Of all the Tarang Houseful Telefilms this one has to be my favoritest one so far. Aesthetically sound, well-directed, a tightly knit narrative, the story a lovely blend of romance, humor and melodrama, fabulous acting by all, and well produced to boot, this one ensured that I was thoroughly entertained throughout. Loved it!
First of, like all good masala films this one too had a very predictable beginning, middle and end, so no surprises, nothing out of the box there. What gave it the extra edge though was the tarka of what is now fast becoming recognizable as the Vasay Chaudhry brand of dry humor. Witty one-liners and intelligent repartee set this one apart from the other two, Dil Mera Dharkan Teri and Anjuman, and in the same class as the first film in this series of remakes – Abhi Tau Main Jawan Hoon. While that was an out and out comedy, and an enjoyable one at that, Armaan now leads the list of my favorites because of the way humor was blended in with romance, giving an age old love story a fresh contemporary appeal.
As far as the mass-appeal of the movie goes, we need to look no further than Fawad Khan. He was the reason why this was the most anticipated movie in this series of remakes, and to his credit Fawad did carry the movie across the finish line. To begin with, he looked fantastic and acted superbly, a much appreciated departure from his now overdone HUM TV shohar avatar, as he took to this very fun character with great relish. Having watched this right after yet another aggravatingly drawn out episode of ZGH, I was fully expecting Fawad’s Armaan to be yet another clone of Ashar and Zaroon, but thankfully we were spared that. Full marks to the stylists Maram and Aabroo for giving Fawad a very different look – loved the ode to Waheed Murad, with the longer hair and lock across the forehead. What I couldn’t get though was the strange lighting setup, wherein both Fawad and Aamina looked gorgeous but ghoulish on several occasions. At Cecil’s wedding for instance, both looked stunning and I’m sure were saying important things, but it was hard to focus on words when their chalky faces were so distracting.
After seeing Fawad play Armaan with such relish, one can only be saddened that such a fabulous actor is being wasted in one sappy story after another, where the only thing his characters do is get married and suffer through one form of marital hell or the other – please, please can we see more creative story lines, where it is not just about psycho biwis and/or shuki shohars and who is crazier. Here, I loved Fawad’s chemistry with Vasay – now there’s a new jori in town if someone is thinking in terms of pushing the envelope and looking for out of the box plot lines to fully utilize our supremely talented actors.
Aamina Sheikh is another very talented actress and here too she did not disappoint as the lovely, understated Zarnab. Loved her full on filmy heroine bit in the Ko Korina song. Whether consciously or unconsciously, all the movies we’ve seen so far have picked up on one filmy standby or the other – we’ve already seen nods to the double staircases, large open entryways, big chandeliers – and here we saw Anjum Shahzad paying tribute to the standard trope of the piano playing heroine. Following in the tradition of all the great heroines of yesteryears, Aamina too happily strummed away on the piano; loved her in the Akele Na Jaana song.
While I thoroughly enjoyed Aamina’s performance as Zarnab, as a romantic pair Armaan and Zarnab did nothing for me. From the get-go, while the screenplay was prepped to set the screen on fire – he is enamored by her but she outsmarts him making him swear revenge and they eventually fall in love – there was no heat between the lead pair. Fawad and Aamina’s chemistry was more akin to that shared by old hangout buddies rather than the sultry sparks set off by new lovers. The getting wet in the rain and sharing the umbrella should’ve been a memorable moment but fell flat; all I could think about was how cold Fawad looked in that scene.
Among other actors, Vasay was a standout as Danny, and if I may say so actually outshone Fawad in quite a few places. The Zartab- Salman pair was okay, though Mahnoor did look very pretty throughout. Among the seniors, its always a delight to see Lubna Aslam, and Manzoor Queshi was his usual impeccable self, the perfect indulgent dadaji.
Like any other self-respecting commercial film, Armaan too had its share of the song and dance routines. Among these, the two versions of Akele Na Jaana were the best in terms of effective placement and utilization. Shreya Ghoshal’s version was beautifully used to highlight the increasing closeness between Armaan and Zartab, while the male version was a good device to highlight the drama of the moment, as Armaan frantically searched for his MIA lady love. The classic Ko Ko Korina song had been a huge disappointment when I first heard it and while it sounded a little better once I saw the picturization, the original still wins hands down. That said the song was choreograped well, and Aamina and Mahnoor aced it. As for Fawad, after having seen him perform various dance routines in ads, I am just glad that he did not do any more than he did. As for his yellow-green outfit, the less said the better.
In the final analysis, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole package. Anjum Shahzad’s direction was spot on, be it the humorous bits, the drama, or the romance, the evenly paced narrative flowed smoothly without any hiccups. The overall production was beautifully designed, and the outdoor locations were well-chosen. The styling of the lead actors was great, and Aamina and Mahnoor’s wardrobe was fabulous. I just wish some money had also been spent on buying Fawad a few more winter clothes and boots. The poor guy was literally shivering in a few places and looked like he was freezing to death in the choti-e aashqan scene.
While the overall look and feel of the final product was very slick and appealing, full marks to the producers for that, the one thing that struck a very jarring note were the wrong spellings of names of people integral to this project. Fawad’s name was spelt wrong in the opening credits, and fixed later at some places in the end credits, which is ironic considering that he is a co-producer here and also shares credit for the screenplay. Similarly Vasay’s name was spelt in at least two different ways. Perhaps someone could fix these before the DVD versions are shipped out?
Written by SZ~
YouTube Link for the complete movie – enjoy!!