Review: Parey Hut Love is pure rom-com escapism

Review: Parey Hut Love is pure rom-com escapism

If the thought of watching four shaadis in two hours stresses you out as much as attending them, you needn’t worry.
12 Aug, 2019

Based loosely on the classic rom-com Four Weddings and a Funeral, Asim Raza’s second feature, Parey Hut Love makes for a lighthearted and funny Eid watch.

Featuring Maya Ali as Saniya, a strong, driven grad student and Sheheryar Munawar as Sheheryar, a struggling actor, in leading roles with star-studded supporting cast and cameos, the film sets out to tell a story of personal growth and star-crossed love finally persevering in the face of seemingly insurmountable barriers, both personal and external.

How well did it manage that?

A little about the plot: Sheheryar is begrudgingly attending his cousin Natasha's (Parisheh James) big fat mehndi, where he meets Saniya, who is visiting Karachi after living abroad in Turkey for many years. After the event is over, Sheheryar takes Saniya out to see the City of Lights before she leaves again. Over the course of the night, the two fall in love and promise to stay in touch.

It works for a while, but soon, Sheheryar can't keep up the commitment and Saniya's calls and unreplied texts start piling up. By the time he changes his mind, it's too late and Saniya, though hurt, has moved on — but all is not as it seems.

What to expect

Parey Hut Love is best enjoyed if you keep in mind what you’re heading into the cinema for — two hours of pure rom-com escapism in a beautiful, meticulously crafted world with endless, dreamy nights, perfect outfits and tons of inspo for any upcoming weddings, whether your own or a friend’s/cousin’s.

If the thought of watching four shaadis in two hours stresses you out as much as attending them, you needn’t worry. Each wedding showcases a different culture or community within Pakistan — albeit a standardised, bougie version of each — which keeps the visuals interesting.

However, the exercise of showcasing Pakistan’s diversity through its many wedding traditions is just that — an aesthetic, exhibitionist sensory overload of excess that does little to drive plot, character or motif development beyond providing a venue for the meet-cute. There are also moments it veers hazardously close to Tarang ad territory.

Buf if you're into that, there's plenty of it.

The film cuts to intermission with a cliffhanger that is intended to shock (but which may come across as crass and insensitive to some) and things really do come together to a satisfying end in the second half when all the loose ends are tied up.

Poetry and word play abound, with references from Faiz to Neruda to Madonna.

When will we start fleshing out female characters onscreen?

Parey Hut Love's producer and leading man Sheheryar Munawar’s character — very helpfully also named Sheheryar — is lucky in the sense that much of the film’s character development seems to be reserved for him.

He takes the emotional highs and lows of his character in stride to look within and struggle with introspection and repeated career and personal setbacks. “Main fail horaha hoon, failure hoon nahi” (“I am failing, I’m not a failure”) is a memorable line among many as his character matures in the second half.

It is also refreshing to see a leading man show vulnerability onscreen and — yes! — cry when he is alone and in front of his lover, friends, family and colleagues without being reproached or chastised for it.

A self-confessed commitment-phobe, film-Sheheryar also chafes not just at the ubiquity of marriage in Pakistani society, but also its ties to notions of adulthood, growth and personal success and stability — much of which are explored in his relationship with his mother, played by Hina Dilpazeer.

Her role could have been written to be less one-dimensional, but even so, Hina Dilpazeer’s flawless acting and comic timing redeem the part, and Nadeem Baig’s voice and presence are as powerful as ever.

Maya Ali, in her sophomore film, is cast as Saniya, pitched as a strong, independent woman pursuing higher education who makes her own choices. Sounds good, right?

It’s unclear whether Saniya’s character is a case of rushed writing or acting; according to the story, she is repeatedly described as mature, strong and independent, but what appears onscreen is a safe, sheltered young woman of taciturn expression: eager to please, palatable and non-threatening.

Her decision to explore Karachi’s nightlife with Sheheryar, her (distant) cousin, ends with her being reported missing to the police by her father. Saniya finds herself in a string of decisions that are questionably her own, but she manages to finally assert her own voice at the end.

Zara Noor Abbas plays Shabbo, film-Sheheryar’s colleague, neighbour and friend. Though she herself holds traditional views about marriage and wants to get married, like, last year, she’s got Sheheryar’s back and knows when to push him to prioritise his career and when to encourage him to challenge his fear of commitment.

Mahira Khan’s cameo in the fourth act is a major driver of the film's climax and its resolution. I only wish she had gotten more screen time to explore the potential of her character’s motivations and cunning.

Some questions

An interesting but unexplored arc is film-Sheheryar as consistently committed and unwilling to give up or change his path as an actor/producer despite repeated failures and opportunities to leave acting.

With Mahira’s character pushing the envelope, it seems possible that film-Sheheryar’s fear of commitment to a long-term relationship may be receding — until Saniya decides to reappear in his life.

Could Saniya’s return have undone potential growth in Sheheryar’s character? We’ll never know.

On the technical side, a few scenes were noticeably fuzzy or out of focus, and the sound design and levels could have been more polished and even.

