In the past few weeks things have certainly heated up in Jackson Heights. Be it jalebi Jamshed and mareez-e muhabbat Michele’s May/December jori, sitam raseeda Salma and psycho Sikander’s abusive marriage, bhai aur bhabhi Bhatti’s kaghazi rishta, rejected Rizwan and main-na-manoon Michele’s friendship, or smitten Salma and for-once-bolti-band Bhatti sahab – all manners of relationships are being rigorously tested. Which of these pairings survive the test of time and make it past the finish line is a question the answer to which remains tantalizingly elusive for now. A hint here, a peek there, one step forward and two steps backwards, Vasay and Mehreen are dishing out just enough to keep us seriously interested. Well done Team Jackson Heights, we are hooked!
Gone are the days when a mere look from tayi jee was enough to browbeat her bahu into compliance; this new Salma, emboldened by her friends’ unquestioning non judgmental support, is not afraid to look straight back at her mother-in-law and give it back in spades. She maybe quaking on the inside, as she later confides in Aliya, but outwardly she is all business. She is done being treated and tossed around like an unwanted rag doll. Sikander can sweet talk her as much as he wants, but she’s not only on to him, but unlike earlier times she is also done with him.
For the first time in her life Salma knows how it feels to be valued and appreciated for who she is as an individual. This new sense of self brings with it agency and empowerment, and it is this feeling that leads her to come clean, acknowledge her desires and make promises – to herself and to Bhatti Sahab. I’m not quite sure how they did it but somehow that threading and their softly spoken ehd-o paiman all made for a brilliant scene. Kudos to Mehreen and Aamina and Nauman for that beautiful moment, any other director and set of actors and this one could easily have turned into a bad farce, thankfully we were spared. Waisey, Salma ji, aapas ki baat hai … kaunsa purana badla ley rahi theen aap Bhatti sahab se? Threading his cheek?? Ouch!!
That Bhaati sahab was allowing his lady love to torture him so, and was actually smiling while she was doing so, one hair at time, is a sure shot sign of true love. For the first time in this serial, in my opinion, we are getting to see the real Bhatti, stripped off all his bharam and pretense. Yes, he had always been a do-gooder, but even with his heart in the right place he had never really been honest with himself about himself.
He had explained away his paper marriage saying it was for his family back home. To his family he lied about his financial status, even after Jamshed reached NYC he continued with this bharam. All for the sake of his family… he was doing it all for his mother, he told himself. But was he really? Salma was spot on when she had called him out on it earlier. For fifteen years he had assured Kathy he would never leave her even after his immigration came through. He was angry with Jamshed when he heard about Michele, but when Jamshed pointed out his hypocrisy he was enraged. His umpteen pity parties were all about people not understanding him.
Bhatti sahab’s nayi naveli relationship with Salma is not going be an easy one for sure, but the pros are already piling up. For starters, Bhatti sahab has come clean with Kathy: he loves someone else. The immigration issue, which according to him had been his main reason for staying married, seems to no longer matter. An appointment with the immigration lawyer, previously crucially important, has now become now secondary to meeting Salma. It is this honesty, this stepping down from his self-made pedestal, that has sold me on Bhatti today. His actions in the last couple of episodes have confirmed that which had been subtly implied all along: Jamshed today is Bhatti fifteen years ago.
While Bhatti sahab and Salma walk with a spring in their step, Sikander is not feeling quite as upbeat. How and why would he? Not only does he have the bookies after him but he also has to deal with his recalcitrant wife and last but not the least put balm on an ego still smarting from that close encounter with Bhatti’s fists. Ab Sikander sahab cerebral tau hain nahin ke thandey dimagh se sochen, he being more of a karo-pehley-socho-b’ad-mein kinda guy has ordered his cousin/lackey to get him a gun. The precap promises quite a shootout of an episode next week, magar goli kis ko lagey gi yeh nahin maloom… any guesses? I, for one, don’t want to see Salma or Bhatti go. Haan Sikander is expendable but then I would miss watching Ali Kazmi, so not entirely sure as to what I would like to see happen … what do you guys think?
At this point Bhatti and Salma are a pair and a happy one at that, sadly the same can’t be said about Jamshed and Michele. While he is very much like his maamu in many ways, but in so many other ways he’s nothing like him. Had it been Bhatti instead of Jamshed we would’ve never seen Rizwan being asked to pay for his dinner, neither would Adnan have gotten fired. Magar afsos, bhanja is not quite as patient. First it was badtameezi with customers then he fired Adnan and now the waitstaff is facing the wrath of Jamshed. But what does Jamshed care. He has his mareez-e muhabbat right where he wants her – he only has to crook his little finger and she comes running. Who is this mush of a woman? Where is the stubborn main-na-manoon Michele that rejected Rizwan had left behind?
Adnan and Adeel are pitch perfect in their roles. The aristocratic, icy disdain with which Rizwan initially greeted Jamshed and his later polite but firm put-downs are done to perfection. Jamshed on his part is behaving like a spoilt child, acting up, making sure that he does not give Michele a moment alone, either with herself or with Rizwan. This is a determined man, he’s not come this far to have his plans messed up by this unwelcome blast from Michele’s recent past. So far Michele’s proven to be completely blind to Jamshed’s faults, but hopefully, like Aliya did for Salma, I hope Rizwan can eventually get Michele to see past Jamshed’s hunky looks. Yes, mareeza ji, I get where you are coming from, but seriously, lady, you can’t allow yourself to be played like this! Perhaps we should introduce you to bhabhi Bhatti. How about tomorrow? Lunch? At Jackson Diner? Ok, done.
Forget about Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele and their convoluted love story, methinks Fifty Shades of Grey is a perfect title for this serial. Spanning all the way from the darkest of greys to the almost whites this one has them all. Though dealing with the raw gritty realities of life, the trials and travails of the characters and their nuances have been sensitively written and fluently brought to life by a very talented group of creatives. For a story with so many threads and so many characters I love how neatly everything is coming together, ab just hoping and praying there is no slip between the cup and lip. Looking forward to what promises to be a very happening next episode!
Written by SZ~