The element of mystery is still alive as “Phaans” moves forward in telling the story of a rape victim and her struggle for justice. 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. With Zeba now naming Saahil as her attacker, both Zeba and Saahil’s families now struggle with the fallout.
Episode 5 focuses on the emotional fallout left behind by Zeba’s accusations, particularly with Zeba deciding how to move forward. While Zara Noor Abbas was last seen in “Zebaish,” a show that was less than applause-worthy, she is back in full-form with “Phaans.” This is the actress we have missed seeing on-screen, a sheer natural. While she’s been known for mostly light-hearted roles post-Khamoshi (Ehd E Wafa, Chalawa, Paray Hut Love), with “Phaans,” she is reminding the audience how well-rounded she is. Zeba is a complex character. Coming from a lower socioeconomic background, she is expected to back down – but Zeba is educated, strong-minded and is well-aware of her rights. Backing down is not a part of her nature and despite all the pressure, she still refuses. Not only does her fiancé, Hashir, continue to put on the pressure, her Khala has also withdrawn her support. Of course, to make matters worse (and throw in an absolutely useless, irritating storyline), her sister continues to throw oil onto the fire in hopes of knocking Zeba down a peg or two and, as a result, winning Hashir’s affections. Putting it all into perspective, this sister-after-brother-in-law trope is something we’ve seen time and time again, but it’s much worse in this scenario. A sister is destroying her own sister while she’s already down.
On the other end, Hafsa (Yashma Gill) and Samad’s (Sami Khan) families regroup, meeting in order to work things out between the kids. Samad and his mother are generally “over” the marriage, insulted by the way Hafsa immediately jumped to break off the marriage, believing Samad to be a rapist. Considering Hafsa’s background and the marriage she has seen before her in the form of her parents, it’s not difficult to understand why she jumped to such a conclusion. Hafsa has deep trust issues and this is what her family tries to use to smooth things over. However, Samad and his mother see things differently. They believe that if Hafsa already has these notions in her mind and suspects Samad, believing him to be capable of such things, the marriage is doomed from the start. Hafsa does deeply love Samad and breaks down in front of her sister, though her sister reassures her, saying that it’s not entirely her fault – if Samad loved her, he would’ve abided by his promises to her. Still, Saahil (Shehzad Sheikh) overhears Hafsa’s tears and places a call to Samad himself, blaming him not only for hurting his sister, but also for hurting Zeba.
Saahil is an interesting character, because he’s differently abled and it’s not clear what hand he had in this entire situation. Seemingly, he is innocent and he genuinely cares for both Hafsa and Zeba. But when Saahil visits Zeba at home, it’s visible from Zeba’s shock and horror that she is scared of Saahil and really believes he is the one who attacked her. What is the explanation here? This is the mystery of the show, as Zeba’s accusation has let Hashir, Samad and Saahil’s father off the hook technically – but did Saahil really do it? There are several theories out there, but it would serve as a spoiler to discuss those. But one does have to wonder what the situation really is.
Zara Noor Abbas is a class act in this episode, portraying all of Zeba’s emotions within one episode – from anger, disappointment, fear, she pulls it all off effortlessly. “Phaans” is essentially a show that falls into the mystery genre and it’s doing a wonderful job at that. Of course, this doesn’t mean the show is perfect. The past 2 episodes have offered little new in terms of material or movement and many sceens feel stagnant or dull – particularly the ones between Hashir and his mother, any scene involving the manipulative sister and even the scenes between Saahil’s parents. Still, the positives overall do presently outweigh the negatives. While other shows would have shown an crack in the narrative at this point or the mystery aspect would’ve felt drawn out unnecessarily, “Phaans” is doing a great job of keeping the mystery alive and leaving the audience wondering what actually happened that night.