Parday Mein Rehnay Do Review: How to Make an Emotional Comedy About Male Infertility


Parday Mein Rehnay Do Review: How to Make an Emotional Comedy About Male Infertility

Wajahat Rauf’s best film till date should be the new template of how Pakistani films should be made: only 90 minutes long and bursting with emotions

Rana (Javed Sheikh) is irked at his neighbor, and he is pissed off at his son. His neighbor (Shafqat Khan) can’t stop breeding children (by the end of the film he has nine kids) while Rana’s son, Kashaan, aka Shaani (Ali Rehman Khan) just won’t look at women.

In any other circumstances, Shaani’s meek, reserved, almost-pious nature might have been applauded by his family, but not here. Rana and his wife arrive at the obvious solution: they think he is into men.

Pressured into marrying Rana’s friend’s daughter Lali (Sadia Faisal) — who harbors a life-long crush on Shaani — the meek young man has no choice but to tell everyone the truth: he has secretly married a girl he loves since college.

Enter Nazo (Hania Aamir), a spitfire with smarts, whose first shot in the film shows her smoking from within the veil on the wedding bed. Nazo and Shaani are your typical non-filmi couple in what is a non-filmi but very cinematically-inclined take on a very serious issue: infertility. 

Think Shubh Mangal Savdhaan, but made within acceptable boundaries of Pakistani culture and the censor code. In an era of simplistic political correctness, this is a multifaceted story of a man’s plight when he cannot father children, and how childlessness nearly ruins a family.

Parday Mein Rehnay Do Review: How to Make an Emotional Comedy About Male Infertility

Like most of Wajahat’s wares, this is a comedy and a very smart one at that. Even the title, Parday Mein Rehnay Do, is a testament to the film’s astuteness: with societal stigmas, family bickering and prodding, and condemnation of women (not being able to conceive is never a man’s problem, according to ill-bred norms), just how much should one keep under a veil, the film asks?

PMRD should be the template of how films should be made in Pakistan: a mere 90 minutes long, blazingly paced, expertly cut, and cinematically shot with good music.

The editing by Hasan Ali Khan, reminds one of how Bollywood films are cut: sharp, without lagging head and tails of shots. The cinematography by Asrad Khan is a testament of how you can cinematically shoot a film in what is mostly a one-location film. The soundtrack by Aashir Wajahat and Hassan Ali woos your ears, yet the songs play out in the background. That is a very perceptive and producer-like approach to making a film. Adding song and dance numbers would have broken the film’s tempo. One can see those hard decisions were made for the well-being of PMRD. 

Speaking of good decisions, we have Hania Aamir’s cast as Nazo. Hania’s nymph-like physicality hides a very strong, empathetic but resilient young woman who is not beholden to antiquated convictions. Shaani, when he starts out, is much more stubborn, and perhaps somewhat immature. Despite Hania’s well-executed role, this is an Ali Rehman film through and through.

Having witnessed Ali’s career since its inception, this is the actor’s first award-worthy turn. Ali is a natural actor who can’t overact and who, according to my experience of his work, has a limited range. But that’s not a bad thing: Aamir Khan and Edward Norton have limited range; it’s what the actor does within that range that counts.

Parday Mein Rehnay Do Review: How to Make an Emotional Comedy About Male Infertility

In PMRD, Ali finally understands and works within the boundary of his acting prowess — and what a performance it is. At one point this writer, and the layman sitting next to him, felt emotional. That is the power of good cinema, and a well-written, expertly directed role: it evokes emotions that reach out to both the common man and the critic. 

Pakistani motion pictures have had a strange, female-centric default for quite a few years. With Cake, Punjab Nahin Jaungi, Motorcycle Girl, Load Wedding, Verna, Bin Roye, Parvaaz Hai Junoon, Superstar, even smaller dud films such as Maan Jao Naa, filmmakers, often stemming from television, seem to be stuck on the idea of telling stories that empower women, in films that are primarily designed to attract women audiences. While there is certainly nothing wrong with that line of thought, this mindset stops other genres or gender-unbiased, progressive stories from getting made.

This is where — and why — I feel PMRD is a revelation. Not only is it a story well-told, but it is also a thoroughly commercial film that doesn’t fall into the gender trap.

Mohsin Ali (Wrong No., GNH) has written an air-tight screenplay that is supplemented by Wajahat Rauf’s pitch-perfect direction. As someone who has reviewed all of Wajahat’s films (all of them lacking in certain regards), I can testify that this is perhaps his most mature project to date…primarily, because he hasn’t written the screenplay himself.

Let me clarify: Wajahat Rauf, along with Yasir Hussain, has been penning their screenplays for a long time now (they co-wrote Karachi Se Lahore, Lahore Se Aagay, and Chhalawa — basically, Wajahat’s entire filmography with exception to PMRD). More often than not, a writer is indebted to the words he or she pens in the screenplay. Working on someone else’s screenplay frees Wajahat to concentrate on fresh nuances that might miss his attention otherwise.

With PMRD, Wajahat has become a force to reckon with. He has matured well beyond his preconceived image as a comedy man. He, like PMRD, is much more than what you expect it to be. Engaging, believable, light-hearted yet serious, the film is an intelligent, emotion-stirring film for the masses.

Years ago, I might not have pegged PMRD as an Eid release. Let me admit: I was wrong. If the industry is capable of making films in Wajahat’s template, then a new revival may already be at hand.

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