Jackson Heights ~ Episodes 7-11Review


Sans ear busting background music, holier than thou dolled up heroines, Fair ‘n Lovely ke chaltey phirtey ishtihaar type heroes, scary close ups, hand wringing and ab mera kiya hoga qism ki baatein, a conniving back-stabbing relative (preferably female), a handful of shuk, a rape or two, some main tumhare bina mar jaaunga type lines, a lecture ‘n a half about everything and nothing …  Point being that ‘aam serials jaisa kuch bhi nahin hai yahan. Despite these “shortcomings,” however, Jackson Heights continues to be one my favorite serials this quarter. Ab yeh alag baat hai ke somehow somewhere something comes up and I have been unable to share my take weekly… but that is more due to my crazy schedule and should not be taken as a reflection on how much I enjoy and how highly I rate this very understated, well-written, well directed, well acted and aesthetically sound serial.

Where other serials claim to be reality based, although the question of whose reality is one jis ka jawaab tau sirf producers aur channels hi bata saktey hain, Jackson Heights actually shows life such as it is for a large majority of our desis abroad. Michele lives in an apartment not a mansion even though she owns a restaurant, despite his marriage to an American citizen Imran Bhatti’s immigration status is in a state of limbo, Jamshed continues to struggle financially, working a nickel-and-dime job at Michele’s restaurant, being a good catch (eligible bachelor in desi terms) does not automatically qualify Rizwan as Michele’s number one pick for hubby no. 2, well-meaning advice from caring friends is not enough to make Salma walk away from an abusive relationship, a plea here ‘n a breakfast in bed there does not make Sikander a magically reformed husband – NO.

Like all of us, here too the residents of Jackson Heights deal with life one day at a time, and this is what makes this serial immensely watchable and relatable for me. There is no magic pill that can cure Sikander of his abusive tendencies, and dil tau akhir dil haiab Michele ka dil Jamshed pe aa gaya tau what can Rizwan do? Thankfully I am not a Salma, have not walked in Michele’s shoes, never had immigration issues like Bhatti, and not slammed the door shut behind me like Jamshed, when he entered the U.S. with stars in his eyes. That said I have heard all these stories. The characters I see on screen are very much alive, apni complexities and contradictions samait.

Salma, Bhatti sahab, Michelle, Rizwan, Jamshed, all are flawed in their own ways, some more so than the others; tayee ji and her boy gang, Sikander and Kash, for instance. Even with the negative characters, however, casting is such that like in real life these “villains” do not walk around with neon signs pasted on their forehead. Neither tayee ji nor her son look like our typical baddies – foul-mouthed co-conspirators ganging up cruelly to heap verbal and physical on their hapless victim. On the surface tayee ji is ever so polite and cultured, never raising her voice, but what good are softly spoken words when they cut through like a knife. Neelofer Abbasi is fantastic as the cruel mother-in-law. Similarly Sikander. Ali Kazmi plays him with such charm and likability that like Salma I too find myself rooting, hoping against hope, for him to sudhro-fy. Even though it was obvious he was up to no good, what with the whole paon pakarna, rona and cleaning the bathroom routine (he was this close to getting my vote there!), but still…

Sikander is a pukka poster boy for an abusive spouse: pal main tola pal mein masha, manipulative, contradictory behavior, explaining away violence a an expression of love, distorting the truth, refusal to acknowledge abusive behavior, minimizing or shifting blame, not acknowledging the seriousness of actions, etc. After being very disillusioned by how crassly similarly sensitive issues have been recently handled on TV, I am glad to see Vasay and Mehreen’s mature handling of Sikander and Salma’s relationship. In many ways Aliya represents us, the viewing audience, well-meaning, concerned, rooting for her friend, willing her to leave Sikander, and not quite getting why this otherwise sensible woman doesn’t just walk away from this mess. Salma for her part is a perfect representation of what an abused wife looks, sounds and thinks like. I hope her situation serves as a much needed eye opener for our masses who are yet to be fully educated about the battered woman syndrome.

