It’s tragic when one stops to think about the plight of a foreign worker, someone who is sent abroad to work and provide for his family, but is essentially a “machine.” What sort of comfort and support does he receive while sitting in a distant land, away from his family and loved ones? This is the thought behind “Pardes,” which not only focuses on the plight of immigrants, but also of his loved ones back home who may be receiving financial gains (or not), but are being robbed of love. Starring Sarmad Khoosat, Shaista Lodhi, Gohar Rashid, Bushra Ansari, Sharmeen Ali, Mohammad Ahmed – and Affan Waheed and Durr e Fishan, who have yet to make an appearance. The story has been written by Sarwat Nazir and directed by Marina Khan.
In episode 3, we see Zubeidaa (Shaista Lodhi) and Ahsan (Sarmad Khoosat) sharing a conversation on the phone, full of tears, both missing each other. This is difficult for both as their marriage is a strong, loving one. Zubeidaa, now alone, is struggling to care for her family with even Aiman’s basic schooling being compromised. The irony of this is that one of Ahsan’s main reasons for going abroad was so his daughter could be admitted into a better school – something which his mother is denying Aiman of. However, at the end of the day, the only thing Aiman wants is her father.
With Nausheen (Sharmeen Ali) and Zubeidaa both expecting at the same time, it’s disheartening to see how Zubeidaa is being treated like a servant, put to work in the house while Nausheen is on “bed rest,” being given fruit for her health and being told to relax. The support of a husband at home is so important for this reason and Zubeidaa is missing exactly that. There are many jarring moments that hurt the heart, particularly the scene of the family enjoying a lavish meal together outside while Zubeidaa and Aiman are left to eat spoiled leftovers at home. In this household, only Ahsan’s sister Aaliyah is loving and protective of Zubeidaa and comes across as an angel in her care. Still, it’s not enough to protect Zubeidaa.
Ahsan sends gifts for his wife and daughter and his mother doesn’t waste a moment before packing up the things to regift to others. Again, it’s so difficult to imagine Ahsan on the other side, happily buying things for his daughter, wife and to-be-born child, mailing them and not realizing his mother is depriving his own immediate nuclear family of those things. His mother truly believes only her own family has agency over these things and Ahsan’s earnings while Ahsan obviously believes otherwise. Asim (Gohar Rasheed) also equally owes it to his mother to provide for her, but Nausheen and his attitude is completely the opposite of Ahsan and Zubeidaa and the two refuse to even buy a fridge for the house.
In the end, both Zubeidaa and Nausheen go into labor at the same time and while Nausheen is taken to a nice hospital, Zubeidaa is left to fend for herself at home. She is taken to the hospital by a kind neighbor and both women give birth to little boys – but under different circumstances. While Nausheen is surrounded by family and loved ones, Zubeidaa is all alone with the neighbor without even the support of her husband.
It’s interesting – if Zubeidaa were a different person, she could stand up and demand her right. She could demand Ahsan’s money be placed in her hand every month and spend his finances as she wishes. She could put Asim and Nausheen in their place by telling them everything they have is based on Ahsan’s money – therefore, her money. She could tell her sister-in-law to fend for herself as she is married and Ahsan isn’t responsible for her husband. But this is not who Zubeidaa is and, because she’s a good person, she is being treated this way. Will Zubeidaa ever stand up for herself? One is reminded of “Daldal,” a show that aired on Hum TV years ago on a similar topic in which Armeena Rana Khan’s character finally snaps in the absence of her husband. She stands up and takes on the entire family, putting her in-laws in their place. Will Zubeidaa have any such transformation? That would be interesting to see. Shaista Lodhi and Sarmad Khoosat are the stars of the show, both doing a wonderful job in their roles and making the audience feel for them, rooting for their relationship. The rest of the cast is doing well too, it’s just so difficult to “feel” for such negative individuals. So far, “Pardes” may be difficult to watch, but it’s a winner.