“Neeli Zinda Hai” is a story that began with much promise, but has suffered greatly due to the tradition of dragging out Pakistani dramas unnecessarily. Starring Urwa Hocane, Mohib Mirza, Sonia Mishal, Shamim Hilaly, Osama Tahir, Agha Mustafa and others, the story has been written by Adeel Razaq and directed by Qasim Ali Mureed. In recent episodes, the story took a turn to focus on Neeli’s (Urwa Hocane) backstory and audiences took a breath of relief, the story finally gaining momentum and shedding light on the atrocities faced by Neeli after marriage. And then…….
In episode 37, Aalim Sahab and Aman (Mohib Mirza) visit Parvaiz (Osama Tahir) to get the real story behind Neeli’s life. Parvaiz has a soft spot for Neeli and still sees her as the woman he loved, a victim, a woman who was horribly wronged. He sees his own mother as the “Daayan” as opposed to Neeli. Which may be true, but the remainder of Neeli’s flashback leaves the audience feeling short changed as it’s all wrapped up within 10 minutes. When does Neeli have a baby? What happens to her daughter? Why does Neeli just sit in a bed and allow her mother in law to set her on fire? What sort of insane plot twist was this? Why weren’t we given a window into the treatment Neeli experienced at her mother-in-law’s hands? Yes, we saw that Parvaiz’s mother was not only strict, she was downright cruel. But what brought about her desire to murder her daughter-in-law? This entire story spent two full episodes mapping out Neeli and Parvaiz’s relationship, their marriage and then copped out when it came to the abuse and mistreatment.
Still, it’s Osama Tahir who shines as Parvaiz. Parvaiz goes through a plethora of emotions in episode 37 – from seeing his wife’s death and the “stillbirth” of his child, to witnessing the death of six of his brothers, to discovering his mother’s hand in Neeli’s death, to pleading with Aman and Aalim Sahab for Neeli’s soul and, finally, murdering his own mother. This is a man who has been through a lot and Osama Tahir enacts it all perfectly, making the audience feel terribly for Parvaiz. Still, one has to wonder why he feels so much sympathy for Neeli as opposed to his mother. His mother was a horrible human being, sure, but she killed one baby – and Neeli murdered his six brothers and is now after Aman’s daughter. Why does Parvaiz think she’s “good”? It’s strange. We can only hope the final episode sheds more light on this and brings “Neeli” to a gratifying close – but it’s unlikely, the way the backstory has been such a let-down.