Published Us Magazine, The News International. March 18, 2011.
Here’s a question for you: What is viciously unrealistic, bone-tickling, comically dumb and impossibly loud? Precisely, a Lollywood film! Some of us might even owe our best laughs to Lollywood and the matchless films they churn out. However, of late, all Lollywood industry is witnessing are dark, murky days; business of the films has hit rock-bottom. Perhaps this was destined, considering their not-so-boastable productions. Moreover, we know (and surely the Lolly people are too big-headed to admit) that the entry of educated people like Shoaib Mansoor, Mehreen Jabbar and others into the film arena has proved to be the last nail in the coffin of the industry that previously was on life support. Therefore, this week, Us Magazine makes it a point to celebrate this fast-disappearing industry. We do this purely on Lollywood’s terms and conditions; by providing the same emotion that Lollywood films have always provided us: laughter! So brace yourselves for an in-depth review of the different aspects of a Lollywood film.
Let’s kick off the discussion of our mighty Lollywood with the cast. Essentially, every Lollywood movie has a huge cast. And when I say the word huge, it’s not metaphorical, it’s literal. The heroine is sometimes so huge that you are coerced to wonder if taking her complete shot in a single frame would’ve required some special, large lenses. That heap of flesh you see bouncing about on your screen isn’t merely a meat-ball, she’s our leading lady. The most notable feature of our hero is his six-inched, amusingly fake moustache. Though intended to sport a macho semblance, the hero always ends up looking funny. There’s a commonality between the hero and heroine: both cannot act even to save their lives; not that they are required to, given it’s Lollywood we are talking about. There’s a villain too; who is structurally, functionally and moustachically similar to the hero; but lacks the presence of lady-luck by this shoulder (lucky he). The rest of the cast includes a bunch of the heroine’s fast friends; equally obese and annoying. They seem to be in a desperate need of getting their own lives, for all they do is to pry on the leading couple’s secret meetings and giggle clandestinely. If the film is set in the village (and we know it is), there is also present a furious, potent landlady: the female version of John Cena. Among the rest of the supporting cast are present a comedian who provides anything but comedy, an incessantly-praying mother of the protagonist and ghosts from the past: lost parents, estranged siblings and rarely, some sultry sirens.
It might be objectionable to discuss something non-existent, but for filling purposes, we can’t do without shedding some light on the stories. There are either two possibilities. One: Lollywood happily does in the sheer absence of any story-writer; it’s always handy to save some bucks after all. Two: the story writers they hire are to stories what twilight is to intellect. In one film I watched (that too in a cinema, imagine the horror!) the villain makes life a living hell for our lead pair; he digs one pit after the other for them and they religiously fall in all of them. And while the pair is on the run, the villain dies by himself. The end! In another one, after the typical falling-in-love and singing-songs-in-the-garden melodrama, the heroine discovers that that the hero is suffering from some fatal malady, and then she dedicates her life to him, and serves him tirelessly day and night. (Naming the heroine here would be immoral but believe you me; almost anyone will prefer death over her company). And finally, the hero dies. The end! In yet another film (I have a thing for Lollywood, you see) the hero marries a girl and then gets bored of her. Then he marries another girl and again gets bored of her. Then he again sets off to marry another girl, and during the procession, the other two ladies enter, and then all three girls angrily desert him. The end! Coming to the dialogues, they can be fickle. I laughed like anything when in a movie, the wife lovingly called her husband ‘gaddhay’, and when on expressing her love to the hero, the heroine claims, ‘Main sir se pair tak pyaar hoon’! I share with you one outstanding dialogue here. Girl: ‘Meray daddy hamari shaadi ka maan gaye.’ Boy: ‘Oh yes!’ Girl: ‘Per wo tumhain ghar damaad banana chahtay hain.’ Boy: ‘Oh no!’ You see, this one’s a masterpiece!
