Load Wedding could so easily have been one of the best films of the year. It still ends up being one of the better ones, but for Nabeel Qureshi and his team it is clearly a missed opportunity, given the hard work they had put in.

The film had pretty much everything that is required in a top-drawer movie, especially in our neck of the woods. Unfortunately, it also had much of what wasn’t needed. Most critically, there is as overabundance of themes, which resulted in the film being a hotchpotch of two to three decent scripts squeezed into one, topped off with a sprinkling of stale plots as well.

The film begins with Raja (Fahad Mustafa) being distraught at the wedding of the love of his live Meeru (Mehwish Hayat). Later he discovers that Meeru’s husband passed away the day after his wedding, which brings him back in business. What this also brings is the film’s first preachy moment: underlining the taboo surrounding widowed women, and their potential second marriages.

The second, and primary, theme of preaching revolves around dowry, with Raja’s elder sister Farhana, aka Baby Baji (Faiza Hasan) failing to find a match because her family can’t match the material demands of those expressing interest. The script here also touches on the pressures that are put on a potential bride to look a certain way, with fat-shaming being the story for Baby Baji.

Raja’s mother (Samina Ahmed), anxious about her daughter’s marriage, refuses to pay much heed to the son’s desire of getting married – again, given the taboos surrounding the brother getting married before the sister, and a younger one at that.

These themes individually, or even collectively, could have been used to tell a cohesive story that focuses in its entirety on the struggles and issues that all women involved in a wedding have to face owing to societal regression.

Load Weddinggoes so very close to being that movie – except that it wants to be a lot of other things as well.

Since the widow is a separate woman and the fat-shamed dowry-laden woman the other, two different sets of circumstances are created. Even those could’ve run parallel to one another, but in Load Wedding’s case they take turns and hence are visibly forced together into one disjointed storyline.

Then the film wants a satirical take on matters as well, with potshots understandably taken at the wedding culture. But what is absolutely inexplicable is the spoof on the local game shows, which linger on for the entirety of the second half.

While the satirical digs at the game shows are entertaining, and generate a lot of comic value, what they absolutely don’t have is any need for existence in the script that is already confused about what it wants to be.

And so despite saying all the right things, where the film falls is that it tries to say too many of them, and quite often not the way they should be said.

Therefore, had the film settled at being a wedding comedy, with an inkling of drama, it would have been a thorough entertainer. On the flipside, it could’ve chosen to be a social critique, which would have cut short on the superfluous entertainment props that the film was stuffed with. It would have taken supreme skill two merge the two into one unified product, which unfortunately the filmmakers couldn’t exhibit in Load Wedding.

Even so, that does not mean that the film fails to entertain – it just doesn’t do it as much as it could have. And a large chunk of the credit for that goes to the cast.

From Samina Ahmed’s portrayal as the mother of Raja and Baby Baji, to Noor Ul Hassan as the simple maama stuck in family politics – from FaizaHasan and Qaider Piya’s supreme comic delivery to the leads Mehwish Hayat and Fahad Mustafa living their characters – the casting, and the performances, are the film’s undoubted strength.

Load Weddingis still worth a watch. But one can’t help but think of how much more it could have been had it not been overloaded with plots and ambitions.