“Fraud” truly let its viewers down after killing off the Talaal character, plunging an already sad story into misery. However, this week, the narrative has finally picked up pace again with a well-written episode. Written by Zanjabeel Asim Shah and directed by Saqib Khan, “Fraud” stars Saba Qamar, Mekaal Zulfiqar, Ahsan Khan, Mehmood Aslam, Adnan Samad Khan, Nida Mumtaz, Annie Zaidi, Saife Hassan, Rabya Kulsoom, Asma Abbas, Alee Hassan Shah and others in prominent roles.
With episode 27, “Fraud” finally seems to come back on track, focusing on Maya (Saba Qamar) and Shaan (Mikaal Zulfiqar). These are two individuals who have been through a lot and both have entered this marriage with their own share of emotional baggage. Shaan does not understand why his first wife left him and has a deep sense of abandonment, believing women to be untrustworthy and incapable of love. Meanwhile, Maya has no desire for a romantic relationship after everything she has endured with Shujat (Ahsan Khan) – who has now, ironically, found his way into her life once again as her brother-in-law.
What’s refreshing about the way the Shaan-Maya relationship has been written and performed is how the two have had pretty clear conversations about their feelings towards marriage – and each other. Their relationship is one of compromise. Shaan harbors bitterness and his demeanor can be rude, but Maya gives it right back. She is not a sitting duck, left to endure abuse. Both Shaan and Maya taunt one another and have their own defense mechanisms – but they also share moments of understanding and kindness. This is exactly the kind of natural progression we want to see in on-screen relationships. This is their time to earn one another’s trust and respect and it’s great to see that playing out. Saba Qamar and Mikaal Zulfiqar have always shared such beautiful chemistry and this is just a reminder of what a great working relationship they have.
But the question boils down to this – was Talaal’s death necessary in any way for these characters to get here? Wasn’t there another way to emotionally blackmail Maya into marriage? The Maila-Talaal relationship was such a beautiful one, but what was the point of putting so much emphasis on that relationship if death was the ultimate goal? The abundance of screen space feels wasted, as that time should have instead been put on Maya and Shaan rather than using ten episodes on a couple who could not even remain happy. It now feels like another excuse to extend episodes needlessly. Now Nail’s (Adnan Samad Khan) track will begin once again with his marriage to Maila “saving” the family – and extending the show further. We need better writing in this regard. We are tired of these predictable storylines which also do not add to the overall message.
Coming back to positives though, the story with Shujaat is also being handled well. This isn’t now a game of cat and mouse with Shujaat harassing Maya. Rather, Shujaat simply wants Maya to mind her own business and go along her way, leaving him to continue forward with his plan. The battle will be between Maya and Shujaat, not in a case of harassment, but in a case of ethics. Can Maya allow Shujaat to go about his business when his business involves robbing her own husband? And if she tries to help, how can she do so without exposing her own deception – a deception, once again, created by Nisar (Mehmood Aslam), her own father?
Saba Qamar, Mikaal Zulfiqar and Ahsan Khan are all the star performers of this show and each is giving their best. Nisar continues to be the true villain of this story, a man who has handled the lives of his daughters entirely wrong from the word “go.” How will the story move forward from here? Will Nisar continue to play villain by forcing the Maila-Nael marriage? Or will things move forward naturally? How will Maya handle her life and pick up the pieces when her past continues to haunt her?