Aamina Sheikh plays Salma every so sensitively, truly understanding the various layers of this woman’s personality. Her involuntary flinching ever time Sikander comes near her, her confusion as her heart fights with her mind to give her abusive hubby yet another chance, defending him to her friend, trying to help mend fences between the father and daughter…. all nuances beautifully essayed. Salma is a woman of very few words, but what little she does say she means it. Be it doing her best to placate Sikander, help Iman complete her dance session, or trying to manao Bhatti sahab, this woman is somebody who seems to live her life for others. Not once have we heard her utter a word of complaint to anybody about anything. But then again there is has to be a limit to the amount of abuse a person can handle; at some point or other there is bound to be a complete breakdown. For Salma’s sake I hope there will be a much-needed professional intervention before she reaches the point of no return.

On interventions, Jamshed seems to have made quite a few inroads into Michele’s otherwise very closely guarded personal life. Going where no man has gone before, Jamshed has actually managed to intrigue and charm his boss-lady. I don’t now know about you all but I am simply loving Marina Khan and Adeel Husain here, they are fabulous together! In addition to going awww and wah wah over her kismat, two hot guys vying for her attention (yes, I’m happily superficial when it comes to such matters), I am particularly appreciating how well the director and her actors have etched out Michele’s two very different equations with the two guys. She is very comfortable with Rizwan, he is her equal in more ways than one but theirs is a relationship where she has the upper hand. Jamshed on the other hand is nothing like the older man, he’s her subordinate in more than one way, yet we see Michele flustered around him, finding herself occasionally lost for words and gradually opening up under the heat of his scrutiny. Marina Khan, Adnan Jaffer, Adeel are all fabulous here. From his attitude it is easy to discern that Jamshed has his own reasons for wooing Michele, but for the sake of my romance loving heart I hope he will re-think his master plan, of doing pukka kaam. Oh, and Jamshed sahab, you need a haircut- zara ASAP!

As for doing things as soon as possible, Uff! Can Bhatti sahab just get over himself? Ji, ji hain ji I get that bechara ek akela has a whole khandaan he is supporting back home and ab nephew is here, he has an unfeeling mean wife, aur tau aur even the otherwise seedhi saadhi Salma stood up the birthday “boy” (hello?! earth to Bhatti sahab!), magar seriously if Bhatti sahab were to take off his self-pity wala chashma he would see things for what they actually are …

If his brother’s family is bleeding him dry then it is to a large extent apne bhai jan’s fault as well. It is he who has been the enabler here, encouraging the leechers ki toli by all his bharam rakhne wali bari bari baatein. Why can’t he just come clean about his financial status and his immigration status? He was even lying to Jamshed even though he was right there seeing the truth for himself. Yes, he felt sad because Kathy forgot his birthday, but then he ain’t such a beeba baccha either … the way he lied about working when he was meeting Salma, his curt refusal of Kathy’s invitation to join her for a weekend away, all tell a very different story from the one he’s been telling himself. His outburst at Salma without giving her a chance to explain herself was the last straw as far as I’m concerned. Nope, can’t bat on your team anymore, Bhatti sahab. Taali do haathon se bajti hai ek se nahin!

It’s a good thing Nauman Ijaz is playing the kuttey ki dum ki tarah seedhay Bhatti bhai. Can’t think of any other actor playing this all too familiar desi guy with so much color and flamboyance. Love how naturally Vasay’s one-liners roll off his tongue and how even the most cliched of scenarios take on a life all their own with this guy. Again, kudos to Vasay, Mehreen and Nauman for keeping Imran so realistically annoying.

