It’s been seven days now since I first feasted my eyes on feature film, ‘Baaji’, but I’m yet to come out of the film’s left behind trance. As I pen this article, I am sitting replaying my ‘Baaji’ Instagram story for the gazillionth time. There was just something about this quintessentially filmi film that stayed with me. Whether it was the desi rawness, the bedazzling visuals, or the beautifully-written and performed characters – to me, it just made this film a befitting tribute to Lollywood.
Baaji: an acquired taste
Despite all the praise, it is not a perfect film. No, I am not talking about the unjustified hate for the film that I’ve been seeing on social media. Yes, there are a few issues, majorly with the writing of its climax, but the way the internet has been divided over this film is just perplexing.
A part of me thinks it is because cinema-goers don’t have that kind of exposure when it comes to ‘Old School Lollywood’. I mean if you haven’t heard ‘Suno Suno Bolo Bolo’ or don’t know what ‘Inteha’ was, or have little to no idea of stage theatre in Lahore, then I’m sorry, you will not really enjoy ‘Baaji’.
The alternative ending
Moving on to the main point of this article – the alternative ending. The climax of the film, ‘Baaji’ disappointed me big time and I am sure I am not the only one. So here is, according to me, an alternative and more fulfilling ending.
This is by no means an effort to belittle the efforts of Irfan Ahmed Urfi sahab who has done a brilliant job with the scripting. I just refuse to believe that the person who wrote the film and the last fifteen minutes is the same person. Nevertheless, this is a little something which, you could say, is an opinion/suggestion coming from a genuine supporter of the film and the industry in general.
Goes without saying SPOILER ALERT! Here goes.
So up till the sex tape leak, the film is just perfect. But after the party scene when Shahmeera comes home is when things go haywire. Here is how I imagine things should have been:
Shahmeera comes home, she cannot yet fully register what has happened. She lashes out at Neha, abuses her some more, physically and verbally. A broken Neha goes back home in the midst of the night to her family, who is shocked to the core. They know about the sex tape, are disgusted, and the brother takes a final decision of cutting Shahmeera out of Neha’s life once and for all.
The coming days aren’t easy for Shahmeera either as she is ridiculed by the public and disowned by her close ones because of the shame she has brought them. Rohail also backs out of the film citing the negative image of Shahmeera. A shattered Shahmeera gets a final hit when she has to evict the house she had mortgaged for the film’s production.
Being the film star she is, she sees no hope but to end her life at her own terms, and wants this to be one last grand exit scene. She cuts out a silk piece of cloth, ties it to the fan, opens her social media account on Instagram, presses the ‘go live’ button, delivers a powerful monologue exposing the realities of the industry and how it throws out women of age, before committing suicide in front of everyone else.
Devasted and shocked, Rohail, Neha, Remmy and basically all the characters that were a part of her life make their way to her house, where the ambulance is taking out her body and *Badlan sad version* plays in the background.
The video has spread like wildfire and is all anyone can talk about. A montage of talk shows are shown to communicate to the viewers how Shahmeera’s suicide has become a national debate. There is an increased interest in making a biopic on Shahmeera’s life with producers lining up to sign Rohail as director, given his closeness to the actress in her last days. Rohail finally takes up on an offer and begins to hunt for the perfect face.
Rohail enlists Neha to help him with the casting but none of the girls seem to have that spark. Neha explains to the girls how Shahmeera actually was and Rohail has a moment of revelation after which he decides Neha should play Shahmeera. A reluctant Neha finally agrees. The film is made, it’s a blockbuster, Neha is a bonafide star, and there is a grand award ceremony where she gives a beautiful speech dedicating her award to Shahmeera.
Neha gets off the stage, the audience is sitting in a theatre hall-manner with a pathway dividing the two sides. Neha sees a vision of Shahmeera, who in the same way as Saqib shot in the film welcomes her, *Badlan happy version* plays and the film ends.
Once again, this is by no means an attempt to belittle someone, just some constructive feedback. Also, I would like some feedback from you guys too. What do you think of this alternative ending? Should we do more?