HIP Exclusive: Sidra Sahar Imran Speaks About 'Jalan'

“We are not writing stories that are out of this world”: Jalan’s Writer Sidra Sahar Imran.
Updated 07 Oct, 2020 02:46pm

With its explosive take on sibling rivalry, Jalan might be ‘old wine in a new bottle’ story. Nevertheless, the drama has become a topic of heated discussion in the country.

PEMRA wants to ban it, Sindh High Court has no issues with it, and Twitter has deemed it as 'vulgar' while a fraction of the audience believes the drama has a relatable story. However, T.V projects with controversial plots are not new to us. We are introduced to at least one drama every year that depicts ‘questionable content’, gets bashed, its makers are criticized and its cast bullied on social media. But that doesn’t stop either the writers or directors to work on such tales. For them, such stories need to be told to the world and are not supposed to be hushed.

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The Curious Case of a ‘‘Wahiyat Drama’’

With so much of hullaballoo around Jalan, we contacted the writer of the story Sidra Sahar Imran for an unfiltered chat on the topic. Like most of the viewers, we wondered why Sidra penned a tale so contentious in nature. Consequently, we met with the lady behind the fiery plot herself and quipped her all the burning questions we so wanted to ask her.

Sidra was overwhelmed with so much critique on Jalan. But she divulged that the audience has shifted their focus solely on the scandalous affair between the husband and her sister-in-law. On the contrary, she aimed to project a larger matter with the story- the impact of ‘jealousy’ that can wreak havoc in any relation whatsoever.

“Jalan was bashed since its early teasers. People mused that it is a story of a young man having an affair with his sister-in-law. A Twitter trend of ‘Wahiyat Drama’ started against it. However, it is a story based on sister rivalry, jealousy between two sisters. The element of jealousy is present in everyone. There is also a case of bad parenting shown in the tale in Nisha’s case. We have exhibited this since the first episode that began with the scene of online shopping that Nisha always wanted the best for herself. She couldn’t stand her sibling getting better than her. Their mother just hushes the topic, depicting as if Nisha’s behavior is normal for the family. This conduct influenced Nisha’s psyche, making it an obsession for her to get whatever she wants by hook or crook.”

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Sidra stressed that this is a true story and the theme of Jalan is not fictional. Thereby, she shouldn’t be blamed for maligning relations and penning a bitter reality of our society.

“People claim that I have targeted the sanctity of relations. However, in our religion, we have been told to protect these relations, which we don’t in real life. My point is to make the audience realize that a fire will blaze where there is a possibility of it to ignite. We, as writers, are not writing stories that are out of this world. These are tales of our people that live in our society. These are life stories and Jalan is a true story”, claimed Sidra.

Sidra’s intention might be all in good-nature. But Jalan caused a massive fire with its broadcast. Rising complaints caught the media watch-dog, PEMRA’s eye. How will she defend PEMRA’s motive to ban it and people’s perception of its story crossing societal limits, we couldn’t help asking her.

“There were a lot of complaints that caused PEMRA to release the notice. We have an educated audience and most of them are reacting without thinking. But they are watching it as well, either because they relate to it or they are watching it out of curiosity. The more Jalan is getting rejected, the more it is getting hit as well. It is the success of any drama that people get forced to watch it nevertheless. I don’t think there is anything unnatural shown in Jalan. The plot has been drawn as per the nature of the characters. Everything has been exhibited step by step because our intention was never solely focused on the affair between Nisha and Asfand.”

Grey Shades of Asfand & Nisha’s Problematic Streak

Those who have been following Jalan since the beginning will agree that they were surprised by how swiftly Asfand began falling for his sister-in-law, Nisha. Educated and a total dreamboat, Asfand had it all- the looks, money, a booming business, a sophisticated personality- everything a girl will desire in a life partner.

But his well-composed, good-natured persona smashed the minute he began responding to Nisha’s charms. He remained ignorant of how stubborn and bitter Nisha appeared to be towards his wife, Misha. It puzzled us: Why such a saintly husband turned out to be so weak? However, Sidra states that she never characterized him as the 'oh-so-perfect man'.

“Since the beginning, Asfand had a flaw in his personality and that’s why he went astray. He was never an angel and we never made his character as perfect. He was educated, handsome, appeared sober but he too had some faults. The minute Nisha provoked him, he started to lose it all. Men are claimed as the ‘bird of discovery’. He wants to explore the skies and new worlds. Man becomes helpless when it comes to a woman. When a lady will try to seduce a man, the probability is he will get allured by her. The same Asfand who denied to marry her earlier, later said yes when she tried to harm herself for him. He realized that she can go to any lengths to attain him and got smitten by her attempts,” asserts Sidra.

As per the writer, a corrupt Asfand was drawn to an equally immoral Nisha. However, it appears as if our female antagonist had a severe case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Self-centered, arrogant, and cunning to the core, nobody noticed the problematic patterns in Nisha’s behavior. So much so, she manipulated everyone, broke her engagement, and ended up stealing her sister’s husband. Is it us or she really needs help?

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Sidra too agreed that she didn’t fashion Nisha as normal, “Since the beginning, Nisha wanted everything to herself. Her parents never thought that she needs a balance in her life and teach her to do so. This happens so commonly in our homes. We tell the elder child to sacrifice for the younger. Our behavior has become normal that we compel one member to keep giving and enable the other to keep taking, which cause a big dent in relationships.

We have shown through different scenes that Nisha has certain abnormal traits. We don’t have much awareness in our country and we classify that only outwardly crazy people should seek therapy. Nisha’s parents are like common blind people of our society that didn’t realize that their daughter needs to visit a psychiatrist and that such people appear normal being abnormal.”

Waiting for Karma to Strike

Now that people have gotten used to Jalan and its stormy subject, the audience is waiting for the worst possible punishment for Nisha.

But what about Misha? Will she take a stand up for herself? Will Asfand realize his mistakes and return to his wife? Though we don’t believe he even deserves Misha, there is a possibility that the plot can surprise us with Misha and Asfand’s reunion.

“Since Asfand divorced Misha while she was pregnant, he has an option to pursue her as per religious laws. The audience is guessing that he might return to Misha. And we have kept this as an open-ended mystery for viewers. Now after all these episodes, everyone is craving to see how karma hits Nisha. They want to see her suffer for her wrong-doings” added Sidra.

Surely, we are waiting for what fate the writer has penned for Nisha. Earlier, it was Meray Pass Tum Ho that had ignited an even bigger brouhaha with its spicy love-triangle and portraying the heroine as the one who is disloyal in a relationship. However, the hero was the one who died in the end.

We couldn’t help asking Sidra what she thinks of such love triangles and Khalil Ur Rehman Qamar’s writing.

“Khalil Ur Rehman claims that a woman should be the ‘Goddess of Love’. He wants both his male and female hero to be loyal in love. But there is always a rival in between. It has been since ‘Habil’ and ‘Cabil’ that Aqleema came in between them. So the first murder in this world has been due to a woman only. It is a universal truth that there is always the third rival in love, making love triangles a universal truth.

I did agree with certain of his points and I like him as a writer a lot. Any writer who is willing to do something different is my favorite. Some of my most admired writers are Noor Ul Huda Shah, Fasih Bari, BeeGul, Zafar Mairaj, Zanjabeel, Umaira, Faiza Iftikhar, Saji Gul and Adeel Razzaq.”

Let’s hope that the ending is in Misha’s favor in the story. After all, she has been through a lot and shouldn’t pay for Asfand’s betrayal. What more furor Jalan plans to ensue, let’s wait and watch.