A Guide to Recent Pakistani Films That Nearly Killed Cinema

  • 23 Sep - 29 Sep, 2017
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Spotlight

So we can’t stop raving about Punjab Nahi Jaungi (PNJ) and Na Maloom Afraad 2 – and we shouldn’t, with all due respect. In the last few years of this bona fide revival, they are a rarity, because for every PNJ, there has been Thora Jee Lay.
Presenting below is your least likely Bucket List of Cinema – a catalogue (by no means complete), so atrocious that you may end up hating movies, or the friend who recommended them in the first place. In reverse chronological order, they are:

The Worst Thing About the Film: Dialogues – full of vulgarity and innuendos. If anything, they need cleaning up more than Karachi.

Mehrunisa V Lub U (July, 2017)

This is a controversial choice, I agree. Mehrunisa V Lub U looks like a motion picture – meaning, it has a few songs scattered here and there (with lyrics by the legendary Gulzar), good-looking leads, and a clean, filmi, overall ambiance. But take away the window dressing, and we have a film that makes all the wrong aesthetic and narrative choices and tries to cover it up with gloss.

In the story, Mehrunisa (Sana Javed) is a recently married woman to a loving husband (Danish Taimoor) who cleans up the garbage in his neighborhood because his wife is horrified with Karachi and its bad sanitary condition, and can’t conceive a baby. The thing is, even though the film is about a public service message, we never get to know who Mehrunisa really is.

The Worst Thing About the Film: The awful acting, bad characterisations, and just about everything else.

Thora Jee Le (Janurary, 2017)

This directorial debut seems to come from a place of pure sincerity – and an utter lack of cinematic common sense.

A group of friends reunite after one of them (Bilal Abbas), takes a fatal drug overdose out of depression. Intervening, they haphazardly shuffle their daily lives to a corner, and take their friend to a family haveli away from the city – a haunted one, at that – and try to make him appreciate life.

In the end (spoiler alert), after they come back, the friend succeeds in killing himself. My real life friend, who I had taken to see the film, still hasn’t forgiven me for killing three hours of his life.

The Worst Thing About the Film: The way the story unfolds, and the futile attempt to give a long homage to the Armed forces somewhere in the middle.

Saya-e-Khuda-e-Zuljalal (December, 2016)

This was the film I took my friend along to watch before Thora Jee Lay – and in comparison he, an utter layman who has nothing to do with films, thought it was marginally better (by margins, he means by mere millimetres).

The movie apes WAAR, and fails miserably. In the film, a specialised police force takes out a terrorist cell, a few corrupt ministers, and your years’ worth of patience in a despicably long and convoluted story.

The Worst Thing About the Film: Screenwriter Fasi Bari Khan, and his comfort zone of honing in on the less fortunate classes of society (both the lower and the high classes), turning them into tasteless, vulgar human beings.

Jeewan Hathi (November, 2016)

I love Meenu and Farjad. These two co-directors followed up one of Pakistan’s best films – Zinda Bhaag – with one of the country’s worst. A lower-class husband and wife (Fawad Khan and Kiran Tabeer, both quite good actually), find themselves in a morning show whose host (Hina Dilpazeer, terrible) decides to go bonkers in the middle of the broadcast.

Thought to be a satire, Jeewan Hathi is barely a feature film, running for an hour – and even that short of a time span was unbearable.

The Worst Thing About the Film: The final dance-off between our motley-crew led by the heroine, and the local hoodlum dance gang. Imagine So You Think You Can Dance and take the quality level down to about minus 150 per cent.

Dance Kahani (August, 2016)

A good-looking desi foreigner babe comes to Karachi, gets bored, and assembles a motley crew of dancers in a bid to win an award show. This stuff of inane legend is something straight out of a film student’s thesis – one that would barely manage to get through a hard day’s jury.

Badly lit, written and directed, there are a few brief moments that may fool you into thinking that this is a film. Vernin U’chong, the parkour-loving dance-ace is very appealing, in an otherwise appalling film.

The Worst Thing About the Film: The notion that Slueth could be remade as a Pakistani film.

Sawal 700 Crore Dollar Ka (July, 2016)

I still have trouble understanding what this film was. Two undercover cops (one of them a villain) tries to hoodwink an evil Indian Maharajah (Nayyer Ejaz – a man who appears in almost all of Pakistani films as the de facto villain) out of his ‘last’ 700 Crore Dollars. Last, because the bad guy says so to his man-servant in India.

As the saying goes: Phainkna hai to lambi phainko; however, this ball goes out of the country, let alone a stadium.

The Worst Thing About the Film: The lack of scares.

Aksbandh (May, 2016)

Aksbandh is a dreadful-found footage horror film that has nothing to do with scares or even a story. You’ve probably seen a lot like this – and in case you haven’t, you’d wish you had. Shot with a DSLR, the film looks like a badly compressed, auto-exposed YouTube joke.

The Worst Thing About the Film: The filmmaker’s point of view.

Mah e Meer (May, 2016)

A mishmash of an idea about a struggling, penniless poet (Fahad Mustafa) who is teased by an apparition-like poetess (Iman Ali), and who, perplexingly embodies Mir-Taqi-Mir (also Fahad Mustafa) in the old era.

Director Anjum Shehzad defends the film by saying that it wasn’t for the masses – and that almost all of those who criticised it, know nothing about films. It was a film festival film, that wasn’t supposed to come out in cinemas, he says.

Well bhaijan, film festivals are primarily international film buyers’ markets. Those who take their films to festivals, do so with the intention to sell the film. Meaning, it will be screened somewhere. Saying that the film is not for laymen, and coupling that with a massive budget in crores, is plain dumb, misleading and arrogant film-making.

The Worst Thing About the Film: The notion that Slueth could be remade as a Pakistani film.

Tamanna (June, 2014)

Based on Sleuth, the choice to re-guise the film to a Pakistani setting is a miscalculation. In the film, a jealous husband (Salman Shahid) of an unfaithful wife (Mehreen Raheel), invites her lover (Omair Rana) for an idiotic game of cat-and-mouse, which ultimately includes dressing up like a clown.

The Worst Thing About the Film: The constant realisation that I spent my money to watch this movie in its entirety.

Sultanat (2014)

Starring Aslam Bhatti (who also financed the film), I now have the utmost regard for Syed Faisal Bukhari, who directs this disaster flick. You will understand what I am talking about after seeing the movie.

Technically incoherent, story-wise intangible, this uber mess of a film centres on a gangster who is revered by everyone except, his sister (played by Zainab Qayyum). The audience shares her feelings. One wonders what Shweta Tiwari was doing in this film.

I guess, money speaks volumes. Too bad the film didn’t make much at the box-office. •