Entertaining, relatable and authentic, this thriller hits all the right notes.
Dushman-e-Jaan may well be the sleeper hit of the season.
This sharp, well-plotted serial uses a lot of the familiar motifs that can be seen in Pakistani dramas; the problems of working women, rishta culture and poverty.
Where it differs is the a dark tinge of guilt, revenge and murder that cuts through the usual sweetness of sentimentality.
Our introduction to Hathim Kamal (Mohib Mirza), shows us an arrogant, suspicious man at work. In short, a nightmare of a boss who has a deep contempt for working women in particular.
Convinced that everyone can be bought, Hathim believes that anyone who resists is just raising the stakes to drive a harder bargain.
He is attracted to the efficient Ramsha (Tooba Siddiqui) from the moment they meet but she refuses to be viewed in any way other than as a responsible employee. A middle-class girl with a lot of responsibilities, she has a sick younger brother in dire need of a kidney transplant, a disabled father, and a younger sister, Rabab (Madiha Imam) to take care of.
Imam brings a certain fiestiness to her character
She is respected and valued for her professionalism by her immediate boss, Uzair (who also happens to be Hathim's partner and friend).
Thriller done right
This is where the story should take a predictable route. Hathim was neglected as a child by his workaholic parents and finds it very difficult to trust or bond with other people. Now that he has met the practical, brave Ramsha, she should be the answer to his emotional problems - but she is not.
Mohib Mirza gives us a wonderfully layered portrayal of Hathim, the angry, adolescent hurling resentment at his callous father, the passive aggressive child sparring for his mother's attention and a vulnerable man driven by his deep-seated anger.
Mirza is a fantastic actor and carries all of his character's angst and cynicism without completely alienating the audience. While he infuriates us in many scenes, we can also hold on to a shadow of understanding as we remember how he became this way.
The only flaw in the portrayal may be that Mirza looks a little older than the Hathim's behaviour reflects his character would be. This is another tyranny our dramas force on actors, where every story seems to be about a boy in his 20s, and talented actors need to be ridiculously cut off for not forever 21.
This is where styling helps, but unfortunately, very few actors, even from...