ZEE5’s Zindagi original Mrs. & Mr. Shameem, set to premiere globally on 11th March seems to be different. Good different.
Cast And Plot
When I saw the trailer quite literally five minutes before penning this review, I felt a multitude of emotions. The Nauman Ejaz and Saba Qamar starring series, which has been directed by Kashif Nisar and written by Sajjad Gul, revolves around the complexities between love and friendship from a refreshingly queer lens.
An unconventional tale of affection, Mrs. and Mr. Shameem explores newer territories with a plot that unabashedly defies gender norms. Saba Qamar’s no-holds-barred Umaina, and Nauman Ejaz’s aforementioned gender-bending, albeit trope-subscribing Shameem pose as threats to the very fabric of the shows Pakistani television has been churning out as of late, with characters that have had their time in the limelight for far too long.
The “hero,” or lack of, comes to the rescue of the “heroine” who falls for an abusive man who embodies toxic masculinity, promising unconditional love of the purest kind in the form of unwavering support and friendship.
Addressing Gender Non-Conformity
Can it be argued that Nouman Ejaz’s effeminate portrayal of a non-gender conforming individual falls into a stereotypical gray area? Perhaps. However, is he convincing in that portrayal? If the trailer is to be believed, the answer might just be a resounding yes.
There is also room for critique with regards to hiring actors from the queer community to play the role. Without a shadow of a doubt, we’ve seen openly cis-gendered, heterosexual men play roles that tamper with the binary time and again and perhaps, in 2022, platforming queer voices internationally would have made for exceptional representation. In that aspect, therefore, audiences must settle for the status quo.
Does that mean Ejaz’s portrayal falls short? The brilliantly cut trailer would have one think otherwise.
A New Era Of Portrayal
As a newer era of locally made (but internationally platformed) web series ushers in, the curtains of censorship seem to be raised higher, with storytellers opting for narratives that are increasingly unique, and ardently needed. It is that very quality that Mrs. & Mr. Shameem possesses that has already made the show one to look out for, with a great deal of anticipation, and numerous expectations.