Salma, Salma, Salma, lend me your ears …
Shakespeare koshish kartey kartey guzar gaye, Aliya ne bhi apni taraf se samjhaya, Bhatti bhai ne bhi kureda, hum ne bhi warn kiya … magar…. Salma ney nahin suni …
Magar woh sunti bhi kaise?
A shohar’s house is a woman’s only true ghar, it is up to her to make the marriage work, doing susral ki khidmat and catering to their every whim is a part of her job description, giving up or walking out on a bad marriage is akin to sinning, sab theek ho jaye ga, mayoosi gunah hai…. just a sampling of what she probably grew up hearing.
The cacophony of all those simplistic naseehats and outdated mashwaras made it very hard for to hear the sound of her friends’ voices. Nonetheless, deafened as she was – lost in her own head and buried under the weight of her problems – defeated she was not. She had hoped and wished and prayed for the best, but when that did not happen, and she saw Sikander was not going to change she did start taking action … baby steps… one foot in front of the other.
Its so easy for us on the outside to judge – aisa kyon nahin karti, waisa kyon nahi karti – that we often forget that easier to talk the talk than it is to walk the walk. We are so busy criticizing them that we forget to applaud and appreciate their incredible courage and can-do spirit. They are not victims who wallow in their miseries rather these women are survivors.
No matter how much Sikander abuses her physically she refuses to submit emotionally. She is afraid, for sure, but that does not stop her from taking a stand for the things she values most. She could have easily gone crazy thinking about her miserable life, but she’s been productive, her family’s provider. Singlehandedly she’s raised a strong daughter, not only thought about her future but also protected it, ensuring her jewelry remained out of Sikander’s reach.
What she can be faulted on is hiding the extent of her problems from her friends, but then again bharam rakhna is such a huge part of our desi set up that is not hard to understand Salma’s perspective. That said, we saw her opening up today, and Salma, my girl, you had me cheering you on on every step of the way. But what happened later was just heartbreaking ….
This is where I think Vasay and Mehreen have excelled in narrating Salma’s track. One scene of unadulterated abuse and we see why Salma’s never talked about her relationship with Sikander, and perhaps also why she’s never been able to bring herself to report the abuse. We saw her doing what we all had been urging to do for weeks, but the price she ends up paying for that one breath of fresh air is excruciatingly painful to witness. For some odd reason, I am not getting a and-she-lived-happily-ever-after vibe from Salma’ track but here’s to hoping I’m proven wrong.
We knew Salma was being abused, but to see it like this, up close and personal, sans the glycerine and the loud background music, was horrifying. As a scene it worked brilliantly, the horror played up more so by tayi jee and Kash. Iman’s walking in, and tayi jee’s response to her granddaughter’s entry made for a brilliant juxtaposition. Clearly tayi jee has different chashmas through which she sees different people differently.
Aamina Sheikh is fabulous and we know that, her Ujala in Mora Piya/Piya Re is one my all time fave characters, but her performance here was in a whole other league. The gold star for acting for this episode must, however, go to Ali Kazmi. Sadly our awards are even more screwed up than Sikander’s head so I know not to get upset, but trophy miley ya na miley, all of us who have been following Jackson Heights ka psycho Sikander will not forget his performance here in a hurry. Today, in particular, his crazed, psychotic Sikander totally scared the heck out of me. Not just in that scene with Salma, but later with Kash as well. I don’t know about you all, but I’m still freaked out!
From psycho Sikander to jalebi Jamshed… what a contrast!!
Where Sikander acts first and thinks later, apne jalebi sahab soch samajh kar kaam kartey hain. Like Salma, Jamshed is another character we’ve seen evolve over seventeen weeks. Many dismiss him as a stereotype and he may as well end up being one, but its the exploration of Jamshed’s growth arc that makes this character stand out.
We’ve seen Jamshed go through through various stages: the angry young man phase giving way to a man who lands in the US with stars in his eyes, his starry-eyed enthusiasm phased out by gradual disillusionment leading to an eventual hardening, all points of his journey have been very nicely plotted and narrated. Adeel Hussain has done complete justice to this very layered character.
Jamshed has played his cards very smartly up until now, but after all that he’s done today I’m not sure if Michele is gonna be fooled much longer. Or at least, that’s what I’m hoping. My girl Salma showed quite a bit spine today, tau Michele ab aap bhi aa jayen maidan mein… can’t wait to see you two ladies mil ke bajao these guys’ band, aur woh bhi zor se!
And jahan band bajane ki baat hau, as in tooting your own horn and woh bhi zor se, tau how can we forget our bandmaster Bhatti sahab. Much I give him shabashi for looking out for Salma, I can’t still help but be a bit miffed by how he went up to Aliya and accused her of not doing anything to help Salma. Bhai jee, aap bhi tau dost they? How much had would you have ever known about Salma’s domestic situation if Sikander hadn’t literally run into you?
Bhatti sahab, maan lijeye aap bhi Aaliya jaise hi dost hain. You have the resources to dig up the dirt on Sikander, who do you think is waiting around to help Aliya do the same. For that matter, you’ve scolded Aliya for not being friend enough, magar aap khud? I’m so glad that at least aaj Bhatti sahab admitted was so busy with his pity parties that he had never really listened to Salma, paid heed to the absence of what was left out of all her convos.
Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but hadn’t Bhatti implied in an earlier episode that once his immigration went through he would return to Pakistan and possibly rethink his situation with Kathy? So then why was he lying to Kathy and saying he wouldn’t leaver her? Kathy may not be his ideal wife today, but looking at how Jamshed is manipulating Michele one can easily discern what happened so many years ago between mamoon and maami Bhatti. Needless to say Nauman Ijaz is Imran Bhatti to the tee. I can’t imagine any other actor managing to pull off such a complex character and making it look so effortless.
So from apni Aliya, to shareef Salma, to Bhatti bhai to jalebi Jamshed to muhabbat mein andhi Michele to psycho Sikander, to terrible tayi jee, sab ke sab full form mein they aaj. making for one heck of an episode.
Overall, I am enjoying the coherence, clarity and fluidity with which Vasay Ch and Mehreen J are telling their story. So much of all that had been subtly hinted at before is now coming together with exquisite timing. The lead actors have all done a superb job bringing to life their very complicated characters. Others like Neelofar Abbasi Meher Jaffri and Adnan Jaffar may not be on screen much but they have all made an impact.
Seventeen weeks in and I’m more than hooked – two thumbs up Team Jackson Heights!
Written by SZ~
P.S. Dont forget to leave your questions and comments for Salma … only a few more days left! Post your questions here: