After facing multiple delays, the film “Babylicious” starring Syra Yousuf and Shahroz Sabzwari, written and directed by debutant Essa Khan, has finally hit the theaters on Eid-ul-Azha. With its youthful exuberance embedded in the theme, execution, and overall presentation, “Babylicious” aims to capture the hearts and minds of the youth.
The story revolves around Omar (Shahroz Sabzwari), a hopeless romantic who invests all his energy into his relationship with Sabiha (Syra Yousuf), neglecting his studies and career. Omar lives in his own fantasy world, planning to build a “Sabiha Mahal” as his architecture thesis project to immortalize their love story. On the other hand, Sabiha has clear priorities and desires more from life, despite being emotionally invested in their fifteen-month relationship.
Despite repeated rejections, Omar remains fixated on reclaiming Sabiha’s heart, refusing to accept defeat. Since Omar couldn’t take a ‘no’ for an answer, he starts to plot schemes around how to get Sabiha back in his life with the help of his friends Aadi (Adeel Ahmed), Nido (Mohi Abro) and Arwa (Shehzeen Rahat). This includes visiting a prostitute to forget Sabiha, requesting Arwa to become his girlfriend so Sabiha could be made feel jealous, going for ‘Kaala Jadu’ (Black magic) and tarnishing Sabiha’s character in front of Nabeel etc. What happens next is what the film is all about.
“Babylicious” fills the gap in Pakistani cinema by focusing on young characters and their struggles, particularly in relationships. This youth-oriented entertainer caters to a generation that is accustomed to a plethora of coming-of-age and youth-based content regularly produced by platforms like Netflix. It offers a homegrown film for urban youth, satisfying their craving for relatable and authentic storytelling. The film’s songs contribute to its appeal, as they are catchy, contemporary, and have a lasting impact. The screenplay keeps the audience engaged with contemporary dialogue and the inclusion of modern urban slang.
Unfortunately, “Babylicious” struggles to captivate its audience due to Shehroz Sabzwari’s relatively unchanged performance and the unflattering portrayal of Omer as a lover with unsettling traits. Syra Yousuf, known for her roles in “Chalay Thay Saath” and “Project Ghazi,” finds herself in a film that regrettably underutilizes her immense talent. Despite being a significant part of the film, her character is relegated to a supporting role, lacking the screen presence she deserves. While she delivers a decent performance, the weak character development and lack of defining traits prevent her from salvaging the movie. Ankur Rathee, an Indian actor known for his roles in “Four More Shots,” “Shehzada,” and “Taish,” plays an integral character in the movie. However, similar to Syra Yousuf’s character, Ankur’s portrayal suffers from immature writing.
Despite its entertainment value and technical merits, “Babylicious” fails with its content in today’s woke age. The male lead’s transformation from a hopeless romantic to an obsessed lover who resorts to toxic behavior, including sharing personal photographs, is problematic. The film fails to discourage such traits and even rewards them in the end, potentially setting a bad precedent for young viewers. The use of religion in the climax is also regressive. “Babylicious” also leaves behind unanswered questions, with characters disappearing as if they were never necessary in the first place. The story itself is riddled with numerous loopholes, leaving the audience with a sense of incompleteness.
In summary, “Babylicious” offers an entertaining experience for those seeking a good time with friends and family. With elements of comedy, songs, romance, and a touch of action, it delivers as a masala entertainer. However, for viewers who are sensitive to regressive mindsets and toxic characters, there are alternative film options they might want to go for instead.