Dobara Phir Se – Back to the future of Pakistani Cinema

By Mahvish Ahmed
Share

With its scintillating star-cast and superb music, Dobara Phir Se (DPS), under Mehreen Jabbar’s direction, premiered in Karachi last night. I found the film to be worth the wait and, definitely, worth a watch. Despite a saga of complicated relationships, DPS is a simple story of love, friendship, loneliness and being true to oneself. Without any major twists and turns, it (mostly) succeeds in capturing the attention of the audience. No cringe-worthy comedy or lame one-liners are needed to carry the film forward – just the story, nice, clean dialogues, the acting and the beautifully utilized locations in New York and Karachi (my personal favourite Super Savari Express makes a little cameo as well). The ensemble of seasoned and well spoken actors gives us confidence that the future of Pakistani cinema is in good hands. 

It is a very Pakistani piece

DPS is in no way an attempt to chhaap-ofy Bollywood. It is refreshing to see characters that portray the regular upper-middle class, urban Pakistani of today, and Mehreen Jabbar makes a brilliant attempt at sharing a slice of their life with the audience. The characters live and dress like a lot of Pakistanis actually do, which makes them very relatable. This is probably the first time a Pakistani project depicts the activity of drinking within the context of decent human beings. So gone are the days when the easiest way to portray the wickedness of a villain is to introduce him with a glass of scotch-on-ice in his hand. The portrayal of scenes was very close to reality. Not once did my husband lean over and say “ye kahan hota hai?”. And believe me, that’s a good sign.

You will see blatant product placement

You might find it odd that everyone in New York snacks on Oye Hoye chips. If they are indeed so readily available in the US, then kudos to the manufacturers, but overall, we do need a few lessons on keeping the haath a little haula on product placement! And yes, no one packs a dabba of Close Up with so much izzat – that characteristic is exclusively Zainab’s (Hareem Farooq).

Absence of exaggerated rona dhona

Zainab and Hammad (Adeel Hussain) are both people who know when and how to move on. There was no pointless sulking and running to the bed, jumping on it and crying – there is some well-needed consolation for Bin Roye victims here! The film actually starts with Zainab, an illustrator by profession, ready to move on rather than cry her heart out over a torturous relationship throughout the film. Thank God for that!

Bye bye Mannus and Khirads

Are we not more than ready to bid farewell to weak female characters? DPS shows the world how Pakistani women today are much more than Bin Roye’s Saba. I welcome strong female characters like Natasha (Tooba Siddiqi, playing an investment banker) and Samar (Sanam Saeed who knows how to live it up and dances at her own wedding). Hareem’s character deals positively with divorce and creates financial stability for herself and her son.

You are allowed to love again

The film inspiringly shows how life can actually give you a second chance and if you make a wrong decision in love for the first time, it is very much possible for you to find the right one later, even if you’re a mother. Guess what? Divorce is NOT a taboo.

Mothers-in-law don’t have to be pulled out of Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi

There do exist mothers-in-law who are supportive, and manage to see the faults in their sons rather than finding keerhas in their daughters-in-law. Atiqa Odho, playing the character of this japphi-worthy saas has brilliant screen presence and as always, was flawless. The fact that Hammad’s family doesn’t create a hue-and-cry over Zainab being a divorced mother was a breath of fresh air. So yes, DPS does manage to challenge some of Pakistan’s social stereotypes.

Adeel Husain could actually kill with his looks

Adeel Husain, everybody’s all-time favorite will live up to your expectations, I promise. Despite his (slightly) flamboyant personality, he will make you love him and desperately wish for him to get what he wants in life. Mujhay to pyaar ho gaya uss se, dobara, phir se! (People have told my husband more than a few times that he strongly resembles Adeel Husain – so is that a major consolation prize for me or what?!)

Body type does not define the skill of an actor

The very young and talented Hareem Farooq debuted as an actress in DPS and trusting the director, she was brave to go for a character that chooses to part ways with her husband, being a mother of an 8-year-old. That was a major break away from actresses defying their age even when their wrinkles beg for more mature roles! And even more points for Hareem for owning her body and giving all kinds of shots in the film, even those that don’t prove to be the most flattering for her. She doesn’t have the best skin but you will see her giving several close ups which will make you relate to her dilemmas as a young woman.

Sanam Saeed steals the show

Hands down! She was such a natural, not even once looking directed. Overall, the actors did justice to their roles and showed some serious acting chops – something that was missing in Janaan at various points and that torturous Karachi se Lahore. By the way, Shaz Khan’s performance too was praiseworthy, who plays the role of Hareem’s husband. You will love to hate him and love to love little Musa, playing the role of her son. And yes, Ali Kazmi is a great re-discovery and I look forward to watching more of him in the future.

Just a single situational song?

There were no situational songs except one, Larr Gaiyaan, and that was aptly used. It’s a catchy tune, with nice choreography, and you can expect it be the shaan of mehndis this wedding season. The rest of the background scores were lovely with some great vocals and lyrics. I can totally picture myself playing DPS music on repeat, sipping a cup of coffee on my balcony while enjoying the cool and crisp Karachi winter breeze.

Pakistani filmmakers could use some editing skills

By the last half hour, you want the film to just end because you KNOW what is going to happen and would like for it to just happen already. There are no major story loopholes like the ones in Janaan but some bits did need more emphasis for them to be convincing as turning points. There is no real climax where you’d think ab kya hoga?”. These are tiny finishing touches that would have further elevated the level of the film. They don’t mean that the film was bad; just that it needed to be tied together a tad bit better to create an even better attachment with the characters.

Verdict

The film gets boring at multiple points but, did I want to get up and walk out like I did in Karachi se Lahore and even Bin Roye? Certainly not. Should you go watch it for the sake of it being a film and not just to support the Pakistani film industry? Certainly yes. It shows that Pakistani film makers are ready to explore new waters and go above and beyond those rom-coms, giving the viewers something more substantial. Book a ticket and go watch it to see some of your favourite Pakistani actors; enjoy a light-hearted story intertwined with love and friendship, and don’t forget to end your evening with a nice meal to go home with a smile.

Share

About Mahvish Ahmed

Mahvish lives by the motto: “Don’t judge, do your own thing. You owe no explanation.” She holds a Masters Degree in Economics from The University of Warwick, UK. But if you think this mom of one sprightly daughter is content teaching at IBA (The Institute of Business Administration, in Karachi, Pakistan), alone, you are mistaken. Mahvish is self- employed at her husband’s photography business, Locura. She has also discovered a penchant for writing. With a number of travel blogs under her belt, she has penned her first Fashion Blog for FUCHSIA. “I am crazy about travelling, photography and Bollywood. I save up my salary all year round to blow it up on one sensational travel experience once a year!” Confesses Mahvish. She aspires to obtain a Phd. one day and get more involved in research. She would love to add 30 minutes of yoga to her routine. She is happy being herself! You can read more from Mahvish on http://mereysafarnamay.blogspot.ch/?m=1