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Yalghaar – Movie Review

The Pakistani cinema has recently revived itself from the ashes to compete with the Bollywood and Hollywood productions, and although it’s brilliant to see the appreciative initiative it has taken,and the definite underlying potential, I think it’ll be a while before we can reach those heights.

Does that put you in a pessimistic mood already? Well I’m here to assure you that the Mind Works Media Production, released on the 26th of June, written and directed by Hassan Rana, isn’t entirely a bad watch. But be sure not to compare it to the other abroad films at the cinema, or it’ll definitely make you gloom sorely about the money you spent. That being said, I can be brutally honest to say that at least I’ve done my part of sitting in the show-time of approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes to support the Pakistan cinematic industry.

First things first: let’s politely applaud Hasan Waqas Rana’s aim about creating awareness among the ordinary citizens of Pakistan about the horrors of war and its traumatic scars that wound the families whose sons, brothers or husbands are martyred while defending the borders and honor of the country. It is undoubtedly a difficult choice for both of them and something that we tend to forget amidst the chaotic routines of our own life. But I think, that with the hassle of trying to do three different parts at once (director, writer and actor), the man missed the finer points of production which I’m here to review, one by one.

The first 20 minutes of the movie start off by the execution of an operation, where Col Asad (Shaan Shahid) from Special Services Group of Pakistan army (SSG) is leading a rescue mission for Col. Jogezai (Ayub Khoso) who is in terrorist captivity. Asad and his team, which comprises of Capt. Bilal ( Bilal Ashraf), Capt Umair (Umair Jaswal) and few other SSG specialists, drop over the enemy installment. It could have been highly constructive and exciting, except it never happens because as they enter the captivity zone and take down the enemies, the movie closes itself in a still-scene which ends quite abruptly and the next thing you know, you’re back at the headquarters.

This isn’t the only time when you’ll notice the awkward transition of scenes. The movie paces in time with action-romance-humor-repeat with little or no amalgamation of all four aspects at one point.

The film continues to introduce the malefactor, Tro Jan ( Humayun Saeed) who is the militant leader of a convict group supposedly very evil, and merciless to his enemies. How do we know this? He’s the only good-looking Pakistani actor who has been purposefully made to look not-so-appealing by his long shabby mane of hair and weird outfits, the obvious act of terrorism by shooting anyone who comes within his sight and his malicious laugh after he’s done with them. His character could have been more in depth and yet there’s no obvious explanation of his history as a felon or whether he has any link to a religious/terrorist group but I guess it saved the director from being a victim to any outbursts and critiques from the distinctive communal groups of the country.

Tro Jan forces one of his (newbie?) followers Baran (Gohar Rasheed) to gatecrash an old friend’s wedding, killing everyone and kidnapping his wife Zarmina (Ayesha Omar) as spoils of a war. His only intention is to scare her enough into marrying him which again, doesn’t make much sense given his character but it works. The character of Zarmina came as a shock since the actress had absolutely no pivotal role in the entire movie, with a maximum of 5-6 dialogues, never-ending crying and the consistent repetition of ‘Tum insaan nahi darinda ho!’ 

Concocted in between the good and bad sides are the personal lives and love interest of the soldiers.  Cocky Bilal is secretly in love with the vivacious Jero (Armeena Khan) while his good-humored friend Capt. Asif (Ahmad Taha Ghani) wishes to seek the hand of the serious and studious military gynecologist Samia(Uzma Khan). Col. Imran (Adnan Siddique) is happily married to his beautiful wife Fareeha (Aleeze Nasser), who is expecting soon and finally the complicated lovers-to-friends-to-lovers relationship, shown in fragments of scenes between Col. Asad and journalist Sadia (Sana Bucha) is perhaps highlighted the most. As far as chemistry goes, I personally believed that that of Adnan and Aleeze seemed to appear much more natural and believable as compared to the rest. Samia looked much more attractive onscreen than her friend Armeena, whose acting hasn’t quite improved since the release of Janaan. Even Sana Bucha, who is apparently a celebrated hardcore journalist in the film, has no strong character and is more keen about Shan’s life and whereabouts, than doing her actual job.  

