“Neem” is continuing to bring in audiences with its storytelling. Telling the story of its lead characters, Zymal and Ashhad, and their individual struggles and achievements, “Neem” is a journey through life and love. 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 12, Zymal (Mawra Hocane) continues on her quest to marry Shazil (Arsalan Naseer) to her friend Maryam (Maryam Nafees) – all while continuing to progress professionally. Zymal is a character we admire, because she’s just so dedicated to her career and bettering the world around her. While the scenes themselves are preachy, it’s is wonderful to see the planning and discussion going into the application Zymal’s team is building without making it seem like an easy, quick process. They’ve done their homework and that is reflecting nicely. Coming back to Shazil and Maryam, Zymal has convinced Shazil, along with his family. Now only Maryam herself is left -and of course, she will agree. But let’s pause here and discuss a more realistic reaction.
Zymal believes she’s doing something nice for her husband, a husband who isn’t necessarily nice to her anymore. It’s not difficult to understand where Zymal is coming from. Sure, she’s an educated woman, but she’s also a woman who is alone in Pakistan at present with only her in-laws to rely on. She cannot have children, so remarriage isn’t an option in her mind. She believes this is her only way forward – however, in her desire to appease her husband, is she really doing right by Maryam? Maryam has come out of a toxic marriage already and instead of marrying her off to a nice, single man, why is her only option to be a second wife to Shazil? Are her options so limited? Honestly, we would like to see Maryam herself reject Shazil and give him a good dose of reality. In this entire scenario, Shazil is the character we least feel for – at all. Shazil lost his father early on, so he wants children of his own. If anything, Shazil knows what it’s like to lose a father, so he should want to adopt and help children without fathers. Instead, he’s a thoroughly selfish man who reduces his wife to being a baby carrying vessel and ignores her achievements and successes in his moping over his lack of children. Shazil’s an unlovable character and as an audience, we only want to see Zymal’s happiness – away from Shazil.
Moving away from this storyline, Ashhad (Ameer Gilani) and Faisal (Rana Majid Khan) are seen preparing for Ashhad’s mother’s arrival while Asad (Shamyl Khan) cares for her at home. Unfortunately, their mother breathes her last and Asad is forced to break the bad news to Ashhad, who is left in a deep state of grieving. This is a real situation for immigrants, losing loved ones from a distance, unable to make it back home for funerals and living in a state of grief-in-limbo. Ashhad, unable to find a flight, suffers a similar fate. Ameer Gilani’s performance is excellent in these scenes, first as a grieving Ashhad and later in his anger as he charges towards Camilla and her boyfriend as they continue to party while he grieves. Ameer Gilani is one of our brightest new talents. Rana Majid Khan also makes an impression as Faisal consoles Ashhad, grieving himself for relationships he has also lost in the past. Rana Majid Khan is proving to be a chameleon of an actor, one who adapts to whatever role he’s playing successfully. And of course, Shamyl Khan continues to prove what a strong actor he is with his acting skills. The men of “Neem” are in full form in this episode.
Mawra Hocane, our female lead, is as lovable and endearing as ever, though Zymal’s desire to be self-sacrificing is not going down easy. Unfortunately, the episode itself does not impress. We are now 11 episodes in and while that could still be seen as the starting point to a build-up, as an audience, we want Ashhad and Zymal’s love story to have a realistic, natural build-up. We don’t want these characters thrown together for 3-4 episodes at the end without any real story, especially considering this is, at the heart of it, a love story. “Neem” now needs to make strides towards building the relationships between the lead characters in upcoming episodes. “Neem” is an enjoyable viewing experience, but it just needs to pick up the pace. Will that happen in upcoming episodes with Ashhad’s brother Amjad now involved with Karamat’s (Syed Jibran) daughter? Will a potential tragedy bring Ashhad back?