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Is Besharam worth your time

Is Besharam worth your time?

So, who is the Besharam in this story? Since this is a Pakistani drama, you’d probably think it has to be a woman, but hold on to your TV remotes and your expectations — you’re about to be challenged!

Writer Sarwat Nazir is known for thoughtful, well-written serials, exploring the realities of life without falling prey to stereotypes, or the need for a happy ending every time. Her writing is filled with the minutiae of everyday lives and ordinary people in difficult situations, but manages to avoid the usual black and white moralising favored by channels and audiences alike.

Her heroine Mishi (Saba Qamar) is a model but she is neither the typical ‘bad girl’ in need of reform nor a victim waiting to be rescued. On the contrary, she is a sensible, strong woman who worries about her narcissistic mother, cares for her servant’s well-being and is not available to every admirer sending flowers.

Saba Qamar plays the heroine, Mishi.

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At first glance, the hero Haider (Zahid Ahmed), is a suspiciously familiar character, who deals in absolutes, quotes the Holy Quran, and is a man on a mission to make a better Pakistan. If this reminds you in some ways of the politically active and highly popular actor Hamza Ali Abbasi, you are not alone. The resemblance only grows when Haider uses the actor’s now signature “Izzat aur zillat sirf Allah kay haath main hai” pronouncement mid-episode. It may just be a coincidence but it’s not unusual for writers to use elements from real people to create their characters.

Actor and social activist, Hamza Ali Abbasi.

Where Haider parts ways with the modern celebrity icon is the way he seems firmly rooted in the angry young man tropes of the 1970s — the ones that fought injustice with confrontation and backed their idealism with their fists. India may have moved on from Amitabh Bachchan but it seems a lot of Pakistani actors cannot.

Only a year ago we had a very similar stylized performance from Adnan Malik in Sadqay Tumharey, which at least fit the period of that particular story. While such populist characters are not new to politics or our screens, Haider’s street fighting, and in-your-face persona seems oddly out of place in the new, better educated, social media-oriented generation of today.

Adnan Malik and Mahira Khan in ‘Sadqay Tumhare.’ PHOTO: PUBLICITY

This serial promises some good performances. Saba Qamar is in great form as Mishi and plays her with restraint and quiet power; a welcome relief from the wounded women she has played of late. Zahid Ahmed often finds it hard to resist overplaying his hand but for a first episode his take on Haider is good enough and even manages to shine in parts. He hasn’t brought out the innocence or vulnerability behind his character’s idealism as yet but his easy, authentic scenes with his onscreen family are worth watching. While it is true his role may require a certain swagger, it will lose all authenticity if Ahmed plays it like “a rebel without a cause” and doesn’t mix in the odd shalwar kameez with the leather jackets and tight T-shirts.


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The writer has given the audience a range of individuals to compare and contrast, such as Haider’s ditzy, drama-obsessed cousin Saba, who wants to be a model and her soap opera-watching mother. Both are safely inoculated from the harsh realities of lives they watch onscreen but dream of living those lives in colorful fantasies.

Then there is Mishi’s family: Atiqa Odho as Mishi’s childish, self-absorbed mother and Rehan Shaikh as the powerful politician who is Mishi’s estranged father. Reflecting the strange contradictions of Pakistani society, Mishi is born into a political family that she wants no part of, while Haider’s middle class family shuns politics as a luxury for wealthy elites and concerns itself with the usual web of rishtas and inheritances.

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Besharam provides a great opportunity to explore attitudes towards certain professions, be it politicians or models and more importantly; the different criteria we use to judge men and women in our culture. From the teasers at least it seems as if the writer has managed to explore some of these notions allowing her heroine both intelligence and strength of character. Just like Haider, Mishi is nobody’s fool.

This serial is directed by Farooq Rind whose credits include the mess that was Gul-e-Rana as well as the excellent Jugnoo. While the first episode was mostly easy to watch, some of it was choppy. The intermittent scenes of Haider fighting or Mishi modelling were gimmicky and badly edited. However, it did mesh together the idea that in their own way, both of these protagonists were putting on a show.

Courtesy : Express Tribune



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