Why Emmad Irfani and Minal Khan starrer, Jalan is the talk of the town!
The Emmad Irfani and Minal Khan starrer, Jalan has been the talk of the town since it started airing on ARY Digital on June 17, 2020. Having been banned by PEMRA on two occasions on account of promoting immoral content and going against the norms of the country, Jalan is the story of Nisha who, out of sheer jealously, lures her brother-in-law into cheating on his wife and her sister and marrying her. Upon realizing that he does not match up to her idea of him and that her former fiancé has considerably risen in society, she begins to villainize her husband and lean toward the ex-fiancé.
While the drama is being criticized from having a lewd contextual premise, there’s plenty of other fronts on which it is highly problematic. While Minal Khan’s character, Nisha, emerges as the dominant evil force in all her seductive self-serving glory, it escapes many how deeply entrenched patriarchal misogyny is within our system. Although this takes the backfoot throughout the plot, on many an instance I found myself wondering whether the overarching negativity of Nisha’s character really outweighed the parts of her that were just about her taking a stand for herself.
In the first few episodes we see Ahmar who is head over heels in love with Nisha who doesn’t seem to care for his borderline-obsession. Going in, I knew Nisha was clearly the bad guy and I was to simply pick up on signs of her demented psyche but I still found myself in various ‘…hold on a minute’ moments where Ahmar seems to be imposing his ‘love’ on Nisha while being physically and verbally aggressive when she insisted, she didn’t feel the same anymore. Granted that Nisha had ulterior motives, I can’t seem to look past the fact that it still remains well within her rights to change her mind and choose to walk away from a relationship especially one that hasn’t been formalized into a marriage either.
While there is a lot more to be said about Ahmar’s very concerning displays of forced affection and resulting despondence, let’s also look Asfand; Nisha’s former brother-in-law and current husband. Previously when Asfand was married to Misha (or Meenu, her more frequently used nickname) he seemed very pleased with his wife for as long as she served him like a faithful servant (for lack of a better word) but raises his hand without a second thought when she misplaces one of his work files. Regardless of Nisha’s behavior, later on in the drama Asfand is seen raising his hand at her as well multiple times and all of this convoluted evil-doing really has me wondering whether it’s all about the seemingly bigger evil.
In trying to compartmentalize and place people, situations, and occurrences in black and white, we often try to weigh people’s bad deeds against one another and upon identifying who is ‘more wrong’, we completely absolve the other of all blame and responsibility. Perhaps that is why nobody seems to be talking about how wrong Asfand has been. Perhaps that’s why some people even go as far as to empathize with him for having lost his loving wife and being tricked into marrying this outright insolent monster. Perhaps that’s why we don’t see all the things that are very wrong with Asfand other than his unfaithfulness and downright stupidity.
At one point after Asfand’s second-marriage to Nisha continues to crumble, he begins to hallucinate about his former wife, Meenu, to whom he says that he brought her into his life to take care of her. A point of contention we keep seeing between Asfand and Nisha is her refusing to do things he asks of her like ironing his clothes, making him tea when she’s dressed to leave the house. To be completely honest, at more than one point, this had me asking myself, ‘why the hell can’t this seemingly perfectly able man do these things himself or let the house help do them?’
So, my questions to fellow viewers, at the end of the day are:
Is the message we are trying to perpetuate one of discerning the greater evil and vindicate the lesser evil of all blame?
Is the idea we are trying to perpetuate one of timid subservience being the sole determinant of a good wife?