The cinematography was lacklustre too, with shaky camerawork relying heavily on OTT décor and generic visual cues of clichéd, unspecified locations in either Gilgit-Baltistan or Azad Jammu & Kashmir, as well as Turkey. Istanbul isn't mentioned by name, but we all know it’s that bridge in the background and that mosque on the skyline.

The soaring visuals and location shoots shine, but key scenes feel more TV than big screen.

There are six songs on the soundtrack composed by Azaan Sami Khan; two appear in the first 15 minutes of the movie. I’m not worried I forgot to Shazam my favourites in the theatre; I know I’ll be hearing them in every mehndi this upcoming shaadi season.

Parey Hut Love releases in theatres today


Citizen Aug 12, 2019 03:57pm
We appreciate hard work done by film industry in making films but so far touch of big screen is missing. These may be called telefilms but not big screen films,
Mujtaba Aug 12, 2019 04:10pm
The review suggests that its an avoidable flick
Uzay Yazdani Aug 12, 2019 04:18pm
Right now we need escapism.
Bilal Aug 12, 2019 05:37pm
You can't out-bollywood Bollywood. Not sure when Pakistani filmmakers will understand that. More focus on thoughtful, interesting and new stories please!
AQB Aug 12, 2019 05:41pm
Supporting the Pakistan cinema , I convinced my family to watch Parey hut love, for Eid. Expectations running high , after watching all the promos on tv, also to give a dose of our culture to our children , here in U.K , we headed to the cinema! Good parts: loved the elaborate songs, choreography,acting good, direction good. Disappointing aspects: HORRIBLE storyline!! Imran aslam’s script was pathetic! The scenes were incoherent, some scenes were just there for the sake of being there, some scenes did not make sense!! Two climaxes combined together just lost the impact of the story!! If the hero’s phone got stolen why did he not in this age and world was able to contact the girl!! Maya , Sheheryar and the rest of the cast did a fine job but unfortunately they didn’t have a good script!!
Salim Badruddin Aug 12, 2019 05:52pm
Good cast, good dances, good directing and glamorous. Little lacking in story line. Besides cool entertainment Los Angeles here
Salim Badruddin Aug 12, 2019 06:29pm
Good dresses, good dancing, cool acting, and glamorous. Lacking in story line. Overall entertainment. Love from Los Angeles
Varun Aug 12, 2019 07:36pm
Lollywood needs to understand that songs & lavish sets are no good if there is no story in the film. The revival of cinema needs basics to be followed
Zara Aug 12, 2019 07:53pm
Weak story line, run-of-the-mill characters, all male-oriented as the author also pointed out. Otherwise the film is very colourful and quite entertaining. Everyone looks beautiful in the film. Song picturisation and dances were superb! Our suggestion to Sheheryar Munawwar is to please hire an acting and dialect coach. The hero's acting was the poorest in the film, and he was at the center of the film. Meera and Mahira's appearances were memorable. Love from Germany.
SHAHID LATIF Aug 12, 2019 09:03pm
Sheheryar has what it takes to be a screen idol. He has a good future.
Faisal Butt Aug 12, 2019 09:23pm
So typical, no new substance
N abidai Aug 12, 2019 09:57pm
Very hard work is shown in both film releases,agree with reviewer mahira role cameo was very good with wanting more of it. However,the film maker like asam raza really needs to improve more on camera work,and angles! Next film please,just used less characters in supporting cast. But,in Pakistan,needs to do movies also,that show you can be a complete person without being married,specifically for women!
MM Aug 13, 2019 12:14am
Saw Pakistani movie in theaters after 40 years in LA..... Loved the production value - acting was little over the top but bearable! Beautiful Pakistani people in movie. It’s time to support Pakistani cinema and not depend on Bollywood movies.
RamS Aug 13, 2019 01:35am
Just wanted to commend a couple of Pakistani movies that have just come out. Last week we got to see Superstar, and this week Parey Hut. Both movies were good, but Superstar was really excellent. These are the first Pakistani movies I have seen. I have been hearing Pakistani TV serials are also pretty good. The acting in Superstar was superb, and there was glitz, good looking actresses and actors. Compared to Bollywood.. yes,.there are many good Hindi/Indian movies, but somehow, few make it as blockbusters, A movie like Superstar ought to give some Bollywood movies a run for their money. Hope Pakistan's film industry is given more encouragement, and seen in India too. Culture/Sports ought to be freely exchanged. A note: We live in the US, and viewed them here. Surprisingly, for both movies attracted very small crowds. I think, Superstar had maybe a couple of dozen people, and Parey Hut fewer still. Even Pakistanis (a sizeable number in this city) were not to be seen.
Taimoor Aug 13, 2019 09:32am
Wooden acting. Choose grounded actors that represent common man, instead of wooden acting fashion models. Story line was weak, but songs were good and entertaining.
Khan Aug 13, 2019 11:25am
Good movie.seen it.worth watching.
Omer maqsood Aug 13, 2019 11:54am
A worthless film. The director could not do the simplest thing. He did not know how to tell a story. You don’t needs big sets and locations to make a movie. Anyone who wants to make a movie should see 12 angry men. It is and old black and white movie filmed in a single room. I consider it one one the best works of cinematic works.