“Neem” continues to be one of Hum TV’s stronger offerings. This is a drama which balances entertainment value with social education, all while set in the beautiful Azad Kashmir. Starring Mawra Hocane, Ameer Gilani, Syed Jibran, Arsalan Naseer, Manzar Sehbai, Rana Majid Khan and others in prominent roles, the story has been written by Kashif Anwar and directed by Shahzad Kashmiri.
In episode 11, Karamat (Syed Jibran) wins the court case against the villagers, once again “owning” the land they live on. Asad (Shamyl Khan) is aware of the manipulations involved – as are the other villagers -, but they keep quiet for the sake of peace. Karamat is a dangerous man, as he desires control. He wants to wield power against those weaker than him – and while he makes false promises of things remaining “as is,” this is exactly what he intends on doing. Asad is on to him, but will he be able to take action effectively against him? Or will he wind up being a victim? The silver lining in this story comes from a different, surprising angle in the form of Jameel, a snake in the form of a friend. While we can see how Jameel is working towards Karamat’s distruction, what isn’t clear is whether Jameel is working for the villagers or for himself? Syed Jibran is an actor who is underrated, an actor who can take on any role and portray that role convincingly. Karamat is no less, though Karamat oddly doesn’t have as much to do as we would’ve hoped. Shamyl Khan is enacting his role as Asad nicely as well, a strong, endearing character with a “hero” vibe. The actor playing Jameel, Hassan Shah, is excellent, making his impact as the ally with an ulterior motive.
Often the “nice guys” of the world aren’t as nice as they claim to be – and this is exactly the case with Shazil. Zymal (Mawra Hocane) is now on board with Shazil’s second marriage and while Shazil’s brother and sister in law are sweetly and firmly on Zymal’s side, Shazil is also no longer hiding behind fake sacrifice. He wants to get remarried, because he believes he shouldn’t have to suffer for what’s “lacking” within Zymal. There’s a particularly upsetting moment which drives home Shazil’s hypocrisy, the moment when Shazil sits with Maryam (Mariyam Nafees) on the park bench and the two share their love for social work. Shazil is a do-gooder to the world, but a man who betrays and abandons his wife when her presence doesn’t suit his desires. Arsalan Naseer is doing a wonderful job in this role, as we feel we’ve gotten to “know” Shazil through his portrayal. This is a man who believes he’s a good person – but he’s not. How many men in South Asian society are like this? Mawra Hocane is, of course, strength personified as Zymal. Zymal is going through so many hardships in her personal life, but does not allow that to affect her professional life. Zymal is an inspirational character – but we only hope she doesn’t take Shazil’s nonsense for too long before kicking him to the curb.
Ashhad continues to be a lovable character. He is being driven mad by Camilla, his wife on paper. While Faisal (Rana Majid Khan) does his best to ease the tension between the two, Camilla and Ashhad are just too different – and Camilla is actively taking advantage of the innocent Ashhad. One would like to know where we can find a Zaheer Bhai who will willingly give us his 4 bedroom house and a big bag of cash. Everyone needs a friend like Zaheer Bhai. It’s great to see Ashhad find success, but with Camilla as his wife, trouble seems to be in store for him for the foreseeable future. Ameer Gilani is highly endearing as Ashhad while Rana Majid Khan is the perfect friend to navigate him through this new life. Both actors are doing a wonderful job.
“Neem” has quickly become a favorite, a show to look forward to each week. While it initially had a slow build up and got too preachy at times, it has now found its stride. The best part of “Neem” is that due to the absence of an OST video, we really do not have any idea how Zymal and Ashhad’s lives will play out – and how they will later reconnect, which leaves us actively guessing how the story will progress.