catastrophic sickness.

The creative team does deserve some credit for at least allowing the parents a conversation about therapy, but what is missing, as always, is asking what actually Bubbly/Saima needs as a person opposed to what society requires of her. Quite rightly, Bubbly frightens away a dowry-demanding family, but now that Parizaad needs money for his sister Saeeda (Kiran Tabeer), however benevolent his intentions, will he also take advantage of the situation by offering marriage at a price?

Mohabbat Dagh Ki Surat | Geo TV, Wednesdays 8.00pm

Starring Neelum Munir opposite Sami Khan, with Syed Jibran in a negative role, this serial focuses on the burdens of honour culture and how a disability can challenge a relationship.

Published in Dawn, ICON, August 29th, 2021

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