This is the kind of film that makes one wonder what exactly it is that constitutes a good film. If it’s fantastic locations, gorgeous cinematography, good looking leads, and great music – then PHT is your film.
But if you’re looking for a movie with an actual script, where the main actors can actually emote without it seeming as if they are being forced to do something which just doesn’t come naturally to them – then PHT is not your cuppa.
Make no mistake, there’s a lot going for this film on paper and certainly, a great deal of that vision (no pun intended) translates on the screen as well in the form of the beautiful frames and the gorgeous songs. And every once in a while, there’s a glimpse, a flash of potential that hints at what the movie could have been – and one can’t help but think that if perhaps more of the origins of Shehryar’s existential commitment phobia had been explored, or the dynamic with his step father, or more had been developed on the relationship between him and Nadeem Sahab’s character, the script may well have had some ‘jaan’ in it.
Because as it stands, the romance does not work. The ‘conflict’ and ‘angst’ is manufactured, there are no credible or believable depth of emotions and very little chemistry to sell any of it.
The film desperately wants to sell us an epic connection between the two main protagonists, except that it tells us rather than shows us.
Just as we never quite know why these two characters appear to be drawn to one another, we are never entirely sure why certain characters flit in and out, or indeed, at times, even who they are altogether. They seem to have been thrown in purely because a certain, very limited section of the audience will recognize the actors who play them and feel a sense of belonging.
Similarly, certain scenes or moments appear to be there purely for cinematic value rather than servicing the actual story. Worst yet, the editing is so indulgent, that every time one thinks the drama is over, there’s more.
The lack of coherence extends to the performances as well, where the go to instruction to the actors appears to have been ‘ham it up.’ Even one of the finest actors we have in this industry, Hina Dilpazeer falls prey to this. There are moments where she is allowed to be more than just a caricature – brief, but they’re there, and that’s where she shines and reminds us why she’s the powerhouse she is. Nadeem saab’s character and acting also lends some gravitas and Ahmed Ali Butt and Zara Noor Abbas, despite apparently being given the same directive in acting to ‘go large’, run with their roles and so their scenes are actually actively looked forward to. Mahirah Khan is also very effective in a brief but sadly cliched role. Meera’s dance cameo is totally worth it.
But did these few rays of light save the film? Unfortunately, no. Script is key. There are genres beyond hackneyed romance and shaadi fests to explore. We wish the film extremely well and clearly it has found an audience and all the more power to it. But we reckon there will come a time when the audience will ‘max out’ so to speak on films which may look visually stunning but offer little else. Our expectations are that we start bucking that trend sooner, rather than later.
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