Mohabbat nahin marti Mama ji, log mar jaate hain …
The news of Father Albert’s death came not just as a shock to his flock of followers, but also cruelly snatched away Appo ji’s raison d’être. She might be the hardhearted Appo de’Ville for the rest of the world, but for her beloved she was as soft as a snowflake – ready to melt at first touch of his hand. Appo had spent the best part of her youth pining for him. Surely a woman as beautiful as her must’ve had a thousand suitors, but she remained steadfastly faithful. Now her beloved was dead. How cruel could fate be? At least while he was alive she could fantasize, but now even that ghost of a luxury was snatched away from her. Shattered, she let out her frustrations on the innocent Zoyee and Jugnu, screaming and yelling at them for being alive, while the love of her life now lay buried under tons of dirt.
Once that moment of weakness passed, Appo was not going to let anything or anybody else breach her defenses, be it an awkwardly phrased condolence from a fabulously clued-in but clueless Mama ji, or a sharp jibe from her niece, all seemed to fall on a deaf ears. Dressed in a white saree, her widow’s weeds, Appo is as cold as a slab of marble, but the slightest shiver of her hands, the tinniest flicker of her eyes belies her tough exterior. That she lets a boisterous Zoyee run across her feet without a word speaks volumes – much like the unending rain outside, this is a woman shedding a thousand tears on the inside. Hina Bayat has been consistently fabulous, but her performance in the last episode and in the opening sequence here renders me speechless.
What makes Talkhiyan a standout is that every character is so well etched that one forgets that these crazy Silverwood people are not real. Watching Bibi fix Jaanu baba’s bow tie, as he hurried to receive his ex-wife Margaret and his daughter Lizzie, it is so easy to imagine them as competitive siblings, who have spent a lifetime perfecting the art of bickering over everything and nothing. Sanam Saeed and Adnan Jaffar bring their complex characters to life so beautifully that it seems almost effortless.
With Margaret and Lizie’s entrance, the pot brewing at Silverwood gets stirred just that much more. While Bibi might smirk at Jaanu’s almost childlike eagerness to prepare for his family’s arrival, inwardly she is hurt by the lack of overt censure their arrival merits. Mama ji might question Margaret’s humble origins, but that doesn’t stop her from welcoming her ex-daughter-in-law with open arms. Appo, who never tires of reminding Zoyee and Jugnu of their neeli peeli lineage, is now rushing around coaching the children on the proper way to greet Lizzie baby. Even Aayee, an odd duck if there ever was one, cannot stop singing songs welcoming Jaanu’s family.
Ayee’s is such a fascinating character. Ostensibly a hired hand, she sees no problem in donning Appo’s mantle as she taunts Bibi about her marriage to Paul. She rejects Baloo as a possible suitor, he is of ghair mazhab, but then has no qualms helping Jaanu baba relax! I don’t even want to begin to wonder how she keeps such convoluted logic straight in her holier than thou head. Nargis Rasheed’s Aayee doesn’t say much, but is absolutely delightful every time she comes on screen.
While the adults are busy playing their games, chalking out their positions before the next round of one-upmanship begins, it is the children who are most affected. Bibi’s firm reassurances, despite their vehemence sound hollow even to the kids’ ears. Jugnu’s pensive expressions, as he remains unconvinced by his mother’s reassurance that she is a double parent to them, were really heart touching. Reflecting on her past, as an adult, Zoya’s remembers Lizzie’s arrival as ushering in a momentous change in their so far fairly stable lives, after which even the most mundane of family activities, searching for a lost hairpin, became a thing of the past. Sensing that this was perhaps the last happy moment between Bibi, Zoyee and Jugnu, it was hard not be touched by the sight of the kids making silly faces in the torchlight. The look of adoration that an obviously smitten Zoyee bestows on Baloo, her knight in shining armor, was so sweet. The impromptu hug that Zoyee gave Bibi, as she helped her dress, brought tears to my eyes; there was such an inescapable sense of finality in that moment. Sabina and Sagar are superstars in every sense of the word. They live and breathe their characters. Mehak Khan is equally impressive as the older Zoya.
The sense of impending doom, that had been building up throughout this installment, came to the fore when the episode ended with a closeup of Zoyee’s very troubled face. She knew, as did Jugnu and Bibi, the warmth of the welcome accorded to the newcomers was a signal that life, as they knew it at Silverwood, would never be the same again. Week after week Bee Gul, Khalid Ahmad and their talented cast and crew continue to weave their magic as we delve deeper into the lives of the Silverwood people. Kooky and crazy they maybe, but I for one am happily addicted!
Written by SZ~
Talkhiyan ~ Episode 13