A review on Pakistani Drama feature length film, Baaji aka Elder Sister (2019). The Production House is Page 33 Films while its Distributor is ARY Films.
- Directed & Produced by Saqib Malik
- Written by Irfan Ahmed Urfi
- Director of Photography by Salman Razzaq
- Edited by Mohammad Arif
- Music by Taha Malik
Baaji is the debut film of Saqib Malik. Previously, he has worked as director on TV commercials and music videos. The story takes the audiences on a journey filled with glamour, romance, scandal and intrigue.
The director has admitted that there are inspirations from Hollywood’s classic films such as All About Eve (1950) and Sunset Boulevard (1950). This film also pays a tribute to the classic social dramas of Pakistani cinema of the 1960s and the 1970s, while also finding inspiration from the golden era of Hollywood of the 1940s and 1950s.
There are some SPOILERS ahead!
+ Main Cast
- Meera as Shameera
- Osman Khalid Butt as Rohail Khan
- Amna Ilyas as Neha
- Mohsin Abbas Haider as Aji
- Ali Kazmi as Rammy
- Nayyar Ejaz as Chand Kamal
- Nisho Begum as Dilshad Bano
- Irfan Khoosat as Stage Dance Owner
- Arisha Razi as Neha’s Sister
- N/A as Neha’s Mother
- N/A as Neha’s Brother
- Humayun Saeed as Actor
- Saife Hassan as Producer
- Yasir Hussain as Director
- Tapu Javeri as Host
- Tariq Amin as Himself
- Frieha Altaf as Herself
- Ayesha Sana as Beautician Head
- Ali Azmat as Himself
- Ali Saleem aka Begum Nawazish Ali as Begum
- N/A as Female Model
- Angeline K Malik as Herself
- Mehwish Hayat as Gangster Guriya
- Aamir Qureshi as Inspector Aamir Qureshi
- Sania Saeed as Lawyer
Shameera is an aging actress who is facing a very difficult time for her to stay in the spotlight. One day, she meets Neha, a manicurist, who is able to help her with Shameera’s struggling life and career.
+ High Points
i – All praises to Amna Ilyas who plays the role of Neha, one of the lead stars of this film. She has been very choosy in which films she wants to be part of. Unlike most of the actresses of our industry, Amna has experimented herself in picking more interesting roles and films to work on. The examples are Zinda Bhaag (2013) and Saat Din Mohabbat In (2018). I have belief in her that she can do much more as an actress which would bring her closer to the higher level of success.
ii – A very nice performance by Ali Kazmi as Rammy, a sophisticated, insecure boyfriend of Shameera. Ali has always been a good choice for any project he works on, as he able to perform well on-screen. Other Honorable Mentions: Mohsin Abbas and Osman Khalid Butt.
iii – I really don’t know of Meera’s previous performances as this is THE first film of her that I have (finally) watched. It is safe to say that her performance in this film is pretty decent. Yes, there… I said it. Even the dresses given to her, made her look graceful.
iv – Surprising, the cinematography turns out to be really praise worthy. It’s a visual treat for the film lovers. Some shots are taken very nicely. The usage of lighting, color correction and different camera angles would bring your mood towards positivity.
v – The production design and the shooting locations, made the film closer to the world the script demanded it to be.
vi – There are a long list of cameos out of which I liked of Aamir Qureshi, Humayun Saeed, Saife Hassan, Yasir Hussain and Ali Saleem. But there is one cameo who is able to steal the show. The one & only, Ayesha Sana. I am not sure if Ayesha aka Bright Karo Isse was mocking herself or not? I mean, she is the head of a Beauty Parlor. And her face is chalk white. Get it? Her makeup was so bad that it looked hilarious on her extra white face. You would literally say ‘Bohat Bright Kardia’. She had such a big red fake smile on her face similar to Joker character. I thought that she would suddenly burst into anger. But nothing of that sort of thing happened. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.
vii – The makeup & hair styling of the stars is glamorous. At times, I found Meera to look very stunning. Osman Khalid is given a very different look of his hair, bit of experimental but it worked on him.
viii – Then we have an item number by Nayyar Ejaz. No, no, I’m just kidding. God! Imagine him, doing an item number! Anyways, Nayyar’s character as Chand Kamal is lightly touched upon as LGBT. It was nicely done, without over doing it which normally happens in our films. The veteran actor himself understood his character well and portrays it cleverly. Good job!
ix – We have 1 – 2 songs that are nice. I like the disco song, where the dance choreography was performed by Osman Khalid and Amna Ilyas. It is a good watch.
