By Sonya Rehman
Released this month, the Pakistani film, Dekh Magar Pyaar Say (DMPS), has to be one of the most ridiculous films I’ve ever seen. Heck, even Punjabi gandasa flicks have better storylines, and that’s where DMPS truly fell short.
Starring the gorgeous Sikander Rizvi (what genes) – better known as ‘Sonya Jehan’s brother,’ and ‘Siki – the Xander’s guy,’ and Pakistani actress, Humaima Malick, the film’s only redeeming quality was the stunning cinematography and that fact that it used the city of Lahore as its backdrop – from the beautiful Badshahi Masjid, the Quaid-e-Azam Library (in Bagh-e-Jinnah), Mall Road, and more, I don’t think any filmmaker has managed to capture Lahore in all it’s dreamy beauty as director, Asad ul Haq, has.
But apart from that, I wasn’t too surprised when I found out that the director is a well-known ad man in Pakistan. No wonder the film rolled out like one long, extended television commercial. Infact, at one point in the film, during a song, the segment looked like a Sprite television commercial, complete with two starstruck lovers sitting opposite each other with a sprite bottle, two straws, and ‘Sprite’ in garish neon lights planted on a brick wall as the couple made their way down the stairs. I mean, for pete’s sake, by all means, do your product placement – but this was really pushing it. Then, if that’s not all, towards the end of the film, one sees Humaima on the phone giving an order for McDonald’s, she asks Siki what he’d like, and he responds: “Mac Royale.” More product placement. Cringe cringe.
Speaking of Humaima, whatever happened to her acting? In her debut film, Bol, the actress was a force to be reckoned with – but in DMPS, she went wild in the over-acting department, each line uttered with pursed up, glossy lips. Pout. Pout. Pout. At one point, I wanted to scream. During the interval at VOX cinema (at the Mall of Emirates), an old couple seated infront of my friend and I, left in disgust. Behind us, a woman said in exasperation: “This movie doesn’t make any sense.”
While the film should be encouraged for being experimental in its overall packaging and treatment as compared to other romantic comedies, and, for its redeeming bits (especially the part where the characters go to the police station, which was incidentally shot in Lahore’s very quaint and pretty General Post Office – GPO, and the cameos by Humayun Saeed and Meera), to call DMPS a ‘good’ film would really be stretching it.
Pakistani cinema should be encouraged – especially when the rise of local, independent filmmakers and the release of their independent productions is on the increase, but having stated that, one shouldn’t praise a homegrown production just because it’s a ‘Pakistani film.’
Right now what Pakistani cinema needs most are films that break through the mediocrity, filmmakers desperately need to raise the bar, push the envelope.