• 06 Jan - 12 Jan, 2018
  • Omair Alavi
  • Reviews

Most of the things about Shaan Shahid’s Arth were wrong even before the film hit the screens. It was released during the national wedding season of Pakistan; people don’t go to cinemas generally in winter and it was pitted against every second person’s favourite films, Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Jumanji. Add to that the 'minglish' nature of dialogues, and you get a film that would have done better had it been released a month later, with better editing, a little tweaking and most importantly, after a private screening with some like-minded individuals.

For those who have seen Mujhay Chaand Chahye, Arth was supposed to be the return of Shaan – the magnificent – who could act, write and direct a romantic flick. The 17-year gap may not have changed the showman in the actor but the film scene has taken a giant leap, without Shaan the director. The editing technique in the film followed the French New Wave jump cuts but how many people in Pakistan know about that? Not many. Sadly, it is these ‘not many’ people who pay for tickets with their hard-earned money and if disappointed, will hardly recommend the film to others. Had the film been produced in Karachi, the result would have been the same because critics blasted the Karachi-wali Rangreza just because it fell below their expectations.

Arth is the official remake of Mahesh Bhatt’s classic and while that film is still fresh in people’s mind after 35 years, the remake is likely to fade away in 35 days. It revolves around the career of a former pop star Ali (Shaan), who returns to Pakistan but is treated badly by all except his one fan Uzma (Uzma Hassan) who is dealing with a cheating husband Umer (Mohib Mirza) involved in an extramarital affair with a bi-polar star Humaima (Humaima Mallick). It could have been an even better film had there not been issues like why Humaima’s doctor was based in London when she resided in Lahore? How could she video chat with a person who was answering in audio mode? Why was the F-word not cut out like it was in The Foreigner by the censor authorities? Why did Ali have just one fan in the whole world? How could a singer opening a Rahat Fateh Ali Khan concert buy a Porsche when he didn’t even have the money to pay his rent?

Performance-wise, Shaan stood out in the film simply because he has maintained himself and looked the character of a 40-something struggling singer. Uzma came second but she could have done away with the over-the-top acting that would have suited a younger actress; Humaima looked hot and sexy throughout the film but her beau Mohib failed to impress. In fact, the dialogue that sealed the deal between the original husband and wife was filmed on Shaan and Uzma, stealing the glory from right under Mohib’s nose. There were editing issues with the narrative that perplexed the audience as did the end. The best thing, however, was the soundtrack of the film which was spot on and helped Shaan’s character look authentic. I was never a fan of Sahir Ali Bagga, the singer (he is one of the better music directors we have), but after this flick, I have changed my opinion.

Most of the things about Arth were wrong even before the film hit the screens. It was released during the national wedding season and was pitted against Hollywood films. Had it been released a month later, with better editing and a private screening, it would have done better.