The past couple of years have seen a rise in digital content, particularly the web series format.
We love that these formats can address issues not otherwise represented in mainstream media. Yes, it's not big budgets but these initiatives can still create innovative content.
One such series that caught our attention recently has been Marya Javed's I Frandship U, a short series she's written and directed exclusively for Vidly, a Pakistani video streaming platform.
Two episodes down, we can tell that I Frandship U is going to be a story about young love but also much more. We're introduced to Hareem (played by Areesha Zainab), a 20-something college student from New York who's come to Pakistan on a student exchange program and also to meet her maternal grandparents, who she hasn't seen in 17 years.
In the first episode, she convinces her mom to let her go to Pakistan; there's some obvious hesitation there on her mother's part, we get the sense that there's a back story to this other than just the normal parental anxiety but she eventually agrees to let Hareem go.
When Hareem lands in Pakistan, she reunites with her nana nani and then heads off to see her campus, where she meets Ayesha and her friends, one of which is Daniyal (Wasil Tanweer), a quintessential Pindi boy who plays the guitar, insists on being called Danny and thinks he's too cool for school. There's a spark. At least from his side.
What we like about the series so far is that it feels very authentic (we'll ignore how Hareem is shown having an ensuite bathroom while living in NYC); it's a story that feels fresh yet very nostalgic, of shows like Kollege Jeans. The first episode felt rushed but by the second episode, you feel a sense of connection with the characters.
We'll be keeping our eyes peeled for upcoming episodes, especially because according to the trailer, Sarmad Khoosat will also be making an appearance!
We also want to see more of Hareem's adorable nano: