THE WEEK THAT WAS

Pardes | ARY, Mondays 8.00pm

TAymen (Durre Fishan) is determined not to be a grass widow like her mother Zubi (Shaista Wahidi). The story of Pardes focuses on the pain and dysfunction in families with members forced to seek work abroad. Aymen’s father Ahsan (Sarmad Khoosat) spends his life working outside of Pakistan, sending home remittances to support his brothers and sisters, while his own wife and children are ignored and neglected. The lack of attention and care leaves Aymen bitter and insecure, while her brother turns to drugs.

Aymen defies everyone to marry Ibaad (Affan Waheed) on the condition that they will always live together, but fate takes an unexpected turn when his temporary work trip to England becomes a long stay. Will Ayman take the bold move of divorce or hang on to her marriage? Great performances from Durre Fishan and Sarmad Khoosat have boosted this serial, but the real power lies in the authentic pictures painted of this sadly common dilemma between financial security and a happy family life.

Rang Mahal | Geo TV, Saturdays 9.00pm

A few episodes back, Rang Mahal seemed to have the only progressive heroine on air with Mahpara (Sehar Khan), who rises by scraping by as a teacher while studying hard to pass her chartered accountant’s exam. Writer Shafia Khan deserves credit for giving us a female lead with gumption, but Shafia lost her edge by not doing the proper research on corporate work structures, and pushing an easy fantasy. Mahpara does not just pass the incredibly tough chartered accountancy exams on her first attempt but tops them and, with her cousin Salaar’s (Asim Mehmood) help, lands an executive position in a multinational firm. Bypassing her seniors, colleagues and standard work ethics, she sets about discrediting a bid from Fazal Builders, who happen to be the family that ruined her life earlier. This sets the stage for melodramatic confrontations between her and her lost love Rayd (Ali Ansari), and the villainous Suhail (Humayun Ashraf), that amp up the melodrama and presumably the ratings.

Despite her natural charm, Sehar Khan is not convincing as a working woman and falls flat in the face-offs, leaving Ansari and Ashraf to do the heavy lifting for their encounters. For fans this remains an addictive easy-watch but may disappoint those looking for depth.

Laapata | Hum TV, Tuesdays 8.00pm

Shams (Ali Rehman) is back from his false imprisonment and coming to terms with a life that may not include Falak (Sarah Khan) who is now married to Danyal (Gohar Rasheed). In true Princess Geeti (Ayeza Khan) style, the TikTok queen makes a quick pivot back to Shams and marriage over a passing comment at her friend’s wedding.

This subtle, dry comedy is yet another highlight of this fantastic script. The most recent episode caused a stir on social media, when a jealous Danyal slaps Falak, and she slaps him right back. While many were excited to see a woman standing up for herself, some warned that two wrongs do not make a right. Impressive direction and strong portrayals from Rehman and both Sarah and Ayeza Khan make this a great watch.

What To Watch Out For

The Empire | Disney Hotstar

Disney Hotstar has released its epic on the first Mughal Emperor Babar and it is a feast for the eyes. The atrocious pronunciation of Urdu can be ignored for the well-knit plot, and action/adventure feel of the drama. Inaccuracies and modifications are common with any retelling of the past but the Bollywood trend of remaking Muslim historical figures (in this case Babar’s nemesis Shaybani Khan) into despotic psychopaths is harder to pass over.

Published in Dawn, ICON, September 19th, 2021

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