“Phaans” is now (assumablyt) in its final leg of episodes with the count hitting 28 this week. “Phaans” has been telling the story of Zeba, a young girl who is sexually assaulted and has the strength to fight back, not only against the system, but against her attacker, his family and even her own family. Starring Zara Noor Abbas, Shahzad Sheikh, Sami Khan, Yashma Gill, Ali Tahir, Arjumand Rahim and others, the story has been written by Sameena Aijaz and directed by Syed Ahmed Kamran. “Phaans” has come a long way since its first episode and yet, somehow…..not much has really happened. Let’s discuss the show overall now that it’s nearing its conclusion.
Fighting back against her attacker, Zeba (Zara Noor Abbas) has endured a lot – rape, dishonor, a broken engagement, character assassination, a miscarriage….you name it. And yet, she has stood strong throughout, maintaining that Saahil (Shahzad Sheikh) is her attacker. Now, finally, the court case against Saahil has begun.
The first positive is Shahzad Sheikh’s performance. The story took quite some time to build up and get to a point of interest. When Saahil was finally revealed as the culprit, it was a brilliant moment – but also a let down in a way. Shahzad Sheikh’s performance as the mysteriously evil Saahil wrapped in a façade of innocence has been great from the get-go, however since the reveal, it has only gotten better. This may be his best performance yet (and Shahzad does have some great performances under his belt already). What’s unfortunate about it is that the show took too long for this reveal – one wishes Shahzad had been given more episodes to really build up this character and explore his backstory.
Some of the other performances are also great positives, particularly Zara Noor Abbas, Arjumand Rahim and Yashma Gill. These ladies are all giving their best and leaving their mark. The reactions these three women have had to Saahil throughout the course of the show have been vastly different from one another and yet, all of their performances have felt “real,” the way one would react in reality.
And on that note, the other positive is the way women in this show are seen standing up for right and not continuing to defend wrong. Arjumand Rahim’s character turns against her own son, recognizing the monster he is and choosing to stand with her son’s victim. Likewise, while Yashma Gill’s Hafsa is initially staunchly against Zeba, she apologizes profusely and testifies against her brother when she realizes what he has done. This is a step in the right direction, depicting the strength of character these ladies have in going against their own family to defend justice.
Of course, the show has many negatives as well. Coming back to Shahzad Sheikh’s Saahil and his backstory – it has been 28 episodes and we still don’t understand why a sexual predator is posing as a man with learning disabilities/impediments. Yes, Saahil’s father was not a great husband or a father, but what created Saahil’s monster behavior – and to this extent? It’s surprising that we still don’t have a solid explanation for this. If it’s meant to be another “reveal,” it should have been revealed to the audience a long time ago.
The pace is the greatest flaw – why did we spend easily 15 episodes of nothing happening? Absolutely nothing happened on this show for 15 episodes with the story moving in circles. The way the episodes have been written and directed is simply not tight and well-etched.
Next, there’s a moment in episode 28 where Samad (Sami Khan) declares his love for Zeba – and while he has insinuated this before, this does not sit well. Samad was Hafsa’s fiancé and now that Hafsa has come around, Samad and Hafsa should have been seen working on their relationship. Instead, now there’s a forced love angle between Samad and Zeba. Why? Can Samad not help Zeba without falling in love with her? Is it humanly impossible? This does not sit well.
And last, but not least, there’s a very unethical track currently playing out where Samad and Zeba are “hiding” Hafsa and taunting Saahil that Samad will rape Hafsa. This is all being done in an attempt to force Saahil to confess or react. But in what world is this appropriate or even logical? Why would a victim of rape fighting for justice resort to even using that as a threat?
Overall, “Phaans” is slogging along, overall a show that isn’t particularly engrossing. And yet, it has its positives, specifically Shahzad Sheikh, Yashma Gill, Zara Noor Abbas and Arjumand Rahim’s performances. If you are a fan of Shahzad Sheikh, this would be a must-watch as it’s potentially his career’s best performance. However, “Phaans” just doesn’t manage to hook the audience.