KARACHI: Academy award-winning screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin once said, “Movies to me are about wanting something, a character wanting something that the audience desperately wants them to have. You, the writer, keep him from getting it for as long as possible, and then, through whatever effort he makes, he gets it.”
The sense of emotional urgency which develops in the audience when they see Farhan not being able to marry Naina in Na Maloom Afraad is what Rubin is talking about. And that is what is totally missing in Yasir Jaswal’s Jalaibee; a film that offers captivating visuals but stands on a weak foundation.
An inverted frame as a car steams through a dark alley, two masked men trying to avoid a chase. The car gets over-heated; they get off and boom! It explodes along with a lot of money in it. The men remove their masks and we see Billu (Danish Taimoor) and Bugga (Ali Safina) crying over their fate. That is how Jaliabee begins and from there on we witness the consequences of their actions and how Adnan jaffar (Dara), Wiqar Ali Khan (Ali), Uzair Jaswal (Jimmy), Sabika Imam (Eman), Sajid Hasan (Akbar) and Zhalay Sarhadi (Bunno) get involved in it.
The main challenge of writing any crime caper, that too in an industry where there is dearth of screenwriters, is to connect a complex chain of events. Jaswal hits the bull’s eye with that but ironically fails to engage you enough to sit through the duration and witness those dots connect. Apart from the moment when the rickshaw driver gives Billu and Bugga shady looks and Safina gets irritated, there is not a single moment in the film to cherish as the after taste.
Only a couple of one-liners in the film are funny while some really dramatic moments are wasted due to poor editing, such as the intense interaction between Hasan and Imam in Hasan’s office.
Although Ali Safina does a commendable job by trying to entertain the audience by playing a more animated version of his actual personality, the other actors fail to pitch in. Danish Taimoor has a dominating character yet he came off as more loud than domineering. He desperately needs a lesson in how to focus on his character rather than obsessing over how he appears in the camera. Wiqar Ali Khan and Sabeeka Imam both are used to up the glamour quotient in the film but giving them so many lines in Urdu, accompanied by a mismatched Automated Dialogue Replacement (popularly referred to as dubbing) was a bad call. Sajid Hasan appears briefly but gets noticed for his presence.
Adnan Jaffar, one of the finest actors from NAPA – however is a real disappointment. Seeing him evolve from his debut theatre play Oedipus Rex to his big screen debut is rather fascinating but shocking at the same time. It is shocking because he has not moved on from the loud and over-dramatic (relative to screen) stage space. Instead of moulding his thespian “stage energy” to match the needs of the camera, the director lets Jaffar’s massive stage presence devour his character in the film. Film, being very dissimilar to theatre requires dampened under-stated au naturel drama, which sadly wasn’t channeled adequately by Jaffar. He was so powerful as Dara that he didn’t seem to be a part of the same story line as the other characters. This resulted in his solo shots emerging out as entirely odd. Jaswal should have worked at blending him into the character.
Zhalay looks as ravishing as ever. In fact she looks like Priyanka Chopra in a few scenes but one couldn’t contain a yawn in her item song. She lacks the flex while the set and choreography seems something out of those typical Bollywood-inspired musicals by Lahori and Islamabadi theater troupes often staged at the Arts Council.
Verdict: All in all Jalaibee has its moments but it is definitely not entertaining. It does pick up a little in the second-half but what kills it towards the end is a dragged moral debate for a film that purely stands on immoral choices and of course a very Na Maloom Afraad climax.