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Movie Review: Baabani, Girls and Not Brides

The power to change the narrative of our social struggles equally lies in the hands of the filmmaker. Not just because they have a voice too, but because they have the platform that allows them speak both within and beyond the confines of our culture through storytelling.

Baabani is a social drama that talks about the plight of a young girl from a struggling home who is forced into a marriage to settle a debt.

At the center of this film is the character Samira, played by Eman Sinare. She is actually one of the reasons why we couldn’t afford to miss this film. Considering that this would be the second time we are seeing her on screen after making her acting debut in Kobi Rana’s Sala last year. (Check out our review and rating for SALA here) In Baabani, she plays a role quiet similar to the character she played in Sala. A vulnerable and timid yet courageous girl. And she again delivers an endearing performance. We only hope she doesn’t get typecast for such roles in her subsequent acting endeavors as we would love to see other sides of her to fully appreciate her acting talents. We also acknowledge Peter Ritche’s commanding screen presence in this film. This film also features performances by Umar Krupp, Kalsoume Sinare, Samuel Bravo, Salma Mumin, Fred Amugi, Ama Jas and Ian Wordi.

At first we were tempted to think that this film would be similar to Kobi Rana’s Sala obviously because of the choice of cast and its slum setting, but it turns out that Baabani takes a completely different path and filming approach.

If there is anything that you can’t absolutely miss from this film, it would be the subject this film chooses to talk about. The intent of this film shouldn’t be just to entertain but to educate and inform.

We would have appreciated it more if the film had taught us more than just what is already obvious. Yes, child marriages happen in Ghana but what are the figures and the data to make the viewer fully appreciate the gravity of this situation? An extra effort at providing such valid data and statistics on the subject matter in the dialogue would have gone a long way to add some credence to the research that might have gone into the writing of this script.

The screenplay found a way to merge fast paced scenes and slow paced scenes fluidly without affecting the vibe the film intended to have. Director Devine Jones’ approach at this does deserve to be commended.

Although the intent of the movie was to have some scenes set in the slums and others set in the city quite some reasonable distance away, the ability of the characters to move to and from those distinct geographic settings within short times during alternating scenes sort of altered the reality of the movie.

We feel the close up shots used in this film were abused. A lot of the scenes had vital details and expressions on the faces of the characters not shown in the framing. Generally, it’s the actor’s facial expressions that complement the performance so it becomes a bit difficult for the viewer to appreciate the performance when these details are left out of the shot.

The makeup and costuming in this film was certainly on point but only a tad marred by some not so impressive lighting in some of the scenes that had random shadows blocking out some of the details in the shot.

Also we did not find the scoring for this film to be the best. Throughout its run time, the accompanying mood music for most of the scenes was distinctively either something clearly South African or having hints of Northern African territories.  For a film that was clearly set in the slums of Ghana we feel it would have made better sense if the accompanying film scores could easily identify with the distinct culture of the people living in those slums instead of hinting traces of misappropriated culture. Although most a times negligible, scoring contributes a lot to get the viewer absorbed in to the film and giving them a better experience.

In our humble opinion, giving all credit to the work done on this film, Baabani is certainly a compelling story that could have been told better. Nonetheless it was very enjoyable in all sense really worth the time. That’s why we would give this film a much deserved 6.5/10 rating.

Getting to the end of the film, the story somewhat forces an over dramatized climax which we seem to feel did not do enough justice to the films overall progress. It felt like the entire film had only served as a medium for reechoing an existing problem of child marriages but in the end provided no solutions or remedies to the problem.

Not that it is the filmmaker’s duty to provide solutions to the existing problem, but in our opinion this film could be have been used as an ultimate platform to changing the narrative buy suggesting what we could all do as individuals and collectively as a community to put an end to this social issue. We should never forget that one of the strengths of film is not to only contribute to the narrative but it also possesses the power to entirely change the narrative.

In case you haven’t seen this film yet, prepare yourself for the ride and make it a point to go see it as it is still showing in cinemas and get a better perspective of all that we’ve said.

Do you think Baabani delivered or missed its point? Do well to share with us your thoughts on this film in comments section below.

 

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