Monday, March 30, 2015

Jackson Heights - The Finale

There are some dramas that are entertaining during their run , but are ultimately forgettable. There are others that don't know how to wrap up, so are entirely let down by their final episode. And then there are dramas with writing, direction and acting of sheer brilliance with truly relatable characters that may seem slow in the build up, but end so beautifully that they resonate deep within your heart..  Jackson Heights falls into the last category.

While initially, the show seemed to have many characters and storylines, it was, in the end, the story of a Mamoon and Bhanja (uncle and nephew), their family relationships and interactions with those  connected to their lives.

It's rare that a drama manages to create the kind of emotion I felt for the characters in this drama. Pehchaan, Talkhiyan and Pyaare Afzal being the last.  

These characters were not just on screen personas - they were real people, people I can imagine living on the streets of NYC (only an hour away from me). Out there, there's a genuine Bhatti, lovable, homesick and hardworking for the sake of his family. There must be a Jamshedpur, chasing the American dream, no matter how much scheming and plotting is required. There's a Salma, a woman trapped in her abusive marriage for the sake of her child.  There's a Michelle, a headstrong, confident woman living life her own way only to be caught in a whirlwind romance  (finally) by the wrong man.  There's a Rizwan, hopelessly in love with a woman who won't accept him, forever sidelined into the dreaded "friendzone" (who can't relate to that?). There's a Sikandar, someone who has made too many mistakes and, after reforming, finds that forgiveness does not equate to forgetting OR happily ever after.  And finally, somewhere, there's an Ammi who yearns for her loved ones and spends her life waiting for their return.  

These characters were real, living, breathing people and that's a sign of incredible writing.  Kudos to Vasay' Chaudhary and Mehreen Jabbar for their hard work and commitment to creating a quality show.

I don't want to discuss the episode in detail, as I think "spoilering" a show this beautiful for anyone who hasn't seen it would be a travesty.  What I will say is the following:

Jamshed:  The American Dream pursued to no avail, even with intentions gone completely haywire. It's strange, because while Jamshed was a "negative" character, was he really? He was made so out of circumstances. He came to the U.S. To escape his Mamoon and Maami, who were terrible to him and to create a life where he could bring his Naani and provide for her. He reached the Usa only to realize Bhatti's poor circumstances and was pushed to drastic measures to avoid going back to Pakistan..  It was refreshing to see his outcome and to see that despite going down the "ghalat raasta" initially, he did eventually move in a positive direction.

Bhatti:  Our lovable Bhatti Sahab, a man with a heart of gold, working hard in a land he doesn't consider his own for the sake of providing for his family back home.  But at what cost?  And was it worth it at the end?  That's the basic message in Bhatti's story:  In the end, is living in America worth what you leave behind at home?  Isn't it possible to have a good, comfortable, successful life back home, that too, surrounded by your loved ones?  It was so easy to root for Bhatti, because his story is one that we know to be true.  His character was very well-written and at no point did we feel that he was a character - he was a living, breathing person and we felt for him.

Salma:  A mothers love knows no bounds - even if the child isn't one you gave birth to.  Salma raised Iman and accepted her as her own.  So how can she escape a terrible marriage without leaving behind her child?  Salma's predicament was one that many abused women face - what about the children?  Fortunately for Salma, her end was not as dire as most marriages like this would've been.  Nonetheless, it painted a clear picture that despite living in the USA, the Pakistani woman still can fall victim to the Pakistani backward mentality.

Sikandar:  It was hard not to feel bad for Sikandar in the end.  While essentially, Sikandar was your stereotypical entitled good-for-nothing who thought himself a prince with a dash of an abusive nature, he was let down by his family, friends and himself in a big way and realized the error in his ways at a high cost.  It was endearing to see Sikandar realize Salma's worth and also realize how badly he'd treated her over the years.  More than anything, it was great to see him realize how he'd let his daughter down and that it was time to mend himself and all the relationships he'd destroyed.

