“Prem Gali” wins hearts week after week with its effortless storytelling, realistic scenarios and laughable moments. Written by Faizan Iftikhar and directed by Qasim Ali Mureed, this drama stars Farhan Saeed, Sohai Ali Abro, Saba Hameed, Uzma Hassan, Qavi Khan, Waseem Abbas, Shamim Hilaly, Abdullah Farhatullah, Anoushay Abbasi, Farah Shah and Javed Sheikh in prominent roles. At present, Joya and Hamza are now newlyweds – but their happily ever after is still a dream as the two try to steal time to spend with one another amidst their chaotic families.
Both Joya and Hamza are now feeling the weight of their living conditions. While having their entire family under one roof may have seemed like a good idea in theory, the practicality of it is a nightmare for the young newlyweds as they struggle to find time for each other amidst their controlling, possessive family members. While Hamza finds himself irritated (and physically ill) by Shireen and Rahat’s (Shamim Hilaly) attempts at pampering him with food, Joya finds herself stretched at home as Dada (Qavi Khan) and Rahat demand equal attention from her throughout the day. The couple find it difficult to even spend time with each other alone. While joint family systems have been our tradition, is it really the best way to live for this particular couple? It’s an interesting topic because this is a part of South Asian culture that is deeply rooted in society and yet, more young couples today want to branch out and live on their own so they can give time to their relationship – and obviously, Joya and Hamza are an extreme example of this.
The beauty of “Prem Gali” is that masked amongst the more light-hearted scenes are moments with real meaning and depth. Mussarat (Uzma Hassan) and Shireen have been through their share of grief and it’s true that there is no greater teacher than life experiences. It’s no wonder then that Shireen and Mussarat’s way of looking at life and marriage are poles apart – their marriages ended for completely different reasons. While Mussarat’s husband did not want a doting, “gharelu” wife, Shireen’s husband, Manzoor, did not appreciate his wife’s dominating personality. On different sides of the spectrum, the two women both fear for Joya’s marriage and offer her advice. Since Mussarat has been lonely all these years and wishes she had a companion, she tells Joya to have a baby as soon as possible so that if, God forbid, her marriage falls apart, she has someone to give her a reason to live – something Mussarat never had. On the other end, Shireen gives Joya advice from her own experience – and fairly solid advice. She tells Joya that she should first make her marriage strong before burdening it with a new relationship, because this would not be fair to the child, as she and Manzoor did wrong by Joya when they were unable to stay together. This scene between Shireen and Joya is beautifully enacted by both Sohai Ali Abro and Saba Hameed, but Saba Hameed really shines as the troubled Shireen, a woman scared that her daughter will repeat her mistakes. Both Mussarat and Shireen are right in their own place, both giving advice based on their own experiences, but unfortunately, this leaves Joya feeling confused as she does not know what to do with these two opposing points of view.
Another great sequence in this episode is one that introduces a trio of transgender characters. Now Haseena’s (Farah Shah) new tenants, courtesy Salman, the trio manage to dredge up all sorts of feelings in the neighborhood. But the way these individuals declare that they simply want to live a life of dignity and be treated with respect is something that truly sticks out for the viewer. Isn’t this a basic human right and shouldn’t every individual be treated that way? It’s unfortunate that within our society, this is not as commonplace as it should be. Hamza’s friendly behavior and willingness to help the trio find work brings a smile to the viewer’s face. There are issues surrounding us that we tend to turn a blind eye to, not realizing how much it impacts the entire lives of others and it’s wonderful that this is being highlighted in “Prem Gali.”
Of course, we get another glimpse of Manzoor (Javed Sheikh) in this episode and he appears to be running a background check on Hamza. Having been separated from his daughter all these years, it’s clear that Manzoor is looking to make a re-entry into her life – but will it be through Hamza? With Hamza’s current job situation, will he be hired by Manzoor, granting Manzoor entry into Joya’s life? It’s an interesting potential track and it will be interesting to see how it plays out. Every actor in “Prem Gali” is doing a wonderful job, the performances being a real treat for Pakistani drama fans. But more than that, the writing by Faiza Iftikhar is what keeps things going with such natural yet clever situations written into the show, one can’t help but fall in love with the characters. With 17 episodes down, there’s a lot of material still left to explore here and one hopes all the characters get their moment to shine individually – because they are shining bright as an ensemble.