Suffice it to say that I am very much on board with Jackson Heights. What with all the OTT-ness that has seeped into into our dramas these days, I am truly appreciating MJ’s tell-it-like-it-is brand of storytelling. Among the actors I have my favorites but itne saarey faves ke beech main se fave-tareen choose karna would be patently unfair. Vasay’s script is well written and his one liners are hilarious. I like the depth of characters and appreciate how the various tracks have been woven together, making meetings and interactions seem very natural. Yes, the pace was an issue earlier, but I am enjoying the way the story is coming along. So much happening, but ever so subtly – silently widening ripples of skilfully interlaced events rather than the din of loudly crashing waves. Yes, Jackson Heights is an MJ project and it shows. And, ab tau zarda bhi pak gayamazedar khana, solid story, fab acting, and excellent direction … now if only Michele would make up her mind in a hurry and send the other contender my way I would be a very happy camper – intezaar-ing!

Jaatey jaatey … Urdu 1: Could you please please upload HQ/HD videos on your website??

Written by SZ~

16 replies

  1. SZ… Yaar you are gem.. Seriously itne negative reviews regarding JH ke baad itna positive review.. Cant tell how happy i am to see such amazing review 🙂 thank you ..

    I loved the way you wrote “slightly widening riplples of skilfully interlaced events….” Totallyyyy agree with this and Like you i am so enjoying JH like anything.. Its like fresh breath of air..brings smiles on my face, make me laugh like idiots and also make me senti without hating anyone.. Thats the power of such faboulus actors, brilliant direction and excellent script..

    For once seeing such different couples is really interesting specially Marina and Adeel.. Uff they are killer in every scene they share.. I literally go like ohh man this guy is full of charms.. How can our Michelle not get attracted 😉 i love the scene where jamshed says lekin me ap se flirt nhn karaha… Tooo awesome n for me hot as well.. Haye bechare ko thapar parne wala he but if thats can make him uturn regarding pakka kaam tou tou bhale so bismillah ek aur lag jaye…literally enjoy their scenes… Hahahahah sz aisa na karain hum bhi kharain he line me 😉 jokes apart it was nice to see michelle opening up and coming out of her shell..

    Those one liners get more hilarious when bhatti sahab says them.. But yes he is all about I, me and myself.. Birthday BOY with ballons 6 ghante intezar.. Who cares about when katty atleast realized tht she forgot his birthday,wished him and also asked go to have some family time.. Na na..but Nauman Ijaz makes him really interesting.. With Salma he is really happy.. But is Salma happy.. Clearly not.. Trying to make understand herself k sikander is change man now.. Totally confused.. But in all this jo thori boht khushi milti he is from Aliya and Bhatti sahab.. Hope she can make her way out happily and contently..

    Ali Kazmi is surprise package.. He have groomed so much in everything from acting to appearance.. You get slightly nervous when he smirks sarcastically.. Very much enjoying his Sikander..

    Akhir me bilkul aakhri baat for you SZ 😉

    Aye dekh behn.. Khuda k waste isko likhti rehna..chorna nahin.. Dekh achi dost nh he tu (read it in Khursheeda style please 😉


  2. SZ, I absolutely loved this latest ep. it was best 40 mins of tv I have seen in a long while Vasay Ch. your lines are amazing- maza aagaya. Add to that MJ’s direction and fab fab actors like NI, AS, MK, NA – aap samajh hi jaengi 😉
    Haan, aur aapka review bhi guzar e laiq tha 😉 mashq jaree rakhain.


  3. I’m really enjoying J heights .
    everyone’s acting is superb and Bhatti sahab is the best , I think .
    I don’t know why salma is stuck in this marriage , the husband’s an abusive creep , M in law is super kameenee and the girls also not hers so what’s forcing her to stay in such a vile relationship ????


  4. @SZ, I’m sooooo glad to read positive things about Jackson Heights. I for one like this drama. It’s about reality, lives of ordinary real humans, without much drama and sensational d weird twists.. Amina Shaikh and Nauman Ejaz doing wonderful job.
    I’ll slightly differ anout Marina Khan..I always feel she has limited acting skills. Having said that I admit her mere presence makes the character special so here we are.
    Thanks for relevant in depth comprehehensive Review.


