Character motivations, consistency of the storyline, and linking different scenes together seems an almighty struggle for a lot of Pakistani film makers. Even some smash hits were based on set piece format.
However, things have been fairly different or let’s just say better this year. Apart from that one ‘patriotic’ film, Pakistani film makers have given thought on how not to leave any loose ends in their stories. Laal Kabootar, Baaji, Ready Steady Go and Superstar, despite some problems, all of them had complete story lines and characters weren’t manipulated outlandishly to push the narrative ahead. Fortunately, the same could be said of Parey Hut Love.
This is a story of two inherently flawed individuals, Shehreyar (Shehreyar Munawer) and Sania (Maya Ali). It is the journey of the duo learning the meaning of love. If there is one takeaway from this visually spectacular film is that it’s impossible to tame your heart. The writer and director duo Imran Aslam and Asim Raza are aware that these two are not well-rounded individuals. So, the story is not about the two overcoming their flaws, rather these characters learn to recognize and work with them.
Shehreyar, lives with the scars of a turbulent childhood. It has made him insecure and commitment phobic. Being a struggling actor makes things only worse. His mother (Hina Dilpazeer) in her own ways wants to find solutions for her son. While, Shehreyar’s friends, Arshad (Ahmed Butt) and Shaboo (Zara Noor Abbas) are also constantly trying to keep him on track. Yet, Shehreyar is brash and has a strong sense of entitlement. In his mind, greatness is simply one ‘chance’ away. Life is at a standstill, until he reaches that point.
With Sania, Maya Ali has a difficult job of portraying a conflicted character. Daughter of acclaimed writer she has all the freedom but is struggling to embrace it entirely. The equation between her father (Nadeem Baig) and Sania is interesting. Both are trying to somehow lessen the pain of the other but are unsure of their actions. When we 1st meet Sania, for a brief period she is eccentric and a little juvenile. But soon, it dawns upon her that this life isn’t for her. She is shown to be head strong on occasions but not decisive. But you understand her decisions, at every point.
These two bumbling characters meet at a wedding and its pretty much love at first sight. Director Asim Raza with his art design team carefully crafts every frame. Adding Azaan Sami Khan’s music just makes it perfect. Bollywood has taught us that this is the natural habitat for young love. At the end of one song, it felt like soon we will see Shahrukh Khan coughing his lungs out as Saif and Preity dance to tunes of Mahiway. There are mendhis, dances, beach parties, poetry, gol gappay, scary flying pigeons, jhoti coke drinking, and a cute little scooter. It’s a formula, but done to perfection. This is young love as it should be reckless but innocent.
Soon enough, life happens. The premise of the twist is slightly flawed. The director is hoping that audiences offer him some cinematic liberty. Soon, the giggles turn into sighs, poetry is no longer about love, and promises aren’t about staying together but a resolve to stay away. Shehreyar’s insecurity deepens as he is forced to choose between his dream project and being close to Sania.
We see Mahira Khan as Zeena, a slightly insecure ‘superstar’. It’s fun to see Mahira Khan, play a vulnerable character but she is just another pit stop in the life of Shehreyar. Sania also endures amiable-nice-guy Hasan (Shahbaz Shigri), a desperate detour. But deep down she know what her heart desires. A Zeena induced climax takes us on a boat, which was odd. Could they not get the airport for shooting?
It’s all very clichéd. But that is exactly what the film maker wants to offer. After all the film is loosely based on four weddings and a funeral. Wedding set ups from different cultures give the director and the production team a chance to make the film look stunning. Yet it doesn’t distract you from the main story.
As for the performances, Shehreyar Munawar was definitely cut for this role. His teary eyes and punchy dialogue delivery brings genuineness to the character. While, Maya Ali has to do some heavy lifting especially in the last phase of the film. It’s a complex character, especially given how in your face Shehreyar is. Maya, thankfully holds her own. Also, Zara Noor Abbas is an absolute star. Can we have her and Mohib Mirza in that Isharat Baji film, together?
Although the content isn’t fresh nor unique, it still is a well-made film. The actors, director, production design and music teams come together to offer an impressive final product. There is enough to ignore some heavy-handed comedy and an odd glitch in the story. Old school romance, never gets old, does it?
Paray Hut Love offers a cinematic experience, few other Pakistani films have offered in the past.