This is serious mishap in the movie but one that wasn’t completely unexpected. With no reference to sexism, I do believe that the lack of any strong-willed woman characters, as well as their noted absence in any army positions (with the exception of Samia) should not be over-looked. It’s 2017 and about time that the women are represented as something other than the conceptual idea of a damsel-in-distress.

One thing’s for sure. Ahmad Taha Ghani, probably intended as sidekick, stole most of the show with his comical acting and nearly perfect deliverance of hilarious dialogues, making it your time’s worth. The small telepathic exchange of thoughts in Punjabi between Armeena and Bilal were funny too, but improperly set in.

Speaking of Punjabi, we wish that the screen-play had induced more of our national languages and less of English jargon and slangs which seemed quite out of place. After all, isn’t that is one of the objectives of resuscitating the country’s cinema?

So after flitting in and out between the scenes of the movie, which seems more and more as a flick visualizing the lavish and posh lifestyle of the army, the film finally brings us to its actual story in the last 30-45 minutes when a military operation conducted in the Piochar region of Swat district was carried out to terminate Humayun’s terrorist group once and for all. This, is where we can actually give some credit to Hassan Rana for his direction and writing for these last minutes are suspenseful as the enemy is attacked; and patriotic as soldiers are bombed or bullet-ed to the ground serving their country and sacrificing themselves for their fellow comrades-in-arms. It’s also where the entire emotion builds up and you can actually hear and see a few people in the audience, sniffing and shedding a few tears silently, especially when the song  Ae Watan Pyaray Watan resonates through the hall.

All in all, Yalghaar could (obviously) have been better in so many terms. The songs were good but played in and tuned out too early, probably because there wasn’t enough time. Most of the actors had no less than 2 or 3 lines and came on screen for not more than 20 seconds such as Umair Jaswal, Ali Rehman Khan, Ashir Azeem and Haris Bukhari, which makes us wonder why did they agree to take on such small roles anyway. My guess is that the director wanted as many good-looking and charming army civilians displayed, in spite of whatever role they had or whether or not they could even manage to pull it off. The characters didn’t have sagacity. The scenes had no coherence in between them. The closing credits rolled in with the pictures of APS victims and other victims of terrorism, played on the backdrop of an emotionally penned song composed by Xulfi, making you ponder over the number of ways this story could have laid itself out in so many possibilities so that its intended moral could have been impressed effectively from the very beginning.

Nevertheless, the sense of nationalism will generally appeal to you as will the film itself, if you are passionate about the army. But considering it as a sequel of Waar, it was consequently, rather disappointing.

Movies Review

Arth – The Destination – Film Review

Writer: Shaan Shahid
Director: Shaan Shahid
Producers: Hammad Chaudhry, Faraz Chaudhry, Shaan Shahid
Cast: Shaan Shahid, Uzma Hassan, Humaima Malick, Mohib Mirza. Imran Momina, Yasir Hussain, Ali Azmat, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan & others.

Arth – The Final Destination (or Arth 2) is the remake of Mahesh Bhatt’s film Arth, a 1982 Indian film which even today is considered a classic for its groundbreaking storyline and powerful performances. This film therefore had big shoes to fill and I must say that Shaan Shahid deserves full credit for not only doing complete justice to this remake in all departments but also giving this classic a brand new identity. Arth 2 can easily be termed as a better and improved version of the original film because Shaan successfully managed to focus on that one character which I felt did not get the attention it truly deserved in the original version while keeping the essence of the original story and characters intact. Raj’s character in the original film was one of the most likeable characters but his journey wasn’t covered as beautifully in the original version of the film as it has been in this remake. The clarity with which Arth 2 has been executed reflects in every single scene; the characters are brilliantly etched-out and the riveting performances coupled with seamless direction and editing make this film a must-watch.