The titles are by far, my favourite feature that Lollywood offers. Though there has always been excessive criticism on the titles of Lollywood films, I think they are just out of this world. Not every brain can come up with these, you know! It requires some beautiful minds. Some of my personal favourites include ‘Haseena CNG’, ‘Sheeda Pastol’, ‘Madam X’, ‘Miss Kalashinkov’, ‘Haseena Golimaar’ and ‘Gujjar Ka Beta’. There’s no point in denying the fact that these titles have a great laughing-value, and if you think otherwise, then probably your sense of humour is severely jinxed. However, there are other titles that bring grimace instead of smile. On driving through Lahore’s Laxmi Chowk last year, I was left spell-bound on seeing the banners of the films being shown. The cinemas were running ‘Jawani Zindabad’, ‘Jawani Zindabad’ and … well, given the repute of this magazine, we can’t go in more. Besides, Us magazine’s censor policies are way more austere than Pakistani Film Censor Board’s. However, the producers invariably shun the criticism, and are adamant on selecting obscene titles because they believe (but we know better) that such ‘mature’, ‘alluring’ and ‘spicy’ titles ensure a film’s success, and bring in the masses. If only this were true, every second cinema in this country wouldn’t be shutting down.
Starting note: Never listen to Lollywood songs if first-aid (read ear-buds) is not available. Like all other things imaginable, there’s a dearth of talented musicians in Lollywood (if not the complete absence). Amjad Bobby was one, but he’s no more. Playback singers are countable. All the female vocals are done by one Naseebo Laal, and a standing ovation to anyone who can listen to five of her songs in a row. The girl doesn’t sing so badly in live shows, but Lollywood makes her sound excruciating. Lollywood musicians are bestowed with a talent of making all sounds sound the same; they can convert even the pleasant voices into shrieking cries. Shabnam Majeed is a prime example of this victimization; Abrar Ul Haq and Sukhwinder Singh are others. There’s some ambivalence as to whether they do it intentionally or accidentally, but it goes without saying that they do it exceptionally. They can even make Noor Jehan sound like Shahida Mini! I cannot write much about the lyrics as I haven’t heard much; for the videos of the song engage all your senses, and one cannot go beyond the visual treat (read torture). Field-destruction sounds clichéd, so we’ll go with the genocide of crops, and trees too should the heroine get more emotional. Vulgarly clad in silk robes, in the most shimmering, glittering colours possible of course: shocking pink, shocking golden and shocking green, she dances and circles around her man as if there’s no tomorrow. And the hero, if he’s kind enough, throws a furtive glance at her every now and then, again as if there’s no tomorrow. After all, for what they do in the fields, and that too in the agrarian economy that we are, there might as well not be another tomorrow.
My cousin insists that Lollywood films are shot with mobile VGA cameras. This is not true, of course. But owing to the pre-historic quality of the films, one can get betrayed into this notion easily. Years ago, Javed Sheikh was furiously blowing trumpets that he had shot his directorial debut, ‘Yeh Dil Aapka Huwa’ with such expensive cameras that had been used even in Bollywood only twice: for ‘Lagaan’ and ‘Mohabbatein’. Now if you compare the quality of these films, the local one seems absurd. Okay, we are kind enough to spare Sheikh the charge of lying, perhaps the cameramen here do not have the faintest idea as to what white balance, lens adjustment, shutter speed and sharpening are. Post-production is (no points for guessing) very pathetic, apparently the ideas of decent editing, colour correction and civilized dubbing haven’t made it even to the wildest dreams of the makers; you occasionally hear the sound of the gun-shot a minute later after the bullet has been shot. Another interesting feature is the cinematography (actually, the lack of it). There are numerous sequences in which the camera is fixed on one-half of the face of the actor, and you keep on wondering how the other half looks like. Worse still, there are scenes in which they forget to hold/place the camera in front of the actor; you hear the dialogue and miss out on who’s saying it. All you get to see are the faces of the supporting cast (even the spot-boys, if the director is busy with tea and biscuits). It provides ample food for thought: you keep on chewing over the fact that who said that particular dialogue in the first place.
On an ending note, I would advise you to check out some Lollywood films on TV if your cable operator shows them. If not, go out and buy some DVDs. They are worth the money, I assure you. Every one needs a laugh. Without watching Lollywood films, you might be missing out a lot of fun in your life!