“Pehli Si Muhabbat” has been going from strength to strength, rising from being a somewhat decent show to now being one that viewers look forward to each week. While “Pehli Si Muhabbat” is a love story, it weaves in many social messages and focuses on the deep emotional impact societal attitudes leave behind – this is writer Faiza Iftikhar’s strength. 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. After all the grief we saw Aslam and Rakshi experiencing at Niggi Aapa’s hands, this episode comes as a welcome relief.
In episode 9, Zainab (Uzma Hassan) leaves to visit her parents’ home with Murad’s (Paras Masroor) blessing. However, as expected, her arrival is not a pleasant surprise for Akram (Hassan Shehryar Yasin), who feels she should be back at her own home. The tension between the two is heavy and even felt by the audience and it’s odd that Akram, even in his egotistic state, does not acknowledge Zainab’s injuries. Her mother (Saba Faisal) does notice and questions Zainab and Aslam (Shehryar Munawar), but Aslam brushes it off, saying Zainab fell down. Later, he is interrogated by his mother again, who is worried for her daughter, and Aslam breaks down, confirming his mother’s worst fears. It’s unbearable for any mother to imagine her daughter suffering abuse at the hands of her husband, but when she goes to comfort Zainab, Zainab makes a very heartfelt, very “real” statement. She states that she bled more from the injuries her family inflicted upon her to marry Murad than this injury at Murad’s hands. This is a difficult thing for her mother to hear and Saba Faisal acts so well in this episode. Zainab has yet to forgive her family for what they’ve done to her life, all because of their egos and convoluted concepts of “izzat.” Still, even though her mother is realizing her mistakes with Zainab, does that mean she won’t repeat the same mistakes with Aslam? Or is Aslam’s love story destined to fall victim to his family’s ego as well?
The highlight of the episode is when Niggi Aapa, the ultimate villain, once again approaches Rakshi (Maya Ali), blackmailing her for her mother’s jewelry. Fortunately, Nargis (Rabia Butt) hears the entire exchange and barges into the room, infuriated. Nargis is an incredible character and if there weren’t one single other likable character on the show, Nargis would more than make up for them all. Rabia Butt’s confidence as a performer has a lot to do with it, of course, but Nargis is also shrouded in mystery while also being kind-hearted despite her bad reputation. She not only comes to Rakshi’s defense, but also gives Niggi Aapa the thrashing viewers have been waiting to see, shutting her blackmailing mouth for good. It’s wonderful to see Rakshi and Nargis bond after this, as Rakshi has been missing a mother figure in her life, someone to protect her – and now that void has been filled.
Coming to Aslam, he is dedicated to Rakshi in his love, but after ignoring several of Rakshi’s calls at the moment when she needed him the most, Rakshi isn’t in any mood to forgive him. However, in an amazing scene, Aslam seeks revenge on Rakshi’s behalf when he barges into Niggi Aapa’s home and begins to throw lines of love at her. Niggi Aapa is flustered, of course, scared that someone will misinterpret the scene – which is obviously Aslam’s goal. He makes it clear to Niggi Aapa that if she ever threatens Rakshi again, he will make sure the entire neighborhood witnesses this scene. Shehryar Munawar shines in this scene and Aslam is becoming more and more likable as the episodes go on – particularly at the end when Aslam decides to make good on his promises to Rakshi and visits his Mamoon to break off his engagement.
The stars of this episode are Rabia Butt, Shehryar Munawar and Saba Faisal, giving the best performances. The story is now at a point where each episode leaves the audience wanting more and looking forward to the next week. Paras Masroor is only seen for a moment in this episode and one hopes such a brilliant performer isn’t wasted – but considering the next episode promises flashbacks from Zainab’s pre-marriage days, will this finally be the moment we see Saleem Mairaj and Paras Masroor shine? Overall, “Pehli Si Muhabbat” had a rocky start, but is now a quality show with a story that leaves viewers wanting more.