Arth 2 is essentially the story of two individuals who are lost and find their respective destinations in places where they weren’t even looking. The film has a strong message which is in line with its title but is different from the original film. Unlike many other recent Pakistani films, Arth 2 does not try to achieve too much but it stays true to its primary subject which is why it is a clear winner. Shaan Shahid essays the role of a singer (Ali) who loses his fan base as well as his career when he moves abroad. Shaan Shahid breathes life into this beautiful character almost effortlessly which is why you cannot help but feel and root for him every step of the way. Uzma Hassan plays the role of a housewife who also happens to be Ali’s biggest fan. The journeys of both these characters have been told in such a manner that you feel an instant connection with them right from the get-go. Uzma Hassan gives a phenomenal performance throughout; she owns her character completely all through the ups and downs. Humaima Malick and Mohib Mirza’s performances are equally impressive although there are times when you feel that Humaima Malick’s character gets more screen time than needed and it has also been over-sexualized. With this film Humaima Malick proves that she is perfectly capable of giving a solid performance therefore there was absolutely no need to focus on her sexuality so much.

This movie also has some beautifully composed songs to its credit with lyrics which gel in perfectly with different situations. Every song represents a specific point in a character’s journey therefore these songs are not just enjoyable but also unforgettable. Arth 2 is a complete package, a film which you can watch over and over again. It has an amazing screenplay, brilliant performances and it has been shot beautifully. The only disappointing aspect of the film is that the dialogues are mostly in English, there are many times when you want these beautiful characters and those wonderful actors speaking Urdu. That is the only reason why I gave this film 4 stars. I hope that the next time Shaan Shahid decides to make a film as beautiful and compelling as this one, he writes the dialogues in Urdu.

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Movies Review

Rangreza – Film Review

Writer: Akhtar Qayyum
Director: Amir Mohiuddin
Producer: Vision Art Films, MH Films and Malkani Films
Cast: Urwa Hocane, Bilal Ashraf, Goher Rasheed, Ghana Ali, Alyzeh Gabol, Seemi Pasha, Saba Faisal, Saleem Mairaj & others.

Rangreza is essentially a love story and like many other love stories which we have seen on the silver screen lately, this film too has a few social messages as well but unlike some other films which excelled in highlighting these messages while keeping the viewers interested and engaged, Rangreza falls short on many levels. The film is overcrowded with characters you feel absolutely nothing for and the love story doesn’t even start until after the interval. There is a lot of focus on the side characters who have nothing exciting to offer with the exception of Waseem Wallay played brilliantly by Goher Rasheed. Although the character itself is one-dimensional but the energy with which Goher Rasheed has translated it on screen makes it the only performance which stays with you.

Bilal Ashraf plays Ali Zain’s role in the film, he is a famous singer who falls in love with Reshmi ( Urwa Hocane) who belongs to a Qawwal family. The family ties and backgrounds of both these characters are just as unappealing as the characters themselves. Bilal Ashraf’s performance is just as plain and forgettable as his character and Urwa Hocane too doesn’t get a chance to showcase her acting skills. Although there is zero on screen chemistry between the leads but it is also a fact that the screenplay is such that it does not even explore the relationship these two share. Ghana Ali gets a lot more screen time than she deserves just like many other supporting characters. Alyzeh Gabol’s cameo in the film is pointless to say the least! Saba Faisal gives a decent performance in the film although her character too doesn’t have a lot to offer.

Watching this film was like watching an average episode of a drama which doesn’t have a solid storyline and is badly executed. The film does not even have the edge of being visually pleasing and it doesn’t have a single well choreographed song to its credit. Urwa Hocane proved that she can dance really well in Punjab Nahi Jaungi but the director and the choreographer failed to make the most of her ability to do so. The most disappointing aspect of the film is that the leading pair is hardly seen together in a romantic setting. Rangreza has the most unimpressive cinematography and overall it has an artificial feel to it which is why you feel completely disconnected from the happenings all through the film. The dialogues are just as plain as the characters and the story and there are also scenes in which the dialogues don’t even make sense. Overall the film is a big “yeh shadi nahi ho sakti scenario” which leaves a lot to be desired and literally puts you to sleep. Unfortunately such films are the reason why the cinema-goers think twice before watching a Pakistani film!

