May 5, 2013
Qubool Hai (Zee TV) is that token item, that rarity which keeps us Indians living firmly and happily under the illusion that we are secular people. It’s a soap opera with a slightly different jhaag — instead of the usual Hindu Gujaratis, Hindu Rajasthanis, Hindu UPites, it gives us Bhopali Muslims.
As of now it’s a love story set in a large, feuding family. The romance between Zoya and Asad is at a budding stage, and enough syappas have been created by sundry family members for the two to stay confused and very busy.
Because the show’s main characters are Muslim, the writers have got the licence to extend all families in all directions, and they seem out of control. Most husbands have two wives, who in turn have many children. There are phoofis and ammis galore, and most of them have been involved in such high-voltage dramas at family gatherings that anyone can be summoned at any time to be a speed breaker in the nanha-munna romance.
Like in all TV serials, yahan bhi ladies plot and scheme. Same intrigues, similar kalesh, except that ladies’ cheeks here are tamatar red and hair is often orange. Qubool Hai is as silly as other serials, but less offensive. Its annoying quotient is brought down a couple of notches by the general tehzeeb and adab: Bibi Zoya Farooqui comes up with wahiyat plans to help miyan Asad Khan to avoid marrying her.
I am quite taken in by this serial. Because, first toh, instead of gujia, puri and ladoo, there’s fish and gosht on the dinner table. And, because, the hero is called Mr Khan. Mr Khan is so much more romantic than Mr Kukreja, Mr Shreedharan or Mr Chatterjee. Not to be prejudiced or anything, but the name Khan packs in a romance that, for me at least, goes back to my school days.
In our colony there lived one Mr Khan who wore the sexiest spectacles and rode a Red Yamaha 350 cc bike that was to be found every evening of many gorgeous months maroing chakkars, in true maut ka kuan style, of our block of flats. Every time it crossed my bedroom window, it would rev up and go vroom, vroom. I would be lolling by the window, curtain drawn, waiting for that madhur dhwani. Radha won’t have waited for Krishna’s bansuri with the eagerness with which I waited for that vroom, vroom.
On hearing the first notes of vroom, vroom, I would charge into the shortest skirt ever made by humans and dash out, pretending to be on some urgent mission while my head buzzed with a gazillion dancing smilies. After many days of this imbecility, Mr Khan finally crossed my path one day, stopped his bike and said, “Hello! I really like you. Do you know my name?”
I knew his name, of course. But, at that precise moment, all my brain cells decided to gush out of my wide-open mouth, Niagara Falls style, while my hormones started doing kathakali, jerking their heads this way and that, eyebrows dancing and all. Temple bells were ringing in my left ear, and Ajmer Sharif’s maghrib azaan was coming in from the right. The gods had heard my prayers and sent me a dude. I wanted to swing from trees, Tarzan like, and yell. But I was idiot 16. I kept a straight face and said, “Ya, Something Khan.”
Mr Khan smiled, and said, “Will you go out with me?”
I had bagged Olympic gold. He was the dude, the king dude of C2B block, Janak Puri, and he was asking me out. Ahan-ahan! I could picture my mother, too: A slightly dodgy Kashmiri Pandit running bare feet to Vaisho Devi, arms raised to the sky and wailing. What joy!
But I stood there silently, shouting at all my face muscles, individually, “Statue! Statue!”
Mr Khan said something as I walked away. I didn’t hear him. I was busy blowing invisible kisses, and my heart had jumped out and was perched on that Red Yamaha, smiling and whispering, “I love you already, Something Khan”.
On that day, at that moment, when all his friends were pretending not to look and all the girls were staring at me, I had a taste of my first heady drink. Now I know what it’s called. It’s Jack Daniel’s, on the rocks.
As I watch Qubool Hai again tonight, I’ll pour myself another peg of that warm liquid gold in a crystal glass and whisper, “Cheers, Something Khan, wherever you are.”