By Maliha Rehman
‘Ghabrana Nahi Hai,’ is asserted by Zuby to her parents, who fall victim to the wheeling and dealing of land mafia. She boards a train headed to Karachi and we launch into a tongue-in-cheek, well-paced rom-com that reminds you of ‘80’s Bollywood entertainers.
Ambitious, outspoken and proud to have been raised ‘like a son’ by her parents, Zuby is ready to fight for justice for her family’s sake. She is also, interestingly, an aspiring actress and a TikToker. And given that Zuby is played by the dynamic Saba Qamar, she takes over the screen; fiery-eyed when she’s delivering a monologue, softer and more persuasive in some of the later scenes, a brilliant firecracker of an actress who holds you transfixed.
Saba Qamar was, of course, always expected to be one of the main highlights of the movie Ghabrana Nahi Hai. It is a pleasant surprise, though, that the story has so much more to offer.
When Zuby reaches Karachi, we meet Vicky, played extremely well by Syed Jibran, her cousin who is in love with her. She also locks horns with a corrupt cop called Sikandar, enacted by the very talented Zahid Ahmed, who is assisting the land mafia don ‘Bhai Miyan’, aka Nayyar Ejaz, in his illegal practices. Sikandar’s partner in crime is Aslam, played by John Rambo aka Afzal Khan. Together the two plan to get very rich, very fast with the help of Bhai Miyan … until, of course, our bad cop is the recipient of a moralistic lecture and lo and behold, he becomes good – it was bound to happen.
The story moves on to how Bhai Miyan is out-conned by our protagonists, with a script that comes with a healthy sprinkling of one-liners, emotion and zany twists and turns. Music is not quite this movie’s forte but the acting, direction and story certainly are.
There’s Zahid Ahmed, very cool and hero-like as the quintessential cop going through a moral transformation halfway through the story. There’s Syed Jibran, enacting one of the movie’s most likeable characters so well that you want to see more of him. Nayyer Ejaz is brilliant as he always tends to be, suitably diabolical as Bhai Miyan. Afzal Khan is also very good although one wishes that his role had been longer.
Director Saqib Khan has to be applauded for his attention to detail. He moves his narrative forward intuitively, smoothly, creating subtle nuances that subliminally add to the story. From dramas to web-series to now, his first cinematic venture, Saqib has a fine eye for storytelling. He’s certainly a director to watch out for.
Scriptwriter Mohsin Ali has crafted the story carefully and from the very onset, Ghabrana Nahi Hai comes off as a big-screen entertainer with its larger-than-life colorful characterizations and U-turns.
Having said this, the movie would have had fared better if it had been better developed. Sikandar’s moral metamorphosis is triggered off by a single lecture – couldn’t the change in him have had been explained in a better way? Also, Zuby is initially built up as a modern-day girl who is going to outsmart her enemies but she doesn’t really end up being the strong, no-holds-barred female protagonist that one expects her to be. Instead, she relies on her feminine wiles as a form of trickery – familiar tropes that have been seen in movies many times before. It is also evident that not much effort has been put into the actors’ styling. While the main cast holds its own quite easily, concerns like styling and wardrobe help in making the story more effective. The movie is a bit longer than necessary and could have had had been 20 minute shorter at least. The conclusion should have been crisper.
These are, however, minor flaws. Saba Qamar is, as always, remarkable. Zahid Ahmed makes an impressive transition from TV to cinema. Syed Jibran is immensely likeable as the lovelorn Vicky. Wasted away quite often on TV in lackluster roles, one hopes to see more of the actor now, perhaps playing characters that are more distinctive.
You laugh often, you cheer every now and then, you fall silent when Zuby delivers an impactful dialogue, perhaps you’ll cry and for about two and a half hours, you escape into the cinema … into a world where a trio is off on a crazy, crazy rollercoaster ride.