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Bin Roye -Movie Review

I think we have been waiting for a movie from Pakistan that deals with emotions rather than issues, following the traditions of Urdu cinema with perhaps a new sensibility.  At it’s heart Farhat Ishtiaq’s original story Bin Roye Ansu is a simple story. Saba( Mahira Khan) is a girl paralyzed by guilt . She has loved her much older cousin Iritiza (Humayoon Saeed) for as long as she could remember but he treats her like a younger sister and moves on to marry her American returned sister Saman(Armeena Rana) . Devastated by this unexpected twist of fate Saba can barely control her rage and jealousy only to find herself a prisoner of her own conscience as events spiral out of her control.

The star of the movie is without doubt Mahira Khan who sails effortlessly from the sweet, spoiled young ingénue to a strong, passionate woman, desperate to redeem herself in her own eyes. Mahira Khan gives a genuinely outstanding performance and it is her bond with the audience that carries the entire movie through. Humayoon Saeed Is not given much to say especially in the first half of the movie and this weakness in the script leaves him as more of a symbol than an actual character. We know he is the object of Saba’s deepest affections but there is little else for the audience to latch on to about his personality, which seems doomed to a bland generic type till the second half of the movie picks up steam. Many were disappointed that Fawad Khan did not play Irtiza but this has always been brushed aside by the makers because Irtiza, like Humayoon is a mature man. If we were looking for chemistry it was there but mostly in the second half where Humayoon Saeed reminded us why he has been such a popular actor for so many years with a strong performance to match Mahira’s. Despite his without doubt excellent acting there was a nagging devil that at the back of my mind which kept whispering “how would this have been with Fawad …?”

Sadly Armeena Rana’s character remained little more than a flimsy excuse to propel the story forward, giving the audience nothing to connect with before she ultimately disappeared. Apart from some weak characterizations and wafer thin supporting roles, the story showed a few inconsistencies which left me confused. If Saba is so angry at her sister’s marriage, why does she dance so ecstatically and enthusiastically just before her wedding? Surely this was a moment full of pathos, a singular “raja ki aaey gi baraat moment “ which has been captured so well in many a Bollywood movie that it should have been a no brainer . Taken on its own however, the Balle balle dance sequence is great to watch, while Mahirah and Adeel Hussain share  some amazing on screen chemistry( which bodes well for the upcoming Ho Mann Jahan). Saba’s invitation to a complete stranger at the wedding seemed odd and out of character though it could have been used contextually to show her very real desperation to hide her feelings.

This wasn’t the only missed opportunity , after a rather sweet waiting for Chand Raat set of scenes the audience was treated to a song “ tere Bina Jeena” beautifully rendered by Rahat Fateh Al Khan. The lighting was too bright, not allowing for the shadows of the night leaving strange sanitized version of Pakistani culture where there is colour and light in defiance of the load shedding plaguing the country.  Much as I love Bollywood there really was no need to put every cliché from every Hindi movie together in just one sequence ?

Bin Roye has had the strange distinction of three directors:  Momina Duraid and Shehzad Kashmiri and Haissem Hussain but if we count the two songs directed by Sarmad Sultan Khoosat and Asim Raza it makes a whopping total of five .Many of the abrupt changes in mood and inconsistencies in the storyline maybe due to the inevitable change in perspective that every new director brought. I think a word of acknowledgement is due because of an earlier misconception on my part. It is quite obvious that Momina Duraid was the creative force behind this film, her drama oriented style shows its mark throughout. Haissem Hussain’s work has a unique coherence and structure firmly rooted in his own creative vision which has always tended towards the cinematic, giving his dramas the feel of a movie.

Shehzad Kashmiri’s excellent camera work was strongly in evidence in the scenes shot in America but apart from that I can only guess which director was responsible for what. Instead we can pinpoint the best scenes and make wild guesses.  The most memorable sequence in the movie has to be the pre-interval climax where Saba breaks down, shaking with rage and jealousy after Irtiza and Saman’s Nikkah. It is the crux of the movie and is shot to make a powerful impact. After the interval Saba breaks down twice and I got the feeling someone liked those scenes so much they had to repeat them but lost some of the energy each time.

After the interval the movie moved at lightning speed leaving little time for the audience to think about the reasoning behind the character’s actions. The second half had a very drama like quality till Irtiza and Saba moved to the USA and we were back in film mode. This is where that much needed chemistry kicked in and Irtiza became human. The clash between Saba and Irtiza made for fascinating viewing building up to the crescendo of the finale. However, I still wonder what exact business he was in, that he could hop to and from America with such apparent ease. Farhat Ishtiaq’s original ending, her dialogues and nuanced writing would have been perfect and if I didn’t know better I would almost think someone else wrote the finale but it was well done and kept the audience interested.

As a critic I suffer from the usual delusion of grandeur associated with the job: that my opinion might actually carry weight. However if only critically acclaimed films succeeded most of Bollywood and much of Hollywood would be out of a job. I am quite sure Salman Khan and even Shah Rukh Khan ( sad but true) cannot hear their critics  over the sound of their cash registers ringing .So, yes the script for Bin Roye was patchy , shining at times and flat at others .  Writing a film script is no easy task and I trust Farhat Ishtiaq will do even better next time Similarly there were scenes which will stay in my memory because they were moving and other will sadly stay in my mind because they were confusing. Bin Roye’s roots in the drama industry are perhaps its greatest asset and its greatest flaw. Asset, in the sense of all the incredibly talented people from the drama industry who have worked on it and flaw in the sense that it cannot quite escape the feeling of a drama in parts .Yes, it soars and amazes the audience by how high it can fly but can never quite maintain that cinematic altitude for long but it did manage to be entertaining. If  anyone is looking for a family style  alternative to risqué comedies , war movies and the usual issue based movies or quite simply wants to spend an entertaining few hours with their favourite stars then Bin Roye is just the ticket.

written by Sadaf

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