FILM REVIEW: LOAD WEDDING – WHAT AN EXCELLENT WATCH

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I mean WOW.. Finally, finally after waiting a long long time for a Pakistani feature film that I can truly praise with all my heart, I saw this fantastic film here in UAE this week. Ladies and gentlemen, this is by far one of the best quality, commercial entertainers to come out of Pakistan so far. I am often told that I am too critical of Pakistan’s feature films, and that I should be more lenient with my reviews and should not hold our industry to such high standards because our revival is so recent…Well I am not going to be critical about this film, because seriously there is NOTHING MUCH TO CRITICIZE. I think the Producers, Writers and the Director – Fizza Ali Meerza, Mehdi Ali and Nabeel Qureshi should take a bow. Standing ovation from our side here in the UAE to the entire team.

An entertaining & fast paced, fun to watch film, very good script & screenplay, crisp almost perfect editing and pace, never a dull moment, good humor & dialogues, great casting, lovely music, excellent cinematography, fantastic direction, and wonderful performances. For me a lot of our Pakistani films always fall short of expectations as I am comparing them to many quality commercial, Indian films that are on screen here in Dubai. Well ‘Load Wedding’, for me and even for all my Indian friends from across the border who went to watch the film with me here in Dubai, does not fall short on any front. Its perfectly at par with the highest standards of South Asian cinema on both sides of the border.

The setting and the characters are grounded in the reality of everyday life of ordinary Pakistanis (unlike so many of our recent films, that are elitist in their settings 😉 ), set in rural Punjab. The film highlights brilliantly the carefree, loud, colourful, over the top and friendly culture of that area of our country. A story built around real characters and real people that our masses can relate to. Brilliantly built into the story are relevant & super important, social messages (extremely important for the masses in our country – especially in the rural areas) against the dowry system, ending discrimination and superstitious attitudes towards widowhood status, police brutality and abuse of power in rural areas, the ills of arranged marriages (watoo sattaa system), the new obsession with game shows and reality shows/ morning shows which in a rural setting perhaps have an obsessive following vs the more jaded audiences of our urban areas. It all comes together so well into a brilliant and quality commercial entertainer, that is ‘Load Wedding’.

I would put ‘Load Wedding’ at par with another one of my favourite commercial Pakistani feature films, ‘Actor in Law’ also by the same team Fizza Ali Meerza & Nabeel Qureshi. (though I am not a fan of their ‘Na Maloom Afraad’ series of films). .

What I love most about Load Wedding is not just the relevant social reform messages built into the movie (which were also built into ‘Actor in Law’), an attempt to change mindsets of ordinary Pakistanis, which is in my opinion, the most important role of cinema in any society – full respect to the writers of the film for this. What I also loved was the detail that the team has built into the film, in one of the songs for instance – a rural church is shown in the background, recognizing the significant presence of the Punjabi Christian community important to the social diversity of the region and to our country….The picture of Om Puri, placed in the background of the home setting in the film as the father who has passed away, pays tribute to the wonderful actor from across the border, who played such a memorable role in the team’s earlier film ‘Actor in law’. It was a touching way to recognize and remember him.

Samina Ahmed & Faiza Hasan have given such heartwarming performances, really made their way into the hearts of the audience. Faiza Hasan is one of the most fun characters to watch in the film. I thought I would be bored of seeing Mehwish Hayat and Fahad Mustafa yet again as a couple on screen, but their performances were so good (one of their best so far) that they left the audience thoroughly impressed. The actor who played the game show host, Aamir Shafaqat (reminiscent of the real life character – You Know Who 😉 ) was hilarious. Perfectly portrayed the hypocritical and vile characters who hide behind the mask of media personalities manipulating the public for ratings and the business of big brands on many television channels in Pakistan.

Rana Kamran’s magic in cinematography is evident throughout the film, world class cinematography really. Great art direction as well. Locations are perfect. Asif Mumtaz deserves special recognition for the crisp editing job in the film. Great pace to the movie.

TWO THINGS THAT DON’T WORK – I am critical of only two things regarding this film. The trailer of ‘Load Wedding’ really does not do justice to the film. It gives the impression that this film is a boring, run of the mill, romantic comedy, set in a rural environment. Does not motivate people to go and watch the movie….The Mehwish Hayat and Fahad Mustafa couple in the trailer, people have seen before in earlier films, so this feels like ‘yet again’.A better trailer could have played such an important role in the film’s promotion.

The second thing is the timing of the release. I feel the film is overshadowed a bit, released in between JPNA 2, with its mega Marketing and Parwaaz Hai Junoon with its super glamorous cast and promos. There is limited screen space in Pakistan and even abroad in countries such as the UAE. Our films are fighting for space with the dominance of Bollywood & regional Indian cinema (Telugu, Tamil, Kannada releases), Hollywood, Arabic and other foreign language films on screen right now. I wish these 3 simultaneous releases from Pakistan had been paced in a way so that audiences were not torn between so many choices at the same time and so end up watching only one of these films rather than all. So many simultaneous releases also means that showtimes are limited for all films, sometimes not convenient for the cinema goers which means they may opt for the film playing only at the most convenient time of day.

 

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