Film Review: Baaji Is Well-Intentioned But Lacks Entertainment Value

Baaji Trailer meera
Image Source: EntertainmentPk

From the word go Baaji had successfully attracted a lot of attention from both the media and cine-goers. More than anyone else associated with the project, it was Meera’s presence in the film that had everyone talking.

Once the teaser and later the trailer came out, anticipation around the film grew exponentially. Everyone seemed excited to see Meera return to the silver screen essaying a character whose journey seemed quite similar to her own.

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However, despite obvious similarities in the trailer between Shameera – the character and Meera the actress, one did not realize that Baaji was not just an actress’s tale of rise and fall but (save the ending), it was very much Meera’s own biopic. And so, in many ways it was most brave of Meera to relive traumatic experiences and some of her worst insecurities on-screen through the titular character.

The film revolves around an actress who struggles to preserve her fading stardom in the backdrop of a cut-throat industry that discards its own without remorse when age catches up. Baaji delves in detail into the paranoia, self-loath, resentment and inevitably wrong decisions that come when one allows insecurities to takeover the best of his/her mental faculties.

Saqib Malik’s debut directorial also touches upon themes such as sexuality and sexual liberty through a non-judgmental but frank lens. The experiences of the so-called elite and the so-called dregs within the entertainment industry make for an interesting comparison.

Read: VIDEO ALERT: Meera Jee Mimicked Osman Khalid Butt & His Reaction Is The Sweetest!

That said, in terms of the story line, Baaji does not have anything new to offer. We have seen variations of a similar tale pan out on 70mm in Bollywood offerings such as Fashion, Heroine and The Dirty Picture. However, the fact that the story borrows heavily from Meera’s own life gives it an authenticity that cannot be challenged. At the same time, the twist towards the end ensures that Baaji offers something entirely different from the films that fall in its league.

Saqib Malik seems to have made a sincere effort to deliver a commercial film that keeps its aesthetics intact. However, while Baaji is high on drama, it lacks entertainment value; it lacks that oomph factor that makes you want to recommend a film to your peers. Put simply, the narration is bland and unfortunately no amount of item or dance numbers could atone for this lack of flavour.

It moves from one event to another without really caring to explain to the audience why a certain character is the way s/he is or how things condensed to the point that they had. At the same time, there is little to no investment in backstories – a common problem with most Pakistani films releasing of late.

For a film that revolves around the film industry, Baaji does not have a single song that stays with you. For me at least, this was a huge let down.

On the positive side, the costume designer and make-up artists deserve two thumbs up for jobs very well done. The choreography is spot-on and a certainly a step forward in the right direction.

The editor too, has done a decent job by restricting the length to 2 hours 12 minutes without making the narrative choppy or incoherent.

As far as acting is concerned, Meera shines the brightest. Yes, she is at times over the top but so is Shameera. Meera perfectly captures the many moods of her layered, emotionally volatile character without much effort and you realize why – despite her many misadventures – she has successfully kept the interest of the Pakistani cine-goers alive for over two decades.

Amna Ilyaas, Osman Khalid Butt, Mohsin Abbas and Ali Kazmi are earnest. Nayyar Ejaz will make you cringe in virtually every frame that graces and that, as an actor is his success! Seeing Nisho sahiba return to the silver screen is a treat. She’s a true veteran who knows how to instantly divert eye-balls in her direction even when she isn’t at the center of the frame.

On the whole, Baaji is like a huge daig of biryani whose aroma is enticing enough to make you take a spoonful but it doesn’t have enough spice to make your experience live up to the anticipation. Watch it once to support Pakistani cinema.