Baaghi ~ Episode 1 Review

Baaghi, written by Shazia Khan, screenplay by Umera Ahmed, directed by Farooq Rind and produced by Paragon Productions, has been one of the most talked about serials in recent times. Highly anticipated because of the pre-publicity of this project being based on Qandeel Baloch’s life storyand that it marked Saba Qamar’s return to TV after her super successful stint in Bollywood. Having followed the Qandeel Baloch saga and news of this ensuing project with a degree of interest, I sat down to watch with reservations mixed in with expectations.   

Baaghi is the story of Fauzia Batool, a free-spirited girl who refused to conform. Though she lives in a small village in a house where the roof leaks every time it rains, her father is the village nayi and her brother a doodhwalashe dreams big, Noor Jahan sized big. She wants to conquer the world and be known far beyond her humble surroundings. And all this she wants to do by herself for herself. Main na apna shahzada khud hoon… dekha dongi main is duniya ko ke Fauzia Batool ko shahzade ki zaroorat nahin, woh khud ek mard hai…

Fauzia does not say these words lightly, she means them. Though she appears frivolous, only interested in nachna gana and makeup, she is mature enough to understand the heavy price extracted by this conformist society of ours, with its strict definitions of what a woman can and cannot do. Here, dreaming is frowned upon, ambitions deemed undesirable, and aspirations easily broken down. Even at this early stage it is easy to see this girl is an anomaly, someone who vexes her family no end. Her father is the only one who shows an iota of patience with her, but how long before he too decides he’s had enough? Her brother is merely annoyed for now, but how long before his annoyance turns into full-blown anger?

In its first episode Baaghi has started off on a high note. Shazia Khan/Umera Ahmed’s writing and screenplay is crisp and Farooq Rind’s direction on point. To begin with, I loved how Rind captured the essence of the gaon. The slice of life shots: colorful gola ganda, wobbly rickshaw on the kaccchi saraks, vegetable seller with the microphone, gleaming matkas, doodhwala on the cycle, all were edited in nicely, and subtly drove home the point – the simplicity of the gaon versus Fauzia’s very complex thoughts.

Saba Qamar is an absolute delight as the devil-may-care Fauzia, she fits the character to a T. It is easy to see why Hindi Medium did as well as it has done. While I enjoyed her uninhibited approach to Fauzia, I thought at times Saba came off too polished as a small town gaon ki gori. By contrast, Nadia Afgan was spot on in terms of her  accent and general body language. Sarmad Khoosat, his surma game on point, was appropriately menacing, a far cry from the sensitive Imtiaz of Teri Raza.  His and Nadia’s scene together was one of my favorites in today’s episode. Ali Kazmi was another standout as the dil-o-jaan se fida shopkeeper. Erfan Khoosat and Saba Faisal were others who left an impression.

Technically I thought this was a good start, editing was crisp, the DOP did a very good job with lighting and framing and thankfully the background music remained where it belonged, in the background. All in a lot of effort has gone into this serial and it all showed in the first episode.

Had this been any other serial I would end now with a well-deserved round of applause for the Baaghi Team. But this is not just any other serial. Ever since it started filming, we have been hearing of this as Qandeel Baloch’s biopic. In fact so much of the buzz surrounding this project comes from that point of interest and curiosity. Imagine my shock then when after months of cashing in on Qandeel Baloch’s name and notoriety, Baaghi began on this note:

I get the need for legalese, and have seen innumerable such notices to understand that this standard procedure in case of shows inspired by true life events, but never ever in a situation like this:

I am not a lawyer but even I can see this as equivocation of the highest order. Basically, not only was Qandeel Baloch exploited in life, but as this fiasco shows she continues to be exploited in death as well.

Written by SZ~

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20 replies

    • Hey! Watched your mini review and saw that we were both on the same page, even as to the line that stuck with us 🙂
      Haina! that disclaimer left a very sour taste .. seems like they didnt really think it through and just slapped it on because its the done thing…

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  1. I enjoyed your review. but i disagree with the bit about the disclaimer. i much prefer a show that says “this is one way it could have possibly happened and it is our interpretation of events” than one that says “this is the definitive truth. the end” because we will never know the definitive truth and it is important to acknowledge that

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    • @a&h: Hello – thanks for reading and commenting 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the review.

