“Ishq Jalebi” is the last of the Ramadan shows to come to a close and its finale is a bittersweet moment, bringing a close to this period of light-hearted content. This also marks the end of the Basim-Bela love story, which viewers have grown incredibly attached to. The “Ishq Jalebi” family has become a part of our own families, our day to day lives for the past month, and it’s difficult to let go. But all good things must come to an end and “Ishq Jalebi” winds up the last leg of its story. Starring Wahaj Ali, Madiha Imam, Noor Ul Hassan, Hina Bayat, Kashif Mehmood, Irsa Ghazal, Mehmood Aslam, Shaista Jabeen, Maryam Noor, Usama Khan and, of course, Qavi Khan as Bauji, this drama has been written by Saima Akram Chaudhry and directed by Syed Wahajat Hussain.
Generally when one sees a two-hour finale, it’s assumed that all loose ends will be rushed and wound up in an unsatisfying way. But “Ishq Jalebi” not only rises above expectations but leaves its audience cheering. While there were a few episodes that felt like a let-down, overall, the finale more than made up for it, not only finally giving fans much-needed Basim and Bela scenes, but also some wonderful, heart-warming scenes of bonding between the family members.
In the finale, there’s a lot left to unpack and fortunately, it all unravels in a palatable way. After finding out that Bela (Madiha Imam) refused to accept the house in her name from Bauji/Mohammad Boota (Qavi Khan), Sajjo (Irsa Ghazal) gives her an earful, which Bauji overhears, prompting him to break off Vicky (Usama Khan) and Bela’s engagement. This scene could have been over the top and come across as forced, but the way it has been handled comes across as realistic. It’s a great plus that while Esha (Maryam Noor) and Vicky (Usama Khan) have been perfect “kabaab-mein-haddis,” they manage to redeem themselves after their engagements break off. While Vicky spots Basim and Bela together and records a video, essentially outing them (for their own good), Esha takes a much-needed stand for her own future. It’s icing on the cake that both manage to find potential life partners in Gulfaam (who has been a great last-minute addition!) and Bela’s friend Sufia.
What’s wonderful about the Basim and Bela relationship is the comfort the characters (and clearly the actors) feel with one another, their love for each other visible through their body language. Wahaj Ali and Madiha Imam’s chemistry is effortless, shining through in every frame this duo shares with one another. In the finale, after their wedding is announced, the audience is treated to some of the sweetest, most realistic romantic scenes that make the viewer grin from ear to ear with the innocence and excitement of the characters. “Ishq Jalebi” has done a lot of things right – and a few things wrong – but the team has done wonders with the Bela and Basim romance, building up the angst to such a point that viewers are cheering with joy by the finale, finally seeing their beloved “BelSim” happily together. Basim and Bela are the heartbeat and pulse of the show. But if they are the heartbeat, it’s “Bauji” who is the heart itself.
Some of the best moments in the finale are between Bauji, Rafaqat (Mehmood Aslam) and Sadaqat (Kashif Mehmood). While Boota’s sons have taken a long time to get there, closed off conditions due to covid have made them realize the error of their ways. There’s a wonderful moment where Mohammad Boota scolds his sons and daughters-in-law for how they left, but also states that he’s thankful for covid-19, because it allowed the entire family to spend time together under one roof after many years. One would have to be stone-hearted to not shed a tear or two during this scene, as many can see themselves, their own parents or grandparents in his place. The beauty of this show has always been the realism. While the show may have over-the-top characters like Sajjo or Phupo, there isn’t anything unrealistic about them – one can imagine their own intrusive or loud family members in Phupo or Sajjo. Likewise, the familial relationships touch the heart. Boota struggles between his love for his sons and his anger towards their abandonment. The moment when he finally accepts Rafaqat and Sadaqat’s apology is brilliant, reducing the viewer to tears and laughing out loud at the same time. Qavi Khan is the heart and soul of the show, making Bauji so lovable, the audience accepts him as their own. And he has great support with Mehmood Aslam and Kashif Mehmood.
Irsa Ghazal deserves a special mention for her performance as Sajjo. It requires a very talented actress to essentially play a “villain” and yet induce laughter fits with her loud, animated Punjabi and hilarious one-liners. Of course, Sajjo’s scenes would be incomplete without “Aashu,” Noor Ul Hassan as Aashiq Hussain. It’s the banter between Sajjo and Aashiq that quickly became one of the highlights of the show. Throw in Shaista Jabeen as Nikki and this trio is a laugh riot. These three actors clearly work very well together and their relationship feels very much as though we’re watching real siblings/cousins. Noor Ul Hassan has given the best performance of his career in this show – and that’s difficult to beat, considering the body of work he has behind him. But Aashiq Hussain is a character that will be remembered for decades to come with his dialogues and even his relationship with his wife, Iffat (Hina Bayat). The Aashiq-Iffat duo have been real “couple goals,” watching their bond, their loyalty to one another and their hilarious exchanges.
Overall, “Ishq Jalebi” has not simply been an entertaining Ramadan show. It has been a meaningful story about the parents of immigrants, those left behind while their children seek out greater pastures, and how they are affected in their absence. It’s a story about family bonds and loyalty, a story about repairing relationships and fighting for rights within those family ties. It’s a story about young love and fighting for that love against all odds. Saima Akram Chaudhry and Syed Wajahat Hussain (and the entire team) deserve a round of applause for giving us a show that will go down in the books as a classic. This is Pakistani drama excellence.