“Meri Shehzadi” is Pakistan’s answer to “The Crown.” Telling the story of Charles and Diana in a traditional way, set in Pakistan, the story has been laid out convincingly. “Meri Shehzadi” stars Urwa Hocane, Ali Rehman Khan, Atiqa Odho, Qavi Khan, Shamim Hilaly, Shabbir Jan, Nauman Masood, Najiba Faiz and others. The story has been written by Zanjabeel Asim Shah and directed by Qasim Ali Mureed.
In episode 6, Dania (Urwa Hocane) finds herself in her worst case scenario as Cam (Sonia Mishal) arrives at home with Sunny. Shehroze (Ali Rehman Khan) finds himself torn between his obligation and desire to be with his family, leaving Dania in an awkward position. Shehroze is the perfect gaslighter – and this is exactly the definition of gaslighting, brushing over Dania’s legitimate concerns and convincing her that the true victim is Cam. Of course, Cam is a victim, there isn’t any doubt about this. However, Shehroze neatly packages his relationship with Dania up with a bow of “cousin,” constantly holding her to her promises of family loyalty, standing together, harping on how she enjoys all the luxuries and status of her position….and it is all done to control Dania and keep her in “her place.” The pretenses have technically been dropped now with Shehroze only pacifying the women and assuring them of their “place,” happily jumping from wife to wife. And while Shehroze is a character based off Prince (now King) Charles, Shehroze seems worse, threatening Cam back as she threatens to go to the media. Why would any woman want to be with Shehroze? And yet, he is a master manipulator. Sure, he may have a heart and love Cam and Sunny in his own way, but what sort of loyalty is this on his end?
Towards the end of the episode, Dania has finally had enough and makes her escape to her grandparents’ home. However, before she can tell Sanaullah (Qavi Khan) the truth, Safia (Shamim Hilaly) falls ill and is rushed to the hospital. It’s evident that Dania’s resolve will break and she will be lured back into her stifling, controlling “Sasural,” once again under Shehroze and his mother’s control.
Performance-wise, Atiqa Odho is the perfect plotting, controlling matriarch of this household. It’s clear the women run the show and Shahana and Almas (Najiba Faiz) are in control – which is unfortunate, as neither care for Dania. These performances are so convincing though and both ladies have been perfectly cast. Ali Rehman Khan always does so well in these narcissistic, “negative” roles and here is no less. Shehroze is a monster with a heart, a young man who has been raised to think depriving a woman of love for “tradition” is perfectly alright. Urwa Hocane is beautiful as Dania. While she initially seemed to be a miscast, by episode 6, she wins our hearts as the delicate, confused, torn Dania who is losing herself in this marriage. And of course, it’s Qavi Khan and Shamim Hilaly who continue to earn praise as Dania’s grandparents. These characters are so strong and lovable, they are the heart of the show.
“Meri Shehzadi” isn’t perfect. Cam’s character in particular leaves a lot to be desired. First, she is supposed to be a non-Muslim foreigner, so while Sonia Mishal is doing a good job, she is a complete miscast (as is her son). On top of that, why would an independent woman from abroad without any religious holds or cultural barricades continue in such a situation? If Shehroze had been a particularly loving man, it would be one thing, but he is simply a manipulator and even threatens Cam! This part needs work. Other than these moments, “Meri Shehzadi” is captivating and tells a convincing, intriguing story that is enjoyable to watch as it plays out.