  5. hi can anyone tell me about PTV dramas parchaiyan and teesra kinara of rahat kazmi and asaavari of fatima surayya bajia, how were these dramas?


  6. Okay so episode 11 has to be my favourite episode so far! Shukar we see some awww moments between Michelle and Jamshed FINALLY (the only reason I watch JH btw!)
    My favourite has to be the shifting samaan scene ‘thoda sa left.. hosakhta hai?’ ‘nahi’ ‘huh?!’ zabardast!! :’)
    I am team Jamelle all the way! Jamelle or Mished? Lol either way MK and AH are so cuteeeee together! SZ I was telling you how I think she’s getting ready to discard AH (get ready tharki aunty lol ;)), BUT I literally watched ALL the promos again and OMG I don’t think she will! EEK!
    You know when he takes the ring out and they show Aamina Sheikhs face, if you look closely thats another scene.. He’s actually showing the ring to MK!! YAAY and in the promo when Bhatti Saab says ‘sare Amreeka main yehi aurat mili thi’ he’s referring to Michelle (I hope!) also Jamshed says ‘jab kathe zindagi guzarne ka faisla karliya hai toh uska saamna bhi kathe karenge’ HES SAYING THAT TO MICHELLE! And when we see Jamshed running, he’s running to Michelle! I literally watched all the promos to figure this out lol but I love them together! I hope this drama steps out the box and shows that an older woman and younger man can have a happily ever after pleaseeee, as you say ‘ keeping my fingers and toes crossed’!! 🙂


  7. Just caught up with this week’s JH.. and OMG!!! Loooooove it!!! maza a gya!
    Our NY cab finally beat the traffic and picked up the pace!
    Like @afia said 40 min poore wasool!

    Jamshed has something fishy up his sleeve. He is a ‘parha likha’ desi..but def a desi!! lol, Im rooting for the pukka kam too.. but as it stands, it seems like it will be a patch up job initially.. Shayad age ja ke kuch pukka ho.. Jamshed is too much of a swagger abhi.. aik minute he lost his girl to his bestie, and next minute he’s on to Michelle.. Jamshed, you r pretty crafty if u ask me!!… but uff has he got the charm or has he got the charm??!!!… he’s certainly got Michelle’s attention.. looved her not-being-in-control of herself, her slips here and there.. brilliatly penned, directed and acted! Bravo!!!

    Also Bravo to Ali Kazmi! How sleezy and how creepy Sikander is! but it felt so real.. there was nothing filmy about all the abuse.. We ususally get the ten notches too high a bgs at a thappar.. yahan tou neeli peela kar diya magar they maintained that calm somehow! Brilliant!

    Nauman Ejaz.. Apne rang barange Bhatti sahab is so much fun to watch.. ufff yes!! – the self-pity!!!.. and i felt like giving him a pc of my mind when he refused to go for the weekend away with his wife.. and when he didnt even bother asking the khairiat etc of Salma.. Bechari munh khol ke keh rahi hai but he’s not interested in listening.. what was clearly more important were the 2 ghubaras.. everytime he mentioned the balloon I cracked up laughing!

    Kathy.. jaise ko taisa…. I still wonder what possessed her to marry Bhatti in the first place? She knows well that he’s is only after one thing – his immigration status.. But i loved the way she gave her ultimatum key nahin chalna – na aao, mein wapas aaon tou mood fix ho chuka ho!
    Kathy’s son is such a sweetheart.. had real awww moment when he pulled out that cake for him last week..

    Looove the realistic approach of this play. Kudos to team JH!!!


