Jaaney kahan gaye woh din… the days when Bibi took Zoyee and Jugnu for impromptu picnics, the happy trio waving their colorful umbrellas, laughing and singing merrily… the days when she professed to be both, a mother and a father to Zoyee and Jugnu …. the days when she loved her twins double … jaaney kahan gaye ...
Today, that once strong-willed Bibi is a shell of her former take-no-prisoners self. She who once gave it back as good she got it, she who had survived an abusive childhood, followed by an equally violent marriage, she who had managed to hold her own against the vicious Appo ji, and she who had promised a happy ever-after to her young children, a small house with bay windows and a badminton court – that same Bibi can now only look on helplessly as her lover’s thoroughly worked over body is dragged away in front of her eyes. She stares impassively as a stunned Jugnu is slapped by Margaret, and is like a zombie when their taxi reaches its destination. It is Jugnu who reaches over and hands the cabby his fare, opens the door, helps his mother out, and gestures to his twin to follow them. With nary a word he slips one hand in his mother’s and gives the other to his still traumatized sister. Offering silent support to the two women in his life – his mother and sister – a child, who just yesterday had been dreaming of building a boat and sailing all the way to Africa, Jugnu came of age the day Baloo was tortured to death and Lizzie was buried.
This very mature Jugnu is the same child who was the quieter one among the twins, who willingly followed his spunky sister’s lead. He always listened to her, nodded his head at all her harebrained schemes, and it was Zoyee in whom he had confided his deepest darkest secret. Magar, ab …
Jugnu kuch bhi nahin bol raha tha
Woh bohot khamosh tha…
Main us ki awaz sunna chahti thi
Jugnu jo meri zaat ka hissa tha
behad chup tha…
Us ke baad us ki zaat main aisa sannata utra
ke tamam umr us mein Baloo ki cheekhain goonjti raheen….
Alone, without her father, mother and brother, all that Zoya can call her own are her memories of those precious days of childhood – a childhood abruptly interrupted by a shocking turn of events that nobody could’ve ever foreseen.
After Monty’s shocking betrayal, Bibi’s loneliness and frustrations outgrow her innate sense of propriety. A lifetime of instilled lessons of cultural and social superiority were all set aside, as she allowed a stray wave of unbridled passion override concern for her reputation, honor, children – all forgotten as she tried escape from it all, if even for a few stolen hours. Never in her wildest dreams did she ever think that it would lead to this … that she would be so lost in her own anguished world that that she would become blinded to Jugnu’s troubled frowns and Zoyee’s insecurities… that she would not see her daughter fret about the fragility of the bonds that tied children to their parents. Instead, all that Bibi could think of was ways of escaping from the suffocation that life was bent on forcing upon her. Her midnight trysts though, came with a very high price.
Highlighting the hypocrisies of an innately patriarchal society, while Bibi and her lover are forced to pay the ultimate price, Janu baba is allowed a moment or two of relaxation to put together his shattered self. For Appo, this is a perfectly understandable and acceptable act; she is not shocked to see Ayee waltzing in to her recently bereaved nephew’s room in the middle if the night. Of course when it comes to Bibi, its a whole different matter.
Aptly dressed like an officer of the courts, the way Appo badgered the poor children to testify to Baloo’s crime was simply heartbreaking. It was only after the six odd minute scene ended that I realized that I had been holding my breath throughout as I watched the magnificent Hina Bayat at her finest. The way she went at those two children was unbelievable. Not to be outdone here, Sabina and Sagar were simply brilliant in their reactions – Mujrim kaun hotay hain?!?!
I have no doubt that Appo ji’s soul will rot in hell – yes, I’m done feeling sorry for her and rationalizing this woman’s behavior, she’s evil and that’s that – what she put Jugnu through was unbelievable. The shocked look on his face, when saw Baloo’s bloodied face, said it all. This child would not recover so easily. Couple that with the public humiliation he suffered when a doped up Margaret – yes, she lost the sympathy vote too – slapped him, and his earlier molestation, it was evident that Jugnu was beyond traumatized. That he could still pull himself together, and be a man for his mother and sister was gut-wrenching. And then came the final blow… Bibi – how could you, just how could you ???
Talkhiyan had started on a brighter, more optimistic note, relatively speaking. The serial opened with shots of a young brightly dressed Zoya coming in to town, full of hopes and expectations – reuniting with Jugnu, seeking answers and looking to put her past at rest. And now, in the penultimate episode, our final shots are again of a bus filled with passengers travelling to their far away destinations. Though ostensibly similar, the big difference is of course that in the the first episode the passenger was willing, whereas here no one could be unhappier. Hours later, I still shudder when I think of the helplessness – the links were irrevocably broken…
An ensemble cast in the truest sense, all actors are giving the performance of a lifetime. Sanam Saeed is particularly fabulous, her dead look in the last scene, as she announced that she was sending Jugnu away, was amazing. Her partner, Hassan Niazi, though has failed to impress. On the other hand, Adnan Jaffer is the perfect Jaanu baba. Sabina and Sagar are brilliant, and Nargis Rasheed is Aayee to the T. Mehak Khan, Zoya, is the soul of the serial, her narrative cohering the past and present just right. Bee Gul’s words are like poetry, and Khalid Ahmad and his actors bring them to life exquisitely. A huge round of applause to the entire Talkhiyan team, the producers, Pivot Productions, director, writer and the entire cast and crew – thank you for making our Sundays so special.
Finally, for those who have not yet caught on to the Talkhiyan bandwagon, do give this one a shot. We complain quite a bit about cliched story lines, and stereotyped characters, but then when something truly different does come along, we have a hard time giving an unknown entity a shot. That said, it is not all about the viewers, the channels also have to shoulder a bulk of the responsibility for promoting their product properly. In these times, when we are bombarded with publicity about upcoming and ongoing serials on social media, banner ads, billboards, etc, how are the viewers expected to hear, learn about, and follow a serial being aired with zero publicity?
Perhaps we need to take another serious look at the TRP system, and rethink the whole hamari public yahi chahti hai paradigm. Is it the public that demands a certain kind of programming, or is it the channels who are actively pushing a certain kind of programming on the public? I don’t think any one at Express will read this, but if by chance they do, I have just one question: why take on a product you don’t seem to have faith in?
Written by SZ~
Talkhiyan ~ Episode 18