The premise of “Idiot” started off strong – those who live against the grain, choosing to follow ideals rather than social norms or the expected ways of the world are often seen as an “other,” individuals who are considered unstable or abnormal. “Idiot” follows the life of one such individual, Gulzar, played by Ahmed Ali Akbar. Gulzar has been a lovable character to watch on-screen, idealistic and sometimes illogically so, but a man who charted his own course. He chose to live life free of any bounds or relationships which would interfere with his lifestyle – until he got married. At some point, even the most individualistic, idealistic people have to come down to earth and follow the ways of the world – or pay a price for it. But what is that ultimate price? In “Idiot,” it’s that price that serves as the greatest narrative let-down. Starring Ahmed Ali Akbar, Mansha Pasha, Shamyl Khan, Atiqa Odho, Muhammad Hunbal and others, the story has been written by Kifayat Rodhani and directed by Anjum Shehzad.
In the finale, Saadat winds up in the hospital after being attacked by Bakhtawar and her husband. It’s in this moment where his wife and daughter are now caring for him that he realizes he has been a bad father and husband. The two forgive him and welcome him back into their lives with open arms. Gulzar (Ahmed Ali Akbar) is still the target of many powerful people after going up against the hospital and the many enemies he has made for speaking the truth – he is also put on trial, though the specifics of the case are somewhat hazy. However, during the trial, Gulzar, weak from his illness, passes out and winds up in the hospital. Ultimately, Gulzar does pass away, Rameen gives birth to a little boy and his loved ones – and “fans” – are seen trying to live out their lives through his example.
First, let’s discuss the positives, the greatest positive being Ahmed Ali Akbar’s performance. He is simply outstanding as Gulzar and even in Gulzar’s most irritating, illogical moments, one cannot be angry with him. Ahmed rarely signs projects that are not worthwhile and even here, while “Idiot” has not been perfect, his performance as Gulzar is another feather in his cap. Mansha Pasha has also done a great job as Rameen and the beautifully complicated relationship between Rameen and Gulzar has made us truly feel for these characters – and understand both sides. The scenes in the hospital room with “Nobody” and all of Gulzar’s family members coming into the room to see him are emotional and tear-inducing. But ultimately, we’re left wondering…..why?
This is where the negatives come in. Was there really any necessity to have Gulzar fall ill? Was cancer really a storyline that brought the story together? Those who are different in our society are not destined to fall ill with cancer. The messaging here fell flat and felt bizarre. Cancer or other illnesses do not spare anyone, but with a character who has been targeted since childhood, was this the way to go? It felt like a cop-out. Furthermore, the entire angle with Saadat is ludicrous. Saadat is a character who finds retribution and forgiveness in his family, crying and moving on with life. This is not a scenario different from most dramas – cheating husbands and bad fathers do get forgiveness and second chances often in our dramas, whether they deserve it or not. The problem is that “Idiot” has not projected itself as the run-of-the-mill drama – and Saadat is not your run-of-the-mill anti-hero. Saadat isn’t simply a bad husband or father – he’s a murderer. Saadat is the man who murdered his grandmother knowingly. Saadat attempted to murder Gulzar. Saadat is the reason his father wound up in a wheelchair. Saadat wanted to murder his daughter until only two days earlier. Saadat was blackmailing a woman for “relations” in front of her husband. There’s so much to unpack here with Saadat and he’s an actual criminal – and yet, the show chooses to write him a retribution arc. Unfortunately, that one decision on the part of the writers renders the show’s message hollow. The finale also winds up the show at 27 episodes – but was this a story that needed 27 episodes to be told in full? This narrative could have played out in exactly the same way while being five episodes shorter.
Ultimately, while “Idiot” had a strong first half and boasted of some great performances, the show as a whole does not leave the expected impression at the end. The messaging did work initially, but in the latter one third of the show, it simply began to drag and feel more like preaching. “Idiot” is a show that should have been one to love for the ages, but by the end, it was barely likable.