The latest addition to the nascent and blooming Pakistani film scene is brisk and bouncy flick that has largely and rightly been received as an airy little delight by audiences. What this uncomplicated film is supposed to do, it does. It has a clear identity and leaves people feeling exactly the way it wanted them to feel – sprightly with a spring in their step. Bachaana is a big slice of highly palatable cheese.This film is all about its two main characters – Vicky and Alia. They are the ones the audience depends on to get what they need. It is from them we achieve that escapism from our own lives and into theirs. We get caught up in that fantasy, and use it as a reference point to circle back to ours. The adventures we crave, the moments we may have fallen in love, and the ways in which we may want to.The film is touted as a thriller but the plot often fades to background. We are essentially riding along these lovebirds’ adventure, rooting for them – while fixated on the way they are with each other, and how they deal with each unfolding situation. Mohib Mirza and Sanam Saeed are magnetic in the way they look, speak and move. The characters are melodramatic and filmy but they become familiar quickly.
They somehow acquire depth despite the whimsical nature of the film. This is a difficult thing to accomplish, and is an ode to their talent. Sanam Saeed has proven her versatility time and again by migrating across mediums – theatre, television dramas, teleplays and indie films. This time she lights up the silver screen. She is foxy, bewitching and commands our attention with every glance and quip.There is a rousing pace to the movie that works to facilitate the delivery of its overall intention.While the script may lack a polished plot, it makes up for it in witty dialogue. Bachaana is a bona fidehoot. Without giving away too much, there are a few scenes in particular which account for chuckles that linger several moments beyond. When Vicky negotiates his visa, is forced to question the nature of a woman’s relationship with Alia’s husband, and when the two find themselves in a cabin of a spooky, knife sharpening woodsman.
There has been a lot of talk about this film offering a message of Indo-Pak harmony. If it does accomplish that, it does so in its comedy – not through direct references, but by reminding us of a common thread; a sense of humour shared amongst folks living across this divided subcontinent.The film has been subject to some criticism mainly on account of a generic script and story. Though it is far from perfect in the way that it is edited and written, Bachaana is a step forward and outward for the film industry in Pakistan. It has expanded the scope of what filmmakers believe what they are licensed to do – that they are not constricted by predisposed notions of what qualifies as high-brow cinema. It is this platform of freedom from where true originality and greatness will blossom in the future.
Bachaana is a film that embodies the potential for diversity in this industry. The message to all budding filmmakers in Pakistan is that you are free to make your romcoms and action thrillers – your Big Lebowski, Die Hard, and Pretty Woman – something no one has ever seen before.There is no reason to be boxed in because it is a young industry representing the ascent of a country that has become rather sensitive to its image. This is a movie disguised as one we have seen over and over again. But within it there are fresh personalities and original, clever conversations.So far the movie has got an overwhelmingly positive response; not at all on the basis of some indiscriminate nationalist pride. All people really want is to feel something when they watch a movie. Not everyone does. But if most do, the movie has done its job. Stanley Kubrick said it more eloquently: “A film is – or should be – more like music than like fiction. It should be a progression of moods and feelings. The theme – what’s behind the emotion, and the meaning – all that comes later.”Being a westernised brat, I have seen perhaps only a handful of Bollywood or Pakistani movies in my lifetime. But based on this experience, I’m going to make it a point to watch more of what is coming out of Pakistan. I left the film lighter on my feet than when Icame in, and that is exactly what Bachaana is trying to impart.