Those of you who have seen Mehreen Jabbar’s work on television (Daam and Jackson Heights especially) will agree that she has zero tolerance for melodrama. The characters in her work are real and what you see on the screen is earnest actors. Similarly, this film is as real as it can get; it explores emotions of betrayal, heartbreak and friendship in a subtle, no nonsense way. There are no heroic entries or stylized background scores or larger than life camera shots. In fact all the six characters are unveiled in the first scene that helps you gauge the personality of each character. The narrative doesn’t waste much time in flashbacks. It never delves deep into the past of any of the protagonists. Like one of the characters is going through a failed marriage, which is pivotal to the plot yet there is no flashback on how the couple’s life turned sour and what went wrong between the two. The film is about now.
All the characters are well written and thankfully, we-rounded. But I have to say that DPS is Adeel Husain and Hareem Farooq’s film all the way through while Tooba, Schaaz, Ali Kazmi and Sanam Saeed lend strong support to it. DPS is actually a landmark film for Adeel who proves his supremacy over the current breed of actors. Check how effortlessly he turns from one woman to another…oops, spoiler! His character is complex and he partakes this difficult role with precision and carries his heart on his sleeve and is vulnerable when his heart is broken. Hareem acts just as well and is a welcome addition to the growing pool of young actors. As with all well-rounded characters, hers too is grey with an interesting dark streak to it. Sanam and Ali have their moments in the film but moreover, it’s Shaaz Khan from Moor fame who has a dominating presence in the film. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Dobara Phir Se is a character film, quintessentially a Mehreen Jabbar film.
Okay, so after watching the film (at the Dubai premiere) I tweeted high praises about it. Someone from the entertainment industry (no names!) called me at 2am in the middle of the night and asked why I had called it a ‘game changer’. Because according to that person, the cinematic experience was completely missing. He further added, the film was shot in New York but you didn’t get to see New York at all. I tried explaining that DPS is not about locations and songs. The hustle-bustle of the picturesque country is only used as a backdrop and not as a focal point. There is no rule in filmmaking that says you have to incorporate ‘The Statue of Liberty’ if you are filming in New York.
DPS is a film that tugged at the heart. While cheap comedy, melodrama and exaggeration have been a few of cinema’s long standing appeals, it is liberating and at the same time encouraging to see Mehreen using simple tools to tell her story. She zooms into the lives of a close knit group of friends living in New York and that ‘love for realism’ has been her forte. Mehreen is not a director who would succumb to commercialism by compromising on her style of story telling and we’re grateful for that.
In a nutshell Mehreen Jabbar’s film is remarkable and she has just raised the standard for others a tad bit higher. As the story unfolds, all characters learn that happiness should be the center of one’s life. The heart has to be content with life, career, spouse or any choice that you make in life. If it is not, then press the restart button. Hence, Dobara Phir Se.
Now the Downers!
- One thing that disappointed me big time was that Mehreen also fell into the trap of in-the-face brand advertisements. There is actually a seventh character in the film and that character is called Oye-Hoye. Actors are munching chips on screen at the oddest of times; look out for a scene where two of the protagonists are working their business interests and suddenly there comes a huge ‘packet’ in the scene. Not only this, there is also a fast food chain floating in between the story. Basically you will see all brands that you need with and before your meal. All I want to ask is ‘Why MJ, Why?’
- DPS has a very urban and western feel to it but its realism may not give audiences the kind of cinematic experience they come to theatres for. An average cinegoer’s thirst for dance and drama may not be fully quenched.
Verdict: Dobara Phir Se makes reality cool again and it definitely has a strong repeat value. Watch it and you might just find the centre of your life.
Sadiq Saleem is a Dubai based entertainment journalist. He is also an SH correspondent and can be contacted on his page fb/sidsaidso