Bin Roye (2015)

There’s definitely a strain in the cinema of India and Pakistan (or Bollywood and Lollywood if you prefer) which slip effortlessly into grandstanding melodrama of the soap operatic variety, and such is the case with Bin Roye, which I can easily imagine on television, maybe a short mini-series. It even builds to a crescendo just before the intermission (all films I’ve seen from these countries have intermissions), which hasn’t always been the case in my experience, as some directors have trouble finding a natural place to break for 10 minutes. It starts out all light and fluffy with the household of heroine Saba (Mahira Khan) getting ready to celebrate Eid; she’s young and girlish at this point, looking out for the full moon eagerly, and pestering family friend Irtaza (Humayun Saeed) to take her to the bazaar to buy bangles. Of course, she’s in love with Irtaza in an adorable puppyish way, but he’s a bit older than her and has his sights set on his business career in the US and Saba’s sister Saman. And this is, of course, where everything starts to go wrong for Saba. The filmmakers pile on the ridiculous twists of fate, relying primarily on transport-related accidents, and as the years pass Saba noticeably loses her joie de vivre. It starts to go a bit weird (at least by my standards) when Irtaza basically forces Saba to be his wife, taking her away from her family and leaving her in seclusion. There’s a sort of parallel between these two halves — of her loving him in vain at the start, and then later on him starting to fall for her despite her lack of reciprocation — but it never quite seems convincing as a relationship, although Saba’s emotional trajectory at least feels relatively believable under the (extreme) circumstances. As ever, it’s a well-produced film with a glossy sheen and colourful set design, and it owes a lot to its leads’ gorgeous looks and effortless on-screen charisma, but it can be difficult to follow it down some of its twisting emotional alleyways (at least for me, who has no context to place it in).

© Hum Films

Directors Momina Duraid and Shahzad Kashmiri | Writer Farhat Ishtiaq (based on her novel Bin Roye Aansoo) | Cinematographer Farhan Alam | Starring Mahira Khan, Humayun Saeed | Length 150 minutes || Seen at Cineworld Wood Green, London, Monday 20 July 2015