The Syra Yousuf and Shahroz Sabzwari starrer “Babylicious” finally sees the light of day after all the delays. The film which was originally designed to be a Valentine’s Day film has now been released in theatres on Eid-ul-Azha and it makes for a perfect festive film that offers all the ingredients of a masala entertainer.
The film revolves around Omar, played by Shahroze Sabzwari and Sabeeha, played by Syra Yousuf. Omar is a hopeless romantic that we all have seen in our lives. Instead of focusing on his studies and career, he invests all his energies on making his relationship work. He’s even planning to make a ‘Sabeeha Mahal’, as his thesis project in architecture, to immortalize his love story. Omar is far from the practical realities and lives in his own la la land. There is “Summer Surfing” and “Sunset vibe” imprinted on his t-shirt and that quite aptly describes the care-free attitude of his character. Sabeeha, on the other hand, is someone who has her priorities figured out and despite being emotionally invested with Omar in a fifteen months relationship, she wants more out of her life and she’s very clear about that. The supporting characters are all well rounded too for a masala film and they all serve a purpose. The screenplay is watertight and keeps you engaged. The dialogues are contemporary with a plentiful use of modern day urban slangs. The film also features some adult jokes but nothing that you can call distasteful humour.
‘Babylicious’ is the first film to come out from Pakistani cinema in last couple of decades that focuses on young characters. Our revived cinema lacked a film that deals with urban youthful characters and their struggle with life( primarily with relationships). For a generation that has a plethora of options in coming-of-age and youth based content that’s being churned out on Netflix regularly, this is their own home-grown youth-based entertainer.
‘Babylicious’ is an audio-visual treat that makes for a nice cinema experience. The screen looks dreamy with beautiful frames, rich production design, colourful sets, and good lighting. Many of the scenes are shot with green screen in studios but they are all well executed with apt lighting. The songs are another plus point as they are catchy, contemporary and have a repeat value. ‘Main Usay Jee Raha Hoon’ is going to be in my playlist for quite some time. It is sad that such beautiful songs, that are equally well-shot, have not been marketed well enough to promote the film. The music could have been USP of this film. It took us decades to learn the art of filmmaking, and now it’s going to take us eons to learn the art of selling a film. Sigh!
The casting of film is fairly good. Shahroze lives the character and Syra looks like a million bucks on big screen. The on-screen chemistry of Syra and Shahroz looks real, believable and they both looked adorable together sharing the silver screen. Ankur Rathee has his screen presence and makes for a perfect-looking second lead. The supporting cast, from Aadi, Mohi Abro to Sabeena Syed and Shehzeen Rahat, are all equally good too. Mani’s part, though a relatively smaller role, is intelligently used.
While the film is reasonably good in its entertainment values and filmmaking parameters, it’s also a problematic one in today’s woke age when it comes to the content. (Spoilers Ahead) The male lead, who starts as a hopeless romantic develops into an obsessed lover and ultimately into a toxic ex who sends personal photographs to his ex-girlfriends’ fiancé. He can’t accept the fact that people evolve with time and they can grow out in different directions with different priorities and that it’s okay to move on. His toxic obsession is regressive for a film that promises to be a modern one. Instead of being discouraged on such traits, that even includes a suicide attempt, the man ultimately wins over his “zid” by the climax which can set a bad precedent for the young viewers. Equally regressive was the use of religion right before the climax.
To sum up, if you want to go to cinema to have a good time with your friends and family on Eid, this one can be an absolute entertainer for you with comedy, songs, romance and a little bit of action. But if you are someone who gets offended by regressive mind-set and toxic characters even in a masala entertainer, you have got a number of other options to chose from this Eid.