Shoaib and I are fans of Filmazia. We watch it almost every night at 1 am when they put on a classic Lollywood film and we laugh ourselves to sleep. Therefore when Chain Aye Na was making its promotional rounds, Shoaib and I looked at each other and knew what the other was thinking!
We are blessed to have Saad and Hala in our lives who share the same love for cringe-inducing local cinema. One of our favourite things to do while watching a Lollywood masterpiece is to send each other boomerangs of cardio-inspired dance routines. SO. MUCH. FUN! Try it.
We caught the last show of Chain Aye Na (CAN) at Nueplex and I am so glad we did. I do not regret the halal ki kamayee I spent on the tickets or the popcorn or the chai at all. HBL discounts help a little but I feel the entertainment value and the memories made are priceless.
There were a total of 21 (maybe 23) people in the hall, including the family of 5 who came in midway through the film. I think except for these five and the three gentlemen seated on the other end of our row, nobody was there to take the film seriously. Thrilled to have discovered these similar souls! (Meet us for tea, maybe we can start a club?)
In a nutshell, CAN is the story of a pretty girl who has to choose between the lesser of two sociopaths. The story begins in Lahore with a bride-to-be whining on the phone about her best friend not being there because she seemingly has missed the flight. But of course not! That was just a silly (useless and unoriginal) prank that Ruba the heroine had to play. She’s right outside! The two girls run towards each other in slow-mo, like lifeguards on a beach. (Running in slow-mo is also how the film ends, and I appreciate how the filmmaker chose a similar visual to bookend the film. So much thought and depth.)
A minute later, Rayyan makes his entry playing the saxophone (affectionately referred to as “Rayyan ka sexophone” throughout the film). Ruba is completely entranced by his saxophone. In a later scene she says, and this happens to be Shoaib’s favourite line, “Rayyan ke saxophone nai mujhay poori raat jagaye rakha. Kya bajata hai.” We were not the only ones who almost ruptured our spleens laughing at this.
Before we move on, let’s get the six degrees of separation out of the way: Rayyan the hero is friends with Tony who is brother of the Bride (I don’t recall her name), and she is friends with Ruba the heroine.
So… Ruba and Rayyan meet. Their eyes lock. They shake hands. They even dance together at the mehndi where the Bride hatches out of a blingy egg. No joke. If the song is out on Youtube, you can see it for yourself. It’s like they really wanted to be poetic by having a butterfly break free from its cocoon, but the art director missed the memo.
After the wedding is done and dusted, Ruba has an early morning flight to catch to Karachi. Rayyan the begana, pretending to be really tired from all the work he has done at Abdullah ki shadi, decides to crash at Tony’s place. Tony also has a semi-creepy, comic for the most part, crush on Ruba and is really excited to wake up early morning to be of service to her.
Rayyan roofies Tony! I don’t know why nobody is talking about this! (Well, you have to watch the film to object to the content, I get it…) Rayyan dupes Tony into thinking that the bathroom tap is running, and slips two sleeping pills in Tony’s glass of milk, and proceeds to mix the concoction with his index finger (which is just as criminal and disgusting). Behra and bechara Tony comes back into the room, says something that is supposed to be funny and chugs down the milk. Rayyan, who’s been told a minute ago to take the sofa, then collapses onto the bed next to his drugged best friend. Ladies, if you want to know more about a guy you’re dating, don’t give him a slow-wifi, ask him about his thoughts on this scene.
The next morning (clearly afternoon) Rayyan takes Ruba to the airport in Tony’s car. Such besharmi. At this twenty-minute mark, we get the third song of the film. After the song, Rayyan asks her quite pointedly, “Kya tum mere gaanon main apne aap ko dekhti ho?” Ruba, the child, is baffled. And after he professes his love for her, she very gently and politely tells him that it’s too late for him since she is already engaged. She is getting married on the 12th of February.
And this is where Rayyan’s khabtipan, like any other creepy bloke who is outwardly normal in a psychological thriller, shows. He laughs and exclaims that he is also getting married on the same date. And yes, you guessed it, to Ruba!
Ruba, probably scared that this man is also driving the car, giggles and proclaims Rayyan to be silly. Rayyan, silly boy, repeats, stresses and emphasizes that he is getting married to Ruba on 12th Feb. In my opinion, this is the point where Ruba should have known better and exited the car, no matter what the speed of the vehicle. Normal people don’t hijack your wedding date and substitute themselves as your spouse. But she doesn’t take him seriously.
Once in Karachi we learn that Ruba is the daughter of a famous politician. While her mother is away being political on talk shows, her father (owner of a large shipping corporation) lounges around at home. Ruba is destined to marry Murad, son of another famous politician from a rival political clan. While the politician parents and their silent spouses are deciding the scale of the wedding, we are introduced to Murad in a different location. He is at his farmhouse chilling with Dolly and feeding the cats. (That wasn’t a metaphor.)
