New Year New Reflections
New Year somehow always turns into a contrived force for reflection. Everyone seems to love look at the year that’s passed, sometimes conveniently omitting crucial failures. However, in the case of Pakistani Cinema, reflection would actually be prudent. 2018 was a rare mix of very high highs and some incredibly low lows. It was also the first year I spent only reviewing Pakistani Movies. There was a Sanju review at one point though. Let’s call that a moment of weakness and move on.
In hindsight, I was not able to watch and review every Pakistani release this year. I’ll leave a list of the ones I’ve missed or skipped (because there’s a few I’ve skipped) at the end. Another point to be noted, me lord, is that the following is a list of movies I’ve watched this year. That doesn’t necessitate that they released this year as well. There are two that released at the end of 2017, but it was 2018 by the time I got to watching and reviewing them. I started the year with them so I couldn’t omit them here now could I?
For Your Consideration
Oh wait! I need to say one more teeny tiny thing before we get down to business. Opinions, they are a funny business. They may be right, they not be. They can also be shared. But on the off-chance that they are not, I must say. Please do remember, that while I was as objective as possible, my opinion of the film is highly likely to have made its way into my review. But that’s enough of the boring prerequisites, you want to read about the movies! I mean that’s why you clicked on the link right?
So here we go! From the best of the best to the not best, here are 2018’s releases ranked!
Pakistani Cinema In 2018, Ranked!
1. Cake 10/10
The number 1 pick should not come as a surprise at all. We here, at The Kollective have been Kollectively gushing over this film since the Instagram started hinting at a very different kind of cinema. In my review, I’ve gone as far to say, it is the best movie to come out of Pakistan in recent years. There’s a lot of reasons for that. Asim Abbasi’s masterstrokes as director and writer. Amina Sheikh’s incredibly relatable performance as Zareen. Adnan Malik’s Romeo, Sanam Saeed’s Zara, the list goes on and on.
The best part about Cake was, forgive the pun, how beautifully layered it was. Both in terms of characters, story and setting. Not only did it finally bring representation to Sindhi family dynamics but also to the urban rural dichotomy. Most of all, it gave us a very real family dealing with very real and relatable problems. It at once empowered us to feel and then broke us emotionally. However, I for one would go back for seconds and thirds. In fact I’m dying to.
2. Parchi 9/10
Okay so this might be divisive. In the year since I first saw the film, I’ve come to realise that a lot of people didn’t like it as much as I did. There was a fear that, with Hareem Farooq as producer, it could turn into an ego trip for her. If it did, I failed to pick up on that. What we got from Parchi was, I feel a fantastic start to the year. You had a female-led movie, with strong female characters, great performances and only a couple of songs being forced down our throats.
Ali Rehman Khan and Usman Mukhtar shine on-screen as brothers, Bash and Bilal. Shafqat Cheema delivers a masterful performance as the main villain. It was also very refreshing to see the women coming to save the day. I bought Emaan as a hero, while yes some were divided on Hareem’s performance. Faiza Saleem though, was clearly the highlight. The first slow clap of the year went to her! While yes, I do agree she’s too young to play the mother of a grown woman.
3. Parwaaz Hai Junoon 8/10
When I first saw the poster of Parwaaz Hai Junoon, I reacted with a loud and zealous groan. From the get go, it seems like a Yalghaar-esq lesson on patriotism and explosions. We would be forced to accept that a cohesive story has taken a backseat to the spectacle and rhetoric. I am very glad to admit, my assumptions were very effectively done away with. I still had a few issues with the film though.
Minor ones, nothing to avoid watching the film though. But just distracting enough to hurt my opinion of the film. There were times when the movie slipped very clearly into the territory of melodrama. The story, though compelling, was largely predictable and unoriginal. The background music also refused to stay there. But Hamza Ali Abbasi’s and Hania Amir’s charm and charisma ensured that the film soared. Off the screen and right into our hearts.
4. Allahyaar and the Legend of Markhor 7/10
AYATLOM as this film is often abbreviated as, was a revelation for me in many ways. Firstly, As I wrote in my review, it shattered my perceptions of what a Pakistani Animated film could be. Before this, considering I haven’t still seen any of the # Bahadur movies, The benchmark I had, was Commander Safeguard. It’s safe to say thus, that my expectations weren’t very high. However, all it took was the one and a half hours that is this movie, and now, I’m a believer.
There were some issues though. I understand the need to throw in something for the parents, who have only sat down in the cinema for the sake of their kids. However, the catch with that is that is goes over the kid’s heads. otherwise , it’s just crude, which is what happens here. But, the magic that is the voice acting, especially Natasha Humera Ejaz as Mehru, you can overlook it. Well I didn’t linger on it at least.
5. Jawani Phir Nahi Ani 2 7/10
Ushah has said this before, a few times actually. As much as she tries, she can’t bring herself to dislike Humayun Saeed. I mean yes, he’s growing more and more accustomed to playing the overgrown man-child. But unlike so many others, he is very aware of this fact. He regularly pokes fun at that himself. There are very few people with as substantial a contribution to Pakistani Cinema as he has. I have to say, I have to agree. Which is why I keep going back to watch his movies. They aren’t perfect though. I mean, the best characters have limited screen time, the story is highly simplistic and some female characters end up as just props.
In spite of that, it builds up on the legacy of its predecessor. You have brilliant slapstick, jokes that land, that are relevant and mostly not tone-deaf, and some brilliant performances. Sarwat Gilani and Ahmed Ali Butt are highlights. The movie, while not enriching cinema, is still a blast to watch. Though next time, try not to make jokes at the expense of a movement trying to bring about real change.
