Budha Bigra Jaey (2004) – Review

Aleena and Naveed in Budha Bigra Jaey (2004)

Aleena and Naveed in Budha Bigra Jaey (2004)

The mind has a wonderful ability – that to forget. So there isn’t any permanent damage done by watching this, or any other Pakistani film production – although it may seem at the time that you may never function to your fullest capacity again. Whether it’s your eyes that smart well after watching the movie, or your imagination that seems to have decided to go into permanent shutdown mode, leaving you vegetable-like in form. The downside of this forgetfulness is that eventually you forget why you refuse to go to watch one of these movies in the first place. And so curiosity continues to gnaw at you till you do something to silence it.

     The cameras and other equipment the people at work here use; seem like they were bought as a package deal back in the day when cinema houses first sprung up in various parts of the country. And like everything else run on jugaar, it is truly astonishing that you can still get these things to work and give results – so what if it isn’t of the best quality?

     The ticket to success is apparently filming a small portion of the movie abroad, to make the audience believe that it takes place there and then to go on hiring parts of the cast that seem to belong to the red light district, whether our own or imported. And the only thing standing in the way of this movie making it to blockbuster fame is the censorship board. This would be the view of Mian Anwar-ul-Haq, one of the producers of Budha Bigra Jaey who was very scared of being made to sound uneducated as he insisted that he couldn’t possibly be as he had his production house set up in England. His take on the cinema industry crisis is that "the censorship board is responsible for not letting us have our share of raunchy scenes".

     Inevitably, his movie revolves around nothing in particular but cheesy jokes with sleazy connotations and a whole lot of wasted time, the Budha finally starts to Bigaroe. This scene if it were done just a bit faster could be like Superman chucking his Clark Kent disguise. Old ‘Daddy’ has his hair dyed and washed, by two suspicious looking women. Only they do this while he is asleep and in his skimpy chaddies and then after much chest-hair twirling action he awakens a new bigra huwa man. After which he hits the pub and has his white girlfriend and his age old faithful sidekick for company. All of this is done as a plot to bring back his estranged sons, who have left him for the women they love. So what if the ladies playing them look like they could have mothered their onscreen boyfriends? When they hear of their daddy’s transformation they come to save him from a disgraced old age.

     We as always follow in Bollywood’s footsteps and that isn’t necessarily a good thing. We lack the grace, in all sense of the word, that Indian cinema has mastered. As far as feet are concerned, we have an army of left footed extras and choreography – well I suppose with our budgets the only choreographers around suffer from very severe forms of epilepsy and so with each dance scene, vulgarity is given a new height as the actors convulse around the so called streets and backyards of London. The most memorable song and dance scene, as it burns itself like a scar on your mind, would be one of the first in the movie where our posh young Brit-Paki girl suddenly decides to do an Umrao Jaan possessed by a naagin number in her back garden.

     Of course it looks like a lawn in Lahore and that’s because unlike Indian movies that are shot abroad from beginning to end and if not then are a little more subtle in changing locations – we shoot snippets of the movie in the ‘abraad’ and what seems like 99 percent of the feature, back at home. The point being made here has something to do with showing progress as to how open we are and how we have incorporated Bollywood in to our industry so that we can improve sales.

     This however isn’t the only place you get to see a spin-off on Indian ideas. Thank the lord that the days of wearing a pair of leotards under the polka dotted, neon sequined frock are over. What’s interesting is that we have learned color coordination during dance scenes rather well. If she’s wearing canary yellow then so is the hero, or then a contrast that is somewhat visually bearable. Perhaps the costume design department realizes the need to update the looks of the actors – but knowledge still seems lacking.

     We may have progressed from simply horrendous but we have only made it as far as mildly disgusting. Once again they would probably have you believe that it is because of low budgets. The truth is that if we must do the Western take – there is no way a shortage of cheaply priced but smart clothing available. We get to see a mix of clothes, some items are digestible, while others shouldn’t be made in the first place, forget wearing them! This holds especially true for the ladies – who as it is don’t have the bodies to carry off half of what they end up wearing. Hats off to them for such supreme comfort, arrogance, ignorance or then stupidity.

     Perhaps the breakdown of Indian dos and don’ts is decoded over a very long period of time by our local industry. We really don’t have the knack to crack this code, as we like to believe we do. Or then perhaps we look in depth at only some of the more obvious bits that make a movie and even then our archives aren’t up to date. Bollywood has moved on from the Govinda era, but we have just discovered it.

     So what is lacking in our abilities to come up with a good script or theme for a movie? Perhaps the budget in which they have to get everything done? That excuse too has run dry. Where on average the budget for a movie is a few lakhs, here we have a movie that was given well over a crore to work within. Most of which seems to have been spent sending the entire crew to vacation in England – that’s all one could accomplish in the time line that they spent there. As you can count on one hand, the number of scenes when you can actually see England as the backdrop of the film; most of the shots seem very dubious in nature. It is either a well-hidden corner of a public park, or then the outside of someone’s home (while the person concerned is out) and then of course the back alleys that Britain would like to forget it possess. That pretty much sums up all the footage from there. The rest of the movie is locally done, hoping that the people who are stupid enough to buy tickets to watch the movie won’t come to realize the difference.

     A script should hold pride for the writer. But that isn’t the case here. This script should cause the writer to want to burn alive. All the characters in the film are drab and seem to be one-dimensional in nature. Of course they are given a random twist every now and then to prevent audience members from falling asleep. One of those twists that emerges is the arrival of Julie – once again ripping off what has been done a thousand times, one of our two heroes (as is the trend in Bollywood), dresses up in drag to get access to his love interests house as her cousins girlfriend. Eventually he fits in to the picture by coming in as Julie’s cousin, so when it’s time to get married they are short one bride – and his biggest dilemma is breaking news to his fiancée, as she may not love him anymore once she hears the truth – how fickle and overplayed can one movie get?

     We are so caught up in making bad imitations of what already exists in Bollywood, that we have lost the ability to create anything remotely original. From a nonexistent storyline that you search for throughout the movie to equally low abilities to perform as actors that holds true for most of the cast, especially the new faces brought in to the spot light in this film.

     So instead of spending most of the budget on sending everyone to vacation abroad, the producers should hire worthy writers who can churn out something that will pass the censorship test and still be interesting to watch. They could find this talent here or in England and still have plenty money left over to work on improving their set design, choreography, costumes and hiring actual actors.

     This isn’t to say that the audience has no part to play in slowing the demise of Lollywood. There is that hope that you would learn something from repetition – like you do as a child when it comes to a hot iron. You burn yourself once or twice and learn not to go there again no matter how inviting it is. That’s where the flaw lies. Our cinema is one such instance. No matter how many times you go and prove to yourself that watching Pakistani movies is injurious to health, just when you think that it’s a habit you have been able to over come, you will find yourself watching another painstaking three hours of Paki-cinema. Perhaps the cause of this phenomenon is that you, at some level of your conscious mind, would hope for an improvement in the industry.

     Take a step back the next time this urge comes and refuse to go watch this or any other piece of gadariya (that is shepherd’s) pie our film industry has to offer. Then perhaps we will be motivated enough to not borrow and distort Indian cinema and our own industry may have an honest shot at emerging from the gutters – Sehr Beg

Cast and Production Credits

Year – 2004, Genre – Comedy, Country – Pakistan, Language – Urdu, Producer – Mian Anwar-ul-Haq & Mian Iftikhar-ul-Haq, Director – Shamim Ara, Music Director – Wajid Ali Nashad, Cast – Aleena, Rambo, Naveed