September issue 2018

By | Movies | Published 1 month ago

 

Having watched and loved all three of Fizza Ali Meerza and Nabeel Qureshi’s films – Na Maloom Afraad, Actor-in-Law and Na Maloom Afraad 2 – I went to see Load Wedding with great expectations. And I have to say that I found the fourth production of this very talented pair to be their weakest yet. It may be due to the fact this time round, they have stepped out of their comfort zone, which is comedy, and tried to touch on serious social issues. Not a bad idea at all – had they not veered to the other extreme and resorted to the use of histrionics, melodrama, tears and lectures to drive their point home. In fact, the film sees poor Fahad Mustafa crying practically through the entire movie. A rare one-liner that left the audience in stitches – “Khala, meinu yakhni ki photocopy toh dey do” – made one recall wistfully the many hilarious lines uttered by assorted characters in their previous movies and which were so desperately missing in this one.

The plot revolves around Meeru (Mehwish Hayat) and Raja (Fahad Mustafa). Raja has been embroiled in a one-sided love affair with Meeru, and hasn’t had the guts to tell her till after both face certain challenges in their lives. Meeru marries someone else, but is widowed on her wedding night. Meanwhile, Raja’s father passes away – in a touching tribute to the late Om Puri, his photograph is used to portray Raja’s deceased father – leaving him to fend for his mother (Samina Ahmed) and older sister, Baby Baji (Faiza Hasan). During this period, serious issues are touched upon, albeit fleetingly – such as the blinkered opinion our society tends to have about young widows, and the bar on younger siblings marrying till the older ones are settled. But then suddenly, just before the interval, despite the existing problems, the lovebirds are married, leaving the audiences wondering which direction the film will take from thereon. 

Sadly, after the interval, the film changes track completely and suddenly starts focusing on Raja’s sister, her obsession with game shows, her selfish nature and her frustration with the fact that she is not being able to get married because of the unaffordable demands of dowry by prospective suitors. Had these issues been tackled in a subtler and witty manner, it might have still been palatable. The film’s ending is reminiscent of vintage Pakistani cinema, in which actors like Mohammed Ali delivered lengthy lectures. If the message being sent out was supposed to be one of women’s empowerment, it failed to achieve its objective.

What’s more, while the duo’s movies have always been low-budget, the budget for this production was even tighter; so much so that instead of heading to Murree where the couple is supposed to be honeymooning, stock studio shots were used to depict the same. 

The impressive performances of actors like Mehwish Hayat, Fahad Mustafa and Samina Ahmed notwithstanding, one could not help feel that Mustafa’s character could have been less of a wimp, and that the camera could have done more justice to Hayat’s striking looks. Additionally, there are two parts in the film that left me confused as to their purpose. One is the large chunk of time wasted on a mock game show conducted by Amir Liaquat – I am not sure whether they were making fun of him or paying him a tribute. The other was the one-off flashback sequence depicting the unrequited love experienced by Raja’s mamu (Noor ul Hasan) for the character played by Hania Aamir.  

 With so many things not quite right with Load Wedding, the movie, surprisingly, is not a complete write-off, and the credit for this must go to the otherwise dexterous producer duo, who somehow manage to keep the audiences engaged. A word of advice to the two: next time, stick to comedy.

The writer is a freelance journalist based in Karachi. She also works at Hum television.