Balu Mahi review: Paisa vasool but stretches too long

Published: February 10, 2017
Balu Mahi has been directed by Haissam Hussain. PHOTO: FILE

Balu Mahi has been directed by Haissam Hussain. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI  : Last night at Nueplex cinemas I saw Pakistani actors dance around mountains, roll in the hay and it didn’t feel awkward. Since the onset of Lollywood’s wave of reincarnated cinema this was perhaps the first time it didn’t seem our actors were up to something alien. It was far from notions that are popularly considered against ‘our culture’ and they certainly walked the talk to rebut this myopic argument.

Balu Mahi promotions: Osman, Ainy play it safe with smart casuals

Throughout its promotions, the Balu Mahi cast has been vocal about the film being a typical paisa vasool offering that hardly has anything indigenous about it. That is unfortunately very true but even with all the clichés of modern-day romantic comedies, Haissam Hussain manages to keep you fixated for the most of his film. His sense of humour offers a refreshing mix of highbrow and whacky jokes and characters that come for a short while but leave a long-lasting impression. I couldn’t get Javed Sheikh’s ‘bheriya moment’ out of my head as I walked out of the cinema 10 minutes before the film ended. It had become too much for the bladder and Sadaf Kanwal’s beauty shots weren’t good enough reason to rest my case.

The film begins with Bilal (Osman Khalid Butt) all set to express his feelings to his girlfriend who is about to get married to another guy. As soon as the girl reveals her face, it turns out that it’s Mahi (Ainy Jaffri Rehman) and not the girl Butt was looking for. This creates confusion and Mahi forces Bilal to run away with her so as to save herself from a fate she never wanted. They run away only to realise the mistake they had committed and so begins a chase between their families and their dreams.

Balu Mahi trailer is everything we had hoped for

One could hardly contain a yawn during this entire establishing sequence. The drama though was forced, and actors, particularly Butt and Jaffri seemed rusty as if it was literally the first sequence of the entire shooting process. There were some major sound panning issues as well with the dialogues coming from one side of the hall and the score and effects from the other side. But just when you were about to look at your watch and think about the quality of caramel popcorns, the film actually picked up.

With the passing of narrative both Jaffri and Butt shined and showcased one of the most well-suited performances in Pakistani cinema. The edginess and confusion Butt portrayed as a man who is learning to dare and take charge of things remarkably blended with his good looks. He is in process of proving himself to be more than just a chocolate hero. Ainy on the other hand was the real surprise package; it seemed like either Mahi was tailor-made for her or that is actually a character very similar to her real life persona. Her dialogue delivery was on point and so was the spontaneity of her body movements, she was literally going with the flow and Hussain deserves equal credit for paying attention to such details. Team that with Sahir Ali Bagga’s exceptional command on excelling at film music and you have a recipe for success.

As a film buff I’ve always despised the romantic comedy genre. Its shallow and you know what’s going to happen in the end of it. That was exactly the case with Balu Mahi but where Hussain really stood out was his intertwining of sub-plots and subtlety with which he communicated them on screen. Having said that, like most of the Pakistani films and some Bollywood offerings too, he opened so many threads within the subplots that by the time he tried to resolve each one of them, it was already too tangled.

In Faiz’s words, director Haissam Hussain arrives like spring silently appears in the wilderness and gives us enough moments to embrace Balu Mahi despite its unbearable duration. You can easily walk out after two hours of the film and you aren’t going to miss anything…save for some drop dead gorgeous shots of Sadaf Kanwal.

Watch the trailer here:

Verdict: Balu Mahi is long but not tiring. Watch it so see Pakistani actors shake a leg in style

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Have something to add to the story? Share it in the comments below.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (3)

  • Iman Siddiqui
    Feb 12, 2017 - 11:07PM

    Your review is an interesting read, and I do agree that the first half of the movie was a bit of a drag. But above & beyond all criticism that you constructively conveyed, and that which you refrained from, favoring the rise of the sphinx of Pakistani cinema, I must congratulate the team BaluMahi on their absolute brilliance in two fields: cinematography and music, both of which were par brilliance.

    The acting was impressive as well, particularly that of the newcomers; the established only further consolidated & improved on their fan following. The sound issue you’ve mentioned might just be local problem of the cinema you watched the movie in, as there were no such technical/audio glitches experienced here at my end.

    On a critical note, initially the film felt like a crossover between a TV drama and a movie, as if the director-actors are still stuck somewhere in the transition phase. A presence of excessive dialogue was felt, as if the writer-director didn’t trust the intelligence of the audience to figure things out on their own & had to explain even the smallest of things in the form of dialogue between the two lead characters Balu and Mahi. Later, once the plot picks some pace, the real interest in the movie sparks.

    The humour in this movie is commendable, and that compels me to say this: one suggestion I can’t help but put forth to Osman K.Butt is to do more of humour/comedy movies & dramas. Based on the demand-supply situation, it is quite obvious that there is no dearth of actors who can excel at the portrayal of a typical sad hero. But after the demise of Moin Akhtar, there has rarely been any name that popular ever since. In view of Osman’s YouTube success in this field as well as Haissam Hussain’s very other project he worked in (Aunn Zara) plus now this movie as the latest feather in his cap, it goes without saying that he is one actor who has the full potential of providing much needed, decent humour to the fans. Recommend

  • Ali Aman
    Feb 13, 2017 - 7:26PM

    Great movie. Watched it last night. Good luck to Pakistan film industry. Please go watch the move and support our own industry.Recommend

  • sara
    Feb 16, 2017 - 12:59PM

    Is it family film? i mean can i go with my mother brother? is there any unsuitable scene?Recommend

More in Film