“Ishq Jalebi” has been winning hearts this month with its simple, down-to-earth storytelling with a comedic touch. Written by Saima Akram Chaudhry and directed by Syed Wahajat Hussain, “Ishq Jalebi” is one of the three popular Ramadan show offerings this year. Starring Wahaj Ali, Madiha Imam, Hina Bayat, Noor Ul Hassan, Qavi Khan, Irsa Ghazal and several others, this ensemble cast comes together to deliver a wonderful show that not only offers romance, but centers around family relationships.
In the last episode, we saw Bela’s (Madiha Imam) engagement taking place in a beautifully emotional sequence. Throughout it all, Basim (Wahaj Ali) is not only angst-ridden over his unacknowledged feelings for Bela, but he has other reasons to be angry as well. Basim is the voice of reason, scolding Mohammad Boota (Qavi Khan) and Aashiq (Noor Ul Hassan) for organizing an engagement party in the middle of a pandemic. However, true to how Pakistani society has been behaving during the pandemic, the elders of the family brush aside Basim’s complaints. And so, in episode 18, after it has been revealed that Rafaqat (Mehmood Aslam) is COVID-19 positive, the family is visibly worried. While the engagement takes place, the police quickly arrive and arrest the groom, forcing the male members of the family to visit the police station to have him released. There’s a wonderful moment of acknowledgement between Vicky and Basim where Vicky realizes Basim called the police himself to have the engagement stopped. Vicky and Basim’s relationship has been full of hostility with the two being visibly jealous of each other due to their feelings for Bela – but now that Bela has rejected Vicky’s proposal, Vicky may end up being a voice of reason for Basim, someone who can show him the mirror and force him to acknowledge what he hasn’t yet admitted to himself: that he loves Bela.
While all’s well that ends well with everyone returning home with minimal damage, the engagement raid has left a bad taste in the mouth for everyone. And yet, now the wedding is approaching and Basim’s angst continues to progress, furious when he finds Bela talking to her fiancé on the phone. Bela has had enough of Basim’s attitude and tells him that if her fiancé isn’t good enough and Vicky doesn’t deserve her, why doesn’t he step up and sacrifice himself for her? Basim is left in shock hearing this – something he’s left pondering after she’s gone.
What’s wonderful about the writing here is that while a Vicky and Basim face-off seemed inevitable, Saima Akram Chaudhry did not take the story there. There was a feeling of cousins being pitted against each other, particularly with Esha making eyes at Basim. Fortunately, Basim hasn’t shown any interest in Esha and Bela did not even bother dragging Vicky along for this ride, rejecting him outright. These are real characters, they aren’t characters who play games – especially with family members, which is a huge positive.
“Ishq Jalebi” has just the right amount of angst required to keep the audience engaged and wanting to come back for more without making that romantic angst feel like torture. The covid angle is also a great one and it’s a positive to see a universal situation being acknowledged and discussed in a drama, not only keeping the show relevant, but also putting forth teaching moments by highlighting how covid can spread at large events, the importance of mask-wearing and hand cleansing. Of course, the comedy is a highlight as well, particularly from Qavi Khan, Noor Ul Hassan and Irsa Ghazal who are just top-notch with their dialogue delivery. There is little to critique in “Ishq Jalebi.” This is simply a show that makes one happy and is thoroughly enjoyable to watch while providing a solid, meaningful storyline.