The winning square of blockbuster ‘Sabaat’ (2020) actors Mawra Hocane, Ameer Gilani, writer Kashif Anwar and director Shahzad Kashmiri team up again for HUM TV’s latest offering ‘Neem’. When the initial teasers of ‘Neem’ surfaced online, it managed to generate a good buzz for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Mawra Hocance returns to television after a hiatus of two years. She was last seen in Qissa Meherbano Ka (2021).
Also, her pairing with Gilani in ‘Sabaat’ won immense praise. Secondly, the promos of ‘Neem’ gave viewers an inkling of a character-driven plot, highlighting the various facets of life, importance of education, flawed human relations with a dash of romance and feudal establishment; all wrapped around the mesmerizing hilly terrains of Kashmir. So does ‘Neem’ manages to fulfill the expectations? Let’s Analyze!
What ‘Neem’ Is About
The story introduces us to Zimal Riyasat (Mawra Hocane) an intelligent and ambitious girl who is empathetic towards every human being. Education is the biggest motto of her life, she moves to Lahore and completes her Master’s in Education. She hails from Kashmir, where the education system isn’t up to the mark, therefore her only ambition in life is to educate especially those who don’t have access to it. She also feels that bright students of the country should join the teaching profession to make the nation proposer. Zimil is romantically involved with Shazil (Arsalan Naseer)
We are introduced to the vicious and shrewd feudal lord Karamat Khan (Syed Jibran) who likes to dictate and rule the people of his territory. He is a patriarch and can go to any length to hurt people and fulfill his selfish goals. On the contrary, his father Baba Jaan (Yousuf Bashir Qureshi) is the head of the district. He possesses a humble nature and works for the betterment of his people. There’s a parallel track where Ashhad Aleem (Ameer Gilani) belongs to a low social class background. He likes Zimal and secretly follows her. He lives with his mother and brother Asad (Shamyl Khan) who runs a printing press.
Does ‘Neem’ live up to the hype?
Be it ‘Dil-e-Muztar’, ‘Yakeen Ka Safar’, ‘Sabaat’, or ‘Parizaad’, Shahzad Kashmiri is well-versed in the art of grabbing the viewers’ attention from the word go. And ‘Neem’ is no different. We are neatly introduced to the characters and their back stories. The characterization and execution by Kashmiri gives a fresh feel. The episode is edited sharply and maintains the right pace; at times, the narrative reaches a high point to give maximum impact. The dialogues by Anwar are thought-provoking but get preachy at times, for example, the message in the conversation between Zimal and Baba Jaan was unnecessarily overstretched. The raw beauty of the terrain has been brilliantly captured by DOP Ahsan Kashmiri.
Interesting Character Development
Over the years, Mawra Hocane has mastered the art of portraying strong female characters with great proficiency. One forgets the actor Mawra and starts believing in her character Zimil. However, we could find some traces of Anaya from ‘Sabaat’ but overall she puts up a stellar act. She switches emotions like a shape shifter, Like the scene where she is having a thought-provoking conversation with her brother, her tone and body language switches when Shazil calls her.
Ameer Gilani is a pleasant surprise; we can’t decide if he attended acting classes or Harvard Law School given his polished acting skills. He performs the stammering part with finesse, he shines in the sequence where he expresses to his mother his desire to marry Zimal. As the deliciously cunning Karamat Khan, Syed Jibran takes a giant leap as an actor. With his diverse choice of roles, he is becoming the go-to actor for any project. We are surely rooting for his track.
Verdict So Far
All said and done, ‘Neem’ lives up to the hype and takes a winning start. Most importantly it promises an entertaining journey ahead. The interesting cast and fresh pairing are its biggest USPs. Keeping in mind the past track record of a winning team, ‘Neem’ will enthrall the audience with hard-hitting twists and turns in the upcoming episodes.