“Phaans” took off with a strong start last week, delivering an exciting, action-packed episode with its pilot episode. Telling the tale of a rape victim, the story appears to be a mystery in regards to who the perpetrator is. The story has been written by Sameena Aijaz, directed by Syed Ahmad Kamran and stars Zara Noor Abbas, Shahzad Sheikh, Sami Khan, Yashma Gill and others in lead roles. The first episode left off with Zeba’s disappearance as viewers were aware she has been attacked.
In episode 2, Zeba (Zara Noor Abbas) has gone missing and her mother and sister are in a panic. Zeba did not inform anyone when leaving, so the household begins searching for her, wondering where she could be. Saim (Sami Khan) enters first, in a panic and worried, and then Zeba enters, in a state of shock and disarray, leaving little to the imagination. Everyone is immediately aware that she must’ve been attacked and before she passes out, they find a torn pocket in her hands – one that appears to belong to Saim. Zeba is taken to the hospital, where the victim-blaming begins.
At home, Hafsa (Yashma Gill) is seen sitting quietly, deeply disturbed by what has happened, while Siraj rants about how much trouble Zeba and Shakeela have caused for the household. Hafsa isn’t a dim character and she is well-aware of how the evidence points towards Saim. The highlight of the show is, honestly, the bond between the siblings. While Hafsa is dealing with her own pain and grief, she does her best to calm Saahil (Shahzad Sheikh), who is upset over Zeba’s injuries. We often see toxic sibling relationships (which we even see here between Zeba and her sister Farah), so it’s lovely to see such a loving, genuine relationship between Hafsa, Saahil and their other sister. Later, when Saim returns from the hospital, Hafsa breaks off their engagement, leaving Saim in disbelief, continuing to say he didn’t do anything, and his family left to handle the situation.
Zeba does not receive any support and matters are made worse in the hospital when Siraj places a call to the police, requesting that this issue be dealt with. The officer calls the doctor, who doesn’t waste any time in declaring that Zeba is mentally unstable and has “fits,” of which this is one. While Hafsa’s mother (Arjumand Rahim) and Saim’s mother seem heartless on the outside and very flippant about the attack on a young girl, practically blaming her, it’s not unrealistic. Shakeela’s daughters were invited to the house for the wedding so Shakeela could focus all her attention on the wedding festivities. Zeba has, in turn, now become a hindrance in the wedding, the victim of a potential crime and has completely turned their festivities on the head. It’s not difficult to see how they would see Zeba as a nuisance, especially after the doctor declares that she hasn’t been raped and is a patient of recurring fits. They don’t see her as a victim, rather they see her as someone trying to cause trouble. And yet, Arjumand Rahim’s character does show a moment of mistrust towards Siraj, which is what prompts her to rush Zeba to the hospital. But will she continue to pursue that thought or will Shakeela’s harsh words turn her against Zeba and Shakeela?
There are negatives, of course, one in particular that stands out. The show is a mystery, sure, and that does require characters to remain tight-lipped in an effort to build mystery and intrigue. But that certainly doesn’t mean characters should behave in an illogical way. If an individual finds themselves the target of suspicion with a roomful of eyes on him, what would the logical thing be to do? Definitely it would not be saying “Maine kuch nahin kiya.” It would be to tackle the evidence – why does Zeba have Mekaal’s shalwar kameez pocket in her hand? Why is Mekaal sweating and shaking as if he’s done something wrong? Where has he been? These are all questions he would answer to ward suspicion away and clear his stance – but that’s not what he does. Mekaal simply stutters “Maine kuch nahin kiya” and looks alarmed and wonderous that anyone could even suspect him. This is the part of the story that really did not hold up, despite understanding that this is done to build mystery and suspicion.
Overall, “Phaans” is an interesting story. Like other shows, there’s an aspect that’s not interesting and that’s the one of Farah showing interest in Zeba’s fiancé. She will use Zeba’s tragedy to her advantage to lure him in her direction – and quite honestly, does anyone care to see that? Yes, let’s get the two married and written off the show immediately so we don’t have to suffer through that storyline. “Phaans” has some great performances, particularly Shahzad Sheikh and Yashma Gill’s performances at present. These two stand out in their scenes. Overall, “Phaans” continues with a strong start, leaving viewers interested in what will happen next.