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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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).

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Review: Mechanic: Resurrection by Farheen Jawaid

The post is an unedited copy of the review published in Mag the Weekly, on the 8th of October 2016 and can be found here.

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The Return of the Mechanic: He Fixes Villains – Not Your Car!

By Farheen Jawaid

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While not much is expected from action movies as a whole, few things are mandatory besides the action, and that is a kind of attachment with the leading hero or heroine. It can be done with a background story, revealed through dialogues, or the way they live, or a reveal that describes them as master of one’s art, pushed against their will into a situation, or normal people who become heroes when faced with life threatening situations, amidst a string of other generic ideas that makes an action hero, an action hero.

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Review: Zindagi Kitni Haseen Hay by Kamran Jawaid

The review is the unedited copy of the version published in MAG the Weekly on the 23rd of September 2016.

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Zindagi Kitni Haseen Hay – A Question? A Statement? Definitely Something to Ponder About!

By Mohammad Kamran Jawaid

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There is an oft-said line in the beginning of Zindagi Kitni Haseen Hay (ZKHH), directed by Anjum Shahzad, where a producer played by Nayyar Ejaz – with his over-played tones – says that television directors shouldn’t direct motion pictures. I kept thinking what Mr. Shahzad meant – was he, with his considerable television experience, targeting himself, or was he indicating a superficial ego, labeling himself a notch above his contemporaries.

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Review: Alice Through the Looking Glass by Kamran Jawaid

This post is the unedited copy of the review published in Mag the Weekly, on 18th of June 2016.

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Alice Is Bonkers Again! – She’s Talking Women’s Lib and Time Travel

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By Mohammad Kamran Jawaid

I underwent a mild shock (well, actually, more of a “hmm…how odd” expression) after watching Alice Through the Looking Glass, and going over to the popular movie review aggregator site Metacritic. The overall critic’s score of there is at a paltry 34% average. Far worse films have far better reviews.

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Review: Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice by Kamran Jawaid

This post is the unedited copy of the review published in Mag the Weekly on 1st April 2016.

Damn the Kaboom! Titans Clash…Without Much Sense.

By Mohammad Kamran Jawaid

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At the pivotal, poster-image of the ‘technically’ first cinematic meeting of Superman and Batman, found at the center point of the Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, (the part where Batman tries to run Superman over with his Batmobile), the dark knight asks a necessitous question: Does the man of steel bleed? A far more pertinent remark, at least to the viewer, would have been: Do you know your comic book history?

Bummer, if you don’t.

In a market – television, film, the internet – so needlessly overflowing with superhero fatigue, Batman V Superman (BvS) is ‘only’ the second title of the new ‘DC Cinematic Universe’ (the first one was the Man of Steel) – a place, at least movie-wise, where Superman, Batman, and in this movie, Wonder Woman, come out of play. Their playground, about as publically hazardous as Marvel’s, is still nascent and juvenile, tackling serious-sounding themes and faux brood (borrowed straight from Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy) with unskilled subtleness comparable to violently swinging a sledgehammer in a china shop.

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Review: Bachaana by Kamran Jawaid

The post is the unedited copy of the review published in MAG the Weekly, on: March 05, 2016 (Page 24). Print copy attached.

 

‘Bachaana’ Needs No Saving

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By Mohammad Kamran Jawaid

I suppose small, uncomplicated stories are in at the moment. While they may not work for most motion pictures, the lack of too much detail, suit Bachaana, the debut of director Nasir Khan, starring Sanam Saeed and Mohib Mirza, just fine.

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Review: Bin Roye by Kamran Jawaid

This post is the unedited copy of the review published in MAG the Weekly, August 01, 2015

Bin Roye – When A Title Says It All (for the Male Audience)

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By Mohammad Kamran Jawaid

If one can learn three worthwhile life-lessons from Bin Roye, they would be this: 1) Don’t text while driving 2) Look both ways before crossing the street, and 3) Never, ever, give in to your women’s pressure and buy the ticket of a movie that looks like a sappy television drama, out of, well, television.

The last bit may sound chauvinistic and crude, but I am just the messenger of a handful of stupefied males in a cinema auditorium chock full of the other sex. Six days after Eid, at nearly nine-thirty (the film was scheduled to start earlier), the cinema I am visiting is full of ladies – young, old, who damn-care-about-narrative inconsistencies. Pride, of course, have led most of the women-folk to respond “Kya, acchi nahin lagi?”; some truly sincere in their replies to whoever their male chaperone is (“Allah tumhain poochay ga”, a young man responded from my back row; another younger over-weight lad sitting to my right just looked sarcastically at his sister when the movie split at intermission; the gent sitting on my left was more genial in his grunts).

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Review: Interstellar by Kamran Jawaid

This post is the updated and unedited copy of the review published in Mag the Weekly, January 10, 2015.

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Heavy-Handed Emotions, Puzzled Science Fact/Fiction and the Quest for Global Salvation

By Mohammad Kamran Jawaid

There is a sense of disappointment at the end of Interstellar, the much hullaballooed humanistic space drama centered on familial ties and the desperate struggle for the survival of our species.

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