Na Baligh Afraad: A Naughty 90s Throwback with a Heart!

Diva Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

In the world of films, coming-of-age stories mixed with adult humor are like peanut butter and jelly. Whether in Hollywood or our massive neighboring film industry, these almost raunchy movies always pack the theaters. But in Pakistan, filmmakers have mostly tiptoed around this genre – until Na Baligh Afraad came along.

Director Nabeel Qureshi and producer Fizza Ali Meerza return to the big screen, whisking us back to the gritty streets of 90s Karachi. This return to the ’90s is more than just a setting; it’s a love letter to a bygone era, meticulously crafted to evoke memories.

Overflowing with Frooto juice boxes, Top Pop chips, Vital Signs posters, and Bollywood VCR tapes, the film bathes in nostalgia. We meet Mazhar and Fakhar (yes, snicker at the names) parked in front of a TV, learning about reproduction from an animal kingdom documentary!

These two ‘loser’ brothers, mocked at school for being too naive (read: innocent) for their age, become the punchline for not being ‘baligh’ (grown-ups). That is, until their dad brings home a rented VCR, and they hatch a wild plan to watch an adult video and finally grow up!

And wow, do they ever grow up!

With hilarious antics, a touch of innocence, and a burning desire to ditch their ‘good boy’ labels, the movie is a comedy of errors with heart. It blends love, humor, a pinch of drama, and loads of emotion, making it more than just your typical mindless movie. Some might even argue that Nabeel’s first film, Na Maloom Afraad, pales in comparison to this one.

The humor here is fresh and authentic, not the tired slapstick we’ve seen before. It’s a rollercoaster of laughter that doesn’t rely on cheap jokes. Instead, it draws you in with clever dialogue and genuine, heartfelt moments.

Why? Because Na Baligh Afraad steers clear of the crude humor that plagues other Pakistani films. The writing is sharp and refreshingly effortless.

The same goes for the acting, which makes the movie glide along smoothly. Aashir Wajahat and Samar Jafri are the shining stars here. Their dialogue and actions feel natural, not overacted. Their spot-on portrayal of the 90s vibe is not only charming but shows how much they’ve grown as actors.

But let’s not forget the supporting cast, the real backbone of this short and sweet film. With seasoned talents like Salim Mairaj and Ehteshamuddin, plus Adeal Amjad’s hilarious antics, the movie fully exploits their acting chops and ability to bring their characters to life.

Each of these actors brings their A-game, blending seamlessly into the quirky world of the film. Their characters are more than just sidekicks; they add depth and richness, making the movie feel like a true ensemble piece.

Sure, the film has a few tiny flaws. The climax could have been more fleshed out, and while we love a good cameo, maybe a less over-the-top ending would have worked better. And some 90s antics, like bullying, still leave a sour taste, even if they’re crucial to the plot.

Despite these minor hiccups, the film is a refreshing change. After the slump following The Legend of Maula Jatt, Na Baligh Afraad proves that clever writing and direction can still triumph. That it was produced and directed in under a month is shocking, but in a good way. Kudos to Nabeel and Fizza for pulling it off.

In the end, amid the rubble of Pakistani cinema’s revival, Na Baligh Afraad stands tall, hinting at a new genre for the industry. One that could be a hit if done right.

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