“Parizaad” is one of the few Pakistani dramas receiving rave reviews from almost all Pakistani drama viewers. Starring Ahmed Ali Akbar, Yumna Zaidi, Ushna Shah, Saboor Aly, Nauman Ejaz, Urwa Hocane and many others, the story has been written by Hashim Nadeem Khan and directed by Shehzad Kashmiri. While the past few weeks have been dragging, episode 17 is a welcome relief, putting the storyline back on track with an action-packed, emotionally charged episode.
In episode 17, Parizaad (Ahmed Ali Akbar) completes his time in jail, a long 5-year sentence. However, Feroze (Saad Azhar) is not so luck, receiving a death sentence for his involvement in Laila’s death, a punishment for his close association with Behroze Karim. The goodbye between Feroze and Parizaad has Saad Azhar in fine form, a character actor who always delivers his best. Feroze may not have been a “good guy,” but he was loyal to Behroze and in his absence, trains Parizaad to take over, as Parizaad has inherited Behroze’s home and business. This may be an unexpected gift for Parizaad, but it’s also a burden, something which has catapulted him into a man of status – but this status goes against his humble nature. There’s a meaningful moment between Parizaad and his manager where he states that we come into the world alone and leave it alone, so why should we fear being alone – and this line strikes a chord. Aside from the joy of watching Parizaad’s fortunes change, there are two scenes which truly stand out. First, when Parizaad meets Akbar, Feroze’s brother, his manager attempts to put Akbar “in his place.” However, Parizaad sees himself in Akbar immediately, later recognizing him as the brother of a man who treated him as his own – and hires him as his personal bodyguard. This appears to be the start of another beautiful relationship, as we’ve seen Parizaad form many strong bonds through the duration of the show. Second, when Parizaad happily goes to meet Jaanu (Hassan Shah), he is happily greeted by Mumtaz, but Jaanu’s reaction leaves Pari surprised. Jaanu isn’t wrong in his place, but now with a wife and a daughter, Jaanu no longer wishes to work or associate with Parizaad. He experienced hard times during Parizaad’s jail time and felt it necessary to remove himself from such an environment – and such a friend. This is a heartbreaking moment for Parizaad and audiences and yet, Parizaad understands (and so do we). Not everyone is built for this sort of life and Parizaad’s friendship could cost Jaanu more than he’s willing to sacrifice. If any scene in this episode reduces the viewer to tears, it’s this final scene, watching a beautiful friendship end.
Ahmed Ali Akbar has always been a reliable actor, one who made a mark early on in shows like “Ishq Parast,” “Guzaarish” and “Mera Yaar Mila De.” However, he struck out as an actor with the film “Lal Kabootar,” further cementing his place in the beloved 2020 hit “Ehd E Wafa” as the dependable, hard-working Shehryar. With “Parizaad,” he adds yet another feather to his cap. While there was a lot of noise surrounding his casting due to “brownface” (which was a valid argument), it has become clear with each episode why those behind the show wanted Ahmed Ali Akbar in this role. He is Parizaad, adopting the character and transforming not only his appearance, but his entire persona to depict this young man who has seen more pain than one should have to. Ahmed Ali Akbar, take a bow!
With Parizaad’s newfound wealth, the next episode will see his return back home. It’s the way of the world – when you are in a rough place, there isn’t anyone in sight to help. And when one finds themselves in good fortunes, those same people come flocking back. This is what Parizaad will experience now. But will this trip home bring happiness or more heartbreak? Regardless, this drama has gotten back on track with solid performances, an interesting direction and Yumna Zaidi’s highly-anticipated arrival.