Bachaana Review: a fun rom-com….low on depth but entertaining

Bachaana is an old-school Cary Grant type of romantic comedy: fast-paced and full of snappy one-liners. The plot is somewhat predictable but that is secondary – Bachaana is all about the chase.

The film tells the story of an Indian girl, Alia, who finds herself on the run from drug dealers and Vicky, the Pakistani taxi driver who helps her. Starring Sanam Saeed and Mohib Mirza and set in Mauritius, Bachaana is a mélange of action-packed chases, gorgeous scenery and palpable chemistry between the two co-stars.

Sanam Saeed and Mohib Mirza have great chemistry
Sanam Saeed and Mohib Mirza have great chemistry

One of the biggest talking points prior to the film’s release was its tagline “Larki Larki hoti hai”, apparently indicating a chauvinistic stance that a girl needs a man to save her. In actual fact, the film has a gloriously spunky heroine who is both athletic and intelligent. She sails through a jump that Vicky does in slow-motion, action hero style and she does as much saving as being saved. He is heroic by turns but is by no means a cardboard cut-out action man, nor is Alia a languishing weakling.

Alia is no languishing heroine
Alia is no languishing heroine – GIF courtesy images.dawn.com

The cross-border romance element meanwhile is treated with a light touch, depicted mainly through a series of jokes. This is not a movie that delves into angst or unnecessary drama.

In terms of the relationship between Alia and Vicky, she moves from refusing to talk to him because he’s Pakistani to grudgingly employing him to trusting him implicitly fairly quickly. However, having a guy help you dodge bullets probably has that effect!

The plot does have its faults: it lacks suspense and there are many instances where plausibility is sacrificed in the name of convenience but that is often par for the course in films where action is focus. I hesitate to say more because I don’t want to give away what few plot twists there are. Suffice to say you have to suspend belief at some points and avoid asking questions like “Is Mauritius that small? How do the villains keep finding them?” Despite the flaws in the storyline, this is a film that will charm you. Alia and Vicky are both plausible, well-depicted characters and their travels around the island are full of romance and humour.

Bachaana
Mohib Mirza and Sanam Saeed in Bachaana

One of the Bachaana’s biggest strengths is that it doesn’t degenerate into Bollywood-style farce aimed at the lowest common denominator. There are no ridiculous characters added for ‘comic effect’ – the humour blends seamlessly into the action with the emphasis on verbal comedy rather than slapstick.

Mohib Mirza and Sanam Saeed’s strong performances make the film, particularly as the remaining characters are peripheral at best. Sanam Saeed has shown her acting prowess in a range of drama serials, unafraid to tackle controversial and negative roles. Bachaana sees her in a much more light-hearted avatar and shows she combines acting ability with great comic timing. Her portrayal of Alia is spot-on from the beginning, depicting her pluck and vulnerability equally well.

Sanam Saeed in Bachaana
Sanam Saeed in Bachaana

Mohib Mirza has also shown great versatility in recent years, from his position as the presenter of Pakistan Idol to a more serious role last year in Dukhtar. He is very good as the reluctant hero Vicky, an engaging mix of bravado, comic patter and ardour. While he handles the action sequences well, he particularly excels with his droll expressions. The scene where Alia makes him ask a woman the extent of her relationship with Adeel Hashmi’s character is hilarious. Adeel Hashmi also deserves an honorable mention for managing to ooze menace despite having minimal dialogue.

Adeel Hashmi oozes menace
Adeel Hashmi in Bachaana

Director Nasir Khan has done a good job. He is visually articulate and draws you into the story seamlessly. From the chase sequences to the romantic interludes, each scene is shot with style. Some of his cinematographic tricks were a tad precious however these were few and far between. For the most part, his use of technique slips under the radar, just as it should, creating that old-school atmosphere and subtly enhancing the movie. There are a LOT of chase scenes in the movie but it is to Khan’s credit that he manages to vary them enough to keep pace of the movie sharp.

There are a LOT of chases in Bachaana
There are a LOT of chases in Bachaana – GIF courtesy images.dawn.com

Another reason for the crisp feel of the film is the lack of songs breaking up the action. The soundtrack actually consists of only three numbers. Two of these, Yaari and Bachaana are played as background music and only Koi Labda gets the full-on Bollywood- style treatment. While the song itself is romantic, the stylized depiction actually slowed the pace of movie. Keeping song-and-dance numbers to a minimum kept the length of the movie down and the audience engaged.

Bachaana is the latest ouvre in the renaissance of Pakistani film and it has a lot to recommend it. Visually stunning, Bachaana combines spirited stars, running gags and playful banter for an entertaining experience. Roll with flaws in the plot and enjoy the ride. Bachaana is an excellent choice for either date night or for a family movie night. It may not be a film that touches your soul, but it is an enjoyable experience.

Verdict: 7.5/10

This review by chief editor Salima Feerasta first appeared on images.dawn.com

Salima Feerasta
Salima Feerastahttps://karachista.com
Salima Feerasta is chief editor of Karachista.com and one of Pakistan's top fashion and lifestyle journalists.

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