Silverwood ka Jaanu baba
Oxford ka parha hua,
Rhodes scholar Jaanu baba
Comrade Jaanu baba
Mama-ji ki aankhon ka taara
Agha-ji ka vali-ehad
Bibi ka eklauta bhai
Jugnu aur Zoyee ka mamu
Apni angraiz biwi se talaq ke baad Silverwood laut aya
Desi sahab Jaanu baba…
And Jaanu baba was back at Silverwood…
Thus far Zoyee had narrated her childhood memories in the third person, employing a bystander’s stance, trying to maintain a neutral tone, but this time around there was judgement and censure. That Jaanu baba’s arrival had shaken things up at Silverwood was clear from Zoyee’s description of his homecoming. Welcomed back with open arms, Jaanu, in Zoyee’s recollections, is larger than life. He’s flamboyant, charming and Mama-ji’s beloved, the apple of her eye. Even the hyper critical Appo has nothing negative to say about him. Jaanu talks of big ideas and ideals – about defeated people in search of identities, faded footprints, lost destinations, and people imprisoned by their dreams. In short, Jaanu baba makes a very strong first impression on young Zoyee and Jugnu.
Though the kids are young and easily impressed, they cannot help but notice the difference in the way Jaanu and Bibi are treated by the adults. Even as Bibi is stigmatized and maligned for bringing her neelay peelay bacche to Silverwood, Jaanu gets off scot-free. Appo, who never misses an opportunity to remind Bibi of how she has singlehandedly managed to mess up her brother’s nasal, cannot bring herself to criticize Jaanu baba’s marriage and subsequent divorce to a gori. Similarly Mama-ji never questions Jaanu’s divorce, nor is she concerned about neighborhood gossip. Rather, she is thrilled to bits about her very intelligent son’s arrival; nary a question is asked about his years away from Silverwood. As for Jaanu baba, though he berates Agha-ji for being an Anglophile, a kala sahab, he himself quotes Shakespeare at length, and takes pride in having read at Oxford. Adnan Jaffar is fabulous as the silver-tongued Jaanu baba!
Pickle and Vinegar-hearted Silverwood People …
The inauguration of Silverwood Pickle Factory marked a new era for the residents of Silverwood. The beautifully done scene of Agha-ji burning his chair and certificates heralded a changing of the guard. Now Mama-ji would no longer be afraid of being used as Agha-ji’s punching bag, her skills were being appreciated and recognized by her son. Appo could rest easy about the rising household expenses, and the villagers had a new means of earning their livelihood. Everybody’s lives were changing for the better, except for Bibi’s. In fact, her brother’s arrival and subsequent welcome further underscored her marginal position in the family. She and her children were non-entities, useful only as pincushions for Appo’s sharp barbs. Jaanu baba was too busy with his fabulousness to worry about his sister, and Mama-ji was reveling in her son’s brilliance – nobody cared enough to worry about Bibi and her children.
Life is a pickle share it ….
Easier said than done, this tagline underscored the irony of it all. Though a family for all intents and purposes, the residents of Silverwood were clearly not interested in sharing anything other than insults with each other. All this bitterness was wont to spillover into the way the children saw and perceived the world around them. Zoyee was convinced that Jugnu too would grow up to be a male chauvinist like his father and grandfather. Earlier she had solemnly assured Cruella de Ville that she would never enter into a “wrong” marriage. Later that night the kids informed Bibi of their decision to add on to their names, making them longer, so that their children would never be left without a last name. Sadly, rather than being a foreign word, as it should be for children this age, the term “divorce” and its attendant drama were a part and parcel of these kids’ everyday vocabulary and role playing. Sabina and Sagar are rockstars in the way they bring Zoyee and Jugnu alive on screen – simply superb!
A strong critique of the double standards, male chauvinism, and hypocrisy prevalent in our society, Talkhiyan makes a powerful statement without resorting to preachiness or moralizing. Three episodes in, the serial continues to build on the momentum generated in the first two episodes. The skilled storytellers, Bee Gul and Khalid Ahmad, continue to draw us in to the crazy world of the even more crazy Silverwood people. The actors are all doing a magnificent job with their fabulously quirky characters. Mehak Khan’s strong opening monologue set the tone for the rest of the episode. Shamim Hilali is brilliant as the mother who is so unfair in the way she differentiates between her children. Khalid Ahmad’s suppressed fury when he was burning his chair and certificates was beautifully essayed. He knew he had lost the battle and accepted defeat, but he was darned if he was going to allow the victor to sit in his chair. Sanam Saeed’s Bibi is no victim, but she does hurt and at times her children are not spared her wrath either. Hina Bayat is magnificent as Appo. She is happy handing out insults, but when its her turn she is not one to take it silently. The tension between Appo and Bibi is gathering steam – looking forward to seeing who gets the last laugh!
Written by SZ~
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