“Pardes” highlights a time in the 90s when many Pakistanis sent their loved ones out of the country to earn for their families back home. This gave birth to many in a generation that lived without their fathers and grew up missing that connection and family unit. Starring Sarmat Khoosat, Shaista Lodhi, Gohar Rasheed, Bushra Ansari, Sharmeen Ali, Durr E Fishan and Affan Waheed in story that spans two generations, “Pardes” has been directed by Marina Khan and written by Sarwat Nazir.
In episodes 11 & 12, we see Zubeidaa (Shaista Lodhi) working to get her papers together and apply for a passport, so she can join Ahsan (Sarmad Khoosat) in Muscat. Her cousin, Mubashir Bhai, comes to her assistance, playing the role of helpful family member – but unfortunately, Asim (Gohar Rasheed), Mumtaz (Bushra Ansari) and Noshi (Sharmeen Ali) all create a spectacle of their relationship and accuse Zubeidaa of having an affair. Ahsan, who isn’t feeling well in Muscat, calls home and is bombarded with this accusation that his wife is having an affair and falls ill. Fortunately, Ahsan is not that sort of man and doesn’t suspect his wife. Rather, after spending some time in the hospital recuperating, he gathers the necessary papers for his family and comes back home to take his family with him. It’s wonderful to see how Ahsan stands up to his family for Zubeidaa and makes it clear how much he trusts and respects her. Not for even a moment does he fall into his family’s trap and this is what sets Ahsan apart from so many other on-screen male characters. Ahsan even apologizes to Mubashir Bhai for his family’s behavior. But alas, their happiness is short-lived as Mumtaz falls and is gravely injured. With Ahsan’s selfish family, Zubeidaa is forced to abandon her plans to leave, deciding to care for her mother-in-law until she’s well.
As the episode ends, we are transported into the future with Aiman and Zaid now oder, Aiman in university and Zaid in school. Life hasn’t been kind to these children, having faced neglect from their parents. It seems as though Ahsan hasn’t seen his family in a long time and may even be missing? On the other hand, Aiman makes a remark to Zaid’s teacher about her mother not having time for anyone but her Daadi. This makes it clear to viewers that Zubeidaa’s plan to leave as soon as Mumtaz recovered never happened, as Mumtaz has clearly never recovered from the fall. The episode leaves viewers curious, wondering what could have happened in all these years to have made Aiman so bitter and turned Zaid into such a troublemaker? Why has Zubeidaa not been focused on her children and their upbringing?
One thing is certain – the message of the show is being sent out loud and clear: Children need the love and support of their families and without it, they suffer. “Pardes” may not be an easy watch and it may be a show that leaves the audience feeling down afterwards, but the truth is that “Pardes” is presenting some harsh realities. Sometimes we, as society, focus so much on money and giving our families a “better life,” we forget that they would be happier simply with the presence of their loved ones. Now that the show has taken a leap, it will be interesting to see how the story moves forward. But will the interest remain as focus moves away from Sarmat Khoosat and Shaista Lodhi’s Zubeidaa & Ahsan and on to Affan Waheed and Durr E Fishan’s Aiman and Ibad?