Murad makes it in time for the family dinner at Ruba’s place. A conversation between the two reveals that Murad is possessive and puffs out cigar smoke in the other person’s face. This is also the scene where the infamous dialogue, “Can I kiss is?” is from. Want to know how the question was answered? You’ll be surprised to know that the filmmakers have been sneaky and have put in half the line in the trailer, because the question in its well-mannered entirety is, “Can I kiss (long pause) your hand?” One can argue that was Murad saving face when met with silence.
All the way in Lahore, Rayyan is seen hanging pictures from the mehndi on his wall. His dad shatters his dreams by telling him Ruba and Rayyan can’t get married because she is the daughter of a shipping magnate and he is a mere professor. Interestingly, they have the biggest house in the film. Rayyan serenades an imaginary Ruba and his dad, seeing how delusional and obsessed he is, gives him his permission to go to Karachi and find Ruba. Yes, you comprehended that correctly – Rayyan neither has her address nor her number. But fear not, “Mohabbat talash hi ka tou naam hai.” No, Rayyan, they are not synonyms. The Lost and Found can not be called the Love Shack.
[You should grab a snack because this is turning out to be longer than I expected.]
Rayyan takes a train to Karachi, because he is the son of a humble professor, and goes from landmark to landmark gleefully looking around. I admit I was a little disappointed when he stood at the Jehangir Kothari Parade like an entitled conqueror and did not shout out his love for Ruba to the skies.
He somehow lands at the doorstep of Danish Nawaz who is the manager of a boy band without a lead singer. He also has a poster of Justin Beiber and ‘WE ROCK’ spraypainted on the wall of the living room where they practice. I believe Rayyan has a letter from Arif Lohar? Reminded me of old England where people introduced themselves through a letter written by a mutual acquaintance.
Rayyan plays his saxophone for the boys and Danish Nawaz. They enjoy it a bit too much. And that little stint qualifies him as the lead singer of their band. A sadly edited montage follows of them rehearsing, playing at gigs, walking coolly across the courtyard of Kothari Parade, and being parked in the middle of the McDonalds drive-thru for some reason.
Rayyan has had little luck getting Ruba’s number from Tony or his sister because she’s on a two-month long honeymoon (Shoaib did the math). However one fine evening, while he is playing on a yacht (that is docked), Murad and Ruba join the party (clearly way older than the minors populating the revelry). Murad, as if deprived of expensive alcohol at his farmhouse, proceeds to locate the bar and drown his ego in alcohol. Wow, guess who is not the life of the party?
Ruba is annoyed to see Rayyan because by then she has heard (from Tony’s sister) how he has been telling everybody and anybody that he meets that he is getting married to Ruba on the 12 of Feb! True story.
To summarize his initial interactions with people: Hi. I’m Rayyan. Meet my saxophone. I’m in Karachi hunting Ruba. Who has no idea I’m going to marry her on 12th Feb. Ruba thinks she is going to marry somebody else. Surprise, Mazhar Fakhar! The groom is me!
There might be minute traces of hyperbole up there, but I’m in the neighbourhood for the larger part. I would reflexively clinch my fist every time Rayyan would say “baara farvary”. I want to watch the film again just to play a drinking game where you take a sip of chai every time someone says “baara farvary” and empty your cup every time “Rayyan ka saxophone” is mentioned and/or played (twice if it’s for a man).
Rayyan corners Ruba and has a redundant conversation about his love for her and how they are going to get frikkin married on frikkin baara farvary. Ruba, who btw is wearing Missandei’s Sunday best, finds Murad drunk out of his mind lounging on a chair. Ruba’s attempt to bring Murad back to his senses is interrupted by Rayyan – who proceeds to boast about getting married on baara farvary! The only reason Ruba doesn’t jump off the deck after hearing that is because the yacht is bloody docked! I don’t understand Rayyan’s motivation in going up to competition, who is drunk out of wits, and giving him half the information. I mean, if you really want to tell that your saxophone is bigger than his cigar, then perhaps mention Ruba as the bride. Otherwise, it lacks the punch that intermissions have.
Why am I trying to find rationality in Chain Aye Na? Sorry. Moving on.
Ruba had dropped her clutch on the boat and Rayyan had heroically picked up all the things for her including her cellphone. That’s how he FINALLY gets her number.
I don’t remember how he knows her address!!! One fine morning she returns from her jog with her mother only to discover the enchanting music of saxophone reverberating from the mansion. But omg, how does he know where she lives? (Genuine conundrum) This is another concern that nobody is talking about. Has he placed a tracker on her phone? Is he physically stalking her all the time? How much information has she put up on Facebook?
