Before I begin, I’d just like to put it out there that I love everything desi and dramatic; Chhalawa promised just that. And on that front, it did deliver but on other fronts, not so much.
Much like all desi rom-coms, Chhalawa is centred around a couple who wants to get married but the girl’s father has other plans in mind for her future. As the couple, along with their friends and siblings, hatch a plan to get together, chaos ensues but eventually, they beat all odds and get married. Nothing original there, but then again, like Mehwish Hayat — in her exclusive interview with The Current — said, people in Pakistan love shaadis and everything about them, so it’s natural that films reflect that. In fact, the best part of the film was without a doubt the Chhalawa title song, which is definitely going to be the shaadi anthem of the year. But don’t forget, you heard it here first!
Moving on, my main concern with the film was the fact that the scenes were inconsistent – there was nothing binding them together. A lot was left to the imagination and though I understand filmmakers have limited time, what they cannot depict through actions, can they not tell through dialogues?
The end result was a bit hotchpotch and it was left up to the viewer to decide what to make of it. The characters were also underdeveloped (for example, we never really found out how Asad Siddiqui ended up being a pir), though the actors made up for that with their brilliant performances. Mehmood Aslam was fitting as the loving but authoritative father as was Aashir Wajahat as the younger brother. Azfar Rehman and Asad Siddiqui were natural in their roles and their chemistry stood out and was thoroughly enjoyable.
I do feel Mehwish did not get enough opportunity to shine but she still managed to make an impression, especially in the second half. She is also probably the only Pakistani heroine who makes her co-star look good. Whether it is Humayun Saeed or Fahad Mustafa or in this case Azfar Rehman, Mehwish ensures that her counterpart brings forward their best self.
The shining star of the film was without a doubt Zara Noor Abbas. From her opening scene (which kind of reminded me of Rani Mukherjee from Bunty and Babli) to the final one, Zara’s performance as Haya is truly praise-worthy. Her dialogue delivery, expressions, body language and dance were natural and on point.
I’d like to add here a special round of applause for the hair, makeup and costume team. Zara and Mehwish looked absolutely stunning in every single scene.
The dialogues of the film were very millennial, current and relatable and made you chuckle at several intervals, so thumbs up to the writers there. The length of the film was just right and I did not feel it dragged at any point except for the item song ‘Chirya’ which was unnecessary and very very uncomfortable. In an age where international filmmakers are moving away from such frivolities, it is disappointing to see our filmmakers objectify women in their films.
Apart from the Chhalawa song, the other scene that stood out was the ending, which was my personal favourite. I’ve seen a lot of filmy marriages happen at odd places, but a nikkah on a bridge in a traffic jam is a new high for me. The last scene was everything I wanted in an Eid entertainer: (over) dramatic, emotional, entertaining and one that put a huge smile on your face, at least mine (no judging).
To truly enjoy Chhalawa, it is best to leave common sense out of the cinema hall and immerse yourself in the colour, masala and beats of the film.