Saturday, August 27, 2005

Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin

Three identities, two incarnations, one makeover. Three different careers, two failed relationships, one funeral. Two years on prime time and fluctuating TRP ratings notwithstanding ‘Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin’. The last twenty months have been witness to the most discussed serial on prime time T.V. in India. Aired on Sony T.V. between 9:30 P.M. and 10.P.M. Monday to Thursday, Jassi – the metaphorical girl-next-door-with-dreams-of-making-it-big has treaded the thorny path with much gusto and air.

The tale of the girl with the archetypal ‘middle-class upbringing’ needs no further introduction. Horn rimmed spectacles, braces, high collar salwar suits, and a rustic walking style have been used to drive home the idea that a girl intelligent enough to top school and earn an MBA degree, has still not learnt the ways of the world. She joins ‘Gulmohar’ a fashion house, where she is ridiculed for her dressing sense and her looks, till she shows them that her brains are smarter than her clothes. She falls in love with Armaan Suri – the flirtatious boss with more girlfriends than shipping orders and earns the hatred of Mallika Seth – his fiancĂ©. Through twists and turns in the story, Jassi learns the way of the world of glamour and undergoes a makeover that transforms her into a supermodel glam doll called Jessica Bedi. She still essentially remains the girl-next-door and more sordid tales in her eventful life force her to turn runaway bride minutes before her marriage to Armaan and escape in a boarding school disguised as Neha Shastri- the widowed history teacher.

JJKN reflects the growing trend in society that looks are indeed everything. The increasing scorn of the so called ‘middle-class values’ of sobriety and temperance perhaps indicates the spate of things to come. That she is chided for her simple looks and later admired as a super model could have an adverse impact on the millions of simple and ‘middle-class’ women in India for whom academic excellence has hitherto been the only parameter of success. Add to the fact that in Gulmohar nearly all the staff is not only well dressed but also reasonably good-looking thereby making Jassi stick out like a sore thumb. Commercial gains could have possibly prompted the makers of JJKN to portray reality in extremes. She is the famous model Jessica Bedi, but nobody recognizes her in the boarding school in Nainital despite the fact that some students there are very fashion conscious. No matter where Jassi goes, she encounters a mother figure and an adversary and ofcourse a renewed love interest. To add to the murky waters, she has run away from home, yet her parents make no effort to find her, but Aryan Seth, Mallika’s scheming brother does. Thankfully, Jessica has not abandoned her ‘middle-class’ salwar kameez and spectacles (they have become rimless now) in favor western wear as would conventionally befit a super model.

Mona Singh Aluwahlia (she was not allowed to reveal her identity for almost two years) has done a fantastic job and needs to be applauded. Apoorva Agnihotri after a failed career in films joined JJKN as the flamboyant Armaan Suri. He’s not much of an actor, but he’ll do. The talented Rakshanda Khan plays Mallika Seth with vengeance. We love to hate her. Perhaps, no description of Jassi can be complete without a mention of Nandu- her childhood friend, her pillar of support and indeed her moral conscience. Nandu is the friend we would all love to have and despite all the ups-and-downs in Jassi’s life, the one thing that she can always take for granted is her friendship with Nandu.

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