Pakistani cinema has evolved as the veterans who shaped its television industry head out for the bigger, more lucrative medium. They borrow their skills, aesthetics and storytelling techniques from the small screen and somehow tweak it for the big one. It works in some instances and in others, it doesn’t.
In the case of Bin Roye — a feature film made by producers renowned for their timeless television scripts — the writer, Farhat Ishtiaque, does manage to extract a wholesome plot out of her novel. Unfortunately, she doesn’t give us reason enough to stay through the film.
Saba, played by the lovely Mahira Khan, sights an Eid ka chaand and makes a wish. Her elaborately-decorated house comes off as one hosting a wedding rather than the pre-Eid setting written in the script and it is here that we first see Humayun Saeed, in the role of Irtiza. Saba and Irtiza are first cousins who moonlight as best friends. To make her wishes come true, boy takes girl out for some shopping and from thenceforth, their chemistry evolves in a series of montages and songs culminating in Irtiza shifting to the US. And so, the plot begins to unravel in true Momina Duraid fashion: an excess of close-ups and beauty shots.
Right at the start, we are introduced to too much in too short a time and sometimes too less for too long. This uneven pace grants viewers little space to breathe and by the time one acclamitises to the budding romance between Saba and Irtiza, they are already focused on the latter’s impending exit. In contrast, some powerful scenes — such as the one where Saba takes off her jewelry and curses God for her ill-fate — are stretched beyond limits.
Arguably, the editor is partly at fault here but much of the blame lies with the writer. The script is weak, with few clear motivations for the characters and their actions. It seems to throw around the idea of death casually, considering that three significant characters are killed off without much ado. Furthermore, apart from Irtiza, who is repeatedly addressed as a man above 30, the age of the rest of the cast remains indeterminate.
Nonetheless, the actors deserve a great round of applause for churning out their very best with what they have been given — which is barely anything. After all, one can’t expect much from even the dialogues of a film where the ice-breaker lines include “Yeh tumhari billi hai?” Mahira, in particular, adds much-needed zeal and symmetry to a character with only one ambition in life: to fulfill the dreams of her love interest. Where there is room, she breaks out from an otherwise hollow character and gives tangent to Saba’s journey, making her agony felt on the screen. We anxiously await the day Pakistani actors are given something more impactful to play with. For Mahira, it happened neither in Bol, nor in Bin Roye and we can only hope her next release, Ho Man Jahan, gets it right.
Javed Sheikh is effervescent in his hackneyed role of the wise, old father figure but his better half, played by the graceful Zeba Bakhtiar, is a tad bit rusty. Junaid Khan must be given due recognition for his powerful cameo. Humayun, on the other hand, puts a huge damper on things. Only the Almighty can help him learn how to cuddle a baby on screen! His bland performance elicits little more than exasperated sighs from the audience, despite 20 years of experience in the industry. Similarly, the sundry dance sequences are ambitious but stiff as well.
All in all, Bin Roye is Pakistan’s rendition of a masala film sans any great strokes of genius. A direct evolution of our seriels, the film will be consumed much like fast food: you will fill up inside, only to realise later you didn’t eat anything healthy. Also don’t buy the title; the film has too much rona dhona for it to be called ‘Bin Roye’.
Verdict: Bin Roye can vary between being a cringe-worthy experience to a paisa vasool film. If you enjoy Pakistani dramas then watch the film or just go see your extended family this Eid.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2015.
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