Before you read on, note that this will not be a full, comprehensive review of 7 Din Mohabbat In (7DMI). Ushah already did that. Instead, this will focus on one aspect of the film that I found incredibly problematic.
No, I’m not talking about the film’s casual polarizing of feminism; Ushah’s doing that too. Neither am I talking about the incredible payoff for having a distinct lack of morals. I mean Tipu, while he does save two people from problematic situations, also creates many more problems for others. All over goray goray gaalon pe kaala kaala til.
No, I want to address the return of a major cardinal sin to the Pakistani cinema. Something so unforgivable, that not even Mahira Khan’s amazing performance can stop me from giving this movie a 5/10. I mean Mahira can, and does, outshine everything on screen. But the brightest light casts the darkest shadow. Here that shadow is personified as the curse of the sub-plots.
Also, this is your official spoiler warning.
The Curse of the Sub-Plot
If the sub-plots actually came together by the end of the film, I wouldn’t have minded it. That much. But they never come together, aside from both featuring Sheheryar Munawar’s Tipu. And the film resolves them by giving you not one but two, poorly written climaxes.
Just as Tipu is finished beating up Dumkatta, I mean Kankatta, and Tipu and Neeli get married in the same dawat that she and Kankatta were to get hitched in, Dwarka Prasad shows up to remind you of all the potential wasted in this film.
To illustrate just how much potential was lost, thanks to writer Fasih Bari Khan electing to rely on subplots, I must give you an example. It pains me to do so however. You won’t believe how much anxiety I am going through as I use a Bollywood film to make a point. But sometimes, you have to take the bitter pill, for the good of the republic.
Cross Border Liaison
So what’s the example? Well I turn to the works of Bollywood and Tollywood (this Hollywood name cloning has got to stop) director, Priyadarshan. This man has dabbled in action, thrillers and experimental cinema. But he is best known for his comedies. All of his comedies have a few things in common. For example they all are mainly comedies of errors. And more importantly, many of them feature a multitude of fleshed out characters. With their own specific arcs that brilliantly, or maybe conveniently, come together in an outrageous climax.
Take his 2003 Hindi language film, Hungama for example.
The film starts off with Anjali. She has run away from her village to escape a forced marriage. And she hopes to find a job in Mumbai to earn enough to pay off her mother’s debts. Here she meets Nandu, a struggling singer. Initially the two can’t stand each other. But they must act as a married couple so they can rent a flat from Popat Seth. The Seth’s much younger wife also hits on Nandu a lot.
Then there is Jeetu, who Anjali starts to work for. He falls for her, thinking she is Radheshaym Tiwari’s daughter (a lie Anjali told). Who incidentally has a wife named Anjali. And whose housekeeper had been allowing Jeetu’s friend Anil to squat in their home. And pose as the wealthy Tiwaris’ only son, to woo gangster Kachara Seth’s daughter. There is also Raja, Anjali’s would be husband who gets beaten up by literally everyone. Jeetu’s miserly parents, whom he steals from, and a corrupt police officer who always arrests the wrong person.
Wooh, that was exhausting! And that’s not even all the characters.
The 7DMI Comparison
However, as exhausting as it seems, all the characters end up in an abandoned warehouse at the end, where the climax takes place. All the collective feces that had been building up to this point, all of that collectively hits the fan.
The love triangle between Anjali, Nandu and Jeetu, the epic martial tiff between the Tiwaris, Jeetu stealing from his parents…(Breath). Popat Seth’s suspicions about Nandu and his wife, Raja’s constant misfortunes and Kachara Seth’s vendetta against the Tiwairs…Everything. By the end, you know how each of the characters end up. And, you actually aren’t exhausted by the end.
In comparison, 7DMI also has a whole lot going on. Tipu is a demeure man in his late 20’s living with his widowed, blue-balling mother and his orphaned cousin Neeli. Neeli, a hopelessly romantic poetess is madly in love with Tipu. But his mother doesn’t approve, and gets her forcibly engaged to Naseer Kankatta. A local ruffian, who loves to flaunt his masculinity.
As if that wasn’t enough to make a compelling rom-com, the writers introduce us to Dwarika Prasad. A Indian jinn, who makes a deal with Tipu to make him go ‘zero to hero’ in seven days. Provided he gets a girl with a mole on her face to say that she loves him. This leads Tipu to peruse Ghazala, a woman’s rights activist, who gets framed by Dwarika and is sent to jail. And later, Princess Sonu, who uses him in order to run away and be with her lover. We also have a whole slew of supporting characters such as Beo Zafar’s Pino and Tingu Master.
7 Din Later…
The problem here is, aside from Tipu, Neeli, Ghazala, Dwarika and Kankatta, none of the other characters are really that relevant. Nor do they contribute to the chaos (or lack there off) of the climax(es). It doesn’t help that none of the characters aside from Neeli and Tipu are really fleshed out. And even then, the only one you really care about is Neeli.
Now most sub-plot films usually leave all the knots loose and dangling by the end. This one does at least try to tie a few up. But the method by which it chooses to do so feels completely shoehorned in. And it adds about twenty, self-indulgent minutes to the run time. Suspending logic for two hours was exhausting enough, now you’re expected to sit through another twenty or so minutes.
Twenty minutes worth of scenes and plot points. All of which could have been part of the earlier climax. I mean, you bring most of the characters under one roof but you leave out Dwarika? Just so you could bring him back for a plot point that you had forgotten about? I get not wanting to waste your foreshadowing, but at the expense of the audience’s time?
There is a lot wrong with this film, and a lot of love. But this one thing irked me enough to leave me feeling both bored and annoyed by the end. I mean let’s face it, in my view, Mahira Khan can do no wrong. And I will watch this movie again just to see her. But I am also aware that watching it again also means braving such a frayed and unfulfilling plot. For a second time.
Huh? Am I really having second thoughts about a Mahira Khan film? Yikes!