Revew: ‘Babylicious,’ starring Shehroz Sabzwari, Syra Yousuf, Aadi Adeal Amjad, Shehzeen Rahat, Aamir Qureshi, Salman Saqib and Ankur Rathee

May 2, 2024

by Carla Hay

Shehroz Sabzwari and Syra Yousuf in “Babylicious” (Photo courtesy of Coconut Entertainment)


Directed by Essa Khan

Urdu with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in Pakistan, the comedy film “Babylicious” features almost all-South Asia cast of characters (with one white person) representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: A lovelorn bachelor, who has been dumped by his fiancée, goes to extreme measures to try to get back together with her before she marries someone else.

Culture Audience: “Babylicious” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of the movie’s headliners and ridiculously cheesy romantic comedies.

Shehzeen Rahat and Shehroz Sabzwari in “Babylicious” (Photo courtesy of Coconut Entertainment)

“Babylicious” should be renamed “Bloated and Atrocious.” This overly long romantic comedy is an onslaught of terrible, over-exaggerated acting in a problematic story about a bachelor going to extremes to win back an ex-girlfriend. There’s nothing truly romantic about this train-wreck movie, which essentially tells viewers that stalking and telling big lies are the best ways to win someone’s heart.

Written and directed by Essa Khan, “Babylicous” (which takes place in an unnamed city in Pakistan in 2023) has a very simple and weak plot that is stretched to the breaking point about halfway through this 130-minute junkpile film. It’s a one-joke movie about a graduate student named Omar (played by Shehroz Sabzwari), who is desperate to get back together with his former fiancée Sabiha (played by Syra Yousuf), who has become engaged to another man for an arranged marriage. (Sabzwari and Yousuf are an ex-couple in real life.)

In the beginning of “Babylicious,” Omar and Sabiha are engaged and acting very lovey-dovey in a field, where they snuggle and declare their devotion to each other. Omar’s nickname for Sabiha is Babylicious. Omar and Sabiha have been dating each other for about 15 months. But within the first 15 minutes of the movie, Sabiha has dumped Omar because her parents (who don’t approve of Omar) think they can find a better man for her to marry.

Sabiha’s new fiancé is Nabeel (played by Ankur Rathee), who is tall, confident, successful and affluent—everything Omar is not. Sabiha seems to like Nabeel and seems eager to marry him. But does she love Nabeel? Sabiha, who describes herself as “difficult” in the beginning of the movie, has gotten tired of Omar being financially unstable and indecisive about future plans, such as where he and Sabiha will live after they get married. There’s more to it than Omar’s income level. It has to do with his lack of boundaries in courting Sabiha.

How pathetic is Omar? It’s revealed later in the movie that when Omar and Sabiha were a couple, Omar asked Sabiha’s mother (played by Anita Camphor) for money to take Sabiha out on dates. (All of the parents in this movie do not have names.) Sabiha’s older brother Haris (played by Aamir Qureshi) also strongly dislikes Omar. Omar’s own parents (played by Adnan Jaffar and Laila Wasti) don’t seem to like him very much either. They think he’s a foolish dreamer.

Omar has a goal to open a building complex that he wants to call Sabiha Mahal (like the Taj Mahal), which he envisions as having a museum, a souvenir shop and a cantina. Omar wants Sabiha Mahal to be a romantic place to visit and an ideal location for marriage proposals. He even has a miniature model of the building that he likes showing to people. A middle-aged man named John (played by Shafqat Khan) is the building planner and Omar’s occasional awkward sidekick. John is an odd character who really didn’t need to be in this awful movie.

Omar’s two best friends are just as buffoonish as Omar is. Aadi (played by Aadi Adeal Amjad, also known as Aadi Amjad) is a misogynistic creep who thinks that any woman who pays attention to him could be his next girlfriend. Nido (played by Mohi Abro) is a nerdy wimp who is dominated by his rude fiancée Annie (played by Sabeena Syed), who is very materialistic and shallow.

There’s a terrible, not-funny-at-all segment of the movie where Aadi meets a woman who has been his online crush—only to find out that she’s a sex worker. Aadi (who has a chubby body size) shows how much of a hypocrite he is because he is disgusted that she is a plus-sized woman—she’s not fat, but she’s not thin either. Aadi was expecting her to look like a thin model.

Omar and Nido are with Aadi during this first meeting with the sex worker, who has shown up with her scowling pimp, who expects the men to pay for her services. One of the three pals ends up having sex with her, but doesn’t want his other two friends to tell this secret. There are no sex scenes in “Babylicious,” but there are some curse words used throughout the movie.

Omar does increasingly desperate things to try to get Sabiha to get back together with him. Most of Omar’s schemes involve stalking Sabiha. Expect to see many scenes of Omar showing up unannounced and uninvited to places where Sabiha is.

One of the first things that Omar does is enlist the help of Sabiha’s best friend Arwa (played by Shehzeen Rahat), who feels inferior to Sabiha in every way and is envious of Sabiha. Omar and Arwa pretend to start dating each other to make Sabiha jealous. But this scheme doesn’t go as planned.

Omar and Arwa pose for a fake photo where they look like they’re a couple. They post the photo on social media. And Sabiha ends up “liking” the photo. Sabiha also tells Omar directly and indirectly that she doesn’t want to get back together with him, but he won’t take no for an answer. There are repetitive montage scenes of Omar pouting and moping all by himself, in this movie’s ineffective attempt to make viewers feel sorry for him.

Arwa has her own issues when it comes to her love life. She rarely dates, and she lives with her single mother (played by Ayesha Mirza), who constantly shames Arwa for not being married. Arwa’s mother warns Arwa that Arwa could end up as an old and lonely spinster, as if being an elderly, unmarried woman is some type of crime. And so, when Omar and Arwa start hanging out together, Arwa’s mother mistakenly assumes that Omar wants to date Arwa, which leads to a few cringeworthy scenes of Arwa’s mother gushing over Omar like she has a crush on him as a potential son-in-law.

It all goes from bad to worse in “Babylicious,” which includes Omar deciding to use black magic to cast a spell on Sabiha. He convinces Arwa to get something that has Sabiha’s DNA (such as hair, blood or a fingernail) to be used for the black magic ritual. “Babylicious” is so stupid, Arwa doesn’t do the logical thing of going to Sabiha’s house and secretly getting a strand of Sabiha’s hair from a hairbrush. Instead, Arwa has to try to make Sabiha bleed or pull a strand of hair during Sabiha’s engagement party.

“Babylicious” also has a time-wasting subplot of several jewelers going after Omar and trying to beat him up. (Don’t ask.) Comedian/media personality Salman Saqib (also known as Mani) has a supporting role as himself in the movie. The action scenes in “Babylicious” are completely ludicrous and badly staged, with Omar suddenly getting superhuman abilities, with no explanation.

“Babylicious” has sloppy film editing, obnoxious characters (depicted with equally obnoxious acting performances), and no good reason to root for Omar and Sabiha to get back together. By the end of this horrible film, viewers won’t care about any of these characters and probably won’t ever want to see them again.

Coconut Entertainment released “Babylicious” in select U.S. cinemas on April 26, 2024. The movie was released in Pakistan on June 27, 2023.

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