Michelle:  While I'm not sure I agreed with Michelle's decision in the end, it was nice to see that Michelle, that strong, self-confident woman, did not resort to the "I need a man in my life" mentality.  She needed time to sort her life out and she realized that, taking steps to give herself time and distance, while still leaving certain doors open.  Kudos to Marina Khan for taking such a great role and playing it so beautifully.

Rizwan:  The perfect man - patient, understanding, a good friend, and still human enough to give the "I told you so" lecture (albeit in a gentle way).  Rizwan was the guy Michelle should have gone for, but didn't.  Rizwan was our typical "friend zoned" guy, the guy who any sensible woman would jump for - but unfortunately, the heart isn't sensible.  I genuinely loved this role and how Adnan Jaffar played it.

On the whole, Jackson Heights was an incredible ride, the ride of life, taking us into the world of "Jackson Heights" in a realistic and natural way.  Applause for the entire cast of Jackson Heights and for the entire team behind-the-scenes.  Thank you for giving us such an amazing show after so long.

This show is a must-watch if you haven't seen it.  My Friday nights are already empty without it.

Happy watching!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

A Post FULL of Endings!

To begin, I realize I've been very inconsistent with the frequency of my posts.  I'd like to take a moment to acknowledge why.  Two weeks ago, I gave birth to my first born, a beautiful little girl.  And because of that, I've had my  hands full and have had very little time for anything other than her.  Haha.  However, now that I have finally settled into a routine, I finally managed to sneak in some writing time!

There have been a good number of shows that have ended over the last two weeks and I figured it would be a good time to acknowledge and discuss some of them.  Yes, shows like Shanakht, De Ijaazat Jo Tu and Firaaq also ended during my "slacker time," but DIJT and Firaaq, despite starting out on very high notes, ended as such terrible-quality shows that I don't feel any need to write about them.  As for Shanakht, I dedicated a couple of posts solely to the show, so I think my views on it are quite obvious - it was a great show.  The ending did not let it down at all, keeping true to the character of Rohan and not allowing any cracks to show in his and Annie's marriage, despite the mess occurring in their lives.  It was a great show from start to finish.

Coming to the recent spate of shows that have ended this week, let's discuss:

"Tum Mere Hi Rehna" came to an end last week, being replaced by "Alvida" this week.  A show that started off with much promise, despite a mildly irritating storyline dealing with feuding parents, somehow managed to completely derail and lose sight of what was once a cute love story.  It's difficult for me to understand what Urwa or Mekaal were thinking of when signing this one - and not just them!  The entire cast for this show was rather phenomenal and the last thing I expected from the show was for it to revert to yet another two-wives story.  How many times can we watch the case of the "doosri biwi"?  And how long are we supposed to, especially the female species, sit here and be expected to sympathize with a less-than-fair husband?  Personally, I've grown tired of it and I've grown tired of the storyline.  However, kudos to Uzma Hassan for playing her role so well though and not allowing her character to fall into the trap of the "evil sautan."

Tum Mere Hi Rehna falls short as a drama and I'm definitely less than impressed.  I'd rather pretend the show did not exist at all.

Moving on to the next show, let's discuss Daraar.

Was this really an Umera Ahmed drama?  Really?  Was this a story picked up from a time when Umera was going through a complete lack of interest in writing and haphazardly wrote this story and these characters?  Is it the fault of the channel (ARY) for not being able to effectively portray these characters and their emotions?  Whatever the problem was with "Daraar," we'll never really know why a show with so much promise fell completely flat on its face.

Given, I am not going to take away from this show entirely.  I was interested, week by week, in what would happen to Aila and Sohail, Annie and Sameer, Taabish and Yusra and even Buaa.  The problem with this show was not due to lack of interest - rather, it was due to overly evil characters on Aila's side.  Whether it be Aila's mother, brother, sister or even Aila herself, it was hard to digest their mindsets each episode.  Each episode brought more "jahaaliyat" from that family and made it hard to digest that people could not only go so far out of their way to create chaos in the lives of others, but also in the lives of their own.  And creating chaos in the lives of their own is what we witnessed in the last few episodes, looking at their attitudes towards Aila, their own daughter.

