“Wabaal” caught eyeballs as soon as its promos went on air. With Sarah Khan as the female lead, “Wabaal” is also Talha Chahour’s second role after “Jo Bichar Gaye.” The show also stars Shagufta Ejaz, Saleem Sheikh, Tara Mehmood, Merub Ali and others in pivotal roles. The story has been written by Qaisera Hayat and directed by Amin Iqbal, a promising duo. Focusing on the practice of money lending upon interest with those in a position of power taking advantage of those less fortunate, this is a meaningful story that already appears to be highlighting abuse and materialism in many different ways.
In episode one, we found ourselves introduced to Anum (Sarah Khan), a young girl from a less-than-middle-class background who wants a better life for herself – and spends time with those living the “good life,” lying about her own background to do so. While Shakir (Saleem Sheikh) and Rahat (Tara Mehmood) are loving parents to their two girls, they have a hard time making ends meet and struggle to fulfill simple desires. Meanwhile, Shagufta (Shagufta Ejaz), Shakir’s sister-in-law, participates in a business of money lending, preying on the poor and weak. Shakir not only frowns upon her actions, but also openly condemns her and her son Naveed for their behavior – and rejects Naveed’s proposal for Anum, triggering Shagufta’s wrath.
There’s a moment in episode two where you realize Shagufta is into more sinister practices than simply loaning money and acquiring interest on it – impossible rates that the less fortunate are unable to pay back. Shagufta essentially “purchases” a young girl, promising to return her to her parents after a year while making her illiterate parents put their thumb prints on a paper stating the period to be five years instead. This is a practice that many landowners in smaller areas have been known to indulge in, essentially having indentured servants, but seeing indentured servitude being carried out in a city is a scary thing to witness and shows the extent to which Shagufta is corrupt. Her behavior with the young girl also shows her complete lack of humanity.
At present, it’s Shagufta Ejaz’s performance which is the highlight of the show. She is a ruthless character and while one can see that a conscience does exist through her nightmares, she is set to attack Shakir through Anum. Special mention to Talha Chahour, who is the romantic angle of the show. While his role is still fairly small at present, this actor has such screen presence that he steals the show each time he appears on screen. His chemistry with Sarah Khan is cute and it’s amusing to see that his character is just as “chichora” as Anum believes him to be, all while posing as the ideal, kind citizen to those around him. Overall, “Wabaal” has had a strong first two episodes, though it’s not light-hearted viewing. It will be important to see how the next few episodes play out and whether they will manage to create some impactful moments to truly grab the audience – but so far, it is certainly an interesting story.