      I hear you about the need for a disclaimer and agree with you about the need to acknowledge that this is an interpretation, but then they should have said exactly that and it would have been fine by me. I have an issue with the use of: “Any insinuation or resemblance of character to any person dead or alive or the resemblance of the drama story to any real story is purely coincidental.”

      A bit disingenuous I would say particularly after all that was said prior to the airing of the serial.. They should have called the serial “inspired by” rather than giving the central character the exact same name and doing photshoots and releasing lookalike pics side by side …

      Overall I enjoyed the show and think it is strong enough to stand on its on merit even without the QB reference, it would have done well irregardless of these shenanigans.

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  2. This “clarification” from the show’s writers creates further confusion …

    “While the main storyline of the drama is based on the events of Qandeel’s life (which is faithfully retold to the tee, say the writers), similar stories of small-town girls with dreams of showbiz have informed some of the minor events of the drama.”

    Does this not constitute “resemblance to real life”?

    https://images.dawn.com/news/1178085/qandeels-family-gave-us-complete-creative-liberty-to-tell-this-story-say-baaghis-writers

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    • I haven’t watched the show yet, but I’ve been thinking about the disclaimer. Assuming it’s a hedge against possible legal action for libel/slander, Qandeel Baloch isn’t the problem. As a matter of common law, you cannot slander or libel a dead person.

      So the disclaimer is really meant to protect the showrunners and the network from legal action brought by others who may be portrayed on the show in a less than glowing manner. I think the disclaimer is a bit overworked, to be honest, but it doesn’t surprise me the show runners had to do this.

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      • @RK: I hear you .. but the last two lines and any “coincidental resemblance” are completely contrary to what the creatives behind the show have said and continue to say (re: dawn today) .. they should all at least be on the same page…

        The unfortunate part is that the show itself has more than enough merit to stand on its own two legs .. Watch it and we’ll discuss 🙂

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        • My guess is that this particular disclaimer is the result of a hurried combination of several different standard disclaimers used in biopics. The end result is a confusing and internally inconsistent disclaimer that says both “inspired by true events” and “any resemblance…is purely coincidental.”

          Cut-paste lawyering is bad lawyering.

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  3. I pretty much liked the episode.. and soo agree with you that this story has dum itself , regardless…

    Casting is done really perfectly.. every actor has done so much justice to their roles.. SK the uber cool/hot in Teri Raza was so amazing bad brother with surma and stuff… and with Nadia Afghan sharing screen with him makes it so worth it.. they both are so so good together.. then it was Tharki shopkeeper…. maan the way ali kazmi was looking while fouzia applied lipstick.. tharkpan tapak raha tha.. he nailed it.. and ofcourse SQ.. she was brilliant but too modern for a village setup..
    All in all a paisal wasool episode..

    Reg: disclaimer.. its very much contradictory.. but then nothing surprises anymore

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    • @Rehmat: Nadia and Sarmad together reminded me of Cheeko and Mishi and I know that bedroom scene was serious but there was something so funny and real abt it .. I kept thinking ke its high time they brought Shashlik back again for a reunion season .. I wanna know what those two are up to these days

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      • Hahah you know when she kept on crying.. i was so expecting him to say something funny.. but last me when he said oye chuppp.. i laughed dont knowwhy

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  4. Might I say again you write excellent reviews. Look forward to them more than the drama, at times to be honest.

    Your last para sums it up.

    Was bewildered myself by all this publicity – it’s always felt like it was too soon even if it was to be a biopic no matter how good intentioned. Even then it looked like the MEDIA again taking advantage of the person and now this just further complicates it.

    Productions’ and media house’s ethics aside, it looks really compelling but do I really want to see the story play out the way it is presumed to be? No, sadly. Much too soon for me.

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    • @Arisha: Thank you – much appreciated! And please kehti rahiye .. I wont stop you 😉

      I’m with you on this being a case of too much too soon .. woh jo kehtey hain na ke hadiyon ka surma bana ke bechna .. bas that about sums it. But now that Baaghi is here and i have seen the first episode I am intrigued and interested as to how “this” story will play out. QB’s life is too complex and IMO we as a people are not yet mature enough to deal with the harsh reality that she was forcing us to confront. As far as Im concerned, Im gonna watch this as a compelling fictional story on its own merit, bas. My reviews will be only abt what we see onscreen and will not draw any comparisons or conclusions .. dont see myself as qualified to do that.

