THE WEEK THAT WAS

Parizaad | Hum TV, Tuesdays 8.00pm

This beautifully made drama is the kind of storytelling that used to be a hallmark of classic Pakistani dramas. Of all the recent works by writer Hashim Nadeem that have hit our screens, Parizaad has the most thoughtful and well-structured script. The credit must also go to director Shehzad Kashmiri, who has kept a grip on the revolving array of characters and side tracks, allowing them to complement and propel the main narrative of Parizaad’s journey without overwhelming it.

Courtesans as romantically tragic victims hiding in plain sight is a recurring theme in Nadeem’s work, and this continues in Parizaad’s (Ahmad Ali Akbar) meeting with Lubna (Mishal Khan) at the elite university he gets a scholarship to. The confident, vibrant Lubna is forced to drop out of college when her mother sells her to a wealthy businessman. And in a subtle parallel, Parizaad is also forced to sell his most precious intimate thoughts, in the form of his poetry, to the same man.

Parizaad uses the money to help his sister, who is bearing the brunt of her in-laws’ deteriorating financial situation. This marks a change in the hero’s trajectory, as he steps back from education as a goal and yields to the lure of power and control that only money can provide. Akbar is outstanding in the emotional scenes, connecting with the audience through his underplayed, everyman persona.

Barbaroslar | HilalPlay

The first episode begins with a heavy dose of lavish CGI and action sequences on the high seas, introducing Oruç Reis (Engin Altan Duzyatan) and Elias Reis, who provide security for an Italian shipping line in the Mediterranean. This is the Reconquista, a dangerous time of persecution for the Muslims and Jews of the fallen kingdoms of Andalusia and Castille (Granada), as the Catholic monarchs of Spain hunt them down.

While Oruç finds fame as a privateer helping refugees, his brother Ishaack (Yetkin Dikinciler) leads the quiet life of a merchant, aided by their middle brother Hizar (Ulas Tuna Astepe). Hizar is also the student of a famous Islamic mystic and scholar who is hiding in their backwater village. The women in this serial are not just accessories: one runs her father’s security business, while another runs an orphanage, and all of them seem to be experts with swords.

Barbaroslar has a lighter touch than Duzyatan’s now legendary serial Dirilis: Ertugrul, but promises to be an entertaining, and engaging ride through this era of history.

Ishq Hai | ARY, Tuesdays 8.00pm

With double episodes every week, ARY has managed to get through yet another ill-conceived, badly written story of obsessive love at high speed, before they replace it with yet another story on the same topic. Shahzeb (Danish Taimoor) finally understands Isra (Minal Khan) is innocent and, after the proforma apologies and hand-wringing, is accepted back by both their families.

Meanwhile Nimra (Mahenur Haider), the girl he twice abandoned at the altar, commits suicide and Isra’s would-be suitor crashes his car after being rejected. While Ishq Hai might have set a record with two deaths in the finale, there is an assembly line of dramas using this problematic motif in their plot-lines.

What To Watch Out For

Blood Brothers | Netflix

Shifting philosophies and the fight for civil rights set in the America of the 1960s is the background for this film. When Malcom X takes a stand against the leader of the American religious sect known as the Nation of Islam, his once unshakeable bond of friendship with his mentee Mohammad Ali shatters under the strain.

Published in Dawn, ICON, September 26th, 2021

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