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As I continue my journey down memory lane, watching old dramas that I fell in love with and then forgot about as I moved on, I looked up an old guilty pleasure of mine, Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin (There Is No One Like Jassi). This drama was based on the famed Columbian drama, Yo Soy Betty, La Fea. The drama starred Mona Singh and Apoorva Agnihotri, and I enjoyed the drama until it suddenly veered from its template (the one set up by Betty La Fea) and became your typical Indian soap opera. Now, I kind of wish that I had finished the drama, because I’ve heard there were some good parts afterwards, but I can’t seem to find any episodes online, although I have found bits and pieces on Youtube, and the earlier episodes on tudou.com (dubbed in Chinese! which was surprising.)
Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin was about a middle class girl named Jasmeet Walia, shortened to Jassi. Because she was such an ugly duckling, no one would hire her despite her impeccable credentials. Armaan Suri, the chairman of Gulmoher (a fashion house) gave her a chance and hired her. Jassi was grateful for that, and was loyal to Armaan until the end. Jassi became more and more important in Gulmohar, going from a secretary to an assistant, to owning a company called Kohinoor, to finally owning Gulmohar through Kohinoor. Because of her increased power, her importance to Armaan also grew. This man seduced her into believing that he loved her, just so he could control her, and, through her, keep his company. Jassi fell for it, until she found out that his love for her had been a hoax.
Jassi’s plan to get revenge, by making Armaan jealous of her affectionate relationship with her best friend, Nandu, and cutting herself off from Armaan (she is cold, seems uninterested, and won’t spend time with him). We see Armaan getting more and more desperate, and lest the viewer think that Armaan’s concern lies solely with the possible loss of his company, we are told by Armaan and those who know him best (his best friend, Raj), that he is more interested in Jassi and Nandu’s relationship, than he is in the company. Armaan confesses his love for Jassi multiple times, and this time the words aren’t planned; they are not meant to manipulate. Armaan Suri is surprised to find that he feels that sentiment. What he thought was fake, turns out to be only too true. He doesn’t even know when he fell in love with Jassi. Armaan takes any opportunity to touch Jassi, and he wants to hear her declaration of love. He is jealous when Jassi touches another man, and he realizes how much he depends on Jassi, not just for work, but also depends on her to be his emotional mainstay. This man, who only thought of beauty, promises to leave his beautiful fiancé to be with the woman he has come to love. And I believe it. His desperation is too strong to be faked. Even though Jassi gets pulled in every time he confesses (she allows him to hug her, caress her, and seduce her into saying she still loves him), Jassi cannot trust him. After revealing his shenanigans to the board of the company, she leaves.
From here, the drama kind of devolves into your average Indian soap. Jassi returns, transformed into the beauty we all knew she really was, and pretends to be Jessica. Armaan, desperate to find his Jassi, sees hints of her in Jessica. He’s drawn to her, but never is he swayed from his loyalty to his Jassi. Only when he finds out that Jessica is Jassi, does he finally relent. Then we get the romance. Jassi and Armaan enjoy being in love, and then plan their marriage. But on their wedding day, misunderstandings cause Jassi to flee and don a new identity.
And that is when I stopped watching the show, feeling betrayed by the trumped up conflict that split up Armaan and Jassi. He feels that she cheated on him and betrayed him; she feels betrayed that he didn’t trust her. She runs off. And he marries his fiancé, Mallika. From the bits and pieces I have read, when they meet up, Armaan thinks that Jassi has married another. His pain at this realization, his need to touch her, knowing that it is forbidden, and his need to be with her, are brilliantly performed by Apoorva Agnihotri. I don’t quite know what happened after I stopped watching the show. I know that Armaan and Jassi eventually marry. Mallika dies, and a multitude of other people die. But I still love the parts that I watched.
Mona Singh plays Jassi. She beautifully portrays Jassi’s awkwardness, her desire to be appreciated by Armaan Sir, and her vulnerability. It feels as if Mona Singh is Jassi, aided by the fact that they actress kept her real identity secret for a good part of the beginning of the show. When Jassi is transformed, Mona is able to still remind the audience of the older Jassi. Even now, when beautiful, Jassi is still a bit shy, a bit awkward. And, most of all, she loves her Armaan Sir. Even when she knows that she shouldn’t.
Apoorva Agnihotri was the best. I really, really enjoyed his acting, and fell a little bit in love with Armaan Suri, myself. You have to admit, when an actor can make you fall in love with his character, even when the character is deceptive, manipulative, weak, arrogant, and inept, that actor must be great at his job. Jassi couldn’t help but love Apoorva’s Armaan either, even when she knew of his betrayal. Even when she knew that he had married another. She still loved him. She compromised her values for him. And that is the power of the actor. Apoorva Agnihotri portrayed Armaan in such a way, that we, as the audience, could forget his weaknesses and his actions, and remember only that he fell in love with Jassi when she was the ugly duckling. Armaan Suri’s love for Jassi was true, even when he did things that made you question his integrity, his honor, and his humanity.
The chemistry between the two actors was spellbinding. Their desperate need for each other, their desire to touch, even when it was forbidden, and their desire to love fairly flew off of the screen. Watching the drama, it felt as if Jassi and Armaan just belonged together, and the world would be a sad place if they did not get together. The chemistry was at its peak whenever Armaan came close to her, when he cradled her face in his hands and gazed soulfully into her eyes, when he desperately grabbed onto her, not wanting to let her go, and when he tried to get even closer … these are the moments that stick in my mind. To give an example of how powerful their connection felt to me, I heard of another drama where the two did not end up together, and the thought of that makes me sad. I wouldn’t say that Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin was a great drama, or even a good drama. But it was a guilty pleasure, and I enjoyed almost every minute that I watched of it.