Ok, so after the last Pakistani movie experience (Janaan), I had told myself that I will not watch any more Pakistani movies. It has nothing to do with being unpatriotic but rather should-I-be-spending-money-on-a-movie-that’s-not-worth-it?
So a bunch of Pakistanis movies were released- Lahore se Aagey, Raham – which I didn’t bother watching. Till I saw the trailer for Dobara Phir Se (DPS) and I was intrigued.
The trailer seemed to have it all: good looking actors, gorgeous New York locations, decent music, modern looking characters, some intense moments, a wedding song and dance, in other words, a complete entertainer. What more could you want?
The instant reaction after leaving the theater? DPS is completely and utterly forgettable (let alone predictable).
It’s not all that bad. There were some good elements to the movie that should be appreciated:
- The cinematography. Nothing new in the way New York has been shot (we’ve seen it umpteen times in Hollywood/ Bollywood movies) but it was refreshing to see a Pakistani movie. Scenes showing the road trip, beach, park all were gorgeously shot.
- The acting. All of the actors are TV actors, and they all did a great job with the roles they were assigned.
- The Pakistani touch. These are Pakistanis living in New York. They hang out like New Yorkers do. They look the part and blend in well with the busy city environment. But they say Salaams and don’t drink alcohol. No item songs, no one liner crass comedy, no useless sidekick characters.
- The characters are not stereotyped and are relatable. These were young, modern, urban Pakistanis working in professional jobs seeking for answers in life and love (Natasha works at a brokerage firm, Zainab is an illustrator for a publishing house, Hammad (an architect) and Vasay buy a place to open up their restaurant). These are everyday people. They are not drop dead gorgeous looking people (though they are extremely pleasant to look at) who are always in make-up and perfect clothes, but they feel like people you might see in New York.
- Staying away from stereotypes. The divorced woman with a kid is not weeping her life away but is actually looking for a job so she can move on with her life. The mother in law is not anti-daughter in law, but rather a very supportive one. The bride, who is far from being demure and coy, dances on her own wedding. Friends get together and don’t drink alcohol but juice that looks like wine. Husband and wife fights and he doesn’t get it his way all the time. Women empowerment is rife throughout in subtle ways.
So, what’s the issue then?
- Predictable. By the time we come to the intermission break, I already knew the ending. When I know the ending, I lose interest in the movie. Then it becomes a moment where I start to look at my phone, wondering how much more time I have to endure. Even though it starts off well, it just falters at the end.
- The running time. Too long. DPS should be 1.5 hours and not 2 hours. Few songs could have been chopped off. Songs started to feel very similair.
- No depth. Fine, so the characters have been etched out, with their motives assigned. Now where’s the character development? How do they evolve? What changes take place in them? Where is their motive coming from? They all look the same.
- That Little Kid. Ok, so I get it they were trying to go for the cuteness factor, but it sort of misfired.
- Product Placement. I didn’t know Oye Hoye chips were available in New York City. I also didn’t know that you could get McDonalds at arrivals at Karachi airport. I also didn’t know that one of the characters loves Close Up toothpaste so much they would pack it so lovingly in their suitcase. The filmmakers need to learn to make product placement more subtle.
It’s a real pity because I really wanted to like this film. This is the kind of Pakistani films I want to see more off (instead of those movies that deal with the harsher realities of rural life). Again, I don’t want to go see a Pakistani cinema to show support, but to go because I genuinely want to watch a decent Pakistani film. We always talk about Pakistani cinema revival and I’ve been hearing this for years. Reality is that despite the fact we are producing some technically amazing movies, we still have a long way to go.
With it’s heart in the right place – and the interesting theme of having a second chance at love and life- DPS fails to hold your interest (only 14 people were in the cinema on a Saturday evening show!) and by the time you leave the theater, you would have forgotten the movie already.
2 out of 5
Genre: Romance, Drama
Director: Mehreen Jabbar
Cast: Adeel Hussain, Sanam Saeed, Hareem Farooq, Ali Kazmi, Tooba Siddiqui, Atiqa Odho
Synopsis: Young couples in New York seeks answers in life and love and a second chance to live it right
Running time: 120 minutes
Seen at: Royal Palm cinema, Lahore