+ Low Points
i – My God! By the time the sudden twist came, I was like, WTH? Rather than being shocked, I was laughing at the writer’s decision. Really? You are telling me that this is a murder-mystery film? This is so bad writing for God’s sake. I am sorry to say but it is. The cinema hall’s exit door was so close to me that I could have walked out of it anytime if I wanted to. But only because I didn’t was due to the fact that I had to write a review on it. So, I had to watch till the end.
Yes, I am aware that some people and critics really liked this ‘Twist‘ but I… I just couldn’t digest it. After watching the film, I now understand very clearly why some critics didn’t like this film for. The major reason must be this Twist thing. It’s 100% understandable. Naturally, there are other reasons as well to add up for not liking this film. But this one low point takes the lion’s share. ‘Isko kehtay hai, kahani ki maa-bahen eik karna’ (A perfect way to ruin your story). It’s not Meera, my foot! Its Baaji, my foot!
ii – As for the story, well… in the start, I was really hoping that don’t make this film a copy / adaptation of All About Eve (1950) and Sunset Boulevard (1950), which was not BTW. However, after watching the 2nd half of the film, now I realize that how wrong I was. The story structure is so weakly constructed that you wonder as where this film is heading to? Is this film about Shameera who is a struggling aging actress who is unable to stay in limelight with successful career anymore? Or is this film about Neha, a lower-middle class, strong headed, kind woman who bears the financial burden of her family but desires to be rich and famous? I can assure you that the story is not new nor something different.
It’s possible that the writer intend may have been to show the struggle of two different social classes women with entirely different backgrounds and goals to achieve. But is this really that what Irfan wanted to show? If it was then why everything was so easy for Neha to achieve when she ‘Accidentally’ enters the media world? Keeping in mind that Neha was never shown to be interested in acting field or to be writer and yet… yet, everything is a Midas Touch for her. Okay fine, she does have some ups and downs with Shameera, but only because Shameera herself has many mood swings, often is in unstable condition and is too suspicious of everything & everyone around her. Otherwise, Neha is successful almost everywhere she goes.
iii – Then we have lots and lots of illogical scenes where you might ignore them for the sake of ‘Revival’ of Pakistani cinema.
- Who gets drunk by drinking only two tea spoons of alcohol?
- So, you are telling me that no journalist actually finds out the truth while that person is getting so much high-profile media attention?
- Neha is brilliant in whatever task or opportunity she is given to do. Talk about ‘Beauty with brains’.
- When Neha knows that her employer does not like her closeness to the director and is strictly told that she (Neha) would be contacted, if needed. Still, Neha decides to meet the director at his home and work on the script without notifying her employer first. Does she really wants to get fired?
- Shameera walks in to the director’s house and room as easily as walking at her own home. We assume that she has his main gate and house keys with her.
- No film shoot scenes are shown regarding Shameera’s new film that she is offered to work in. No problems, no hassles during the shoot?
- Neha accepts a lift by unknown guy in his car, who then takes her to an unfamiliar location right up to his building only because he knows who she is. Really? Is she that naïve?
- Shameera’s nemesis offers Neha to smoke a weed, where she barely resists it. Although, she is a non-smoker.
- Neha’s brother is unemployed, religiously hypocrite and jealous of his sister’s earning. But in the span of 2 years, he is shown to be a supportive brother. How? What made him change?
iv – I can’t say that I enjoyed watching Saqib Malik’s direction. There are some scenes where the barrier of the real world is broken. Aside the illogical scenes that I have mentioned earlier, there are other scenes where you would be thinking that it’s not possible to happen like this or that it must be an imagination / dream but, that is not the case. And the way it has happened in the film, I …seriously, am loss of words here. Perhaps, it’s my mistake. Maybe I had too much expectations. Either way, it is a disappointment.
v – I just hate product placements in Pakistani films. It ruins the creativity of the BTS team. It should never get in its way. Dear McDonald’s, next time… please, please come right in the front of the frame so that no one could miss your presence.
vi – There are some forced insertion of the songs where you would strongly feel that there was no need of them.
vii – Why in the world it is compulsory to have a romantic relationship for? Highly unnecessary, I would say.
viii – We have already done lots of stereo type characters in the film industry, especially of religious-hypocrite ones. In this film, we have the actor who played the role of Neha’s brother. It’s about time that we should be showing something different, something new which exists in Pakistan but scarcely touched upon.
Baaji is like an excited kid trying desperately to be noticed. But its own flawed mechanism of story-telling ruins everything.
Rate: 2.25 out of 5 stars