KARACHI: If I have to sum up how I feel about Fahad Mustafa and Mehwish Hayat-starrer Load Wedding, I’d say it simply confused me. No, not in the way the likes of Lars von Trier or Darren Aronofsky’s brain-scratching magnum opuses do, but rather it made me question: what kind of film does it want to be? What is the story that the writer-director Nabeel Qureshi wants to tell?
Load Wedding opens with Raja (Mustafa) and Meerab’s (Hayat) love story. And it successfully invites the audience into their world, full of childhood romance, relationships, responsibilities and social conflicts. Then, 40 minutes into the film, it takes an abrupt turn and goes off into a direction that nobody sees coming. We see Raja juggle with his love life and his responsibility of getting his sister married. In the hands of a skilled film-maker (and I considered Qureshi one), this could have worked well. The key is the balance here.
However, the Qureshi seems to be forcing his vision and message into the film, which is not needed. It’s an example of a driver intentionally going the wrong way on a packed highway, barely dodging the cars. I used to believe there was no one who could compare to Qureshi in terms of screenwriting and structuring a story. He proved me wrong with Load Wedding.
The beginning and the end of the film have no correlation. Despite the fact that the film offers a beautiful and oh-so-real message about the social mockery of the concept of marriage and what it has become, Load Wedding fails to be an up-to-the-mark film for multiple reasons.
The addition of a game show, not unlike that of Aamir Liaquat and Mustafa’s own, seems quite redundant. And this drags for so long that it might put you to sleep (this is not Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, man). I fail to understand whether this reality TV angle in the film is either a mockery of such shows or it’s blatantly promoting them. Making the game show a major focus of the second half becomes Qureshi’s worst mistake in the film.
Meanwhile, the characters, specifically Raja’s sister Baby Baji (Faiza Hasan), are left with little development. Meerab dwindles into a pity bubble and nothing more. The film starts on a high point and we feel for all these characters. By the second half, you just want it to end.
Despite that, Mustafa and Hayat show they are two of the finest actors in the country. Hayat was misused in the film, but even in her limited role, she puts a strong foot forward. Mustafa’s expressions and the level of emotional projection becomes enhanced with each film. The only flaw in his performance in Load Wedding would be his weak Punjabi accent.
The film’s music, especially Kooch Na Karin, is memorable. While the overall sound layering and reverb needed some improvements, the visuals are soothing to look at, thanks to the warm and balanced tones. The film-makers also tip their hat to the late actor Om Puri in a beautifully subtle way.
Qureshi and producer-writer Fizza Ali Meerza deserve credit for going out and trying something different from their usual shtick. It’s just sad that the experimentation didn’t work. The problem isn’t the direction, performances or the mise-en-scène, but rather the foundation of it all: the script.
Qureshi gets it wrong on the paper. Individual scenes work and yet they fail to affect the audience on an emotional level. It loses its track the moment they deviate from the main story between Raja and Meerab. And on some level, I even felt cheated. Load Wedding was a love story at its heart, and it should have remained this way instead of becoming a forced mediocre drama.
Verdict: The sweets of Load Wedding are loaded with more salt than sugar. Watch for the strong message, and Mustafa chemistry with Hayat.. But you won’t miss much.
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars