By Kamran Jawaid | The post is the unedited copy of the review published in Mag the Weekly, on December 24th, 2016. The print version will be uploaded below soon.
In a startling shake-up, 3 Bahadur: The Revenge of Baba Balaam, creatively directed by Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy (I don’t understand what the term implies…seriously), grandly one-ups on the previous part…although very late by the climax. The animated film, unjustly misquoted as a 3D film in one self-congratulatory scene, (the right term should be CGI – computer generated imagery; 3D today ties in with stereoscopy), has a lot of false starts and monotony, until it revs up like one of those pull-back cars from your childhood and goes vroom.
As a point of fact, 3 Bahadur: The Revenge of Baba Balaam (3B2, henceforth) is perhaps the only Pakistani film till date that perfectly serves a climax. A rare-feat, I tell you – and with good reason too. No matter how bored you are in the first act (actually, in 32B’s case, the first 60 minutes), a motion picture’s true strength is its after-image – a recollection of the mood it leaves near its finish. A great film with a feeble culmination pales in comparison to a film that starts bad, but amps up (justifiably, that is) at the right moment.
In the movie, three returning trio’s friendship is tested, and their guardian (Deenu, the key-keeper voiced by Behroze Sabzwari) is bamboozled and then detained by Baba Balaam (voice by Fahim Khan). In the midst of getting to its point – which is, apparently nothing – the movie is unambiguously written to be as un-religious as possible, with a gigantic beating-heart of good-and-evil (I am sure it’s a visual metaphor for something).
In the mix are returning characters (the mom’s, the dad’s and the hoodlums), a lot of intentional build-up, and in-your face product placement. (It seems that the Milk-brand sponsored so blatantly is nourishment for the good lil boys and girls, and the fast-food outlet, also a partner in the film’s promotions, is the meal of villains). The village (I think it was a village – a basti; it could be a neighborhood), Roshan Nagar, is now a part of Karachi, and the overall ambiance is color-coded and bright.
Production-wise there is a lot slack: The laws of physics are shrugged, as, in the film’s introductory action sequence, Amna (voiced by Arisha Razi) tugs a speeding motorbike in the other direction, without the driver being over-thrown by the forced-stop. The background characters cheering the young heroes – whose identities aren’t secret (children shouldn’t keep secrets now, should they?) – are more-or-less stone-eyed Zombies. The characters lip-sync is atrocious, especially notable in a conversation between Saadi (voiced by Zuhab Khan) and Deenu – and there are frequent, random, render-glitches on frames. The one song, sung by the hoods, (Band Baj Gaya, Composed by: Shiraz Uppal, vocals by Ali Gul Pir, Bassam Shazli. Mustafa Changazi and Badar Qureshi), is yawn-inducing.
Kamran Khan – (no, not that one), who wears multiple hats in the production, including directing animation, writing and just about overseeing everything else – though, has a better handle on the project, especially if one factors in the fast turn-around time and the 38 people crew (not counting the non-animation people – yes, I did my best to count the staff in the credits).
While the conflict between Saadi, Kamil (voiced by Hanzala Shahid) and Amna lingers on classic screenwriting principals, (with the antagonist Mitthu, voiced by Zeba Shehnaz, playing an excellent catalyst), it doesn’t have the deepness of a Pixar animation; Then again, I should be reprimand myself for making such a comparison in the first place.
Let me re-phrase: the lacks, apparent as they are, are a step in the learning curve. At least someone is learning.
The published review looks like this