March Issue 2016
Love is the Drug
It is not damning Bachaana with faint praise to say that the best thing about the film is its length. Mercifully devoid of bloat and distracting item numbers,Bachaana clocks in at under 100 minutes at a time when three-hour snoozefests are becoming the norm. This is a mainstream movie that is secure enough not to try and be everything to everyone.
Directed by Nasir Khan, Bachaanais best enjoyed without thinking too much about the contrivances of its plot. The charming Sanam Saeed stars as an Indian who is in Mauritius for her honeymoon with her husband Adeel Hashmi. They are driven to their hotel by Mohib Mirza, a Pakistani cabbie on the island. Hashmi, in a rare dramatic role, turns out to be a drug dealer and leaves Saeed on her own and tells her to pack her bags and go to South Africa. Her suitcase is switched with one stuffed with drugs and a distraught Saeed turns to Mirza to investigate the true identity of her husband. You don’t need to have watched too many films to know that Saeed and Mirza will eventually fall in love.
Bachaana moves at a brisk pace and, though implausible at times, the chemistry between Saeed and Mirza is strong enough to ignore plot distractions. Mauritius may not be the largest island in the world but the way the drug dealers chasing after our heroes seem to keep bumping into them defies all logic. There was no need to throw in so many twists and turns when the actors were more than capable of carrying the movie on their own shoulders.
The dialogue is surprisingly humorous for a movie that is ostensibly a thriller, to the point where it would not be too much of an exaggeration to call Bachaana a romantic comedy. There are some predictable jokes about Pakistan, India and cross-border romances but thankfully they are rare and the script is dominated more by character than stereotype.
The third undoubted star of the movie is the island of Mauritius. Bachaana does justice not just to its famed beaches but even to little details like its street lights and rolling buses. Some of the aerial shots used show this little slice of heaven at its absolute best.
The soundtrack has only three songs and all are used impeccably, although it is somewhat surprising that none of the three are love songs, given that the romance between the leads dominates the film. Still, it is refreshing for a movie to aim for mass appeal but not indulge in regular song-and-dance routines.
Nasir Khan also deserves credit for keeping Bachaana free of product placement. Too many movies are now little more than advertisements for carbonated beverages to the point where the purpose of the movie seems to be to push products first and tell a story a distant second.
This review was originally published in Newsline’s March 2016 issue.
Nadir Hassan is a Pakistan-based journalist and assistant editor at Newsline.