Like many other films, Ready Steady No circles around the theme of marriage but not in the way you think.
We're introduced to Razia (Amna Ilyas), who is in love with Faisal (Faisal Saif) but the two cannot get married because they belong to different castes.
Razia's father (Salman Shahid) wants her to marry her cousin, Muneer and when he becomes increasingly strict, she decides to elope with Faisal. But eloping comes with its own struggles and with their parents right on their tail, does everything work out?
The plot for this romantic comedy sounds simple enough, maybe even a little cliched but hey, cliches are cliches for a reason. Sadly, the silliness that followed our initially star-crossed couple put a damper in it all.
Does the film succeed in highlighting the pressures to marry within your caste?
Razia's father is adamant that she wed Muneer who by the way has a failing business, no academic credentials and does not connect with her at all, just for the sake of having her marry within the same caste.
He has also never met the man his daughter is in love with, not even knowing what he looks like. Faisal belongs to an equally strict family where the mother would rather call him badtameez than actually listen to his opinion.
It was refreshing to see a film bring up the taboo that can be inter-caste marriages and I wanted to see how it would pan out along the way. Unfortunately it fizzled out pretty fast as we became wrapped up in all the tomfoolery the couple had to go through to make their marriage happen.
Minute-scenes stretched out to 15 and dialogues were repeated over and over again to the point of exhaustion. At this stage it's become obvious that the Pakistani entertainment industry needs good writers to progress and Ready Steady No solidifies that by taking a strong idea and losing it.
While we don't expect a PSA where the cast preaches against bigotry and judgement, we did want to see this idea follow through with the story. Heck if you're using an idea, might as well commit to it! We could've seen the leads truly call out the concept of marrying within a caste and about how this mindset divides people with hatred and bigotry.
But instead it all becomes redundant in the film's attempt to add silly shenanigans for laughs. Minute-scenes stretched out to 15 and dialogues were repeated over and over again to the point of exhaustion.
At this stage it's become obvious that the Pakistani entertainment industry needs good writers to progress and Ready Steady No solidifies that by taking a strong idea and losing it. We as an audience really want to support the Pakistani entertainment industry but it's difficult to do that when a film consists of a confusing chain of events which leave us wondering "What is even happening?"
Amna Ilyas does her best with what she had to work with
It deserves a mention that Amna Ilyas worked on this film before Baaji which also came out this summer. Her performance in the Meera-starrer shows her improvement from this but the actor's hardwork was noticeable in RN2 as well.
Razia is a strong woman who is willing to stand for what she believes in but also wants her father to understand and support her rather than oppose her, which made her character relatable for many, I'm sure.
Ilyas gives an energetic performance, holding her own very well and even managed to get a laugh out of us. As an actor, she is on her way to becoming a powerhouse in the industry.
Unfortunately, a poor script let down Ilyas as she tries hard to make repetitive dialogues and outlandish antics look believable, which is something that cannot be said for the rest of the cast. Faisal Saif as the lead was stoic and appeared monotonous and even at times that demanded a range of emotion.
Apart from the leads, we had some quirky characters which too turned out to be rather disappointing.
Razia is a strong woman who's willing to stand for what she believes in but also wants her father to understand and support her which made her character relatable for many, I'm sure. Amna Ilyas gives an energetic performance, holding her own very well and even managed to get a laugh out of us.
Muneer is a caricature of every slapstick character you can imagine and it was a chore to watch him on screen. His catchphrase 'Muneer se kuch chup nahi sakta' is uttered so many times that we couldn't help but feel some secondhand embarrassment and his old-school Bolly-villain laugh didn't make it any better.
In fact, the humour throughout has us cringing. Full of stereotypes like the raspy voice maulana who never stops preaching and foolish police officers that can't do their jobs, this film had it all, including its fair share of uncomfortable sexual innuendos. I don't mind bizarre humour but it should be written well, it's not enough to just force it into the story for shock value.
In an earlier interview, director Hisham Bin Munawwar had said, "The concept of a boy and a girl eloping may sound romantic, but in reality it is not, and that’s the story we aim to tell."
He had also added, "The message [of marrying outside one's caste] is a part of the story, but it is not the story."
We understand using a premise to launch the plot of a movie, but Ready Steady No would've fared better if it did indeed have this message be stronger in the film. If nothing else, throughout the struggles of eloping, it could've come back to the issue in a full circle, but the far-fetched incidents failed this message.