Rayyan has Ruba’s father under his spell because before the desk job sucked his soul away from him, he wanted to be a musician. He very conveniently gives Rayyan an invitation to frequently visit him so the two can get together and practice playing the saxophone. The hall howled with laughter at this point. Rayyan also proceeds to tell Ruba’s father about the wonderful coincidence of Ruba getting married on 12th Feb and him also getting married on the same date. He goes as far as to say that the girl I am marrying is your daughter! Shoaib feared that the second half of the film would be a drag and I thought this was the point where the friendly dad would banish the baww’la musician for confusing real life with filmy shenanigans.
But no, Rayyan’s saxophone isn’t that big. He brings a little plot twist to his declaration and makes it into a desi joke by saying something along the lines of how all girls are like your daughters. Haha, close call. (Idiot. -_- )
Because Rayyan’s touched in the head and redundancy is not an issue in his life or this film, in a following scene we see him enter Ruba’s room. No, no, wait! I don’t want to throw keechar unnecessarily. Ruba is in her room. Knock on the door. She says come in and he comes in. Upon seeing him she does exclaim, “Tum andar kaise aye?” and despite all his flaws, I’m with Rayyan on this one. “Main nai darwazay par knock kiya. Tum nai kaha come in. Aur main andar agaya.” And that is exactly what had happened so you can’t hate the guy for following decorum.
He wants to borrow her phone charger but that’s just a ruse of course. After a couple of unneeded reminders about their wedding on 12th Feb, Ruba has finally had it with the repetition. She swings back her arm and slaps him, not once but twice. Such shiddat, much wow.
He leaves, stunned! How could she slap him? All that he did was continuously profess his love to a woman who doesn’t reciprocate his feelings, decide their wedding date without consulting her, stalk her a little here and there and just be annoying in general. Is sab ki qeemat dou chapair?
Dejected, he finds Ruba’s parents where the mother is complaining to the father how he doesn’t have time for her anymore ever since Rayyan and his saxophone have entered their lives. And this is personally my favourite bit of the film:
Dad: Aray begum, dou din pehle hi tou aap ke account main balance dalwaya tha.
Mom: Acha bus, aisee baatain bachon ke samnay nahi kartay.
I was bamboozled for two seconds before I had a laughing fit like an aggressively cheerful seal. I don’t know whether they were talking about phones or what, but the layered dialogues of this film are a thing of hilarity. Usually us regular people complain to our loved ones, “it’s not what you said, it’s how you said it.” But in this film, it’s not how they are saying it; it’s what they are saying.
The following morning, Ruba is out jogging when Rayyan comes out of the bushes and crosses her path. See! Stalker. He was there from before, just chilling in the bushes waiting for his cue. He menacingly marches towards Ruba and returns the cheek-smacking favour – not twice, but thrice. “Dou tumharay thappar ka jawab aur teesra mera sawal. Kya tumhain meri ankhon main mohabbat nahi dikhti?” Poor girl collapsed against the tree from the intensity of the third slap.
She is so shaken, she nods yes to his ridiculous question. Ridiculous because a) I could only see anger and all the signs of someone cuckoo, not in love. And b) it had started raining heavily the moment slap 1 occurred, therefore looking into his eyes would have been quite a predicament. From a production point of view, you have an umbrella over the main actors in close ups so you can see their love-filled eyes as they resolve their issues in what is colloquially referred to as the ‘pyaar ki pehli baarish’. But not here. This was raw realism! I couldn’t even see Ruba’s scared face because of the water gushing down in front of her.
But wait, the stupidity of thought doesn’t end here. When Ruba’s back in her car, Rayyan punishes his hand by jamming it between her car and the door. “Is haath nai tum par uthnay ki jurrat ki; saza tou milni thi.” Insert facepalm. You can’t convert a transgression like that into something redeemable no matter how many limbs you fracture. You can’t catalogue this under a lover’s quarrel. This is straight up channeling domestic abusive husbands. Not the ideal man to marry on 12th Feb and celebrate Valentine’s Day two days later with.
When Ruba later meets Murad, she is in distress and he compels her to drink a glass of alcohol to calm her nerves. I guess this is the kick that the three slaps needed to rewire her brain and make her believe she has feelings for Rayyan.
The next day, Ruba catches Murad at the golf course and tries to tell him that she doesn’t want to marry him, which is kind of sad for Murad because had he not given her that glass of alcohol, she would have still been pissed off at Rayyan, not having mixed feelings. An enraged Murad is about to slap her but Rayyan appears (out of nowhere) and saves the day. Clearly nobody else but him can slap Ruba. Once again, please note, how did Rayyan know Ruba was at the golf course?
