Is it just me or are there others out there still following Jackson Heights?
Yes, I know there are issues with a dragged narrative and repetitive scenes, but the blame for this lies squarely on the channels who demand a minimum number of episodes, warna serial nahin chalega. That said, at a time where there seems to be a mad race to churn out one nonsensical serial after another, each one promising more thrills (necessary or not) and twists (logical or not) than the last one, Jackson Heights has so far managed to hold my interest with its plausible scenario, logical plot progression, nuanced story, and well-etched characters. Kudos to Vasay Chaudhry, specially for his tarka of dry wit in an otherwise serious script, Mehreen Jabbar and her cast and crew for keeping it relatively real and relatable.
Speaking of real and relatable, uff who more so than aap ke aur hamarey, ungli pakrao tau banh pakar leney waley, Imran Bhatti sahab. Could this man be any more annoying? I’m sure all of us who live abroad must’ve come across at least one such desi leechar uncle. Bechari Salma! Ghar ke andar taee saas and ghar ke bahar Bhatti sahab! Where is the poor woman to go? Honestly, hats off to Salma – she’s a bigger and better person than I could ever claim to be! She is always so gentle with this two-steps-shy-of-being-designated-a-stalker cabbie. On the other hand, though, her patience with him is also perhaps reflective of her loneliness, a feeling she has never acknowledged even to herself. In many ways Bhatti sahab is fast turning into her only friend, someone around whom she is unconsciously now allowing herself to smile.
While a friend to everybody, Imran remains an enigma perhaps even to himself. Bhatti sahab is one heck of a complicated character, and I don’t think anyone other than Nauman Ijaz could’ve done justice to this slippery character, one which spans all shades of grey. On the one hand he goes all out for his friends, at times even more than necessary, but then when it comes to dealing with his wife Kathy he turns into the quintessential mashriqi shohar sahab. No matter what chore or however urgent an errand bhabhi jaan assigns him, bhai jaan’s NO is out even before she is done talking. He is always busy for his wife but then jahan Salma dikhi or any of his other cabbie friends need him, Bhatti sahab forgets all his masroofiyat and before you can say abracadabra Bhatti sahab khidmat ke liye haazir. No wonder bhabhi is always annoyed with bhai sahab. But then again, bhabhi ji is no angel either. She is loud, rude and overbearing and most of all has Bhatti’s weakness in her hand; needless to say she misses no opportunity to refresh his memory on that issue. Their most recent argument, over smoking in Izzy’s room, was yet another one of their patented Bhatti family jhagras. Afsos sirf yeh ke poor Jamshed was caught in the crossfire.
About Jamshed, yes! He is finally in Amreeka! Yaay! I’m thrilled not only for him, but also for myself, because this means not having to put up with any more of maami ji’s OTT nagging and screaming. Khair, magar ab tau aisey aasman se girey and khajoor mein atkey hain Jamshed sahab, ke I’m sure he misses even maami ji and her ta’nas. At least back home he got naashta in hand and to say nothing of naani’s garam parathas, but yahan tau DIY breakfast, smelly bathrooms, basement bedrooms, dhobi ka kaaam, and aur tau aur Michele ki unwarranted daant, everything and more has been thrown at him except the one thing he came looking for …
Dollars! ji those which Jamshed thought were growing on trees, ripe for his picking. Sadly all his dreams have come crashing down. Aur tau aur Bhatti ne bhi dhoka de diya. Far from being a successful businessman, owning a fleet of cabs, becharey mamu tau has his own issues. The tragic stories he’s hearing from other younger cabbies are not reassuring either. The shot of Adeel standing alone by the phone booth was a stunning visualization of Jamshed’s state of mind at that moment. Na ugal sakta hai na nigal sakta hai … Though he doesn’t see it that way yet, with those phone calls home, like his uncle, Jamshed too is well on his way to getting ensnared in a web of lies, all of his own making.
Jamshed, though, is not the only one who got a reality check. Even Rizwan’s dreams, of a happily ever after with Michele, were rudely shattered when the lady in question rejected his proposal. Though I felt sorry for the guy, I couldn’t help but be thrilled with Michele turning him down. Why do we always assume that marriage is a logical culmination for all relationships between a man and a woman? Why can’t they simply be friends, and good ones at that? She had said this loud and clear so many times already, why didn’t he bother listening to her? Didn’t he know how stubborn she could be once she made up her mind about something? I loved the scenes where Michele was clearly missing her BFF, and like before it was not her but him, who put his mardana ego aside and took the initiative and called her and made up. I am so not looking forward to the time when the shoe is on the other foot!
Overall while the pace is admittedly slow, quite a bit did happen, and with Ali Kazmi yet to make his entry, seems like there is plenty more yet to come. So far, I am onboard with Vasay’s writing and enjoying the fluency with which the various tracks are gelling together and ease with which the various characters are unfolding. After Naghma ji, it is an absolute pleasure to see Neelofar Abbasi back on the screen playing taee ji. For those who might not know her, Neelofar was the heroine of Haseena Moin’s first TV serial Shehzori (for a YouTube link to the serial, click here). Jackson Heights, minus the dragging, has Mehreen’s stamp all over it. Hopefully, now that we are in the second quarter of the serial, and pretty much all characters (except Ali’s) are in play, the pace will start picking up. As for the actors, with an ensemble cast like this it is very hard to pick and choose, but Nauman Ijaz is stellar. Marina Khan, Adnan Jaffer, Adeel Husain, and Aamina Sheikh, all are excellent actors and own their characters. Mehr Jaffrey, Tara Mahmood, and the actress playing Asma (can anybody help with her name?), all have made their presence felt.
So, yeah, six weeks in, slow n ‘all jo bhi jaisa bhi, I am still on the Jackson Heights bandwagon and find it umm…. woh kiya lafaz tha ji… woh jo Bhatti ne Salma se kaha tha na … haan yaad aaya – mesmerizing! Haan ji, tau mujhe bhi kuch kuch waisa hi lag raha hai. Aap sunayen hain ji, aap ko kaisa lag raha hai ji ?
Written by SZ~
Laiyan Laiyan ~ The original song from film Chooriyan ~