  8. LOVE the review – you have laid out every character so well. I was telling Sheeba on her review at DP that this is not a story of black and white characters and our audience is SO USED to b/w characters that it is so hard for them to stomach a Bhatti sahab. We prefer to either like the characters we see on the screen or hate them (Sikander and family). When we run into grey characters our mind goes into a bit of a frenzy and we can’t figure out if we should like them or not. This is where MJ and Vasay have triumphed for me.
    The pacing issue aside, I also did not get why Imaan did not call 911. That was a major blooper from my POV because yahan per bacha bacha janta hai to call the police if they see something bad happening. I wish Vasay hadn’t faultered there but what to do…
    Loving the Marina-Adeel pair – they look SO ADORABLE TOGETHER OMG! 🙂 ok I’ll stop gushing now 🙂 I think you will be left with our Shakesperean Rizwan at the end of it SZ – abhi se Chicago ja ker lai lo before he comes back to bother M-A.


    • @Annie: LOL! I was looking for your comment on the latest review and was wondering why it wasn’t showing up there!

      Haha! Like you I took think Jamshed and Michele will be together for keeps .. and haan, I would’ve loved to have gotten the boy toy but khair, thats ok , a Shakesperean Rizwan ain’t that bad of a catch either .. LOL

      Re: Iman: I dont know if you read my latest review but from what Ive seen and read Iman’s silence is a classic sign of a child coming from an abusive family. Much like an abused spouse, the children too learn to keep their “dirty little secret” under wraps .. thiere are many reasons for it, including but not limited to shame, guilt, scared of being ostracized by their social group, and the very real fear that somehow by talking abt it will make the abuse “real” whereas otherwise they can keep pretending that it never happened or was a one off or some such …there is a lot of reading material available on the web as well that talks abt this issue … And this why I think as compared to Kankar, JH is miles ahead in the way it deals with the phenomenon of domestic abuse …


  9. I’ve only watched through Episode 8 so far, but I’m really enjoying this show. I like that it’s not the usual desi diaspora story where everyone lives in a massive suburban house with 3.5 luxury cars parked in the driveway and a swimming pool! I also like that it highlights that these people who maybe have it better than their peers back home aren’t exactly happy or people. They’re just, well, people. (I’m just waiting for someone to make a film or a show about struggling desi graduate students now, lol).

    I thought the Rizwan-Michelle thing was really well handled. It’s kind of refreshing to see a storyline where it’s the man who’s desperate to be married and settled in life but the object of his desire is perfectly comfortable with the status quo.

    Finally, oh my goodness, Bhatti sahib is…well, he’s that desi uncle we all know but don’t admit to in public, lol. I think I laughed for five minutes straight (mostly out of sheer second-hand embarrassment) during the scene where he awkwardly gives Salma the tackiest purse in the Tri State area. Great work (as usual) by NI in this too.

    Off to watch the rest…


  10. Oh, I was was not expecting the whole Jamshed-Michelle thing. They’re unexpectedly great together, and even if Jamshed isn’t really on the up-and-up (I think), it’s sort of hard to hate on him.

    I wonder if this version of younger man-older woman also got audiences a bit riled up, lol.


    • A bit??? surely you jest 😉 google JH reviews and you will see all kinds of stuff abt how disgusting and what not .. this serial came under a LOT of fire .. .even the portrayals you mentioned of desis etc, they too were not seen as authentic enough …


      • Haha. I can see why the Jamshed-Michelle thing might have been a bit controversial, but it’s still really well played by both actors. Adeel Husain is quite charming in the part, really.

        Not authentic in what way? I mean, ok, it’s not the full story of desi life in Amreeka, but it’s a fair approximation of one segment of the desi community. Or at least I think so.


        • Am an ardent AH fan and Marina tau was , is and will always be my first love… she can do no wrong IMHO.

          You shoud check out Tanhaiyan Naye Silsilay … it had its ups and downs but the MK track was fab. I love how she opts for characters where marriage is never the only option for a relationship b/w a man and a woman..

          @VZ @Rehmat @FA @Deeba all were here for this taxi ki sawaari.. potholes and all .. any reflections from you all (apart from the fact that it is an absolute masterpiece as compared to the messes we are seeing now)?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.