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Movie Review – ‘Pinky Memsaab’

Directed by Shazia Ali Khan, Pinky Memsaab: A Dubai Story, is an urban drama that features the intersecting lives of two women from two different worlds.

The trailer of the film, which dropped on YouTube and has garnered positive reviews, stars Kiran Malik as the glamorous socialite Mehr who encounters the fresh-off-the-boat Pinky, played by Hajra Yamin. The film’s trailer hints at a complex story that highlights preconceived notions and unspoken class barriers.

Exploring the lives of Pinky (Harja Yamin) – a divorced woman hailing from a hamlet in Punjab, getting an opportunity to work as a house-help in Dubai – and her ‘memsaab’, Mehr (Kiran Malik) – a socialite who comes to terms with her failing writing career and a crumbling marriage with her investment banker husband (Adnan Jaffer) – the story looks at the relation the two share with each other and the social fabric around them.

It further explores Pinky’s second coming to life as she finds her solace in being an expatriate with a freedom to choose, and a choice to make friends – which she soon finds in shape of Santosh (Sunny Hinduja) – the driver.

However, while the film sets out to be an exploration of a woman’s life in a bustling metropolis, it quickly turns more into a set of sequences with no direction. The meandering narrative of how they become each other’s confidants, thus, becomes one of jealousy without a raison d’etre.

Pinky Memsaab, subsequently, feels like a two-hour-long, bland exposition through talking heads. Even the scenes suffer from a lack of completion. They start off well, establishing the situation but then fade out as if they didn’t matter. These loose threads accumulate until the film begins to feel like a worn out sweater dug out of storage after five years.

Nevertheless, what keeps you from walking out is a couple of engaging elements and promises of a few more, which Pinky Memsaab doesn’t exactly deliver. Yamin breaks out as a valuable addition to Pakistani cinema. The naivety, conflicts and aspirations projected in her expressions are enough to make you sit through the end. A more coherent and smoother script would serve her better though. Of course, those who’ve followed the actor’s theatre career are already aware of her talent.

Yet, despite having everything at its disposal to produce an engaging story with an equal-amount of emotional and inspirational quotient, this ‘memsaab’ doesn’t do much. It aspires to, and even reaches out, just like Yamin’s character, but doesn’t quite get there.

The film may not be technically sound with its handheld camerawork often proving to be more distracting than a stylistic choice should be. But that’s forgivable. What’s not is the writing. Pinky Memsaab touts itself as having ‘strong female characters’ and it certainly does, in Pinky and Kulsoom (Hajrah Khan, who plays an exotic dancer trying to support herself). But what is sad is how the film makes them appear so uninteresting.

SCREENGRAB

Pinky Memsaab has a somewhat reliable cast and a captivating story about the working class behind Dubai’s glamorous front. It has the director’s ambitious vision which takes the film far beyond run-of-the-mill flicks Pakistani cinema often produces.

Yet, despite having everything at its disposal to produce an engaging story with an equal-amount of emotional and inspirational quotient, this ‘memsaab’ doesn’t do much. It aspires to, and even reaches out, just like Yamin’s character, but doesn’t quite get there.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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