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


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.

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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.

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


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.

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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.

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