‘Chain Aye Na’ review: Derangement masquerading as love

Croak

Authors: TheIndianSubcontinent News Agency

Syed Noor’s latest celebr­ates harass­ment, making such behavi­our not just accept­able, but even admira­ble

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SCREENGRAB

KARACHI  : It starts with a wedding to be. Guy meets girl, serenades her with both saxophone and guitar – so far so good, if somewhat cliched. They dance their hearts out (back up dancers in tow) at a mehndi.
The guy, our ‘dashing hero’ is quite obviously smitten. The girl, not so much. Guy confesses his ‘love’, girl lets him down easy.
That should be the end of it right? Not so fast.

Against all odds, despite all her protests, the guy is convinced he and the girl (who is already engaged) are meant to be. He pesters their mutual friends – to their obvious discomfort – for her number. He follows her to her city, to her home, to her very bedroom.

Shahroz Sabzwari reassures fans ‘Chain Aye Na’ is not a bad film

At each point, she repeats “NOT INTERESTED”, amicably, then sternly and finally with wrath. The guy’s sole response each time: “Tum meri ho (you are mine)”.

Driven to a breaking point, the girl finally lashes out and slaps him – twice. Better late than never I suppose.

And then things take a turn for the grotesque. The guy slaps her back – thrice, because who’s keeping count – and threatens to “knock her down of her high perch”. Because “tum meri ho“.

Such is the plot of Syed Noor’s latest big screen offering Chain Aye Na. Is this love? Noor certainly seems to think so. None of his characters ever chastise his protagonist for his deranged obsession with the female lead.

The latter, on the other hand, is repeatedly told that the hero truly loves her and that she is being too harsh. Victim-blaming at its finest.

As a general rule, a critic should avoid commenting on and criticising an idea behind a story, movie or any art form. Everyone reserves the right to express their self freely, without any thought policing.
Sometimes though, an idea can be so toxic that it can have troubling, even morbid consequences. To not point that out, then, would make a critic complicit in that sin.

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South Asian cinema has long equated love to deranged, often one-sided, obsession. More often than not, it has been male protagonists who harbour this obsession towards the female lead. Heroes, in many of these films, behave like jealous stalkers and resort to what today is understood to be clear sexual harassment to win over the target of their infatuation. What’s even more disturbing is the fact that the protagonists are rewarded for this behaviour every time.

Little wonder then that South Asia as a whole is rife with incidents of women being killed or sexually assaulted by men whose advances they spurned. Stories like the one in Chain Aye Na have conditioned a generation of men in both Pakistan and India and wherever else Bollywood (and/or Lollywood) to not take no for an answer in their romantic pursuits.

By conflating stalking, harassment and obsession with love, such films send a message that this behaviour is not just acceptable, but even admirable.

Let’s get one thing clear. These tales of derangement masquerading as romance are not okay. They weren’t okay 30 years ago and are certainly not okay today. Film-makers and storytellers need to think twice before they glamourise sinister obsessions, and when they fail to do so, like Noor with Chain Aye Na, they need to be called out.

Chain Aye Na’s title track is out and we have so many questions!

It was a sad, in fact, distressing experience to witness the comeback of the once-famed lone warrior of Pakistani cinema, Syed Noor. Having only watched few of his popular works such as Majajan and Choorian, one begs to wonder if something happened to him so recently or were the aforementioned films mere flukes.

The concentrated effort at misogyny and misguided value system that Chain Aye Na has proven to be, make us believe the later; he is just a guy with a very flawed understanding of cinema, both as a medium of entertainment and influence. Perhaps Sheikh Saadi was apt to point out, Har boorha shakhs buzurg nahi hota, not every old man is wise.

Verdict: Chain Aye Na’s journey from being ridiculous to cringe worthy and grossly offensive is better of left alone.

Rating: Unrated

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