The post is the unedited copy of the review published in MAG the Weekly, on: March 05, 2016 (Page 24). Print copy attached.
‘Bachaana’ Needs No Saving
By Mohammad Kamran Jawaid
I suppose small, uncomplicated stories are in at the moment. While they may not work for most motion pictures, the lack of too much detail, suit Bachaana, the debut of director Nasir Khan, starring Sanam Saeed and Mohib Mirza, just fine.
Now, those of you who know me (or my writing), know that I am unbiased when reviewing motion pictures, whether I know the people behind them or not. In this case, my prior conversations with the director, nor my familiarity with EverReady, the distributor of the film, have little to no influence on the review. (Little, because, yes, some days you tend to side with some decisions the filmmakers have gone with, in contrast to being harshly agnostic from the get-go). Isn’t that how film reviews work, right?
You see, there is a reason why I brought this point up: reviews often tend to congratulate motion pictures because these are “Pakistani” films and one needs to support Pakistani cinema, even when films are bad. Hogwash. (Wouldn’t patting bad movies on the back by saying “oh, well, at least you made a movie”, give others reason to make lackluster motion pictures, and thereby returning the cinema to its downfall days in the 90’s?).
Providentially, the argument does not apply to Mr. Khan’s film, written by Saad Azhar. Like its lead Vicky (Mr. Mirza, whom I had doubts of playing an action hero), Bachaana is acutely Pakistani. A smart-mouth, often laid-back, action-romance-comedy. Mr. Khan juggles the three genres well by anteing up the pace.
The brisk pace picks up for the lack of screenplay elements – in the film, Aalia (Sanam Saeed, natural and fitting) is a recently married wife on a Mauritius honeymoon with Jehangir (a wasted Adeel Hashmi), her stern-faced hubby. The two are picked up by Vicky, a cabbie-cum-tour guide, with a near-expired visa. Jehangir and Aalia are Indian, and Vicky is, as I’ve mentioned, from Pakistan. Jehangir disappears soon, and Aalia has to run for her life, with Vicky acting as her reluctant escape-mate (ergo the title: Bachaana). After all, as Vicky says: “Ladki Pakistani ho ya Hindustani ho — ladki ladki hoti hai”.
Actually, that’s something a Pakistani would say in this situation. The film is a set of near-escapes, with a smidgen of suspense. The film is shot completely in Mauritius, in a handful of locations and a lack of conventionally placed “filmy” songs (the title track is a foot-tapping number) – and as it happens in any film with minute set of requirements, there are moments when the film lags. It seems that Mr. Khan is aware of these, because when these two scenes do happen, the film saves itself (Bachaana?!?) by quickly skipping to the next logical plot element.
Bachaana – shot competently by Asrad Khan with a quick, workable, camera angles (mostly medium and medium long shots) – is quite fun. Mr. Mirza exhibits a dazzling, “Pakistani” persona, and handles the comedy and action with deft elegance. Ms. Saeed’s Aalia isn’t your typical Indian girl from today; in fact, with her innocence, gullibility and mannerism, she looks more Pakistani than an Indian. Miner nitpickings aside, this is one “entertaining” film. It definitely doesn’t need “bachaana” from box-office competition; it can do fine by itself. The audience can spot a good one from a mile away.