There is a new trend in the Pakistani television industry where dramas address social issues and taboo topics in their narratives. It is a positive effort, however, stories revolving around a social cause or involving characters with special needs, add more responsibility on the makers. A lot of research and authenticity is required to produce such content.
Joining the list of socially relevant dramas is Hum TV’s Phaans starring Zara Noor Abbas, Sami Khan, and Shahzad Sheikh that premiered on Saturday and delivered a noteworthy first episode.
The episode introduced us to two families. Zeba (Zara Noor Abbas) belongs to a lower-middle-class household where she lives with her mother, Shakeela (Kinza Malik), and her younger sister, Farah. Glued to her books, Zeba is an ambitious character while her sister is materialistic. We are also shown the same cliched relationship between the two sisters; Zeba is too naive and Farah is jealous of her older sister’s good fortune and fiancé, Hashim (Zain Afzal) who is also their first cousin.
Shakeela works as a cook at a wealthy household and her family is invited for the wedding of the house owner’s daughter, Hafsa (Yashma Gill). Despite Hashim’s displeasure about Zeba going along, Shakeela states that she has no choice as she cannot leave her daughters alone at home for weeks.
Shakeela’s employers Nadia (Arjumand Rahim) and Siraj (Ali Tahir) have three children; Hafsa, who is getting married, Arsala their younger daughter, and son, Sahil (Shahzad Sheikh) who has special needs. We are shown that Nadia is doubtful about her decision to call these young women home due to her husband’s shady character and inappropriate past, however, she says that she needed to.
While the siblings share a beautiful bond, Siraj is shown as an unfaithful husband and a disappointing father. Sahil is mostly scared of him as he has grown seeing him beat and abuse his mother.
The episode also introduced us to Samad (Sami Khan) who is the groom-to-be. Hafsa seems to be happy with the relationship, but she’s mostly surrounded by insecurities when it comes to Samad’s faithfulness and interactions with the opposite gender. A scene where she comes across a picture of him with her friend angers her and an occasion where he shows admiration for Zeba also infuriates her.
We are also shown a growing friendship between Zeba and Sahil and it’s endearing to see how gentle she is with him, while his own father refuses to understand the sensitivity of the issue.
The first episode featuring the wedding festivities concluded with Zeba going to meet her angry fiancé, Hashim who orders her to meet her at a construction site near the house. It appears that he intends to teach her a lesson for not giving him due respect and not answering his phone calls, however, on her way, Zeba bumps into Siraj who looks like he’s up to some evil, too. Samad, who is on a phone call outside, also notices Zeba leaving the house. Upon reaching the site, someone pulls Zeba by her arm and we know something will go awfully wrong.
From the onset, the drama seemed past-faced and introduced us to all the major characters and their backgrounds. Everyone did justice to their roles, however, it is important to mention that Shahzad Sheikh, who plays a guy with Down’s syndrome, nailed his performance. His acting is natural and believable and anyone who has lived with a person with special needs will laud his portrayal of Sahil. His body language, expressions, and dialogues are all very well performed.
Phaans has been written by Samina Ijaz and directed by Ahmad Kamran.
Watch the first episode here: