Shows like “Neem” set forth to not only educate the audience, but also provide a meaningful story through the journey of its characters. While “Neem” has succeeded in parts, it has also faltered in ways. Over the past few weeks, the narrative has slowed down to an almost halt, leaving viewers wondering when the story will pick up speed and introduce the arc we’ve been waiting so long for. Starring Mawra Hocane, Ameer Gilani, Syed Jibran, Manzar Sehbai, Arsalan Naseer, Rana Majid Khan and others, the story has been written by Kashif Anwar and directed by Shahzad Kashmiri.
Zymal (Mawra Hocane) came to Kashmir to find relief from her personal life and the stress she was facing at home. Unfortunately, a beast named Karamat (Syed Jibran) greeted her almost immediately and she now finds herself facing off against him. While Karamat makes his unethical desires clear to Zymal, she promises to get the villagers their land back – and files the necessary paperwork in court. What’s great about Zymal is that she isn’t simply full of hot air. She makes plans and acts on them, whether it’s professionally or personally. Characters like Zymal aren’t written every day and Mawra Hocane does complete justice to this role with her performance. Zymal sets to work, allowing the villagers to live on her land while the case is in court, ready to take on Karamat.
On the other side of the world in the USA, Ashhad (Ameer Gilani) has received news that he’s lost the case against Camilla and will have to pay half of everything he owns to her. In an absolutely hilarious yet ridiculous move, Ashhad takes a saw and cuts everything from his money to his car in half and delivers it to Camilla by truck. While we, as an audience, can understand the simple-mindedness behind Ashhad’s decision to keep Camilla from getting her way, Ashhad handles this wrong. At the end of the episode, Ashhad receives news that his brothers are in jail and their land is being taken away. Now that Ashhad is leaving the USA anyway, eighty thousand dollars is a lot of money which could have been used to help with the release of his brothers or even to help his people in Kashmir. Ashhad is innocent and his decision is made out of a desire to be on the side of right versus wrong, but it’s hard not to be frustrated with this character. Ameer Gilani is doing such a wonderful job portraying Ashhad though, it’s easy to forgive Ashhad and laugh at his behavior.
Unfortunately, the greatest problem with “Neem” is its pacing. It has a great story with wonderful actors, but it’s the way the episodes have been mapped out with too little action playing out over a number of episodes which hinders the praise “Neem” should be earning. What continues to bring viewers back, to be quite honest, are the performances. Whether it’s Mawra Hocane as the strong, yet currently emotionally downtrodden Zymal, Ameer Gilani as the shy, simple Ashhad or Syed Jibran as the conniving, manipulative Karamat, it’s the performances in “Neem” which truly stand out and make it a show worth watching. Had the performers been any less talented, the show may have been written off. However, the powerful, strong dialogues and face-offs in this drama are the very reason the show has a steady fanbase despite its slow progression. This week, it’s Karamat who stands out as his actions only become uglier, Syed Jibran giving yet another incredible performance as the man we love to despise. With Ashhad now finally returning next week (hopefully), viewers are now excited to finally see Zymal and Ashhad coming face to face and their love story potentially kicking off. Will it finally happen next week though or will we, as an audience, just have to accept that waiting for more has become part of the game with “Neem”?