MAG THE WEEKLY | REVIEWS
Bachaana
by MOHAMMAD KAMRAN JAWAID
05 - 11 Mar, 2016
#content
Bachaana

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 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 film-makers have gone with, in contrast to being harshly agnostic from the get-go). That’s 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 lacklustre motion pictures, and thereby returning the cinema to its downfall days of the 90s?).
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. It 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 by quickly skipping to the next logical plot element.
Bachaana – shot competently by Asrad Khan with 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. Minor 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. •


Deadpool

Deadpool

For those of us who have been living under a rock – and even for those who have not been living under one – there is a slim chance of missing out on Deadpool’s aggressive in-your-face trailer campaign. It was banging loud, comicbook-ish violent (a forced necessity, giving the character’s background), and erratically witty that’s condescending to itself, its cast (especially Ryan Reynolds, former Green Lantern, Hannibal King and double-time Deadpool), and the whole in-vogue comic book-turned-films genre.
Deadpool is the story of a mercenary with a few loose screws and a rapid-fire mouth, turned – mutated – into a superhero mercenary with a lot of loose screws and a rapid-fire mouth (and a very itchy trigger finger); although I cringe at the insinuation – it is a role Reynolds was born to play – twice! On-screen Deadpool appeared in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, where he is mutated by the Weapons X programme and made un-killable; like Wolverine, he can recover from anything fatal, including (as I recall from the comics and that movie), decapitation. Ah, the fun.
From the get-go Deadpool tells us to lower our expectations, which is wise, since the film-makers – here director Tim Miller who heads the visual effects house Blur, and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick – know that there is very little one can do with the genre, and blockbuster limitations of routine motion pictures. Instead of doing the same ’ol, they did so with a twist – Deadpool, the character, constantly breaks the fourth wall (a cinematic and stage device where the character talks directly to the audience) to narrate the story or fill in the gaps, zipping to and from the opening action sequence – and he does it all for fun. As if he doesn’t care. In fact, just for fun, he breaks the wall twice at one time, calling it out himself on-screen. How cool is that?
This devil-may-care attitude, which owes itself to the character in the comic (created by Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza), is a near-perfect translation. Deadpool’s screenplay is little more than two action set-pieces sliced between small-ish events leading up to them. In these scenes we meet Wade Wilson, an ex-military man turned gun-for-hire for teenage girls (he is a nightmare for stalker pizza-boys any girl is dating, as the scene elaborates). Wilson meets cute Vanessa (Morina Beccarin, who’s looking good), who shares – and outclasses – his sporadic personality. And then, for story-sake (and not in the comic) Wade gets terminal cancer. A rather suspicious man-in-black agent – and, again, are there any other kind of agents in movie-verse – offers him a way out by introducing him to a deadly, and quite painful programme, run by Ajax (original name Francis – another running joke). Francis (played by new Transporter Ed Skrein) has super-abilities too, making him, and his near-silent and very powerful apprentice Angel Dust (Gina Carano) the big baddies.
Wade, of course, becomes a hero – a fact he relentlessly challenges when anyone calls him a hero; the thing is, he is often called a hero by the metal-skinned X-Man Colossus. Having Colossus – all computer-generated metal, never in skin – is a good call. A pure soul in comics (he is near mute in any X-Men movie), he can think of X-Men as “heroes”; with him is the sassy, teenage-with-a-rebel’s-attitude code-named “Negasonic Teenage Warhead” – now, how cool is that name? (Spoiler alert: her powers aren’t the same in comics).
Where were we? Oh yeah, Deadpool – the movie. It is probably the most fun “R” rated superhero film one can watch. It isn’t the “best” “superhero” movie in any case; there’s a lot less of everything, which is made-up by Wade’s wise-cracking persona. Sometimes it’s a tad too much, almost as if the film-makers want to drill the idea of what this movie is, into your brain; also, the best bits – make that almost all bits – are covered in the trailers. What’s left to see, hardly makes the “Merc-with-a-mouth’s” cinematic retelling, a classic. •


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