Just when you thought Lollywood had run out of genres that it could have made a hotchpotch out of, along comes Baaji. After a finance-driven fixation with heist comedies, romance being merged with pretty much everything and psychological sci-fi mergers – as discussed last week – Lollywood’s latest crossover is between a biopic and a murder mystery.
What is especially remarkable in this particular amalgamation is that it really is none of the genres that it might tout itself as. In fact, by the time you come out of the cinema hall – if you do make it that far, that is, both going in or coming out – you might start wondering if what you watched on the big screen was actually a feature film to begin with.
The film is set in a crossover between a parallel universe and old school Lollywood, which is being pushed back and taken over by a new stream of Pakistani films.
The storyline follows the life of Shameera (played by Meera), a once famous star now struggling to regain her lost glory. Of course, this should be your cue to lower your expectations, especially on the creativity and originality fronts.
Baaji then continues to follow the lead of its peers and fills itself with half-hearted drama, ineligible plot twists, superfluous romance and, obviously, glamour galore. Whether the sum turns out to be more than these convoluted parts is for you to decide – and also sort of obvious.
Baaji will take you along in a journey that features Shameera’s personal and professional struggles. The very first scene of the movie shows a glammed up Shameera shooting an item song when she falls and breaks her leg.
The Lollywood backdrop in this latest Lollywood offering is where one feels the parallel universe overlapping perhaps with Meera’s own story – the name Shameera, and Meera virtually playing herself are further giveaways. Oh and there’s that leaked video clip as well, if anyone had any doubt.
Shameera’s story continues with the entry of a Pakistani-American director, Rohail Khan (Osman Khalid Butt), who returns all the way from Hollywood to play his part in the ‘revival of the local cinema’. Rohail Khan is supposed to be a very kind, sensitive man with a vision. The same is expected of all of you to show kindness and sensitivity towards the film industry and buy the tickets even if they absolutely do not offer any value for your hard earned money.
Then there’s Neha (Amna Ilyas), Shameera’s manicurist who goes on to become her secretary. Neha, too, has had obstacles to overcome and displays naivete that the audience is expected to replicate. And as you, the viewer, continue to watch the film, you will eventually start questioning the decision-making skills of both.
Despite the multitude of oddities, it is the movie’s transition from a Lollywood tell-all to a murder mystery that is truly outrageous even by the local film industry’s standards. And when that happens, you know that it’s not just a film character who has been murdered.
In an ideal world we should be able to critique the editing and transitions – along with a lot of aerial shots, could have been done in a much better and smoother way. However, in a film about Lollywood actors, one should be able to talk about the quality of acting – which had nothing to write home about.
If Meera was indeed playing herself, one would have to tell her that she is definitely a much better actor than she – or indeed the director Saqib Malik – make her out to be.
Baaji might actually be self-parody within a spoof that none of us has the capacity to understand. But at face value it has murder, mystery and a biopic – even if the mystery isn’t centered solely around the murder and the bio isn’t necessarily related to the picture itself.