“Ishq Jalebi” is the sort of show that comes along rarely, a show that’s so realistic in its depictions of life, and yet manages to keep the overall feel of the show light-hearted, humorous and happy – even when the situations are not particularly happy. Starring Wahaj Ali, Madiha Imam, Noor Ul Hassan, Hina Bayat, Qavi Khan, Kashif Mehmood, Irsa Ghazal, Shaista Jabeen and Mehmood Aslam, this is an incredibly talented ensemble cast. The story has been written by Saima Akram Chaudhry of “Suno Chanda” and “Chupke Chupke” fame and has been directed by Syed Wajahat Hussain, who has also directed “Khuda Aur Mohabbat 3.”
In episode 9, Baila (Madiha Imam), Sadaqat (Kashif Mehmood) and Vicky (Usama Khan) rush Dada Ji/Mohammad Boota (Qavi Khan) to the hospital after he falls ill. During this time, his real caregivers, Basim (Wahaj Ali), Ashiq Hussain (Noor Ul Hassan) and Iffat (Hina Bayat) are left out in the cold – and they sure do feel it. While Sadaqat is seen regretting his behavior, Vicky and Baila’s bond continues to grow, something which Basim does not like. Baila is still angry with Basim and in this bickering, Iffat overhears the truth about Hina and her purpose for being there. Of course, the two get a scolding and this turns the tables with Basim now angry at Baila. Of course, this leaves more room for Vicky to step in and attempt to fill Basim’s space, something which is leading to heavy resentment from Basim.
It goes unsaid that one finds themselves sympathizing wholeheartedly with Basim and Ashiq Hussain. This father-son duo has had to manage this business over the years, not by choice, but because Sadaqat and Rafaqat took off and left for greater pastures – and that too, by stealing from their own father. These men were ashamed of their father’s profession, but not too ashamed to take the property and cash earned from that very profession to built a better life for themselves. Whatever regrets they may have now, it has been Ashiq and Basim’s hard work that has built the business up from one shop to a five-location franchise. While Sadaqat and Sajeela may be eying the business, its profits and success, is it fair for them to even dream of trying to claim the business as their own?
This is where Mohammad Boota, also known as “Dada Ji,” goes wrong. While he may harbor animosity towards his own sons and has given control to his daughter, Iffat (Hina Bayat) and her family, he still has a soft spot for them and this business was always “intended” for them. This is not lost on Basim, who has always had greater dreams, but has worked hard for his grandfather – who has always been harsh with him. Is it a surprise then that Basim has grown envious of Vicky (Usama Khan)? This is in part due to Baila’s (Madiha Imam) attention towards him, but it has been heightened by his grandfather’s devoted attention and affection for Vicky – an affection he feels he has never been on the receiving end of, despite being the grandson who has done the most for him.
While the relationship between Basim and Baila, played wonderfully by Madiha Imam and Wahaj Ali, is the real pull for watching the show, one cannot overlook how brilliant the supporting cast is, particularly Noor Ul Hassan. Noor Ul Hassan is shining as Ashiq Hussain, leaving the audience in splits with his antics and witty comebacks. The banter between Ashiq Hussain and Sajeela is a true highlight of the show, the two constantly bickering and taunting each other. The 50 mL of cologne bit is one that’s hard to forget – or keep a straight face through. This entire show is full of brilliant actors, beginning with Qavi Khan right down to the actor who plays Rocket.
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There’s only one problem with “Ishq Jalebi” – and that’s that this show is not meant to be a “Ramadan show.” By nature, Ramadan shows are essentially light-hearted and do not require much thought, focusing on family relationships, but through humor more than anything. “Ishq Jalebi” does not fall into this category. This is a wonderful, meaningful, heartfelt show that deserved to be aired as a week-by-week show with regular programming, allowing the viewer to enjoy each episode and absorb the humor. The humor in “Ishq Jalebi” is not forced or over-the-top. It’s subtle, nuanced and relies on the natural banter between the characters. This is a strong story about family values, how relationships are strengthened and destroyed and about recognizing the true value of love. There’s a lot to unpack with “Ishq Jalebi” and it deserves not only success, but is a show that should be watched by all lovers of quality Pakistani dramas.