Pinky Memsaab: Year-end Blues and Regressions

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Pinky Memsaab Poster
The theatrical poster for the movie, Pinky Memsaab (2018)

Hey you!

How’ve you been? Oh me? I’ve been here and there, writing some stuff. But I’m back now and so are you! So let’s get to it then. I mean it has been a while since we’ve been here, since I’ve had the chance to review a Pakistani movie. The year did start really strong with plentiful releases, with a marked improvement in the general quality for the most part. Yet somehow, a lul came over all of us. Thus, when the teaser for Pinky Memsaab dropped, I could hardly contain my eagerness.

The Triumphant Return of the Subplots

However, it seems much like my emotional self this time of year, the quality of cinema made seems to have regressed. I call it year end blues. It’s brought on my several factors, including the idea of facing the new year with last year’s unresolved baggage. The idea scares us so much that we regress into our comfort zones. For me, it’s binge watching Friends. For movies like Pinky Memsaab, it’s trying to pass off a collection of barely related subplots as a cohesive story.

My score: 6/10

A Masterclass in Disappointment

Pinky Memsaab is a masterclass in shattering and disproving expectations. You go in with the anticipation of a compelling coming of age story. One that follows Pinky, a sweet, doe-eyed small town girl, left by her husband and whisked away to make money in Dubai. She would now have to learn how to survive in this strange land, eventually learning how to make it big.

As cliche as that is, it would have been fine if we got to see that. No instead we get to see multiple guys hit on her, a broken marriage subplot, a non-Pinky character’s journey of self-actualisation, a morality of sacrifice subplot and more hitting on Pinky.

True Diamonds in the Rough

Yeah I know, you’re wondering why I gave the movie a better than average score when it is decidedly guilty of what I consider a cardinal sin. The answer to that lies firstly in the performances. Hajira Yamin owns the role of Pinky. She’s a small town girl yes but she plays the fish-out-of-water role with graceful subtlety. Adnan Jafer, who has seemingly found comfort on the silver screen, was able to effortlessly pull of the roll of Hasan, the investment banker at whose home Pinky comes to work.

His wife, the memsaab Pinky is intended to form an unlikely bond with, is played exceedingly well by Kiran Malik. Shamim Hilaly, Khalid Ahmed and Hajira Khan all provide excellent support. Another standout was Sunny Hinduja as Santosh, the Indian driver at the home Pinky works in. He brings a demure sweetness to the selfless and smitten Santosh. However, as interesting and as well acted as these characters are, they are given very little of consequence to do.

Meher and Pinky
From left to right. Actresses Kiran Malik and Hajira Yamin as Meher and Pinky respectively.

Scattered Solace

If anything, I can at least solace in the fact that he cinematography has improved incredibly. From long sweeping shots of Dubai to a shakiness in tense moments, the camera seemed as much involved in storytelling as the characters and dialogue. However, the city didn’t seem alive. It felt like a rather static backdrop for a disjointed collection of stories.

Resolution is so Overrated

Speaking of the stories once again, and of taking unresolved baggage into the future, Pinky Memsaab left me in utter confusion. And not just once too. The first occurs when we return after the interval, and we quickly realise that all the loose ends left in the first half, will remain so. The second occurs when the movie abruptly ends with twice as many loose ends left. The fact that there is barely an overarching story with the potential to bring all the loose ends together, only adds to the confusion and disappointment.

Still Quite Prime

My fellow cinema-goer (Ushah) at this point said that she didn’t regrets coming to watch it. Why? Because the messages the movie was trying to convey were brought across relatively well. While I agree with that, the trump card for me, that causes this house to tumble, is that how much longer can you expect people to come to the movies for a social message? Yes cinema is a great medium, and yes we shouldn’t shy away from issues but the essence of cinema is to tell stories. Our industry is seemingly still struggling with that, with Pinky Memsaab being a prime example.

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