Usually, in Pakistan, when a drama does well, all the credit goes to the writer. However, Phaans tells us that no matter how good the cast is, if the script is unresearched, illogical and unplanned, then it goes down the gutter. Sameena Aijaz might be a good writer with big hits to her name, but handling the mystery genre is not everyone’s cup of tea. She failed at it and took down an entire cast, and a director who tried to save the play with their heart and soul.
The Story – Sahil’s end is near as Nadia, Zeba join hands with Samad
Sahil (Shahzad Sheikh) first makes Resham leave the house, and later tries to kill Zeba (Zara Noor Abbas) twice, but first his mother Nadia (Arjumand Rahim) intervenes and later sister Hafsa (Yashma Gill) finds out that he is not what he seems. With an intelligent lawyer (Madiha Rizvi) on their side, Nadia ensures that Zeba is released on the first hearing and Sahil doesn’t get bail so that he can pray for his crimes. In order to irritate Sahil, Zeba comes up with a plan that involves Hafsa’s fake kidnapping, Samad (Sami Khan) threatening Sahil, and the police secretly recording Sahil’s transformation. Will he get justice is no more the question, how will he get justice is!
The Good – Shahzad Sheikh, Zara Noor Abbas try to salvage Phaans with their performances
Shahzad Sheikh is brilliant as Sahil for he changes his expressions at will, and will definitely be considered for awards next year. His acting reminds one of Edward Norton who played a similar role in Primal Fear, but that transformation was short and sweet, and here they have been playing with it for weeks. Zara Noor Abbas must also be commended for standing in front of a monster and being cool with it, despite what he did to her.
The scene where she tells him that only she and Samad know where Hafsa is, makes you wonder that she has a range not many of our actresses possess. Also, the sequence where Shahzad Sheikh first overhears Sami Khan and Zara Noor Abbas talking and later interacts with them was executed well, when it could have gone anywhere with bad treatment. The rest of the cast has done well as well, but it would have been better had they got something to defend, because the way Phaans is moving towards its conclusion, it seems like a lost cause!
The Bad – The courtroom scenes could have been a contender!
It would have been better had director Ahmed Kamran taken a leaf out of Kashif Nisar’s manual as to how to shoot a courtroom drama. Inkaar became such a hit because of the writing and direction, whereas Phaans fails big time when it went to court. Despite Madiha Rizvi’s towering presence as the lawyer, it seems that the writer had a) never been to court, b) never seen a courtroom drama and c) and had no clue how courts work. With the witnesses giving their statements in court, the opposing lawyer didn’t cross-examine them despite being handed loose balls on a silver platter. Also, why was Sahil asking the questions and his lawyer prompting him when a simple ‘Order Order’ would have done the trick.
If you thought that Samad’s explosive ‘yes I love Zeba’ didn’t come out as expected, think again. The CCTV footage seemed to have been inserted in a hurry for it was shot by a HUM TV camera, and didn’t look like footage from a CCTV camera! Also, if Nadia had her parents’ house, why didn’t she take Zeba there in the first place instead of bringing her to the very place where she was residing on the eve of the incident! You just can’t think of something new and add it in a script without revising the older episodes.
Some of the things in the last four episodes were quite mindboggling – why Samad’s mother (Mariam Mirza) who had told Zeba that she can call her Ammi is suddenly against her son marrying her? Also, why on Earth didn’t the producers keep Hafsa’s existence in her mother’s room a secret, only to be revealed to all – both the audience and the characters – in the end? Phaans could easily end up as a drama that shot itself in the foot, because the first few episodes revolved around an important issue, and is now going towards disaster with plans like ‘let’s kidnap his sister’ so that the brother can reveal his true self. That would have seemed cool in the 1970s but the viewers are beyond that, but sadly the writer is still stuck in the linear world of digests!
The Verdict – Will Phaans be able to save itself from falling into obscurity?
The biggest issue with most of the dramas in Pakistan is that they don’t know how to begin, and how to end on a high. Phaans began as a thriller, dragged as a soap and finally is about to end in such a bad way that not many will remember it once it's over. This is sad because all the actors especially the lead did a wonderful job in grabbing the audience’s attention. The message it carries is also very important, yet the way it was executed seemed both childish and hasty. They could have asked Ali Tahir for help who played a menacing lawyer in Inkaar, and is here as the culprit’s father but they chose to do what they thought was better and disappointed. With a handful of episodes left, let’s see how Phaans end – on a victorious note or a disappointing one!