Movie Name: Balu Mahi
Release Date: Feb 10, 2017
Director: Haissam Hussain
Review by: Momin Ali Munshi
First things first: Balu Mahi is a visual treat.
The film has been shot so beautifully, with top notch cinematography, that it almost seems like a painting in motion at times. The frames are perfect, locations picturesque, and add to that the ridiculously good-looking main leads with the talented director at command and voila you have a dazzling display of art at your disposal.
But while the film was all charming, it does test your patience, especially in the second half which seems never ending. Quite frankly, editing has never been a strong feature of our films, but Balu Mahi just takes it to another level with the mess that we saw post interval. Had the editing been crisp and the screenplay better this film would definitely become the benchmark for technically sound cinema.
However not all is lost, as the film is backed by strong performances from the lead actors, the music is another plus, dialogues are funny (barring the low brow humor at times) and generally the film is an entertaining watch which has you hooked from the word go.
The film opens with a wedding sequence where we see Balu (Osman Khalid Butt) supposedly pouring his heart out to his girlfriend whom he wants to marry. But turns out he has the venue all wrong and the bride he just confessed his love to was Mahi (Ainy Jaffri), who sees this as an opportunity to escape a marriage she never wanted, so decides to make a run for it. And thus begins the cat mouse chase called ‘Balu Mahi’.
There was a lot of criticism surrounding the film that it’s a ‘Jab We Met’ rehash and that it is inspired by a few other films, prominently recent Pakistani release ‘Ishq Positive’, but while it did play on a set of tropes that are common for romantic comedies, it did have a distinct feel to it. Especially the second half, which is as Pakistani as it gets!
Coming to the acting department, Osman and Ainy fit the titular roles like a glove. It seems as if the film had been written specifically for the two of them because Osman as the confused London return Balu and Ainy as the vivacious Mahi just brighten the screen with their presence. However, at some points, the duo does appear under-rehearsed but given its their first film (ignoring Ainy’s forgettable role in MHSA) they definitely make the audiences sit up and take notice. Moreover, Osman is one of the few actors who actually knows how to shake a leg. His moves in the song ‘Balu Mahi’, choreographed brilliantly by Wahab Shah, are just too good.
Moving on, the supporting actors also help the film big time and everyone delivers. Sadaf as the seductive Sharmeen definitely looks and acts the part, while also succeeds in eliciting laughter with her witty one-liners. Durdana Butt as the hilarious Dado, Shafqat Cheema as the overbearing Chaudhary and Mustafa with his goofy friend act, all add to the film. Javaid Sheikh and Hina Rizvi appear just for one sequence (which seems to be a blatant copy from Ishq Positive) but they definitely register their entries. All in all the acting was a plus!
As for the music, I felt that it could have been better. The title track ‘Balu Mahi’ unfortunately was the weakest link and despite the brilliant performance by Osman and Ainy the song just did not generate the impact. However, the other three songs were all just perfect. Its rather difficult to pick a favorite for “Rang De Chunar” by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, “Bechaniyaan” by Sahir Ali Bhagga/Afshan Fawad and “Tu Kya Jaane” by Sahir Ali Bhagga were all brilliantly composed, shot and placed in the film. I definitely felt that there could have been another party/wedding number featuring the trio at the end or maybe a seductive/comedy number featuring Sadaf and Osman. Also, I don’t know whether there was an issue with DHA Cinema Lahore or whether there was a technical issue with the surround sound because the dialogues and background score was a bit all over the place.
The director, as mentioned in the beginning, has done a commendable job with the direction department in ‘Balu Mahi’. I specifically want to mention that Old Lahore has never looked this beautiful and its all thanks to Haissam Hussain!
But while visually it was all perfect I did feel that the screenplay and story kind of dampened the impact, specifically in the second half. Without getting into spoilers all I’ll say is that there is no explanation given as to what transpired between the intermission and second half with Ainy’s character and we just seem to be in the middle of the action. Moreover, there are a few loose ends, prominently that of Ainy’s mother, which are never really tied.
But if you ignore these tiny errors the film succeeds in providing you wholesome entertainment and is definitely worth seeing.