By Rozina Bhutto
“Help Me Durdana,” said someone somewhere and all hell broke loose!
It is not often that you witness a single dialogue become the backbone of a film. That too a film full of strong performances (yes, Humayun Saeed you were brilliant), on-point wardrobe (Deepak Perwani you did good) and amazing sets. But trust me when I say, “Help me Durdana”, is your next, “Scene on hai”.
Here’s a public service message for all the Durdana’s out there: Life might get a bit tricky for you this film onwards because people WILL come and ask for your help. It is unavoidable. I’ve already used the “help me” phrase thrice since last night, resulting in a have-you-lost-it look from my sister and a deathly glare from my mother.
If you don’t know what we’re on about, then that’s completely normal and understandable.
This little dialogue created havoc in Fawad Khagga (Humayun Saeed) and Amal Dastoor Ahmed’s (Mehwish Hayat’s) life in ARY Films’ latest movie. Now, who is Durdana and why was she eager to give a helping hand, is something you’ll come to know when you watch Punjab Nahi Jaongi!
It is a story of a certain Fawad Khagga – a wadera with a supreme sense of entitlement – and Amal – a modern girl with a supreme sense of self. He has done his MA from a local university and she has studied economics from a fancy college in London. He took 10 years to reach the milestone (his MA degree) while she completed it on time. He is looking for his Heer while she has already found a man she ‘understands’.
It is safe to say that she is ahead of the Punjabi wadera in every single way. Now, this may strengthen the stereotype, but it is done tastefully so let’s not reach hasty conclusions. You can’t help but adore Humayun’s character even when he goes all pompous, because his family is their to deflate his manly ego when need arises.
We get to meet the Faislabadi Khagga clan in the first few minutes of the film as they celebrate Fawad’s MA degree with a gold crown (Humayun wears it with panache) and presumably a mujra.
The Dastoor clan, headed by Bebo Jee, lives in the city of lights and certainly doesn’t believe in mujras and gold crowns. They have delicious looking cookies with tea to celebrate Amal’s return from London.
But things heat up when an overexcited Fawad’s mother (Saba Hamid) shares Amal’s picture with her son. He naturally falls for the beautiful city girl who abhors the idea of his killer moustache and overall Punjabiness. But then he talks about his 12000 murabay and 1200 bhensain (buffaloes) and wins her over.
Is Amal greedy? Or did she realise her sudden love for moustache?
We don’t know and neither will you, because apparently the writer and the director had no idea how a woman’s brain works, so they left this task with the audience.
Should You Watch Punjab Nahi Jaongi?
Yes. You won’t be disappointed. According to the attendees at the premiere, “It is a completely paisa vasool film!” According to me, it is a love story which could do with a little more plot twists and a little less fillers.
Let’s take the fight scenes for instance. They don’t play any role whatsoever in the progression of the story. In the last fight scene, I waited for both the protagonist and the ‘supposed’ antagonist (which he isn’t really) to dish out meaningful wisdom like, “Aaj tumne saabit kardiya ke Amal ke liye sirf tum hi banay ho”.
But nothing of that sort happens, leaving the audience with a raised brow and a sense of loss. Yes, you certainly don’t appreciate 20-minutes’ worth of pointless fight if you have spent the past three hours trying to get into the hall AND have to go to work tomorrow.
Coming back to Punjab Nahi Jaongi, I wouldn’t say it is a groundbreaking film with an earth shattering story and is going to break stereotypes (in fact, it does the opposite) or cause hysterical fits. PNJ is neither a laugh out loud comedy like Jawani Phir Nahi Aani (Nadeem Baig’s debut film) neither a cry-in-your-hankie romance like Pyaray Afzal (Khalilur Rehman Qamar’s memorable drama), it is somewhere in between.
We did spot some people laughing A LOT. But unfortunately, it erupted from a sexist belly of a number of men and few women too. The most amount of laughter came when Saeed’s character enters into a monologue about how he absolutely HAD to slap the female character because she commented on his moustache! A moustache!
And guess what his dada had to say to this? “Aithey Rakh”, which in English translates to “What a point!” Or, at least that’s what I think it means. The dada, who was otherwise a very lovable character, disappointed me in this scene.
Yes, so the film has its share of misogynistic duds, rather a dud (Fawad), who inherently believes a woman’s job is to please a man, stay at home, and not hug other men or else they’ll ask for Durdana’s help! But Khalilur Rehman Qamar balances it with progressive male characters who give women their due credit and female characters who stand their ground.
Well, maybe they don’t. The heroine, Amal, made two extremely strong claims and everyone around her was like, “OMG! Now she won’t backtrack”, but she did. On the other hand, Fawad Khagga ended up victorious on both accounts.
Khaggaism won and feminism lost!
And that’s sad.
The Highlight of Punjab Nahi Jaongi Were The Performances
Mehwish Hayat’s character of a career-oriented strong city girl didn’t have a lot of margin for performance, but she did what she had to do flawlessly. And so did Azfar Rehman – the frivolous burger boy.
Humayun Saeed played the role of a MA pass stuck-up, Punjabi Feudal Lord to perfection. I think he has finally turned into a fine actor. His compulsion to praise every single question with a trademark, “Very good question”, started off as unnecessary but ended up sounding hilarious, especially in the last scene.
I hope you’ve spotted the trend here – The feudal lord is stubborn, the burger boy weak, and the city girl intelligent. The writer has kept the tale (and characters) predictable, but Nadeem Baig does his magic and told the story like a pro.
Saba Hamid, as the doting mother, does justice to her role (as always) and, thankfully, also to all the females out there, by not supporting his son in his wrongdoings. But her heart weeps for him which is natural.
There is only one thing I’d say about Ahmed Ali Butt – he needed to have a character arc and many more dialogues.
Now, let’s speak about the star of the show: Urwa Hocane! She was right up there with Humayun Saeed, when it came to giving a memorable performance, with her on-point Punjabi accent and dialogue delivery. I don’t know if I liked her more when she said, “Arey pakro usse agay se kuttay ke bacha bhi nikal sakta hai” or when she said, “help me Fawad…meri jutti nayi milri”. She was a delight to watch!
We wish Punjab Nahi Jaongi had more of Khalilur-Rehman-Qamar-esque dialogues, and made use of Nadeem Baig’s ability to bring out sizzling chemistry between Hayat and Saeed’s character (just like he did in Dil Lagi), but this will also do. And that too wonderfully.