Drama serial Lamhay, featuring Shaz Khan and Zara Noor Abbas in lead roles, is now four episodes in and the story is doing nothing to draw one in with it.
A recap: Hashir (Shaz Khan) was sent to study abroad so he could be kept away from a family rivalry that had lasted generations and had taken the lives of many of his ancestors. What he doesn’t know is that he was married off, as a child, to a woman seven years older than him as a way of burying the enmity. “You came in vani,” Bibi Jaan, the matriarch of the family and Hashir’s grandmother tells Hashir’s wife when they are in conversation. What Bibi Jaan doesn’t know is that Hashir has already gotten married in New York. Reja, played by Hira Hussain, is an aspiring model and whether she is desi or not is anyone’s guess because she speaks Urdu and her American accent isn’t quite there. But her hair is streaked blond. She looks quite the quintessential ABCD. Maybe at some point she has explained her origin but it skipped me. Do share if you guys have any clarity on Reja.
Anyway, Hashir agrees to visit Pakistan on his grandmother’s insistence and also because he needs to tell her of his marriage to Reja. He finds out about his childhood marriage when he arrives, rejects it and tells Bibi Jaan of his marriage. The twist (if you can call it that) is that Grandma thinks his wife has come with him and now he has to cough up a wife. Solution: Aleena, his newly appointed house manager, who first refuses but then desperately needs money for her niece’s surgery and so agrees. With conditions.
Over to Aleena, played by Zara Noor Abbas. On paper she has a painfully stereotypical character. Aleena belongs to a lower middle class family and lives with her crippled brother, nasty sister in law and their two daughters. The bhabi’s brother is a lecherous creep who has his eyes on her as well as the house she lives in, which belongs to Aleena and her brother. But here’s what makes Aleena interesting, despite seeming like the proverbial damsel in distress.
- She takes her sister in law head on and doesn’t go weeping and whimpering every time she is spoken nastily to.
- She has a backbone and stands up for her rights.
- Aleena is level headed and intelligent, which we see when she agrees to pose as Hashir’s wife for enough money to pay for her niece’s surgery. She also gives the condition that he must sign a nikkah with her; this is a paper contract which will not give him any other rights, she clarifies, and will be annulled as soon as she is no longer needed. It was refreshing to see a young woman know how to protect herself from further adversity. Pak drama heroines usually depend on a man for this. The nikkah will at least ensure that she is not vilified in society at large.
Zara Noor’s character is not very complicated but sometimes it is toughest to portray the simplest characters and this young actress does it with ease. She is pretty but naturally so; there is no overdone face or hair to enhance her looks. There’s something very endearing and promising about Zara Noor, who will also be making a big screen debut with Asim Raza’s Paray Hut Love.
We look forward to see how she handles Hashir, Bibi Jaan and the challenges up ahead.