“Parizaad” is unanimously praised each week by general Pakistani drama viewers and by those new to the scene alike. Written by Hashim Nadeem Khan and directed by Shehzad Kashmiri, “Parizaad” is being hailed as a present-day masterpiece (hopefully not prematurely) by all. Starring Ahmed Ali Akbar, Yumna Zaidi, Ushna Shah, Saboor Aly, Nauman Ejaz, Urwa Hocane and many others, this is the story of a young man’s struggle through life due to the stereotypes surrounding his appearance – and yet, it’s about so much more.
Gender identity is a complicated subject, particularly for Pakistani drama audiences with the cultural norms in the country. This is why it feels particularly bold of the team behind “Parizaad” to tackle such a character with Saboor Aly’s Bubbly, now renamed Dilawar. In episode 13, Parizaad (Ali Ahmed Akbar) has been sent to Guru (Asad Mumtaz Malik) to keep him away from the prying eyes of the police. Here, surrounded by a world of transgender individuals, Parizaad is most shocked to encounter a familiar face – Bubbly (Saboor Aly). Now renamed Dilawar, Bubbly has come to terms with her internal struggle, one she has never been able to explain to her parents or even herself. Bubbly always felt like a man trapped in a woman’s body and so now, with the help of Guru, she has become Guru’s son. Under his training, Bubbly has joined his underworld activities, fighting to prove her value as a “man.”
The real stand-out performer in this episode is Asad Mumtaz Malik. Guru is yet another stellar character in a string of powerful supporting characters. After Shauky, Na Muraad and Jaanu, now Guru is the latest supporting role to win praise. Guru is a man feared by most – and yet, internally, he is a man covering his weaknesses with a show of strength. When he tells his backstory to Parizaad, it’s hard not to feel for this man and sympathize with the turmoil he must have gone through. The plight of transgenders in South Asian society has always been tragic, neither fitting in with either gender nor given the respect any human being deserves.
It’s also wonderful to see Bubbly and Parizaad’s reunion. Their reaction upon seeing each other is a joy for the eyes, as these are two characters who are internally so pure – and yet, they have been pulled into this world that does not seem like one they belong in. Their bonding has always been a beautiful one and that continues here, with the two offering emotional support to the other. Saboor Aly’s return to the canvas is a welcome one as Bubbly has been a fascinating character from the start. It also must be said that this is a brave role choice for Saboor as it could have gone wrong – but she is owning it and making a strong impact.
Amidst all this, the police continue to look into the disappearance of Laila (Urwa Hocane) and her boyfriend, a young man who was a politician’s son. With his political reach, this case does not show signs of closing easily and the police will ultimately discover Parizaad’s role in this situation. Will this be the end for Behroz or will he find a way out of this sticky situation and escape detection of his involvement? At the end of the day, “Parizaad” isn’t just a tale of one young man – it’s the story of how we all have a role to play in this materialistic world, everyone coming with their own share of grief and struggle.