Ghabrana Nahi Hai is mostly good; Parda utha lein, please.
Starring:Afzal Khan, Akbar Islam,
Nayyar Ejaz, Saleem Mairaj, Saba Qamar, Syed Jibran, Zahid Ahmed
Written by: Mohsin Ali
Directed by: Saqib Khan
What can one say that hasn’t already been said about Ghabrana Nahi Hai (GNH)? Everyone has had an opinion on whether the plot is plausible, the dialogues good, and the actors utilized well. Everyone also has an opinion on who the clear star is, including us (it’s Syed Jibran guys, in case the top of this week’s issue didn’t clue you in).
There is one thing that’s totally been missed out on: Mohsin Ali is clearly the breakout star of this entire Eid release carnival, because he’s written 50% of the releases. Bravo, Mohsin Ali. Take a bow. Both GNH and PMRD are on the spectrum between ‘I’ll allow it’ and ‘God, it’s 2 am, how is this still making me laugh?’. Think about the people who get away with this in your life. The ones you want to simultaneously walk out on mid-sentence but also pull their cheeks forever. You know what we’re saying. Drop your ‘those people’ a text right now and tell them you love them.
Enough meandering: back to the review. GNH is intelligently written, dexterously directed, and sharply cut. There are no scenes you wish were shorter, nor are there any characters you find unnecessary. Everything is well-planned and tightly packed. The actors are all sitting within the gloves of their characters with ease, and the characters have given the actors a chance to discover the limits they may arrive at and beat. Except Saba Qamar. She kind of went past that stage a long while ago.
Speaking of the actors: Syed Jibran. Whenever we’ve thought of Syed Jibran the actor, we’ve thought of a really sad, married, bhai jaan type. Not to give away too much of why he is awesome, but while that is exactly what Jibran’s Vicky wants to be in GNH, he turns it on its head and shows us his entire range of dramatic tricks. Jibran as an actor on film – or perhaps outside of stereotypical roles – is everything. Look, just go watch GNH and you’ll know what the fuss is about, okay?
Zahid Ahmed knows what works for him and uses it well: he’s got the great radio voice and the smoldering down but then you wonder what else is there to him. Ahmed is a skilled actor and a good-looking man with the great voice, but we have to wonder if those qualities limit him sometimes. While his comedic timing is spot on, heavier moments, though well-acted, are similarly rendered.
Finally, on the actor end of things, Afzal Khan, Nayyar Ejaz, Saba Qamar, and Saleem Mairaj are all old hands. A more cynical person would think, abhi bhi acting nahi ayi tu kab ayegi?’ (we assume), but since cynicism is really, really, 2011, we’d like to point out that these are actors who have just become better. Afzal Khan has this subtle, restrained brand of comedy, and Nayyar Ejaz is simply villainous camp at its best. The only other onscreen villain who has ever achieved this level of perfection is Ursula from The Little Mermaid. Which you’d know, if you’re a fan, is no small compliment. Saleem Mairaj is as always, a study in beautiful diction and body language. And Saba Qamar, is well, Saba Qamar. She knows exactly how to work the camera and play off her co-actors, and her self-assurance as an actor is unmissable.
And if none of the raving praise above has convinced you GNH should be on your list of things to watch in-theater, the one clubby song on its soundtrack is an even clubbier version of Rahim Shah’s ‘Ishq’, but with more Zahid Ahmed smoking like he came for the style but stayed for the taste, and less voodoo dolls than we would have liked.
Parde Mein Rehne Do **1/2
*ing: Javed Sheikh, Munnazzah Arif, Ali Rehman Khan, Hania Aamir, Hassan Raza
Written by: Mohsin Ali
Directed by: Wajahat Rauf
There are more reasons to watch Parde Mein Rehne Do (PMRD) than to not. The film talks about male infertility, has only three songs on the soundtrack – all of which are quite good, by the way – and it is such an accurate representation of society IRL, that we will have to list down how, exactly:
Pakistani dating: Pakistani parents need to accept their kids will fall in love and date other kids, and that it’s okay and doesn’t require constant policing. Give your hearts and minds a break.
Pakistani matchmaking: Biraadri mein shaadi karne mein utna hi risk hai jitna baahir. Let’s give other peeps a chance to jump into the gene pool and mix it up.
Pakistani dating – pt. ii: Guys, you should really talk about stuff like if you want children, how many, when, any hereditary diseases and childcare before exchanging too many tokris of mithai, and putting a down payment on a venue.
Director Wajahat Rauf has always had an insight into how the young Pakistani mind works, and the television work he did right at the beginning of his career is a good marker of this particular quality. He also has a healthy respect for societal norms and rules, and while a lot of creatively inclined people may scoff at that, this is just him being intelligent (albeit maybe not in the way Nauman Ijaz is, which is the best kind of intelligent man there is).
The other thing Rauf has going for him is his willingness to just have fun with whatever he’s doing. So, whether it’s a show where he hosts, or a film he produces and directs, or even a candid chat, you will find his approach relaxed but focused.
This is the energy he brings to PMRD too, and it comes through with every performance by every actor. From Javed Sheikh, playing the stubborn patriarch to the guy at the hospital lab, everyone is comfortable in their skin and consequently delivering well.
The one place where the film falters is the way it knits together. Intellectually, we can see how one event is leading to the next, and how cause and effect is working with the storyline and characters, it just doesn’t seem to paint one big picture. Instead, we have what feels like some distantly connected scenes stitched with a common theme. Yes, we know that’s what storytelling is. But wherever this chink in the armor is; the writing, direction, or editing, it needs to be hammered down for future productions. While everything else about this movie is easy and fun, we wish the progression of the plot had enjoyed a similar ease.
PMRD also highlights an onscreen pair with some of the best chemistry we have ever seen: Hania Aamir and Ali Rehman Khan. Their turn as Nazo and Shani both together and apart is just adorable. And it isn’t adorable just because the actors are; you can see the genuine affection and warmth their characters share. In a world where we see more toxic relationships onscreen than even boring ones, let Nazo and Shani show you what love and support look like.
Separately too, Ali Rehman Khan and Hania Aamir shine in character. They are sweet, and when needed, strong. Even when speaking to his wife without giving his troubles away, you can see Khan as Shani struggle with the lie. Even when Nazo is outraged with her husband and drawing a clear boundary, you can tell she still loves him.
Overall, PMRD is an okay-to-decent watch, depending on your mood. If nothing else, you will be completely distracted for about 90 minutes with someone else’s problems, which is always nice.
Rating system: *Not on your life * ½ If you really must waste your time ** Hardly worth the bother ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only *** Good enough for a look see *** ½ Recommended viewing **** Don’t miss it **** ½ Almost perfect ***** Perfection