“Habs” is one of the most talked about shows at the moment, pulling in audiences with its down-to-earth, realistic presentation with strong performances and engaging writing. This story has shades of past dramas and Bollywood films, but the treatment is unique and has made this an instant winner. Written by Aliya Makhdoom and directed by Musaddiq Malek, the cast also includes Ayesha Omar, Saba Faisal, Hina Rizvi, Irsa Ghazal, Javed Sheikh and Imran Aslam.
The most likable part of “Habs” is that the characters aren’t caricatures. These individuals feel “real.” They have motives for their behaviors and may be acting out of necessity, but they aren’t heartless. Basit (Feroze Khan) is moving forward in his plan to marry Soha (Ayesha Omer). What’s refreshing about this is that Soha is not the usual dim rich girl looking to land a handsome, rich man. She is educated, she knows her worth and she wants to take the time to ensure Basit wants to marry her for the right reasons – and that he is, in fact, the kind of guy she wants. It’s always a treat to see self-assured, realistic girls like this on-screen, girls who mirror those we see in reality, girls who do not pine over men who do not want them. Meanwhile, while Basit is marrying her solely due to his father’s will and to restore his place in the company, he has open, honest discussions with his friend about marriage and the fact that, business related or not, he will still be entering a committed bond with Soha. He understands the meaning behind that relationship and wants to be loyal to it, especially because of the example he has had at home with his own parents. Basit may be driven by his father’s will, but he does not have bad intentions regarding his marriage to Soha either. This is a welcome change! It’s wonderful to see Feroze Khan in a softer, more balanced character like this after seeing him in so many intense roles lately and he is doing a great job.
Meanwhile, Ayesha’s (Ushna Shah) home life continues to be in shambles as she searches for a job while Bano’s life unravels. While Talal (Imran Aslam) has always been loyal to her, his mother’s condition has given him a lot to think about. Having been rejected so many times by Bano’s family, he has resigned himself to the fact that he will do what his mother says. Unfortunately, this leaves Bano in a very messy place, a place that leaves her feeling unwanted and unloved. And who can blame her? Her mother has used her horribly, treating her like a cash cow and not recognizing Bano’s need for love and happiness. This mother character is the one exception to likable, layered characters. She often repeats what a curse it is to have three daughters, screaming this backwards mindset every moment she gets, almost as a space filler of sorts. Dialogues like this are regressive and women who have been burned by men do not scream such dialogues – rather, they very much promote the strength of women. Unfortunately, this is one area where the story has left a bit of a bad taste in the mouth. Still, with a mother like this, it’s no wonder that Bano and Ushna are becoming increasingly frustrated with their home life. Will Bano wind up running away from home to get married (if Talal accepts her)? And while we know how Ayesha’s future will play out from the promos, it will be interesting what events lead her towards Basit.
“Habs” is genuinely a treat to watch, giving off vibes of Pakistani dramas from the 2008-2013 era. This is a show with complicated characters that carry depth within them. We haven’t seen much of Irsa Ghazal’s character yet, but it will be interesting to see how Basit’s relationship with his mother develops considering his lack of trust in her. There is a lot of scope in this story – now let’s hope the remaining episodes are as good as the first three episodes.