By Mashaal Rana
Dobara Phir Se left us elated and it’s easy to pinpoint why – we finally have a female protagonist that is not a bichari.
Our lead lady, Zainab, is no Khirad and we couldn’t be more grateful. Zainab is every woman; loving, foolish, authentic and vulnerable, which is why it’s difficult not to fall in love with her.
Dobara Phir Se may be just another love tale with a happy ending, but for the modern Pakistani woman it feels like the pop culture pushback we need. It challenges the conservative norms of Pakistani society in more ways than just one – by expunging the unnecessary stigma of divorce, the dependence of a woman on man and the evil mother-in-law, to name a few. The movie manages to combat a stream of societal and personal issues faced by the new age Pakistani, especially the struggle of finding oneself. With this simple yet powerful script Mehreen Jabbar is finally allowing a new narrative to take a hold of our screens.
As a Pakistani settled in New York herself, Jabbar has succeeded in beautifully depicting her version of the modern Pakistani who dates and struggles to reach professional success, while still retaining links to his/her culture and traditions.
In the movie, the audience witnesses Zainab evolve from a timid, emotionally tortured and financially dependent woman to one who is self reliant and successful. The movie also introduces us to different perspectives of conventionally stereotypical female roles and relationships – Zainab’s mother-in-law (played by Atiqa Odho) is extremely supportive and a perfect replacement for a mother in Zainab’s life, which can be seen as a too positive view of a Pakistani mother-in-law. Samar, the lead’s friend in need, is the perfect mix of fun girlfriend and voice of reason – her character is suave, trendy, fun-loving and flirtatious. Saeed was truly incredible in this role and will most definitely be tough to beat for this year’s best supporting actress.
The storyline, based on expat Pakistanis also takes some risks. From shooting taboo shots of alcohol consumption to snubbing the stigma attached with divorce in our Pakistani society, Jabbar has truly been exceptional in presenting a refreshing and somewhat accurate view of urban Pakistanis and redefining female gender norms in our society. This movie is a must-watch to provide liberal insights, thanks to Jabbar being daring enough to present this form of eye-opening cinema to Pakistan. A special mention has to be given to cinematographer Andreas Burgess, for a production quality worthy of comparison to any top quality Bollywood film we’d dish out money for!