Jalebi: A South Asian dessert made of a coil of batter fried and steeped in sugar syrup.
Jamshed: A Pakistani man currently in the US looking for ways to upgrade his tourist visa to a resident one, kosher or not sab tariqey chalenge.
Jalebi Jamshed: Syrupy sweet and and woh bhi itna ke a close encounter of the Michele kind would leave you desperately in need of an insulin shot. Harkatein aisi ke they would put a dog’s terhi dum to shame.
When I gave this moniker to our duniya se naraz hero last week, little did I think ke he would take to it like a duck takes to water. Jamshed, my friend, hello!?! What was up with that self righteous taqreer? Did you expect us to stand up and applaud you for a speech that would do a Pakistani politician proud? Suno mister, likening you to a jalebi was most certainly not intended as a tamagha-e husn-e karkardagi – far from it!!
Hats off to Vasay Chaudhry, Mehreen Jabbar and Adeel Husain for bringing us one of the most charming villains in recent times. Gone are the days of gandasa wielding gujjars and the old school chacha and his beta, clumsy enough to be caught stealing Michele’s inheritance. Ab tau we get good looking, polished, educated, and, most importantly, cerebral baddies; nishaney ko khoob study kar ke teer laganey waley expert marksmen. My poor poor Michele, how was she ever expected to recognize this new age badmash? They say once bitten twice shy and I’m sure my girl thought she was inured and would never fall for the same trick twice, magar afsos ….
Where Jamshed is a smooth operator, apne khurdrey Sikander sahab bhi kum nahin. Be it his unending supply of ganjis (wonder if tayee ji bought them in a going-out-of-style sale from the neighborhood Walmart), his unkempt look, less than polite lingo, unsuccessful efforts to get his die-by date extended, or his ab-agar-kuch-aur-bola-tau type threats to Salma, this guy is something else all together.
Without resorting to screaming his lungs out and/or channelling Noori Natt, Ali Kazmi does a fantastic job as the menacing Sikander. I don’t know how he and MJ did it but I seriously get the creeps every time this character is around. No wonder Salma doesn’t know which way to turn. Itna us ko ghuma diya ke she forgot her wallet in Bhatti sahab’s cab. Waisey aapas ki baat hai I think she really meant to lose that ugly purse. Sochein, would you ever wanna be caught carrying that shiny plastic-y wallet? Salma is very understated girl who always wears a functional black crossbody. I’m convinced tayee ji got it as a freebie when she bought her beloved son’s ganjis.
Salma ka zikr ho and Bhatti sahab ka nahin, aisa tau ho nahin sakta. Ok, so Bhatti sahab can and does get away with a lot because of his asli desi ghee charm, but this time around I didn’t know whether to applaud him or beat him up. The last thing Salma needed is for someone else to judge her and push her around. Yes, Bhatti bhai felt “cheated upon” but when had he ever been 100% up front with her? Chalo, even if he did feel betrayed what was up with that bull in the china shop approach. Bhai jan, this is not how you get a lady to confide in you. And, when was he last time he really listened to all that she was not saying? Its always been him leaning on her with his dukhi dastaans. He who claims to understand maajis dukhs from this far away was clueless about Salma’s pareshanis. Its only when he saw Sikander and got 2+2=4 that he realized there was an issue.
I do think, or at least hope, that lath maar attitude ke saath hi sahi but somehow Bhatti will become the bridge that helps Salma cross over to the other side. Nauman Ijaz, what to say about him… he is to Jackson Heights what Saima Chaudhry was to the Baraat series, only better.
As for the girls, kiya chun chun ke ek se ek hero miley hain in ko. Vasay and Mehreen, kiya bigara tha in donon ne aap ka? That said, what I enjoy here is that though these girls are getting burned neither of them would describe themselves as bechari. Salma is a survivor with a capital S. Now that her blinkers are off she is not shying away from making her feelings known. She is a battered wife but to her credit she has not internalized her mazloomiyat.
Salma truly fears for her life, worries about her daughter and does not know how to get out of her messy situation, but those her concerns and fears which she keeps to herself. In front of Sikander she is as strong as she can be. Even with her millat pankha, no matter what her domestic situation might be she always has a smile for Bhatti sahab. Offering him thoughtful mashwaras, lending him a shoulder to cry on, and most importantly unlike him, non-judgemental. Perhaps her own situation has made her more sensitive to others’ feelings and situations. Bhatti sahab, woh jo kehtey hain na, take a page out of Salma ji’s playbook. Hain ji? Okay?
Aamina Sheikh is fabulous as Salma and I love how much she conveys with her body language and small gestures. And speaking of fabulousness, Ms. Marina, there is a reason why I love thee. Jamshed’s games wouldn’t mean half as much if it weren’t for the woman being targeted. All of Marina and Adeel’s scenes were beautifully executed. While she is too smitten to see through him I have a feeling that she did hear the first clang go off today. It will be fabulous to see how she reacts to the marriage proposal that Jamshed has coming up next.
What I particularly love about Jackson Heights is that the story works at many levels. As a writer Vasay Ch refrains from telling it here and now, and as a director MJ is allowing the characters the space to tell their own stories. There is a lot of depth here for the engaged viewers, subtle contrasts and comparisons that leave the door open for further discussion. So much of what Jamshed is doing now hints at what Imran did so many years ago. And here’s the big question – if we as viewers hate Jamshed for what he is doing then should we feel so much empathy for Imran’s problems with Kathy? Should Imran get a free pass just because we didn’t see his story unfold quite as clearly?
Similarly in Salma’s track I love how Bhatti’s bulldozer type aggressive approach to Salma’s face-saving lies – after his usual pity party – is nicely contrasted with Alia’s more passive I’m-here-if-you-need-me kind of response to her friend’s issues. Both are well-meaning and are genuinely concerned about her and want to help, but are either of their responses quite what the person in question needs? Again rather than spelling it out these kinds of questions are built into the narrative. This is the kind of intelligent storytelling, meaningful but with a handy serving of humor,camaraderie and romance, that I find disappearing from our screens.
The preview promises more thrills and has me looking forward to the next chapter in this story. Don’t know about you all but my money is on the girls who I hope will soon come into their own and give it back in spades. Boys beware!
Written by SZ~