“Pehli Si Mohabbat” is ARY’s answer to the lack of intense love stories on our television screens at the moment. Written by Faiza Iftikhar and directed by Anjum Shehzad, this drama stars Shehryar Munawar, Maya Ali, Hassan Shehryar Yasin, Uzma Shah, Paras Masroor, Nausheen Shah and Shabbir Jan in prominent roles. While the first few episodes were visually stunning, the content took time to pick up speed – but with episode 4, the show has really taken off.
The introduction of Uzma Hassan’s character, Zainab, infuses new life into the show. While “Pehli Si Muhabbat” is still in its early, premature stages story-wise, the true meaning of the story hasn’t really been known – until now. In episode 5, Zainab’s character brings a basis to the storyline, a reason for Aslam to fight, a future for him to fight against. Aslam was fairly young when Zainab got married, which means he isn’t entirely aware of the atrocities Zainab suffered at Akram and his mother’s hands. Faiza Iftikhar’s writing shines through here, once again highlighting a problem in society that is swept under the rug. Are our daughters human beings or property, objects to be sacrificed for “honor”? This is an issue that has been relevant in the past and continues to be relevant today. Do women have the right to pick their own life partners or are we simply expected to do as we are told? What’s perfect here is how the relationship between Zainab and her mother is portrayed. A woman can be pushed into a marriage through emotional blackmail and abuse, as Zainab suffered at the hands of her mother and Akram – but what happens to the relationship after she leaves her home? Zainab is married with two children and it’s made clear through her mother’s tears that Zainab rarely visits nor does she seem to have any fond memories of her childhood home. The trauma of what she experienced at the hands of her family, those who were supposed to love and protect her, destroyed her from the inside. And does one ever really just forget their love and move on? That’s what’s generally expected, but it’s not always true – as is seen through the brief exchange between Zainab and Saleem Mairaj’s character. Uzma Hassan is, as always, a gem of an actress and Faiza Iftikhar’s scripts always reserve great roles for her.
Akram (Shehryar Munawar) and Rakshi’s (Maya Ali) romance has taken a few episodes to feel “real” and likable, but now it is in full bloom and their romance brings a smile to the face of the viewer. These two actors share great chemistry and their characters are innocent enough that their tale of young romance feels genuine. However, after their sweet park meeting, Nargis (Rabia Butt) has become aware that something is amiss. Nargis is a great, strong character, the very definition of a complex, layered character. She’s a good human being, a woman from a questionable past who is now happy to have made the transition to “respectable.” And yet, she continues to be haunted by her past, her past now men and how their “honor” comes into play when the women of their household attempt to choose their own partners. So she attempts, in her own way, to set Rakshi straight and asks her to tell the mystery boy to send a proposal or put an end to it. The relationship between Rakshi and Nargis is another highlight of this show. While it’s clear that Nargis wants to form a bond with Rakshi, Rakshi sees Nargis as the cause of all her problems. But viewers are united in the thought that these two women would make great allies. Rabia Butt is wonderful as Nargis and commands attention in each one of her scenes.
Again, while the show has taken a few episodes to build steam, it has now found itself in a place where it has room to grow into a great drama. The next episode will see Zainab fighting for Aslam’s right to choose his own bride – and she is, of course, told to stay out of their “family matters.” Meanwhile, Nargis will put on the pressure for a proposal from Rakshi’s mystery man or she will put a stop to the relationship. Aslam and Rakshi’s love story is growing more complex and there’s a haunting feeling of Rakshi meeting with the same fate as Zainab – or will Aslam fight his family for a different outcome than his sister’s?