Jijaji Chhat Par Hain is hilarious…

After the stupendous success of their flagship show, Bhabhiji Ghar Par Hain, producers Sanjay and Binaifer Kohli, of Edit II Productions, are back with another situational comedy, Jijaji Chhat Par Hain on SAB TV.

And as is our wont, IndianWikiMedia is hot on the heels of the serial, to bring to you– our lovely readers– a true-blue, honest-to-goodness review. So here goes-

There abounds a huge cache of notions in Indian rural culture, revolving around jijas, saalis and chhats. These notions are further perpetuated by racy Bollywood numbers, such as Karan Arjun’s Chhat par soya tha behnoi, and others of the same ilk. So, one expects something similar from Jijaji Chhat Par Hain. But, thankfully, that is not the case.

First out, let us tell you that this serial is pretty decent­­– at least until now, that is. Considering the sugar-coated sexiness of its soul sister, Bhabhiji Ghar Par Hain, and with a name like Jijaji Chhat Par Hain, one obviously anticipated something along similar lines. Yet, right at the beginning, even as we get ready to be bombarded with a barrage of risqué jokes and double-meaning innuendos– a la Bhabhiji– we are pleasantly surprised by the singular lack of sensual overtones and double entendre.

In fact, there is nothing even remotely similar between the two serials. Now that that premise is out of the picture, let’s get down to the basics.

The storyline revolves around two broke and aspiring music directors, Pancham and Pintu, played by Nikhil Khurana and Harveer Singh, respectively. The two best friends from Agra land up in Chandni Chowk, Delhi, in the hopes of kick-starting their music career. In Chandni Chowk, their paths cross with the female protagonist, Elaichi, played by Hiba Nawab, when Pancham, in order to make ends meet, takes up a job with Elaichi’s father, Murari. Elaichi is an over-grown imp, who at the ripe old age of 22, is still in school (anything is possible in Vegas, and on Indian television!).

Murari has a tiny room on his terrace that he rents out, but only to married couples. So Pancham gets Pintu to tog up as a woman, complete with saree, et al, and masquerade as his wife. His ruse works and he gets the room. Elaichi has a huge crush on the dashing Pancham, and so, refuses to call him Bhaiya, preferring to address him as Jijaji instead. She makes umpteen trips to the chhat, to get in a chance to talk to Pancham aka Jijaji. Therein lies the premise of the title- Jijaji Chhat Par Hain. So, let’s not get any wrong ideas about jijas and saalis making out on the proverbial chhat, shall we!

Besides these pivotal roles, there is an entire gamut of ensemble characters- Elaichi’s nagging, but affectionate mother; the neighbourhood, gossip-mongering barber; Murari’s ex-employee, who throws in well-timed punches; Elaichi’s friend Sunita, who develops a crush on Pintu, and a host of others.

The show is genuinely amusing and tickles our funny bone with endearing humour and entertaining situations. Some scenes are hilarious and laugh-out-loud material. The show also scores a perfect ten in characterisation. Each character is superbly etched out and finely nuanced. The performances are excellent, although we found Hiba Nawab a tad bit ott, but maybe, that is what her role demands. Coz Elaichi is naughty, impish, headstrong, and operates with a mind of her own.

Nikhil Khurana is lovable as Pancham. He wins our hearts over, with his accomplished boy-next-door acting chops. Anup Upadhyay as Murari is right on target. He’s truly comical in some scenes. The real revelation is Harveer Singh, who plays the role of a man in drag with understated élan. This role could have turned out to be totally cringe-worthy, obnoxious and raising-a-stink-types – like cheap wine, gone bad– as is the case with most such parts. However, Harveer Singh infuses it with graceful subtlety, elegance and poise. No hamming here, to spoil it all. Harveer Singh’s fake-wife act deserves all-round applause,in our opinion.

The direction is stellar. The attention to detail, the expressions of the actors, the way each scene pans out, tiny nuances that stand out nevertheless- all these hint at a job well done. The dialogues are extremely well-written, with brilliant turns of phrase, well-placed puns and hilarious punch-lines. Take a bow, Shashank Bali and Manoj Santoshi, director and writer of the show, respectively.

One thing that stands out like a sore thumb is the dialect of the actors. Considering that the show is set in Chandni Chowk primarily, the typical Chandni Chowk tone is glaringly missing in the way the characters talk. Not even one actor gets the distinctive dilliwala tone right. This leads to a jarring dissonance between the characterisations, the supposed setting and the dialect.

This light-hearted comedy is bound to be burdened by comparisons with Bhabhiji Ghar Par Hain, the super-successful show by the same producers. In fact, it is inevitable, given the similar sounding names of the two shows. At every step of the way, Jijaji will have to contend with innumerable comparisons with its famous predecessor. The makers know that, and have, therefore, consciously avoided even the teeniest bit of similarity between the two shows.

Let’s hope that the comparisons do more good, than harm, to the fortunes of the show. We would rate it 4 out of 5 stars.

(Written by Rashmi Paharia)

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