Review | When She Says ‘Punjab Nahi Jaungi’, She Means It!


Kamran Jawaid  |  The post is the unedited copy of the review published in DAWN ICON on 10th September 2017, which can be read here. Jpeg of the print copy is at the end of the post.


When we first meet Fawad Khagga (Humayun Saeed), the heir of a rural landlord family in Punjab, the town is ecstatic in his accomplishment. After a ten-year dogged pursuit, Fawad is finally a political science graduate. However, the degree he flashes in the air as he enters his mile-long haveli (mansion) is an arbitrary piece of wall-decoration. Fawad doesn’t need it.

The certificate, though, tells you all you need to know about Fawad: he is a man who loves to chase after things with adamant single-minded resolve.

Continue reading “Review | When She Says ‘Punjab Nahi Jaungi’, She Means It!”

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Review | Meet Jagga Jasoos – The Indian Musical-Minded Mix of Harry Potter and Tintin

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Kamran Jawaid  |  The post is the unedited copy of the review published in DAWN ICON on 16th July 2017, which can be read here. Jpeg of the print copy is at the end of the post.


Like Barfi, appreciating Anurag Basu’s Jagga Jasoos takes a lot of patience. One’s fortitude should not be a prerequisite.

In the film Ranbir Kapoor plays Jagga, an imaginative rip-off of Harry Potter and Tintin – an orphan schoolboy with the acute foresight to piece clues together. Oh, and he cannot speak, but expresses himself with relative ease when singing.

Did I mention that Jagga Jasoos is a musical adventure? Silly me. Continue reading “Review | Meet Jagga Jasoos – The Indian Musical-Minded Mix of Harry Potter and Tintin”

Review | Mom – She Wants Retribution. God Save Her Daughter’s Rapists.

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Kamran Jawaid  |  The post is the unedited copy of the review published in DAWN ICON on 16th July 2017, which can be read here. Jpeg of the print copy is at the end of the post.


In films, both good and bad, there’s always a scene that sticks with you. A scene that quantifies its essence. A moment you remember the film by in later conversations.

In Mom, that quintessential scene happens late at night, when a young, slightly drunk girl is kidnapped and raped in the backseat of a black SUV.

The camera cuts out of the car to an aerial shot of the SUV, tracking the vehicle as it slinks like a predator on a Noida freeway. The music, vexing and repetitive, graduates to a low-shrill as the car halts to a stop, and the driver switches places with someone from the backseat. The car moves again.

Unable to blink, we watch as unwilling witnesses. The moment of dread amplifies. There are no screams of struggle. A few cuts later, the girl’s corpse-like body is thrown in a neck-deep gutter; her face, swollen and dead of emotion.

Immediately the audience knows two things. One: these people are monsters; the second, an immediate after-thought: she needs retribution.

Arya (Sajal Ali) loses more than her chastity in that scene, and the intelligently crafted ambience, silent in its entirety, screams at the top of its lungs.

Continue reading “Review | Mom – She Wants Retribution. God Save Her Daughter’s Rapists.”

Review | Mehrunisa V Lub U… Really, We Do (We Do, Don’t We?)

Mehrunisa V Lub U


Kamran Jawaid | This review is the unedited copy of version published in Dawn Icon on Sunday, July 9 2017


From the moment we first meet Mehrunisa (Sana Javed), you know things aren’t going to get any better for her.

Jolting up from a nightmare where she runs from three badly-dressed ghouls (actually, three men in uncut black fabric), Mehru is your token gentle girl-next-door who lives with dear old dad (Arshad Mehmood) on a mountainside cabin somewhere in Northern Pakistan.

In the past, she may have innocently said “I Lub U” to a boy from Karachi.

That could be the reason for her bad dreams, because the sod, now grown up as Danish Taimoor, comes back to ask her hand in marriage. And his family will not take no for an answer.

Childhood promises have dire repercussions.

Continue reading “Review | Mehrunisa V Lub U… Really, We Do (We Do, Don’t We?)”

Feature | The Big Screen Crunch – Yalghaar and Mehrunisa V Lub U vs. Everyone Else

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Kamran Jawaid  |  This is the unedited original copy of the feature published in Mag the Weekly with the title on the 17th of June 2017 and can be read here. The print copy is attached at the end of the post.


To re-purpose Charles Dicken’s opening line from A Tale of Two Cities: “It is the best of Eid; it is the meekest of Eid. It is the Eid of predictability; it is the Eid of challenges”.

This Eid-ul-Fitr seems to be unremarkable for cinema, with one or two exceptions. Yalghaar and Mehrunisa V Lub U are front runners in a cramped release schedule of primarily Hollywood releases – Transformer: The Last Knight, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Despicable Me 3 and carry over titles The Mummy – and maybe – Wonder Woman.

Some of these titles are already hampered by Ramazan where audience turn out is generally very low. The other cause are international release dates that happen during or at Eid and piracy.

Continue reading “Feature | The Big Screen Crunch – Yalghaar and Mehrunisa V Lub U vs. Everyone Else”

Feature | High-Concept Stories, Adaptions and Branding: The Industry’s New State of Depression

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Kamran Jawaid  |  This is the unedited original copy of the feature published in DAWN’s ICON with the title “Cinema Without Ideas” on the 21st of May 2017. The Dawn copy can be read here and its print copy is attached at the end of the post.


Pakistani cinema is in a state of rut. We push, we pull, we skid-forward a centimeter, if not an inch. We have cinema screens and motion pictures, and we have a working model where films “perceived” to be high-concept – that is, films that give you the best bang for your buck – vie for the most financially lucrative release dates: the two Eids. And yet despite the formula, good motion pictures are as rare as a big-foot sighting.