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Movies Review

Verna – Film Review

Writer & Director – Shoaib Mansoor
Produced by: SHOWMAN Productions
Starring: Mahira Khan, Haroon Shahid, Zarrar Khan, Naimal Khawar, Rasheed Naz, Salman Shaukat, Shaid Mir, Shehzad Mir & Others.

Verna was promoted as a film with a message and it was also quite apparent from the promotions that Mahira Khan and Shoaib Mansoor were the USP of this film. Shoaib Mansoor hasn’t only written, directed and produced this film but he has even written the lyrics for all the songs in the film. Anyone who has seen the trailers of the film must be well aware of the main plot. The question is does the film have enough surprises in store and is it well executed or not? While Verna succeeds in showing the mentality of many of the politicians who are at the helm of affairs in our country faultlessly, it fails to do justice to the other track which covers a victim’s story .  Many of the dialogues in the film have done-to-death written all over them, the kind of things we read and hear about all the time. There are a few hard hitting dialogues in the film but there are so many others which fall completely flat because you hear the characters say those things but you don’t actually feel them.

The trials and tribulations of Sara ( Mahira Khan) aren’t translated on screen in such a way that you truly feel for her. Although Sara’s character is the best thing about the film but there were times when I had a really difficult time connecting to her character. Her strength was admirable but some of her decisions and actions did not go well with the otherwise serious and realistic theme of the film. The introduction to the characters is simplistic and the relationship between Sara and Aami (Haroon Shahid) is probably the worst part of the film. Aami’s character is almost unbearable, his only role in the story is to give people the message that children should be given polio drops. There are times when his scenes are laughable. There is absolutely no chemistry between Haroon Shahid and Mahira Khan perhaps because of the fact that their relationship doesn’t have a lot to offer. The “love” that exists between them doesn’t really come alive on screen which is why it is difficult to feel for them when they are going through hell.

Verna’s plot is interesting but the execution is poor. While Mahira Khan performed well and did the best she could to do justice to her character, there were some scenarios so weak that even her acting did not appear to be effortless. Haroon Shahid and Aami both are the worst thing about this film. Aami’s character is poorly etched-out, he is a disabled man both physically and mentally. I am wondering what Shoaib Mansoor was thinking, did he think that a line of weak characters will make his heroine look even more powerful? This film has some of the weakest supporting characters including the parents from both sides. Zarrar Khan performed brilliantly in the film but his character too didn’t have a lot to offer. There were times when it seemed like Sara was the only wise person around!! Naimal Khawar also did complete justice to her character. Adding a few more strong and intelligent supporting characters would have helped make the film more interesting. Verna reminded me of dramas like Chup Raho and Sangat. This is the first time I watched a film directed by Shoaib Mansoor and the lack of creativity stood out like a sore thumb. He failed to establish a solid relationship between the lead characters which was the film’s biggest drawback. All the songs in the film are meaningful but they are not melodious enough. Even the “happy songs” have not been shot in a creative manner. The director hasn’t used a lot of locations which is why the film has a dull feel overall. Apart from a fierce heroine, this film also needed a likeable hero and more logical ending.

Overall, Verna is neither thoroughly entertaining nor as disturbing as it should have been but at the same time it isn’t as poorly executed as Mehrunissa V Lub U. The script lacks depth as well as clarity. It would have been so much better if Shoaib Mansoor focused only on politics and did not drag women’s rights into the discussion since some of the scenarios are just plain ridiculous!

How many of you watched the film? Do share your thoughts about it.