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      • Zaroor. Kyun nahin. Kia likhti hain aap, bhayee wah!
        😉

        I know what you mean, I shouldn’t give it that angle either warna you’re right, it is much too complicated and complex to even begin to fathom what this is.

        My friend always says, “Truth is stranger than fiction” and I’ve begun to see how very apt it is is many instances now.

        But I learned something new here today too – hadiyon ka surma bana ker bechna – bhayee bohat Aala.
        Going right in on the list, with the rest of these little nuggets.
        🙂

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  5. I just watched this and it looks great so far. The scenery and background characters are really nicely drawn–gives you a real sense of village life and helps inform Fauzia’s life better than a lot of dialogue would have done. Is “mera laung gawacha” really as ubiquitous as Indian films and Pakistani dramas would suggest? 😉

    The writing is taut and the acting so far is excellent. Saba Qamar, Nadia Afghan, and Sarmad Khoosat were all excellent. I look forward to the next episode, if only for more of Sarmad the Suit…er, I mean Sarmad the Surma, lol.

    If I have a small complaint, it’s that both Saba Qamar and Ali Kazmi looked/felt a bit too “city” for their characters. I’ve enjoyed Ali Kazmi in other things, but he just doesn’t work for me here.

    Knowing what we know about the real events that inspired this show, I think I’m more sympathetic re: the disclaimer despite its internal contradiction. I’m very curious how the showrunners are going to handle the plot. They’re going to have to walk a tight rope to the need to tell Qandeel Baloch’s story sympathetically against the need to satisfy the viewers’ need for moral retribution (for lack of a better word). If the comments to this episode on YouTube are anything to go by, this is going to be quite the ride.

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    • @RK: Yes, I think laung gawacha is very popular at shaadis etc, more so given the context of small town Punjab.

      I agree re: SQ, yes that clean shehri look and accent didnt work for me either, but her commitment to the role is so real that by the time it all ended I sort of had set it all aside. Ali I liked, his accent kinda sorta fit in better because he was “vilayat returned” had lived and worked in Dubai and I could totally see him trying to work that oily charm of his on the ladies there .. and probably gotten slapped more than once too ..and I dont buy his easy breezy explanation about returning, i have a feeling he was probably thrown out.. How creepy was he when he leaned in on her as she was trying on that lipstick …

      Im done being upset abt the disclaimer thing now, but it is plain ridiculous, especially if they are gonna continue talking about how “real” their story is (re: the dawn link I posted).. basically, they (the team behind the project) should get their story straightened out otherwise there will be more outcry about it, and then ofcourse we have the guardians of morality .. those ppl will keep on watching even as they crib so mitti pao on them. If I was on the Baaghi team I would look at the OJ story and see how its makers have handled the whole thing.

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  6. As i said earlier, i want to watch this drama without thinking about QB and without drawing any comparisons.. i did just that.. and thoroughly enjoyed first installment. SQ played it beautifully and she did look like a chirpy “young” girl in most part.. never was i reminded of possessive obsessive “mother” from Hindi medium..
    I so agree to your last paragraph. That is pure exploitation of someone whose life and death is already a subject of discussion. Jalti pey tail daal kr disclaimer release kr diya k bhae hum kia jaanen?

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    • @Atty: Bas yaar .. as Rehmat said ab nothing is really a surprise any more .. Anyways ab lets mitti pao on all this disclaimer business. We’ve let our thoughts be known on this issue ab lets just sit back and enjoy the drama for what it is…

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  7. SZ great review. Pretty sad about the disclaimer and I agree the language should be different.

    But despite that I absolutely loved the episode. Amazing performances and fun dialogues. SQ totally owned the character and even when there were no dialogues her performance was mesmerizing. I loved the dialogue where she says that she is the hero of her own story 🙂 it was very apparent that Fouzia believes her life is a running movie… loved how they translated it on screen looking forward to this ride.

    Having finally watched these two drama’s which started this week, all the drama’s which started previously pale in comparison. 🙂 looking forward to your reviews…it’ll be good fun watching this and O Rangreza together.

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