2020’s most controversial Pakistani drama, actually one of the most controversial dramas, Jalan came to a close Wednesday night after 31 painful episodes which had all the ingredients of an over-the-top soap opera. There was a love triangle, infidelity, abortion sprinkled with lots and lots of drama to draw all the haw hais and ensure that audiences are hooked.
As expected and predicted, Jalan ends with Nisha (Minal Khan) losing her wits and ending up in a sorry state with a disfigured face after getting involved in a car accident. On the other hand, Asfi (Emmad Irfani), who spent the final couple of episodes feeling desolate and depressed over everything that transpired died with what we assume was a heart attack – the makers never clarify how he died. Karma finally catches up with the ‘bad’ characters with the makers giving them the end they assumed would satisfy audiences.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t. The last episode was a bit of a drag with Asfi getting constant flashbacks of his life and relationship with Meenu. He seeks redemption by going to her grave and praying and giving away charity in her name – as if that was enough to cover up all the pain he caused her with his actions and callous behaviour. But as always our writers give the heroes an easier end compared to the female protagonist, who has to suffer every day for her sins. Even Kinza Apa (Nadya Hussain) in the end prayed that Asfi and Meenu would reunite in heaven.
Nisha, on the other hand, has a sudden bout of pagalpan in which she starts dragging and pushed Areej (Hajra Yamin) out of the house. In an attempt to protect herself, Areej locks herself up in her room till Ahmer (Fahad Sheikh) comes home and orders Nisha to her room. And Nisha obediently listens to him and goes upstairs to sleep. When she wakes up, she starts seeing Meenu (Areeba Habib) which causes her to lose her mind further and she eventually ends up crashing her car and burning her face. I’m no expert, but from whatever little knowledge I have, I am assuming that Nisha clearly had psychological issues and instead of getting her proper help, her family abandoned her and let her become a mess. They never really addressed the problem and in the end, packed up and left her alone.
Areej and Ahmer are the only ones who got a happy ending with a fulfilling marital life and a baby on the way. Though I have to add that I am still confused over how Ahmer suddenly had a change of heart for Areej. I’d also like to add here that in 31 episodes, never once did we get to see Areej’s family or brother who is married to Ahmer’s sister Humaira (Maira Khan). There were so many loopholes and missing pieces that you wonder if the writer dropped half the script on her way to the sets.
Jalan’s finale was as absurd as the rest of it and the makers only used sensationalism to build up the drama and hype. While the initial couple of episodes could have qualified as a guilt-watch for some, after Meenu died in a tragic and melodramatic manner, things went downhill. The direction and production were weak and the script even poorer. There was a lot of violence in the drama with Nisha being slapped right, left and centre. There was also a scene in which Asfi almost strangled Nisha to death. Such scenes are unwarranted, unnecessary and serve no purpose except to create furor.
The only highlight of the drama, for me was probably the performances. It was refreshing to see Minal play a strong and villainous character unlike the damsel in distress she usually plays and she and Emmad both gave good performances. The scenes in which they fought were actually pretty intense and credit for that goes to them and not to the writer or director.
Jalan has also given Pakistani television and new hero – Fahad Sheikh and a new hit pair – Fahad and Hajra. The two have good onscreen chemistry and it seems like audiences also enjoyed this pairing because their short film Naam Kya Rakha on See Prime gathered a million views within a week of being released.
I, for one, am glad that Jalan has ended and though it unfortunately did leave a mark, I hope that writers and producers will focus on intelligent scripts which along with entertaining audiences also give a positive message – like Sabaat for instance. However, given the success of the show, I have little hope.