Bright lights, small village
It may be an absolutely unapologetic formula film, but Mohabbatan
Sachiyan reinvents rural Punjab in the loveliest of ways
seem quite impressed by the recent revival of cinema and to make
audience return to the theatres yet another movie hits the cinema
and this time it is a Punjabi movie. Mohabbatan Sachiyan, directed
by Shehzad Rafique opened on Eid and since then has been getting
positive response from viewers. Notably the movie is the first love
story in Punjabi language after Syed Noor's blockbuster Choorian.
And this time, the man who takes the credit for bringing in cinema
goers is director Shehzad Rafique.
Shehzad Rafique's Salakhain flopped in 2004 he returns with Mohabbatan
Sachiyan and has done a decent job with it. Although the story line
isn't what the viewers haven't seen before, the cinematography is
brilliant. The vulgarity element usual in Pakistani and especially
Punjabi films isn't there. It's a fresh start for cinema in Pakistan
and alongwith violence, vulgarity too is out of the traditional
Punjabi 'blockbuster' formula.
Sachiyan is set in a small village in Punjab and starts of with Salma
and Sameer's childhood engagement. As they grow up Salma (Veena Malik)
finds herself falling for another boy from the same village. Nomi
(Adnan) is a naive village boy who is well mannered and likes her
too. Both Nomi and Salma happen to study in the same college and have
everything going for them, but both of them are ignorant of Salma's
engagement. Sameer's family, on the other hand, has moved to the city
and Sameer (Babrak) is a spoilt brat who does not take life seriously,
preferring to party it up in Lahore.
Sameer's mother tells him about his childhood engagement and forces
him to tag along on their visit to the village and see Salma. Sameer
who has no intentions of marrying let alone commit to a childhood
engagement, accompanies his mother for kicks. Nomi and Salma try all
they can to convince Salma's father to let Salma marry Nomi. What
follow is emotional drama and a few fight sequences.
Sachiyan's storyline is one that has been done to death on both sides
of the border, so in every scene you can actually predict what will
happen in the next. Yet Mohabbatan Sachiyan is eminently watchable
by Punjabi film standards. And that is because a conscious effort
has been made to make it so. At the premiere, I asked Shehzad Rafique
about how the colours are so brilliant and he told me that the processing
of Mohabbatan Sachiyan was done in India and it's the first Digital
Intermediate (DI) film of Pakistan. Look it up and you will find that
DI is "the process of digitizing a motion picture and manipulating
color and other image characteristics to change the look, and is usually
the final creative adjustment to a movie before distribution in theaters."
Mohabbatan Sachiyan is the first step in that direction for Pakistan.
No wonder the colours look good. The storyline may not leave anything
to the imagination, but the packaging is so beautiful in the darkness
of the cinema, you will be held spellbound.
there is the music. By the renowned Wajahat Attre (pop singer Jimmy
Attre's father), the music is melodic and more than that Indian singers
Sonu Nigam, Sunidhi Chauhan and Sherya Ghoshal sing on the soundtrack.
That is enough to sell music on both sides of the border. Speaking
of which, Mohabbatan Sachiyan will be released in India on Diwali
alongside Om Shanti Om and Saawariya. But then, since it's in Punjabi,
it will have a different market. Currently, Veena Malik and Shehzad
Rafique are in New Delhi at the Second South Asian Film Festival plugging
their film. Released by Geo Films, Mohabbatan Sachiyan is proof that
the revival of cinema will not stop short at a story well told. Marketing
a film is essential in this day and age and that is what is being
done with Mohabbatan Sachiyan, as it was with Khuda Kay Liye.
back to the songs of the film, a few of them are shot beautifully
in the northern areas of Pakistan showing places that have never been
seen in such splendour on our movie screen, because of the lack of
film labs here. Add to that the choreography of the songs –
just look at these stills. India is not the only country to make the
capturing of the flying dupatta/pallu a fine art.
Veena Malik is the star draw of Mohabbatan Sachiyan. It is strange
to think that this talented actress was reduced to side roles
playing second fiddle to Saima, Meera, Reema, Sana and even Zara Sheikh.
Through television she has gotten a new lease of life through programmes
like Hum Sab Umeed Sey Hain and she more than held her own against
veteran comedian Rauf Lala at the Lux Style Awards this year. Mohabbatan
Sachiyan reinvents Veena the film actress and now she is so much more.
are Veena's portrayal of Salma will go down in film history. She
plays a modern village girl. Yes, she speaks Punjabi, but she is
educated and knows what's right for her and is willing to take society
head on to marry the man she loves.
In that sense, despite being a formula film Mohabbatan Sachiyan
breaks new ground. It portrays a village as it is today. With increasing
urbanization in the Punjab, the gandasa wielding hero and the lacha
wearing dancing village belle are stereotypes from a bygone era
that no longer have any relevance. There is more to villages these
days than oppressive feudals and family feuds. This is the changing
reality that Mohabbtan Sachiyan portrays through the rose-tinted
lens of high tech film processing.
Veena is supported ably by Adnan and Babrak Shah who nearly do justice
to their roles. Newcomer Adnan has done well for a first timer and
a good choice for the role of Nomi. He does appear to be smiling
more than required in the initial scenes, but gets into the role
eventually. Babrak Shah too does his role as a spoilt brat well,
but his attempt at an English accent cracks one up. Our filmmakers
would be well advised to employ elocution coaches, just as they
do anywhere else.
However, the women in the roles of mothers in the film give new
meaning to the word 'unbearable'. They had very few lines and that
benevolent smile never left their face. And on that note, if anything
could be taken away from the film to make it much tighter, it's
the many long sermons delivered by the parents, you know the girl
being the khandaan ki izzat and the moashra bring unforgiving.
The other bit that jarred was the comedy bit. Ali Ejaz is cast as
the village idiot who comes up at random and says lines for comic
relief. There is no role for him in the storyline, he's very much
an outside agent interjected at random to inject some hunour into
the film. It's what Johnny Lever and Kader Khan did in so many Indian
films till directors learnt to incorporate them into the script.
The attempt at comedy with Ali Ejaz is unimpressive and Mohabbatan
Sachiyan could have done without it. One does feel an experience
actor like Ali Ejaz should have been more useful if given some other
role, but all Ayub Khawar came up with was that of an old, good
for nothing resident of the village.
Ayub Khawar's script left much to be desired. Full of clichés,
it was typical Pakistani film melodrama. Indian cinema has gone
well beyond it, but our script writers still fall into the trap.
The only person to escape this was Shoaib Mansoor with the brilliantly
scripted Khuda Kay Liye.
Ultimately, what saves Mohabbatan Sachiyan is the packaging and
it's modernization of the Pakistani village. However, it must be
said that the film is elicited a fantastic response. The people
of Pakistan are hungry for cinema and they appreciate a good effort.