“Badshah Begum” is a unique concept in the way it has been presented as a story, a story involving siblings competing for power. Starring Farhan Saeed, Abul Hassan, Zara Noor Abbas, Komal Meer and Hamza Sohail as Pir Sah Alam’s children, Ali Rehman Khan, Yasir Hussain, Tanya Hussain, Saman Ansari and others are also in prominent roles. The story has been written by Saji Gul and directed by Khizer Idrees. While the story has been great up until now, it’s with episode 5 that the story begins to take leaps forward.
This episode does a lot to move the story forward with Roshan Ara (Komal Meer) and Jahan Ara (Zara Noor Abbas) now in Peeran Pur with Pir Shah Alam. The dynamics of this relationship has always been somewhat hostile and dysfunctional, but now in Peeran Pur, the sisters are even moreso at odds with one another. Bakhtiyar (Ali Rehman Khan) has arrived in Peeran Pur and the village folk are talking about his friendship with Roshan Ara, which is cause for alarm in their small, conservative, restrictive environment. Due to this, Roshan Ara, who is incredibly headstrong, is on the receiving end of a slap from Badshah Begum. However, as Roshan Ara rightly states to Jahan Ara during one of Jahan Ara’s infamous lectures, the slap Roshan Ara received is unfair, as its true owner should have been Jahan Ara. Roshan Ara is in love with Bakhtiyar, but is also well aware of his feelings for Jahan Ara – and so, when Jahan Ara makes grand claims of wanting to protect Bakhtiyar, Roshan Ara scoffs at this and makes it clear that Bakhtiyar never would have come all this way if Jahan Ara hadn’t given him some hope. It’s interesting, because Jahan Ara is the “lead” character essentially, but is she really likable? Up to this point, she is quiet, rigid, wrapped up in her own cultural customs and, quite frankly, boring. One has to pause and think about Roshan Ara’s words though. Are they fair? Has Jahan Ara been leading Bakhtiyar on? Or is Bakhtiyar, in fact, just another one of those thick, dense South Asian men who do not understand the meaning of the word no?
Meanwhile, Bakhtiyar is out there “bonding” with Murad (Abul Hassan) and, through this discussion, Bakhtiyar realizes the wayward mindsets of those from this small village, wanting “parda” for the females, but freedom for men. Of course, a ruthless attitude is also part and parcel of this culture and this is depicted within the character of Kaiser, played by Yasir Hussain. Kaiser is now caring for his young daughter, believing her to be his key to laying claim to the “throne.” But we cannot believe for even a moment that he genuinely loves his young daughter – she is merely a stepping stone to success and we see this when he heartlessly runs over Sakina’s son with his car. Sakina, the woman who is caring for his own daughter, isn’t even given the time to mourn her own child before being carted off to care for Kaiser’s own baby. Kaiser has the mind of a criminal, a loose cannon who can destroy anyone in his path without warning…..much like Badshah Begum, who mercilessly beat a pregnant woman in the first episode. Is this evil something that becomes instilled within its inhabitants with power?
The most interesting part of the episode is Pir Shah Alam’s relationship with his five children. Pir Shah Alam makes quite the impression as he seems different from his background. Forced into marrying a second time for the sake of his family, he was always fiercely loyal to his first wife….while abandoning the second entirely. He has raised his daughters and one son with absolute love and affection, listening to their wants, desires and dreams. He has told Jahan Ara about the course set out for her – but also asks if she wishes for something different. This is a father who is in tune with the needs of his children. But this care is only extended to the children he raised and is nonexistent with Shahzaib (Farhan Saeed) and Murad. Shahzaib and Pir Shah Alam have an exchange of words where it’s made clear that Pir Shah Alam expects Shahzaib to be grateful for all his has given him – but Shahzaib is resentful, for despite his upbringing, Pir Shah Alam never gave him (or his brother or mother) any love, affection or most importantly, simply his time. In stark contrast to Jahan Ara’s father, Shahzaib’s father is a money-minded, power-minded man who wields the “throne” like a threat, pitting his own children against each other, as he threatens to take away Shahzaib’s power.
Farhan Saeed is making quite the impression as Shahzaib, but honestly, it wouldn’t be fair to simply name Farhan. Komal Meer is wonderful as Roshan Ara, while Yasir Hussain is scary as Kaiser. Each actor is performing their part very well and the world of Badshah Begum is drawing in its audience. One ahs to wonder how dynamics will change once Jahan Ara (assumedly) gets the throne. It’s the sibling relationship that is already winning, the best scene being between Shahzaib and Shahmir (Hamza Sohail). While Pir Shah Alam has not done anything to help these brothers bond, Shahmir’s sweet words seemingly have already won Shahzaib over as Shahmir vows that he doesn’t have any interest in power or the village itself. Still, with Pir Shah Alam’s own confusing stance and many family members chasing power, how will this story eventually play out? It’s not clear, but so far, the acting, direction, production and writing is all stellar.