“Recurrence of themes” is a phenomenon that’s common to artists across the world regardless of their field. Whether it’s painters like Vincent Van Gogh or Pablo Picasso who stuck to surrealism and cubism in most of their works, an architectural genius like Antonio Gaudi who played with flashy colors and geometrical shapes or choreographers like Farah Khan and Wahab Shah whose choreography is mostly the translation of a song’s lyrics into dance steps. It’s this tendency to repeat themes that makes an artist’s work identifiable.
Saqib Malik’s love for cinema and Lollywood
While watching Saqib Malik’s upcoming film Baaji‘s trailer, the same comes to mind when the whole process of the making of Baaji is seen closely. In Saqib’s case, it’s the love of classic cinema in general & that of Lollywood in particular.
With videos like “Khamaj”, Ali Zafar’s “Dekha Jo” and Ali Azmat’s “Na re Na”, despite with contrasting subjects & singers, the ‘love of cinema’ element recurs time and again. The same can be seen with Saqib’s cinematic début Baaji. From the film’s subject to its settings, and from music to the artists he has hired for Baaji, “Lollywood” could be felt and seen all over the film now that the long-awaited trailer is released.
In a way, the director seems to pay homage to the golden era of Lollywood, its consequent fall and its current re-emergence. Even the leading ladies, one a fading star and the other, a rising one represent two Lollywoods where one crumbling industry’s fate was followed by the rise of a new cinema.
It’s not just the themes, the cast itself strikes a balance too. Comprising an intriguing star cast, including the likes of Meera and Amna Ilyas in titular roles, alongside Osman Khalid Butt, Mohsin Abbas Haider, Ali Kazmi, Nisho and Nayyar Ejaz, Baaji covers major eras of Lollywood.
Where Amna Ilyas is the face of new age cinema (Zinda Bhag, MVLU, DMPS, Good morning Karachi, etc.). Meera represents the 90s (Khilona, Kaanta, Khoye Hu Tum Kahan, Inteha), while Nishu’s presence represents the golden era of the 60s and 70s (Nishu remained a prominent face of the 70s and starred in films like Rangeela, Aaj Aur Kal, Nadaan, etc).
The famous song Sub Tu Sohniye was picturized on her in one of her films. She’s also the mother of the 90s leading lady Sahiba and mother in law of Rambo, who recently lent his voice to the blockbuster hit Donkey King as Mangu. Also, the very senior musician from Lollywood Taafu Sahab has composed two special 90s styled songs that will serve as a treat for cine-goers according to the director.
Promising to deliver high voltage glamour and intense drama in the form of music numbers, the film features two chartbuster songs from the golden era of Lollywood.
The first one is “Ye aaj mujhko kia hua” from the film Naukar – starring Babra, Muhammad Ali and Zeba, sung by Naheed Akhtar and picturized on Babra Shareef – while the other “Don’t be silly” is from S Suleman’s 1972 platinum Jubilee hit Sabaq that featured Zeba, Muhammad Ali, Husna, etc. The song was sung by Roona Laila originally and was picturized on Husna, a leading dancer of that era. The same film featured Syed Noor as an assistant director while today’s well-known face Noor Bukhari’s parents as junior artists; another reason to assert that Baaji is trying to connect multiple dots of Pakistani cinema.
The setting of the film:
From the trailer, it’s evident that Baaji is mainly set in Lahore – an old and long-standing seat of Pakistani cinema for decades. It explores the old city architecture, its rather notorious theatre scene and, of course, the dwindling cinema culture in a rather dark and melancholic way.
The trailer launch event:
That’s not it, the makers of Baaji also followed a rather long forgotten template, where the large foto-sets of the films featuring its artists would adorn cinemas or their launch or promotional events.
The trailer launch of Baaji dearly followed the Lollywood style, making sure the attending audience is given a taste of the forgotten Lollywood.
A final word
According to Saqib Malik’s own claim, Baaji will hopefully bridge the divide between what is known as new-age Pakistani cinema and our classical school of films.
It is yet to be seen how all of this unfolds when the film releases on the 28th of June. However, it’s not difficult to ascertain and feel that Baaji proudly owns the roots of original Lollywood which are mostly looked down upon by the new age artists, technicians and viewers equally.
Baaji may even invoke, young film viewers’ s interests in Pakistan’s long forgotten classic cinema. Just a little example, the video of the original song “Don’t be silly” has seen a multifold increase in its views and comments on YouTube just in two days, after the trailer launch of Baaji.
Maybe the process has already started.