Like wrongly spotting the abominable beast (often just a bear, or an unshaved hobo living in the forest), the realization of a fake-hurrah at a films premiere gets embarrassing – fast. One sighs, and moves on.

Pakistani Filmmakers share that same awkwardness. They humbly apologize for their blunders, admitting their amateurism and lack of insight right after their film’s first show. Their initial rush of enthusiasm, instantly gunned-down by bad reviews and the audience’s indifference. Forget a five-star rating – at that day, three-stars would do.

Or would it?

The only recurring theme in Pakistani Cinema– other than the superfluity of brands and mediocre plots – is a producer’s state of depression. Today, even blockbusters lose money – and with rare exception, barely breakeven.

Talking to Icon, four filmmakers – Jamshed Mehmood (Jami), Asim Raza, Hassan Waqas Rana, and Hassan Azhar. Each representing an idiosyncratic mindset, discuss cinema’s “new lacks”: the lack of good writers, source materials, big ideas – all while holding on to one’s own identity in the current state of the industry.

Continue reading “Feature | High-Concept Stories, Adaptions and Branding: The Industry’s New State of Depression”

Review | Chalay Thay Saath – But To Where, and Why?!


Kamran Jawaid  |  The post is the unedited copy of the feature published in DAWN’s ICON on 30th April 2017, which can be read here with jpegs of the print copy at the end


“What would make my film different. How would it stand out from the rest of the pack?!” asks a worried little voice inside a filmmaker’s head. The most obvious answer, and logically also the most effective one, is to use a “Cold Open” as the very first scene of the film.

Cold opens are a devious storytelling tool: they often use a dramatic scene from the middle or end of the film, and if need be, explain its relevance through a narrator.

Right now, these openings are notoriously popular with Pakistani filmmakers. Take for example the one in WAAR, which introduces Shaan Shahid’s gung-ho character in a good-cop bad-cop scene (there was no good cop in that room, by the way). Or the one in Jawani Phir Nahin Aani where a pre-intermission suicide scene is used as a ploy to heighten the film’s tension. Or the one in Bachana, Wrong No. and Dance Kahani.

The list is finite, but only because we have a limited number of motion pictures to count off.

Continue reading “Review | Chalay Thay Saath – But To Where, and Why?!”

DAWN ICON | The Chinese Connection

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Kamran Jawaid  |  The post is the unedited copy of the feature published in DAWN’s ICON on 16th April 2017, which can be read here with jpegs of the print copy at the end.


Studio logos that appear in movie titles may feel rudimentary, but they tell a story of their own. Take, for example, The Great Wall – a monster-movie starring Matt Damon set in the past when the world had yet to discover gun-powder.

Before the first frame fades-in we see four logos: Le Vision, Legendary East, Atlas Entertainment and the China Film Group. Three out of these four film companies are Chinese – and their partnership makes The Great Wall one of the most evident, big budget Hollywood-China co-productions in the last few years.

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Review | Angsty ‘Raasta’ of a Lonesome Hero

Raasta by Sahir Lodhi


By Kamran Jawaid  |  The post is the unedited and updated version of the review published in MAG the Weekly on 8th April 2017, which can be read here next week.


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In the first twenty minutes of Raasta, a mix-bag entertainer – though not in the way one imagines – we see a young (*ahem*) lad trying to find his way in the world. Sameer, who we see in every frame but never truly get to know, is “over-qualified”. He’s been looking for a job since graduation but, alas, parchi’s and sifarish’s beat him to the punch. People look at him, and then look the other way. But Sameer dreams like an adolescent, of becoming a film star and getting hitched to the right girl – Maya (Saima Azhar), who runs an NGO for poor, needy women.

Sameer has two buddies (actors Saleem Mairaj and Irfan Motiwala, mostly never in the same frame together; like most characters in the film, we never get to know much about them). He has a strict, uncorrupt, police officer brother (Aijaz Aslam), a compassionate sister-in-law (Sana) and a niece, who appears in two or three scenes (in one, I thought it was a nephew; my bad).

Sameer’s life is uncomplicated, lackluster and near about oblivious and inconsequential from what we see. He hangs out with his buddies, dances right into a film set with no visible cameras (and a bruise on the face that is never explained), and switches into an overzealous street-punk for no apparent reason. If he is the epitome of a lovable rascal, I don’t know what went wrong in this last generation of youngsters.

I suppose, Shah Rukh Khan is to blame. For the youth and Mr. Lodhi.

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Review | ‘SAYA-E-KHYDAYE ZULJALAL’…And It Was Such a Great Title for a Roaring, Epic, War Film

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By Kamran Jawaid  |  The post is the unedited version of the review published in MAG the Weekly on 20th January 2017, which can be read here.


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In one of cinema’s prime cringe-worthy moments, brought to you by Saya e Khuda e Zuljalal’s producers (SKZ for short), Nayyar Ejaz – who plays a sleazy Hindu bad guy (so obvious, isn’t it?) – gives a full-mouthed kiss to a champagne glass offered by a sultry female femme fatale (Jia Ali). The scene, if anything, was exuberant in such licentiousness that the female audience behind me shrieked in horror. (I was, at the same time, shielding my eyes).

It is a dire moment in a film full of dire moments, where one wonders just how a motion picture with scenes of such dissoluteness passed the censors. (In their defense, though, the censor board may have their memories of such a scene sledgehammered into a state of obliviousness; it is better to have forgotten the bad events of one’s life, after all).

Continue reading “Review | ‘SAYA-E-KHYDAYE ZULJALAL’…And It Was Such a Great Title for a Roaring, Epic, War Film”