“Pardes” has been a different story for Pakistani drama viewers. While we’ve seen shows in the past about characters residing abroad and leaving their families behind for financial security, “Pardes” is different in the way it has presented a balanced viewpoint. It did not seek to dissuade Pakistanis from leaving home or encourage them to do so, rather the message has been clear – Money isn’t important when those one is earning for are left scarred due to the absence. Starring Sarmad Khoosat, Shaista Lodhi, Affan Waheed, Durr E Fishan, Bushra Ansari, Atiqa Odho, Gohar Rasheed, Sharmeen Ali, Hammad Farooqui and many others, “Pardes” has been written by Sarwat Nazir and directed by Marina Khan.
The finale focuses on the rift between Aiman (Durr E Fishan) and Ibad (Affan Waheed). There’s this briliant moment in the finale that, unexpectedly, ends up being the high point of the episode. When Aiman runs into Salman (Hammad Farooqui) at Zaid’s engagement, he casually asks her about Ibad. Salman has been out of the country for at least three years now and Ibad for two and a half, a point that Salman and Aiman both note now that they are face to face. While Salman is very understanding and does not rub it in, he gently reminds Aiman that things do not always work out as we think. Unfortunately, his parents do not waste a moment to rub in Ibad’s absence along with Salman’s engagement and return back to Pakistan. Aiman fought against her engagement to Salman with such determination, because she simply did not want to end up like her mother – but here she is, in this moment, in the exact same situation as her mother once was. It’s a bitter pill to swallow and Aiman’s humiliation is brilliantly depicted through Durr E Fishan’s performance. It’s no surprise then, that when Aiman returns home, she places an angry phone call to Ibad, demanding he return or divorce her. Aiman loves Ibad, but she refuses to allow her child to be raised the same way she was.
Ibad, of course, panics at this suggestion. Ibad is a good guy and he genuinely loves Aiman, but he has been fueled by his mother to be career-oriented his entire life and so, he cannot fathom the request to quit his job because of a rejected visa. So while Ibad returns home to appease his angry wife, it’s only for a one-month leave, which again triggers Aiman’s anger. This is a husband-wife duo at odds with their personal ideals, the ideas that they’ve embodied since childhood – Aiman unwilling to subject herself to a long-distance relationship based on the suffering she witnessed her parents go through and Ibad driven and focused towards his career, believing that’s the only way to build a level of “worthiness” in the eyes of his family. And yet, when they are separated once again, both bend and recognize that the other isn’t wrong. This is the beauty of Aiman and Ibad’s relationship – they may bang heads and fight, but they genuinely love each other…..a modern day Ahsan and Zubeidaa.
It’s also wonderful that Rahila (Atiqa Odho) did not wait decades to realize that she was wrong, unlike Zubeidaa’s mother-in-law. Rahila is empathetic towards her daughter-in-law and can recognize that her own dreams have come between Ibad and Aiman. It’s fitting then that she is part of their reunion, which is natural, realistic and simply beautiful. And as viewers, we can’t help cheering that Ibad and Aiman get a happy ending – the happy ending they deserve, but one that Ahsan and Zubeidaa were unable to have. Affan Waheed has done a stellar job as Ibad, a character who has been the most “real” representation of a level-headed male on screen lately. He isn’t perfect, but he loves his wife and he loves his mother. His flaws come from the desire to please both his mother and his wife, which leads to his issues with Aiman. Durr E Fishan has been a natural as Aiman, a young girl with complex emotions, good at heart, but heavily bitter due to her parents’ circumstances.
Of course, we see Zaid happily engaged, Zubeidaa and Mubashir Bhai now tied through the marriage of their children. It’s touching seeing how Asim (Gohar Rasheed) and Noshi (Sharmeen Ali) have changed and how humble Asim has become, taking over a fatherly role in Zaid’s life. Do people really reform to this extent? It’s unlikely, but watching these characters recognize Zubeidaa’s goodness is enough for us. From the earlier players like Sarmad Khoosat and Bushra Ansari to Shaista Lodhi, Gohar Rasheed, Affan Waheed and Durr E Fishan, each actor has done their part, giving believable performances. Ultimately, “Pardes” manages to give viewers a finale worthy of the overall narrative, a finale that drives home this point – what is the point of earning money from afar when you sacrifice your family relationships in the process?