Murad proceeds to strike the living daylights out of Rayyan with his golf club, so much so that he needs to be taken to the hospital. Ruba rushes back to her mother and complains about Murad manhandling her and almost killing Rayyan. Her mom has a quick, concerned conversation with Murad’s dad who launches a damage control mission and also demands to know his son’s location.
Murad, who was on the brink of murder because Ruba had thought about another man, is now in the arms of Dolly and having some fun at the farmhouse. However, when all the dancing shancing is over, Dolly makes him choose between her and Ruba. And interestingly Murad chooses Ruba.
Dolly had thought of all possible outcomes because she pulls out a gun and makes Murad shoot her. His dad arrives at the farmhouse later and now has to launch another damage control mission, which also includes calling up his travel agent and putting Murad on a flight out of Pakistan asap.
What about their wedding on 12th Feb? The festivities, that were initially so grand that even the Prime Minister was on the guest list, are quickly downsized to a home-bound nikkah via phone.
And bam, it’s frikkin baara farvary!
Rayyan is in the hospital, immobile with bandages all over his face. In walks his professor father who had promised him that he’ll come to his wedding to Karachi on the 12th. The amount of chill in people is just amazing; not a worry about booking the venue, making guest lists and buying the jora.
He is horrified and teary to see his son all beaten up like a stale vegetable. He wants him to wake up and greet him, after all he is here for his wedding that was to be held “baara farvary.” And yyyyyup, you’ve seen enough Bollywood to guess what is next. Rayyan’s motionless hand flickers with life. His eyes open and he eventually sits up in bed and tears off his oxygen mask.
After confirming that it is indeed the 12th of February, he runs out of his room and makes his way to his wedding. In his hospital gown with bandages still framing his face.
Let’s not even bother asking how a madman looking like that entered a politician’s house where the PM was on the guest list. Nobody bats an eyelid and Rayyan trudges up to Ruba’s room. She tells him to leave for his own safety not before admitting that she has fallen for him. Rayyan, happy to discover that his annoying persistence has borne fruit, goes out into the function and starts singing a dil-jala song. Once again, nobody stops him. There is a guy right in front of Rayyan on his phone! That is the level of interest of the people embedded in the story.
The most ridiculous dramatic confrontation happens! I have recovered from my writer’s block (scrolls up: clearly) but I am out of energy to rant and bitch about how ridiculous the emotions were. Succinctly, Murad’s dad brings out his gun and threatens to shoot Rayyan and his dad (who’s there somehow). Ruba’s dad comes to his rescue and pretends to be a shield in front of him, willing to die with Rayyan and give him company in afterlife playing the sax. A few jarring words from him wakes up the lost conscience of his wife who doesn’t want to barter Ruba’s happiness for the Ministry of Information. She displays her stance on the issue by situating herself in front of her husband. “Aaj teen nahi chaar lashain girain gi. Yeh goli mujhay cheertay huay aur mere shohar ke seena cheertay huay mere beti ke shohar tak pohnchay gi.” Yeah.
A young looking Moulvi Sahab rushes from the stage to Murad’s dad and tells him, “Chandio Sahab, aap in sab gawahon ke samnay teen qatal kar ke bach nahi payain gai. Aap jayain yahan se.” And literally, three grunts and a bitchface later, him and his wife depart.
Everybody embraces and rejoices. Rayyan, still in his hospital attire and bandages, goes back into the house and runs towards Ruba who is descending the stairs. We don’t see them embrace onscreen but Ruba comes pretty close to the camera, and an educated guess is that they did.
There are a lot of things wrong with Chain Aye Na. I wasn’t surprised to see bitchslapping having a part in the courtship process. The out of focus shots, the awkward photography and the choppy editing also bothered me. I hate to crib about things I haven’t seen or read; I want to detest with an informed opinion. That’s why I read the first installment of Twilight and saw the first season of Quantico.
Some of the plot points of CAN and, because of the wrong reaction elicited, most of the dialogues are problematic. But I don’t want to hate it just because a stalker slaps a girl thrice for not recognizing his love. I can confidently say that this was not the reason so many of us chose to not watch it. Let’s be honest – we knew the film was going to be a crap-show but we choose to cling on to one parha-likha aspect and pretend to be woke (that’s what the kids call being aware these days, right?).
If we are being critical, then let’s point a finger at those blurry visuals, sometimes with missing limbs, and those repeated shots they snuck in thinking nobody would notice. I don’t have an ear for music but while we are at it, let’s also be finicky about songs that sound old and ADR that sounds unnatural. I can’t speak for the boys but I think Sahrish Khan (Ruba) will survive being a part of this disaster.
If you made it to the end, something tells me we can watch Lollywood flicks together and share Filmazia boomerangs. There are people who claimed they did not want to waste their money on the film and I’m confused; if you’re entertained in one way or another, that’s not really money wasted. Expand your definition of entertainment a teeny bit and a whole new world is out there!