In Heer Maan Ja (HMJ) screenwriter Ovais Korai Baloch and director Azfar Jafri hardly waste time getting to the point. A confusion at a kooky oncologist’s (Mikaal Zulfiqar) shocks the daylights out of Kabeer (Ali Rehman Khan), an ambitious and somewhat self-centered architect.

Believing he has little time left on God’s green earth, Kabeer looks at a jhumka (earring) that reminds him of his former girlfriend Heer (Hareem Farooq), and decides to go and beg forgiveness for being a jackass when he was young.

Heer, however, is in the middle of her own crisis. She plans to run away right before her wedding, wearing a heavily embroidered bridal gown and jogging shoes with gaudy LED lights.

Heer Maan Ja is quickie entertainment for the masses who don’t like to expend brain cells and a step up from the team’s previous effort

Runaway brides in joggers are in vogue, I think. Just a few months back Zoya (Mehwish Hayat) from Chhalawa shared Heer’s particular penchant to doll-up in bridal wear and then bolt in comfortable footwear.

Anyway, Heer, Kabeer and his friend Jerry (Mojiz Hassan, a hoot at times), soon find themselves fleeing in a pimped-up Civic with a yellow paintjob. On their tail is Wijdan (Faizan Shaikh), a sexist psychopath who believes that women are born to be in servitude to men. Like all villains with murderous tendencies, he happily chokes the life out of one of his own underlings to prove a point.

Farooq, who has a partiality for taking up unusual characters, plays a brassy, bubbly girl with a touch of emotional fragility. Khan has a slightly simpler character; Kabeer is a commitment-phobic brawler, who gets sudden palpitations from time to time. Both actors slip into their roles with relative ease, as if Kabeer and Heer were written specifically with them in mind (actually, now that I think about it, that may precisely be the case).

Runaway brides in joggers are in vogue, I think. Just a few months back Zoya (Mehwish Hayat) from Chhalawa shared Heer’s particular penchant to doll-up in bridal wear and then bolt in comfortable footwear.

As it has been the case with producer Imran Raza Kazmi’s (IRK) films, director Jafri’s grasp on comedy still needs fine-tuning. His leads, however, are more than adequate to handle everything from action to drama, to comedy.

Feeling that two may not be enough, HMJ’s story adds a handful of supporting characters in the mix, played by Ali Kazmi, Aamina Sheikh, Saleem Mairaj and Shamayale Khattak. Everyone in this line-up, despite bringing their A-game and whacky traits, are unessential additions. Still, they make the time go by without taxing the viewer.

Since this is his fourth film, IRK by now has an unvarying, fairly solid team at his disposal, so one has no reason to go looking for faults, unless one predilection is to find minute oversights. Cinematographer Rana Kamran, editor Mitesh Soni and co-music director Ahmed Ali (who has been in the group since IRK’s first film, Siyaah) cover each other’s weaknesses well enough. Despite some choppiness in the story’s unfolding, the near-fluid flow of scenes are a step-up from Parchi, their last film.

HMJ is quickie entertainment for the masses who don’t like to expend brain cells. It’s in no way inferior to routine Bollywood fare from the recent past — and with the way things are most of the year with Pakistani movies, yes, that’s a compliment.

Published in Dawn, ICON, August 25th, 2019