So there is slow paced and then there is crawling at the speed of a snail on heroin. And things were going so well!
There is a need to establish characters and situations and inner lives and strives, but having spent time on this the narrative needs to move on. Today was sluggish and more of the same and relying solely on the Bhatti factor for laughs and levity.
Some trends continue from last time nicely tying in and expanding on the idea of being in limbo over ones visa status, to Bhatti sahib’s immigration interview, to the disheartened visa rejects and very real threat of xenophobic violence that cabdrivers (and really all of us) face on the streets of New York and elsewhere in this land of the free and lets impose it elsewhere.
The narrative so far has touched on interesting themes, whether they are going to explore them with any depth however, remains to be seen.
For now, it is Bhatti sahib who is the glue that’s holding Jackson Heights together. He’s at ease taking on the relationship of “do number wala kaam” and I suspect his respect for Alia and Salma shot up a few notches by their underhand suggestions. Also good to note that Salma is challenging Bhatti sahib’s ideas of what goes on in a beauty salon which involves hair in well, lets say quite a different way than he imagines.
Imran Bhatti works because of Nauman Ijaz, no two ways about it. His genuine puzzlement about “maine toh ye kaam nahi seekha” is hilarious. This caring do-gooder for his desi friends, turns on the charm when he needs to – making breakfast and worming his way back into his wife’s good books. While Mehreen Jabbar too had her Hitchcockian moment, the scenes of him preying on his riders were getting a tad repetitive
Where mamu is stealing the limelight, can his bhanja be far behind? The reason this episode still worked somewhat was the limbo status of Jamshed’s visa. Caught in this no man land of little to no information, curt but polite voices refusing to divulge any information on which his – and many other- lives still hinge on – is a terrible state of being in the unknown.
It can lead to dark depressing thoughts and everything from resentment, anger, annoyance, despair, and finally resignation all notes that Adeel Husain hit. Our brash Jamshed was forced to eat his words but not for very long when that one phone call he was ready to gamble it again, cockiness back, standing a little straighter even if he didn’t know how it would pan out.
Unfortunately it would have worked better, had we not known the outcome beforehand. Previews and promos are pretty much spoilers for anyone enjoying a well told story and here too we can’t quite travel the emotional journey with Jamshed, because we already know where he will end up.
Meanwhile Rizwan (who by now has firmly chosen to say Mumbai – sigh, sheds a silent tear – come on! Team Jackson Heights! Thought you had progressive politics!) is busy sprucing up his bachelor pad for his sisters visit and who better to help than his maid and cook, um, sorry, friend with (out) benefits – Michelle.
Turns out he’s been waiting for her for 15 years. Of course, not telling her might be part of the problem. And yes, he does tell her in his own way but one, you know the direct – heart to heart conversation, or hard evidence in the form of some jewellery, would have done the trick and put them both on the straight and narrow.
I’m getting antsy about this track much as I love both Adnan Jaffer and Marina Khan. Camaraderie? Yes, they have it in droves but really something about their conversations is repetitive. Someone please answer me this – have these women not seen SRK’s eyes or abs?? Then whhyyy must you Pakistani ladies persist in this lackluster defense of a man who can make three generations of women cry along with him?? Step. It. Up. Your Indian credibility is terribly shaky at this point.
I want to love Jackson Heights because it has the right mix of ingredients – a seasoned writer, nuanced director and stellar actors. I just wonder why there is no flavor of the bustling South Asian hub that is Jackson Heights. I have to say in comparison Bilqees Kaur was far better in capturing an essence of South Asian slice of life in NY.
The camera remains distant, the atmosphere very sterile and with the exception of Rizwan’s pad which is bang on character, the rest are almost too posh. Bhatti sahib’s house seems comfortably upper middle class, the salon too neat, the restaurant too generic as are the shots of NY.
Kuch toh masala daal dein, zyaka ussi se toh hota hai.
MM(aka A musing Muslim)