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Movies Review

Na Maloom Afraad 2 – Film Review

Writer: Nabeel Qureshi & Fizza Ali Meerza
Director: Nabeel Qureshi
Producers: Fizza Ali Meerza & Mehdi Ali
Cast: Fahad Mustafa, Mohsin Abbas Haider, Javaid Sheikh, Hania Aamir, Urwa Hocane, Marina Khan, Saleem Mairaj, Nayyar Ejaz & others.

I am going to be honest, I did not have high expectations from this film especially because of the trailers more than anything else. I was definitely not expecting to be thoroughly entertained and did not expect to laugh hysterically for most part of the film. The trailers and even the songs did not do justice to a film which has a solid screenplay and is shot so well that at times you forget you are watching a Pakistani film. This film definitely has more highs than lows. The characterizations of the three main protagonists are brilliant, their interactions (for the most part) enjoyable and some of the dialogues are remarkably witty.Fahad Mustafa, Mohsin Abbas Haider and Javaid Sheikh own their characters completely right from the get-go and in this sequel are more improved versions of their respective roles. Shakeel’s (Javaid Sheikh) is definitely the most enjoyable one among them all.

What I absolutely loved about this film was that it is a side-splitting, all out comedy. The writers do not hold back at all but at times they even go overboard. One aspect of the film however which did not appeal to me and which wasn’t even needed was the excessive use of foul language, the F word (although muted) is used number of times and there are plenty of other scenes in which the crass jokes are added unnecessarily. The toilet humor makes you cringe a couple of time but there are plenty of scenes in which it is tolerable and even hilarious!

The plot of the film is also unpredictable, the writers couldn’t have given the viewers a more solid entertaining plot. It is however not logical; since this is a comedy film therefore I feel it is unfair to decipher every tiny detail based on logic! I must say that it is one of those very few Pakistani films which has a solid and well thought out storyline which went well with the theme of the film. Like other films written by Nabeel Qureshi and Fizza Ali Meerza, this one too highlights the trials and tribulations of the common man residing in Karachi in particular but the script on the whole will be relatable for any Pakistani viewer since the issues faced by every Pakistani are the same. It addresses class difference and much more. Watching Marina Khan act on the big screen after a long time was an absolutely delight. Nayyar Ejaz is brilliant as Sultan al- Baklawa; it has to be one of his best performances. Saleem Mairaj and the actor playing his companion were absolutely brilliant in their respective roles.

Na Maloom Afraad 2 can easily be termed as a film which is fun and also an impressively “stylish” film which is visually stunning as a whole. The biggest shortcoming of the film is that it failed to include the talented female leads in the story effectively. Like Actor In Law and Na Maloom Afraad, this one too relegates the female characters in the background and does not really incorporate their characters properly in the story. This is especially sad because Hania Aamir andUrwa Hocane both have given remarkable performances even though their characters have not been explored properly. Both the actresses were even excluded from the songs, which I felt was rather unfair because they deserved more screen time. Instead of showing Sadaf Kanwal’s item number, they could have been part of a song which took the story forward in some way. The song “Chal Hug Ley” was also a disappointment because the girls in bikinis could not dance and their bare bodies were supposed to be the only attraction. I definitely expected better from a director like Nabeel Qureshi at least in this context. Urwa Hocane dances so well and Hania Aamir I am certain could have shown her dance moves too if she was given a chance to do so. The songs and the way they were shot was the biggest disappointment in the film.

Overall, I would give this film 3.5 out 5 and recommend it to anyone who does not mind a few jokes which are in bad taste. This film will make you laugh especially if you watch it with a friend. Even with a few shortcomings, you will leave the cinema hall happy because NMA 2 is definitely an entertaining film. The styling, makeovers and the cinematography give this movie a unique and modern look. Nabeel Qureshi’s creativity reflects in many scenes and I especially liked the scene which came before intermission. The background score is also highly impressive. This film has a completely different flavor from PNJ therefore if you enjoyed one, you should definitely watch the other. Those of you, who like me found the gold commode repulsive should go watch this film as well, you won’t be disappointed! There is more to that commode than meets the eye 😉

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