6. Motorcycle Girl 7/10
Motorcycle Girl has my favourite moment in all of Pakistani Cinema this year. Just because of the timing of it all. This movie released in April. There’s a scene where Sohai Ali Abro’s Zenith is nervously waiting to give a presentation to her boss, played expertly by Sarmad Khoosat. The person who presents before is really enthusiastic about his pitch. He talks about a club, with loud music playing. A car pulls up, all the girls go wild as from the car steps out, Ali Zafar. He says is with extending jazz hands to which Sarmad reacts with a hand gesture of his own and the following: “Lakh di lanaat!”
I burst out laughing at that point. If only for that, I’d give this movie top marks. That isn’t how you review a movie though. You look at the good aspects, such as director Adnan Sarwar’s attention to detail, Sarmad Khoosat’s performance, a well executed twist, and Sohai’s earnestness as Zenith.
You also look at the bad, like the horrible pacing, the one-note supporting cast and some inconsistencies with the performances. The good outweigh the bad and the movie ends up with the score it’s gotten. I also felt it represented a paradigm shift, a departure from the reliance on song and subplots to further the narrative. However, it’s one step in a long journey. A good one though.
7. Pinky Memsaab 6/10
Pinky Memsaab is the most recent movie on this list. It is also the most recent example of why Pakistani cinema needs to write better movies. For me, it represents year-end blues. A state of depression where one regresses of old comforts, regardless of how damaging they may be. What seemed like a possible, poignant, coming of age story, turned into a collection of barely related stories. A sinking ship kept afloat only by strong performances and masterful cinematography.
Don’t get me wrong, I relished the performances given by Hajra Yamin, Shamin Hilaly, Adnan Jaffer and Kiran Malik. I also adored seeing Dubai shown so beautifully. The film however, didn’t feel like one. It felt like a web-series, crammed forcefully. If that wasn’t bad enough, it ended so abruptly, leaving me utterly bewildered.
8. Rangreza 6/10
Alright, this is the first of the two movies from 2017’s end that made this list. It came at the end, just before movies like Cake and Parchi. I would have hoped it represented that last of sub-plot features. Alas, as you have already seen, that wasn’t the case. Anyways, Rangreza was a bit of a mess really. Watching this movie felt like living in limbo, a limbo between love and hate.
The plot is relatively unimaginative. There’s a whole traditional verses rock music plot point that is set up but left unused. Gohar Rasheed is given the best role in the film, a character you’d love to hate and hate that you loved. He also gets an item song, which got cut from the film. Bilal Ashraf is as stoic as ever. Urwa Hocane shines but is greatly underutilized. There are subplots in subplots and prop characters. Had it not been for Gohar Rasheed though, this film wouldn’t have scored higher than a 5.
9. Pari 5/10
I was actually very surprised to see a horror movie come out of Pakistan this year. But it managed to fly under the radar mostly. I have also been accused of being too nice to this movie, because of my love for the genre. That doesn’t change the fact that, like Rangreza, this movie had elements I loved and those I hated.
I loved the build up to the scare, hated the scare. Loved the set up, but hated how contrived it was. Enjoyed the camera work, hated the effects. Thoroughly enjoyed Saleem Mairaj’s performance, didn’t really care for the rest. I could go one, but if you’ve read the review, you get the idea.
10. 7 Din Mohabbat In 4/10
Okay I didn’t actually review this one. Ushah beat me to it, went to the premier and didn’t even get a picture with Mahira. Beyond that, the laughable plot inspired another article all together. The film isn’t just riddled with my pet peeve, sub-plots. It also have, unnecessarily, two climaxes, making it much longer than it needed to be. It also has a polarizing and somewhat problematic depiction of feminism and a hero with an extremely flawed moral compass.
However, it has Mahira, owning the film. Owning every scene that she’s in. Upstaging everything and everyone. She brings out the best in her co-stars too. Thus, she is a treat to watch. However, while you can (as I did) go watch a movie, just for her, a movie can’t just be good because of her. The 4 it gets is really just for her.
11. Arth 2/10
Personally, I dreaded the end of this list. Not because it’s the end of an article, which would inevitably mean returning to scaring at a blank screen for the next article. I dreaded it because I would have to once again talk about this steaming hot mess. I went a year without being back here but the occasion necessitates it. So here we are. As I said in my review, if you must subjugate yourself to the torture known as Arth, do it for Humaima Malick. She is, by far the best, and possibly the only good thing about this movie. There’s a fine line between overacting and outstanding, especially when dealing with such beautifully unhinged characters. Humaima owns that line. Heck, she draws it.
But that’s all that is worth watching. The rest is a bloated mess. The movie runs on longer than is should. Several subplots are shoehorned in. The movie is horribly paced, even more so post interval. Every frame that writer/director/producer/star Shaan is in, is aimed only to further his own ego and every other character is about as one note as a tepid cup of coffee. I could go on but there is a whole article already where you can take pleasure in me dissecting this movie apart further.
It also saves me from spending more of my savage on this film.
And that, is my year the cinema. Before you click away, let’s take a moment of silence for all those that were skipped this year. I would go over the why, but this is long enough as it is.
Pakistani Cinema, Skipped!
Teefa In Trouble
Maan Jao Na
Na Band Na Barati
3 Bahadur: Revenge of the Warriors