KARACHI: I had said this while reviewing Actor in Law and I say it again: it’s always the second film where a director is truly tested. That outing is good enough to tell a fluke from a masterpiece, a wizard from a trickster and Nabeel Qureshi, the genius behind Na Maloom Afraad had failed me.
With Wrong No. proving to be precise at only a handful of places, Yasir Nawaz didn’t have much to live up to. Perhaps it is that lack of ego and expectations that made him take a leap of faith and that has clearly worked in his favour. I have no qualms in stating that Mehrunisa V Lub U is actually more genuine than Na Maloom Afraad and equally embedded in our social fabric.
It comes to the party like Pakistan came to the Champions Trophy last Sunday, giving us enough reasons to celebrate our success and think about our failures, both as film-makers and as society. Using the sari-clad girl who is kissed on the neck while dancing in the snow as bait, Mehrunisa V Lub U eases us into the deepest cervices of our social evil. The evil that affects everyone; be it a joint family living in Lalukhet or a posh couple in the DHA party scene, we’ve all known couples who are subdued by friends and family for not being able to bear a child.
Ali (Danish Taimoor) who has recently returned from China faces a similar dilemma when he brings his newly married wife, Mehru (Sana Javed) to Karachi. The girl who has lived most of her formative years in the serene and peaceful Northern areas of Pakistan is up against a city that bleeds like ancient Greece and builds like the Roman Empire. It’s just that Mehru is as harmless and naïve as any dweller of the Indus Valley Civilisation could ever be. So incomes Ali who holds a mirror to the society and tries to rescue it from the Aryan invasion and the flood that has been building up for quite some time.
The way Yasir takes a very simple motivation and turns it into an epic journey is what makes Mehrunisa V Lub U such a special film. Though a tad bit ideal at places and clichéd in execution, he quite seamlessly fuses the joint family melodrama with a bigger problem and it is his almost scientific awareness of the Pakistani pulse that gives him a home run. By giving some form to the Bollywood formula that we have been trying to master for quite some time, Yasir has delivered with grace and hilarity.
Saqib Sumeer provides enough comic relief through his script and performance as both Ali’s friend and the friend’s father. He has used all he has gained by working with Lahore and Islamabad based theatre troupes and brought his best on the big screen. In fact he has succeeded in doing what Yasir Hussain failed to by not only proving to be a superb character actor, but also a writer who is funny and socially aware at the same time.
Sana on other hand was there because of her charming personality. That look of innocence with faded make up and a bright red lipstick was all it took to make people fall for her and sympathise with her at the same time. Danish Taimoor on the other hand has had a rusty beginning to his film career and though he still does seem a little too camera conscious and monotonous at places, he has clearly moved way beyond where he started from and he is headed in the right direction. Nayyar Aijaz as Marzi is just the best villain I’ve seen in the new age Pakistani cinema and you have to watch it to believe it.
However, it is not a film without flaws. The lyrics by Gulzar coupled by Sukhwinder Singh’s voice add to the overall reformist tone of the narrative but dance remains to be our weakest link, despite the sultry item song by Amna Ilyas.
The second half is full of sequences that could have been scenes and jokes that proved to be mere distractions from the plot and not as hilarious. But when all is said and done, it’s clear that Yasir has learned from his mistakes and has come out anew. You take home a very important lesson and don’t feel guilty for sitting through it.
The film releases in Pakistani cinemas on Eidul Fitr.
Mehrunisa V Lub U will make the ‘Shikari’ who goes out on a wheeling session every Eid think about change and a woman’s place in it. That I believe is achieving the impossible. Go watch it!
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