“Jalan” is back on our screens after rumors of yet another ban. The controversy surrounding this show has been ongoing and shows no sign of letting up, which is also, in turn, bringing in high viewership. Starring Minal Khan, Emmad Irfani, Areeba Habib, Fahad Sheikh and Hajra Yamin in lead roles, the story follows Misha and Asfandyar, a happily married couple that falls apart when Misha’s sister, Nisha, begins an affair with Asfandyar. The show has been written by Sidra Seher Imran and directed by Aabis Raza.
In episode 21, Asfandyar (Emmad Irfani) and Nisha (Minal Khan) have now left Kinza’s (Nadia Hussain) home and have moved into a smaller house with Sajida and the baby. Much to Asfandyar’s shock, he realizes that Kinza was right and Nisha will never accept his son. Slowly, Asfandyar is realizing Nisha is a greedy, selfish woman who never really loved him. But what about Asfandyar? He treated his wife terribly and is a character easily as bad as Nisha.
The most impactful part of the episode is Ahmer’s reunion with Misha’s parents. While Misha’s mother (Sajida Syed) is overjoyed to see Ahmer and lovingly welcomes him, Misha’s father (Mohammad Ahmed) is overcome with guilt and is unable to make eye contact with him. Ashamed to speak to Ahmer, he sadly apologizes to him as Ahmer consoles him and they hug. This reunion is realistically written and enacted by the trio, as family members do put their differences aside in the wake of tragedy – and Ahmer is well aware of how much tragedy his aunt and uncle have faced in recent times. Ahmer is deeply affected by Misha’s death and now, after seeing her parents in such a state, it’s clear that he will use Nisha’s renewed interest in him (read: in his money) to his advantage. Mohammad Ahmed, Sajida Syed and Fahad Sheikh shine in this scene, the only scene truly worthwhile in the episode.
Unfortunately, despite his caring side, Ahmer is still proving to be the “Nisha” in his own relationship, completely neglecting Areej (Hajra Yamin), his wife. Areej is left wondering what’s wrong with her, whether she is unlovable and many other things that are bringing down her self-esteem and self-worth. Ahmer has been hurt badly by Nisha, but despite seeing what she has done to everyone around him, he is not appreciating his own kind-hearted wife. This is the angle we, as viewers, want to see. The audience wants to see Ahmer falling for his own wife, realizing that selfish, cruel partners are not the only kind and that he is worthy of and capable of love again. However, it doesn’t seem like this will actually be a story arc and the story with Ahmer and Areej will not be given the attention it deserves – which will be a missed opportunity.
To make matters worse, the editing in this episode is terrible and the episode itself appears to be a filler episode created with scrapped scenes. How else can it be explained that Asfandyar, who has already taken back his son because of Misha’s death, is seen in shock after the big “reveal” that Misha is dead? Asfandyar has now found out about Misha’s death twice – and the second time around, he’s having a reaction of shock, while the first time around, he rushed out of the house to reclaim his son. How is this logical? While the direction by Aabis Raza is slick, this drama falters with the writing. While some scenes are strong (example: the scene between Misha’s parents and Ahmer), the direction the story has taken is disappointing. Honestly, most of the story of “Jalan” is a case of a missed opportunity. What should have been a story about Nisha’s mental health and Misha and Ahmer finding love/independence after failed relationships is instead just a revenge story focused on a bad sister. The chaos and thrills may be there, but the substance is not.