Alert Sign Dear reader, online ads enable us to deliver the journalism you value. Please support us by taking a moment to turn off Adblock on Dawn.com.

Alert Sign Dear reader, please upgrade to the latest version of IE to have a better reading experience

.

In 7 Din Mohabbat In (7DMI), Tipu (Shehryar Munawar), a young nerd with dorky spectacles and a flopping lock of hair on his forehead, is in desperate need of love. Thirty one years old and still single, his fantasies of landing the perfect woman has seeped straight into his dreams, manifesting into Ayesha Omer. Bustling with impatient hormones, it is only a matter of time before he flings himself on to a passing dame.

It is a good thing, then, that he has a commandeering mother (Hina Dilpazeer, fantastic in small bits) — a gruff woman who wants Tipu to maintain his bachelorhood because she fears losing him to another woman.

To Tipu, and the audience, she may be an easy hurdle to hop over — in fact, Tipu doesn’t give a hoot about his mother’s whims. To Neeli (Mahira Khan), a ditzy, cheap poetry uttering, orphaned relative living with them, however, Tipu’s mum is the devil incarnate; a hellhound of wrath and fury who runs her around like a maidservant.

Rather than run away, Neeli suffers the mad woman’s antagonism because she is openly in love with Tipu despite being engaged to the local hooligan Naseer Kankatta (Aamir Quraishi, a laugh riot in a few scenes).

7 Din Mohabbat In is a smartly paced, urban fairytale that is remarkably well-structured as a story. And despite some questionable choices and predictability, the movie’s sheer velocity, a compact running time and a strong climax make it a no-brains entertainer

As if in a rush, the screenplay by Fasih Bari Khan (who has written the cult TV-favourite Burnes Road Ki Nilofer and Quddusi Sahib Ke Bewa but also wrote the atrocious Jeevan Haathi) promptly introduces the plot’s main McGuffin: a hobo-looking street magician called Professor Sinbad Jahazi (Ehteshamuddin) who whisks up an ancient magic bottle labeled ‘1935 Delhi’, which puffs out a genie called Dawarka Prasad (Jawed Sheikh).

Dawarka Prasad, calling himself a “good-looking djinn”, gives Tipu seven days to find a woman with a mole on her face, and get her to confesses her undying love. If Tipu is successful, the djinn will make him the desire of every woman in the world. If Tipu fails (and there are many, many reasons he will), Dawarka will enslave Tipu for eternity.

7DMI is a fast-paced urban fairytale that is remarkably well-structured as a story. Narrative beats, conflicts and resolutions happen at the right moments, as if the directors — Meenu Gaur and Farjad Nabi — were determined to make the film stick to convention. Their first film, Zinda Bhaag, was also a stickler for narrative convention, especially if one picks apart the screenplay on a technical level.

Despite taking academic-level care of the story and character conflicts — which actually makes the enterprise digestible and accessible to the masses who see foreign motion pictures — 7DMI feels a little rushed and somewhat incomplete.

Take Tipu for example — notwithstanding his uncanny visual similarity to Koi … Mil Gaya’s Rohit — we see little difference in him as an evolving character. Yes, he does eventually declare his love to Neeli (one might be blind not to see that coming) and trounces over hurdles Dawarka Prasad flings his way, but we don’t see him maturing much as a person by the end of the film.

Narrative beats, conflicts and resolutions happen at the right moments, as if the directors — Meenu Gaur and Farjad Nabi — were determined to make the film stick to convention. Their first film, Zinda Bhaag, was also a stickler for narrative convention, especially if one picks apart the screenplay on a technical level.

In his anxiety to find the right girl, Tipu runs across two ladies in particular: Ghazala (Amna Ilyas — excellent and mature in her supporting role) and Princess Sonu (Mira Sethi, funny in bits). Ghazala is an extremely militant advocate of women’s lib, going so far as to make (in a nod to Rangeela’s Aurat Raj) a pink bomb whose fumes will turn any man’s point of view into that of a woman’s.

Given the nature of the film (7DMI is, after all, a commercial endeavour), real-world principals and repercussions of using such a bomb are flung far off the table. Rather than gain insight into a woman’s point of view of the world, the men infected by the bomb fumes act like a bad parody of a Bollywood transsexual, ravening for any man’s sexual attention (the bomb doesn’t affect women, by the way).

Princess Sonu, a Punjabi-speaking foreign returnee is almost a throwaway character. Minutes into her introduction, she is put under lock and key by her family and forced to marry a rich idiotic snob (Adnan Shah Tipu). Her interactions with the protagonist Tipu are negligibly brief. With the ticking clock narrative constraint in place, one can’t really blame the screenplay, the producers or Tipu from failing to develop this relationship. Their only choice is to run with the ituation.

Neeli, meanwhile, is in a trickier position. As the eventual woman of Tipu’s dreams, her scenes are limited to instantaneous prompts of fancy — some of which are genuinely laughable (in a good and bad way).

In one scene, teeming with another outcry for women’s lib, Neeli is emotionally provoked into valorous heroism (heroine-ism?) by a talk show host. Calling up the television show, she declares: “Hum laashein nahin, larkiyan hain, larkiyan” [We’re not corpses; we’re living, breathing women]. Hanging up the phone, Neeli promptly changes into a red sari, scares Tipu’s mum with theatrical dramatics and runs up for a love song on their rain-drenched rooftop. (The song, Yunhi Raastay Mein, on the other hand, has a soothing and hummable feel right out of a ’50s Bollywood film.)

Late into the film, Mahira gets one good scene that flexes her near-numb acting muscles. (Shehryar, alas, gets no such break.)

Dawarka Prasad, the costume-changing, flamboyant djinn, is another enigma. Unlike typical djinns, he hardly gives Tipu any supernatural stimulus to aid him in his mission. Tipu’s only visible change is the rectification of his eyesight, which doesn’t really help him at all. Any other changes — like the hinted (blink-and-you-will-miss) amplification of his physical strength and dauntless gallantry — are open for interpretation.

One specific example of Tipu’s chivalry happens at a gully-side dance bar where transgender mujras are staged in the dead of night. Here, an inexplicable, unwarranted, item number goes down for the sheer amusement of a local gangster (played by Salahuddin Tunio with apparently perverted sexual tendencies and a horny glee splattered across his face).

“Na ye Mona hai, aur na hi ye Lisa” [She is neither Mona, nor is she Lisa] — the gangster forewarns Tipu after his rapist tendencies spontaneously combust at the end of the song. Tipu, who somehow assumed he could find “real love” at a dance bar, is thunderstruck by this revelation.

The song — Saudai Saiyan — gratuitous and somehow deemed necessary by the filmmakers to augment the story with extra sleaze, objectifies and degrades transgenders. The argument, I suppose, would be that “such stuff happens in life.” How this particular fancy of a pervert — or more specifically, how this bit and its placement — supplements the story is well beyond my scope of intellect.

These exact reservations apply to Meenu and Farjad’s and cinematographer Rana Kamran’s choices of shot sizes, which range between medium long shots and close-ups. The gargantuan nostrils one sees on a 40-foot screen aren’t appealing, no matter how “hot” the cast looks — and the cast, especially Mahira and Shehryar, look quite hot from time to time.

Even so, 7DMI is a smartly-paced, no-brains entertainer. The movie’s sheer velocity, a compact running time and a proper climax (and I cannot stress the importance of a fitting big finish and a post-climatic closure enough) almost shoves its weaknesses to an afterthought position.

Published in Dawn, ICON, June 24th, 2018