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.”

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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.

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

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.

Continue reading “DAWN ICON | The Chinese Connection”

Dawn | The Life and Times of Video…for It Lived Well, till It Died

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By Kamran Jawaid  |  The feature was published in Dawn’s Karachi Notebook in the Metropolitan section, on 11th December 2016. That copy be read here.


Back in the 80’s, which is vaguely vivid in memory, one used to undergo a gush of adrenaline-rush when going out to rent movies.

These were simpler times, when people weren’t in a constant state of media overkill and movies still had a measure of fanciful allure to them – despite the level of intellectual and aesthetic merit.

Continue reading “Dawn | The Life and Times of Video…for It Lived Well, till It Died”

Oscar Predictions 2016 – Images on Sunday, Dawn Newspaper

This post is the unedited copy of our Predictions of the 88th Oscars for Dawn/Images on Sunday, published 28th February 2016. Link to Dawn is here and below.

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Who May Win the 88th Oscars Tomorrow

By Mohammad Kamran Jawaid and Farheen Jawaid

Before the righteous, controversial and ill-timed #OscarsSoWhite hashtag rears its head at the 88th Academy Awards tomorrow and wrecks the mood of Oscar ceremony, Images takes its annual look at who may win – and more importantly, just why they may win – in which category.

Continue reading “Oscar Predictions 2016 – Images on Sunday, Dawn Newspaper”

Oscar Predictions 2015–Dawn, Images on Sunday

The following article is published in Dawn, Images on Sunday on the 22nd of February of 2015 here and here.

Oscar Predictions 2015

Who May Win the Oscars Tomorrow

By Mohammad Kamran Jawaid and Farheen Jawaid

Democracy, it seems, will make the Oscar guessing game a challenging exercise this year. So far, apart from a select few categories, a significant number are in disarray because of eligibility regulations in guilds, individual interpretation of placements (especially in both screenplay categories), and shocking snubs.

The series of shudders keep getting bigger, even though by this late in the award season the more respected of the ceremonies are done and over with.

Boyhood, a power-house destined for Oscar greatness, is seriously butting-heads with Birdman, which popped-up to secure wins in all the prestigious guild awards. Richard Linklater, once a shoe-in for Best Director is against Alejandro González Iñárritu. Alternately in Best Picture, Birdman is set to beat Boyhood. But then again, it’s also highly likely that Iñárritu may win Director and Picture would go to Birdman.

Other messed-up awards fall in Adapted Screenplay, Score (probably the most ingenious and competitive of all categories), Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Foreign Film nominations. Continue reading “Oscar Predictions 2015–Dawn, Images on Sunday”

Review: Hercules by Kamran Jawaid

This is the edited copy of the review. A version of this review was published at Dawn.com

Son of Zeus? Maybe, Maybe Not

By Mohammad Kamran Jawaid

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In the years’ second – and far better – reiteration of the Greek hero Hercules, the action (as clearly defined in the trailer) takes as much precedence as the fact that this hero’s fantastic tales may just be a prolonged advertisement campaign in a world where gods and monsters do not exist. Continue reading “Review: Hercules by Kamran Jawaid”

Review: Saltanat By Kamran Jawaid

This post is the unedited copy of the review published at Dawn.com

An Empire in Shambles (On Eid Day)

By Mohammad Kamran Jawaid

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In one, maybe overlooked scene in Saltanat, Syed Faisal Bukhari’s real-life inspired underworld action movie, Javed (Chetan Hansraj) sits on a rock in deep emotional contemplation: he has been married to Zainab (actress Zainab Qayyum – or ZQ), a twice widowed, emotionally scarred soul who, unfortunately, is the younger sister of the movie’s chief protagonist – the underworld hero – Aslam bhai (played by Aslam Bhatti, also the producer and co-distributor). Javed’s problem, although told to be otherwise in the plot’s narrative, may be misleading; if you ask me, the character’s gloom may be because he’s seen Saltanat’s dailies – that is, if the concept of dailies existed in Saltanat’s making (dailies, by the way, are raw edits of scenes for review purposes during production).

Continue reading “Review: Saltanat By Kamran Jawaid”