“Jalan” is a show that has kept viewers hooked over the last several months with Nisha’s antics. Minal Khan’s Nisha is a character that viewers didn’t necessarily love to hate – they simply hated her. And yet, as a character, she certainly made things interesting. The show also stars Areeba Habib, Emmad Irfani, Fahad Sheikh and Hajra Yamin in prominent roles. Written by Sidra Sehar Imran and directed by Aabis Raza, “Jalan” finally comes to its conclusion. How did it fare? Let’s discuss!
While I’d like to focus on some overall thoughts about the show, it wouldn’t be a finale review without discussing the finale itself. Here are some quick (or not so quick?) thoughts I had on the finale itself. First of all, there’s a very bizarre scene in the beginning where Nisha (Minal Khan) basically loses it and starts shoving Areej around randomly and tries to kick her out of the house. The entire sequence looks nonsensical, because Areej isn’t a ragdoll and can certainly give it back to Nisha, but she’s flopping around and running into the room, scared of the ranting and raving Nisha. Ahmer (Fahad Sheikh) finishes his meeting and comes home to find Nisha standing there, again behaving in a nonsensical way, blocking his path and then pushing and shoving him. What’s with all the pushing? It’s meaningless and directionless. And then suddenly, Ahmer commands her to stop and scolds her like a child, telling her to go upstairs – and she listens. But why? What was going through the team’s head when they wrote/directed/enacted this unnecessary sequence?
Areej and Ahmer leave Nisha on her own and head back to Lahore, happily greeted by Sajeela (Sajida Syed) and Humaira (Maira Khan). Areej’s pregnancy is also announced, much to the joy of this small little family unit. It’s wonderful to see Sajeela finding a happy place for herself, despite everything she went through with her daughters, and of course it’s great seeing Areej and Ahmer happy together. Fahad Sheikh and Hajra Yamin are wonderful together and they deserve another (good) show!
Moving on, Asfandyar (Emmad Irfani) is now deep in depression, the meaning of the OST finally coming into play. Asfandyar is now living in eternal guilt and misery over what he did to Misha (Areeba Habib) and his feelings are eating him up from the inside out. Sidenote: The OST is also used rather generously, playing for a minute at a time with the image of a city on-screen. This is bizarre. Viewers finally get to see Asfandyar acknowledge his own mistakes and his own betrayal towards Misha. It’s no longer about Nisha and he is now suffering not because of his failed marriage to Nisha, but because of how badly he treated Misha. Does it excuse his behavior? Certainly not, but it’s nice to see that he is no longer playing the blame game. Things do not end happily for Asfandyar as he continues to battle with his thoughts and, ultimately, kills himself (Or was it a heart attack?). While Asfandyar was certainly not a good character, there was a strange feeling of redemption for him simply in that he tried to do right by Misha in the end – even if he was the reason she committed suicide. It’s strangely fitting then that he passes away in the same fashion. Still, Kinza (Nadya Hussain) mouths a strange comment at the end about the two being together in eternity, which strikes the audience as just another injustice. Why would Misha want to be with Asfandyar in death when he was so terrible to her in life? We must take a moment to comment on how well Emmad Irfani performs in this episode, even bringing viewers to tears with his performance – which is something I honestly never thought possible for this character. He also looks beautiful in that shawl and shalwar kameez look.
Of course, we cannot have a review on the finale without discussing our beloved Nisha. Nisha’s behavior in this episode is completely erratic and there’s no trigger or really any reason for her to have a “break” like this. Nisha, now alone in the house, begins seeing Misha. It really would’ve been much more interesting if Misha was actually a ghost haunting Nisha, but I guess that’s too much to ask! Instead, Nisha is hallucinating and fighting with Misha, who is blaming Nisha for her death and telling her to stay away from Ahmer. In her discomfort over this mental haunting, Nisha gets into a car and begins driving aimlessly, fighting with “Misha” while driving. Why does she get into a car? I have no idea. Why doesn’t she pull over? I have no idea. Why does this sequence happen? Oh, for this one, I have an idea. This is simply to write Nisha into a certain place in time for the finale – the place where bad is punished in this lifetime. A place where karma finally catches up to the “bad girl.” A place where the viewer feels like there’s a moral at the end of this otherwise moral-less drama. Nisha ends up with her entire face burned, living in a shelter where nurses are openly seen discussing how Nisha was once a beautiful girl who cheated with her brother-in-law, going on to say that some people begin to face punishment for their deeds in this life. This entire end sequence is a load of garbage. How do the nurses know what Nisha looked like before? How do they know she cheated with her brother-in-law? And why is that ending statement such a self-righteous declaration considering it’s coming from two women who are backbiting – which is also a sin! Alright, those are my thoughts on the finale. Now let’s really discuss this.
The problem I tend to have with shows like “Jalan” is simply this: Recently, we saw Fahad Mustafa talking about how shows like “Jalan” and “Nand” are made for entertainment purposes. This is not a problem. Viewers like to be entertained. Viewers like to have shows which are guilty pleasures that bring them some form of entertainment. The problem lies in that in a show like this, a moral is simply not needed. The story that has been chosen is what should be told. Art does imitate reality and stories like this, even if “Jalan” is over the top, are situations that do happen in real life. Characters like Nisha do exist in real life on some level (mind you, in real life, they are called sociopaths and their behavior is not excused by bad parenting and being spoiled). It’s not necessary to justify writing such characters by giving the character a “bura anjaam” (a bad ending). This is not reality. That’s not life. In real life, even good people can have a “bura anjaam.” Bad things do happen to good people. Good things do happen to bad people. These shows need to focus on real life solutions and practical endings. “Jalan” is what I would call a missed opportunity. Nisha should have been shown as a mentally unstable character or a sociopath who goes through life causing destruction everywhere she goes – even after Asfandyar and Ahmer. The biggest flaw in “Jalan” is that Misha (Areeba Habib) was killed off. The focus should have been on giving characters like Ahmer and Misha arcs where their progression from depression to happiness is shown. Misha should have been shown moving on, getting a good education, working and providing for her son, later moving on to find a suitable life partner – while Nisha and Asfandyar continued to make each others lives hell. The satisfying ending should have been that the dumped characters (Misha and Ahmer) find happiness within themselves. Which, sure, some of that is seen with Ahmer as he moves on with Areej, but why couldn’t that arc be focused on more rather than making viewers suffer through Ahmer spending time with Nisha? Asfandyar and Nisha should have stayed married, living unhappily ever after – OR have gotten divorced, but why was Nisha’s face being burned the solution?
People do not always get punished in their lives – rather, it’s the opposite. In reality, a girl like Nisha would still be manipulating her way through life. She would have moved on from Ahmer and latched on to the next man, breaking the next home, mining her way to the next mansion. And this ending would have been more satisfying. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that “Jalan” is a bad show. It was interesting, it held the attention of the audience and it had good actors in it to hold the show together. And yet, it was simply not a strong show. The choices made towards certain characters (most importantly Misha’s) and the time wasted on the Ahmer and Nisha track took away from what the show could have been. After watching a show for five months, one does grow attached to the characters and storyline, so of course “Jalan” is a show that will be missed. That being said, one expects the team to grow and do better next time. This truly was an opportunity missed.