Coming to the last episode, it was quite fitting that Aila was made to face her problems by realizing the lack of trust people now had in her.  The scene that left a bad taste in my mouth was the scene where Sohail came to pick up Aila from her home and barely acknowledged her.  While I understand that he was doing it out of obligation and respect for Annie and Buaa, I still think he should've been better behaved in front of his sassur, who was a very nice man.  I was also taken aback by Annie's attitude towards Aila.  Yes, while Aila played the part of the "witch Bhabi" to perfection in Annie's life, when Annie persuaded Sohail to take her back and said that she forgave Aila, it was illogical to see her attitude towards Aila later on.  

The scene that did make the episode for me was the confrontation scene between Aila and Atif, her forever greedy, forever selfish brother and her acknowledgement that her own family put her on the course towards hell.  The icing on the cake was that Sohail witnessed the entire exchange.  This scene was powerful and really did paint Aila in a forgivable light.  Likewise with the scene between Aila and Annie where Aila asked Annie for forgiveness and, despite that, was left to lament on her actions alone, realizing that forgiveness is not as easy as simply asking.

While "Daraar" was overall a disappointing experience, it did tell a good tale of how bad behavior can come back and ruin your own life.  It taught the importance of family - but at the same time, it also taught that all families do not look out for the best interests of their blood relatives.  While I wouldn't highly recommend this one, I would say that it's a nice watch for a lazy day and you'rein the mood to "marathon" a complete drama.  It may seem more eventful when watching the episodes back-to-back.

Moving on to Main Bushra, I just want to say that this episode relied heavily on the chemistry between Mawra and Affan to carry the story forward - and that was a gamble that worked in their favor.  The pairing of Shayaan and Bushra not only made for a great story, but was also an example of great casting.

Moving into the story, Main Bushra was ultimately a story about a girl, named Bushra in order for "good news" (a.k.a. a son in the future), struggling to prove that her being will, in fact, bring good news.  From a household of 5 daughters, Bushra takes it upon herself to be "the son" of the household.  However, her efforts have always been lost on her father, disheartened by his fate and the spew of marriages he has to arrange in the future.  Bushra's bad luck is further sealed when her husband, Faraaz, divorces her on their wedding night.

The last episode of Main Bushra was mildly unappealing.  While we witness Faraaz's funeral and death and an overall acceptance of Bushra & Shayaan's wedding, many main characters and situations were simply missing entirely.  A scene was needed between Bushra and her family with her family supporting her relationship with Shayaan and affirming that she's done a lot for them - but we never really witness that on the part of her father.  Also, while I understand that Faisal Qureshi as Faraaz was a cameo appearance, it still would've been nice to have more closure - maybe a change of heart before his death, some sort of repentance, some final words for his parents....anything, really.  It just seemed like a convenient way to get Faraaz out of the way entirely to simply declare his death.

Also, I found it strange that Shayaan's ex-fiancee's mother was so ill yet after finding out that Shayaan is married to Bushra, we no longer hear anything about her illness OR her last wish to see her daughter married.  

All this aside, this drama did keep me interested throughout and moved at a decent pace (though sometimes I found myself wanting to scream with irritation at how dense Bushra's family was towards Bushra's pain and at how ridiculously Shaayan's mother handled the whole situation.

But all's well that ends well and I did enjoy this show and appreciated all the performances.

Nazdeekiyan was a show I watched as more of a "time pass" type of viewing.  It was on, so I watched it.  Basically, it was something to kill the time.  Adding to that, I'm also a huge fan of Vasay Chaudhry, so I was really interested in the love story between his character and Maheen Rizvi's character.  

Overall, this show was a complete let-down due to Maria Wasti's loud, obnoxious and incredibly annoying role.  There was absolutely nothing redeeming about her character, nothing commendable about her acting and nothing worthwhile here that would make me think "Wow, I can see why she took up this character."  No.  In fact, this is one of her worst roles to date.  Add to that, my fandom for Affan Waheed completely being let down - yes, I get that he married Maria Wasti's character in complete "majboori," but that does not give a married man the right to run around with his ex-fiancee, regardless if it's simply to hook her up with his friend.  There was absolutely no excuse for his behavior or his rudeness towards his wife (which is what started her suspicion in the first place).  Yes, she was unlikeable, but he knew that going into this situation.  You do not continue hanging out with your ex-fiancee and her fiance/husband.  He was single handedly responsible for ruining his own marriage and Rumaisha's.  Ridiculous.  

The saving grace of this show was Vasay Chaudhry and Maheen Rizvi, the marriage/relationship that their two characters shared and......that's about it.  You can skip this show or watch it - it really won't make any difference to your life.  

Next, we have Khataa.  While this show does not fall into the group of widely discussed shows, it was a good watch throughout.  The misery of Rabia and Rumi and the tragedy of their situation, made worse by their family members, made this show worthy of a viewing.  

The greatest plus point of this show has been that the situation has not, even once, been unbelievable.  Evil characters, unbending characters, ruthless characters - this show had them all, but in a way that made them seem "real."  There wasn't really any moment where I found myself saying "Why would this ever happen?"  The naive Rabia finds herself in a completely avoidable situation, but it's that naive personality that allows her to listen to Rumi and not follow her own brain - and that's where all her problems begin.

The last episode served as a nice, neat little wrap-up.  All the characters repent, Rabia's father learns to forgive, Isha comes to terms with her issues and all is well with the world.  While the ending was almost too neat, it still managed to avoid the "This is unbelievable" stamp, because as a viewer, I just yearned to see some happiness in both Rabia and Rumi's life.  That aside, I also felt that ultimately, Rabia knew that despite the ill-treatment at the hand of Rumi's family, Rumi was a good guy and her baby needed a father.  

Special mention has to be given to Sajid Hasan as Rabia's father.  He has done a great job in this drama portraying a rigid man with a hidden soft spot for his only daughter.  His performance, along with Sanam Chaudhry's, was the highlight of this show for me.  Shehroz Sabzwari also did a commendable job, portraying a different character for once.

All in all, Khataa was a good show that started off well and continuously stuck to being a quality show.  

And lastly, we have Mehram.  As episode 25 began, I looked at my mother with an annoyed expression and said "I think it's time for this show to just end."  Seconds later, "Last episode" flashed on my screen and I breathed a happy sigh of relief.

Don't get me wrong - "Mehram" has been a great show with a lot of soul and emotions.  The problem is that the last 4-5 episodes have dragged painfully and the audience has been treated to experiencing a merry go round over and over again in said episodes.  Iqra and Maya's resolve to both get out of the way of the other was almost irritating and put me at my wits end with the show.

Thankfully, the last episode made up for it.

In this episode, we witness the return of a genuine and true Maya, not the plotting, scheming vamp the writers were trying to turn her into.  While Maya's anger was completely justified, the portrayal of the character was getting to be a bit much.  Maya sat down for a heart-to-heart with Hamza as he described his turmoil after seeing Iqra's pain after her father's death.  Maya expressed that Hamza should be with her and declared that she was going back to Canada - not in anger, but in that she could not live with Iqra, but was willing to be the long-distance wife ("girlfriend").  She consoled Hamza and told him that she was doing the right thing for all of them.

Hamza and Maya were surprised when they went to pick up Iqra and were confronted with a letter from Iqra, asking them to live their lives happily together and wishing that one day she will be able to care for and love their children.

The way Hamza, Maya and the audience received closure in this drama was perfect.  So often, directors churn out a rushed ending that doesn't settle well at all - this drama did not seek to find the "perfect" ending, but rather settled for a more "real" one.  Kudos to the entire team of Mehram for putting forth such a beautiful show.  YES, I feel it could've easily been 2-3 episodes shorter, but I won't complain after such a nice ending.  I'd highly recommend this one if you haven't seen it.

Alright, that's all for now!  I do promise to try to be more consistent with my posts.  

Happy watching!