Kuri Yes A,
Oh Kuri Yes A,
Tay Munda Set A,
Haan Munda Set A,
Chal kuriye beja kaul,
Khati mithi jai tension…
Well this is how one particular song from the movie goes, a song I just can’t seem to get out of my head. All the funky costumes, the exaggerated filmy expressions and the zany dance moves. It would not be wrong to say that this entire song was just one big celebration marking the rebirth of Pakistani Cinema. I have been humming this song ever since I saw it on the silver screen and hence even the title of this review is a play on the lyrics of this very song .
Left to me I would start this review by talking about this song and discussing the music of the film as a whole. Why? Well because it’s just that the music of this film is one of its major strengths and starting the review by highlighting the amazing music of the film would not be wrong. But I think I’ll follow the suite and start with the basic plot, then move towards the acting, direction and then discuss the music.
So lets start with the plot.
STORY (No Spoilers):
The main story, set up in a Lahori mohalla, revolves around three friends Khaldi (Khurram Patras), Chitta (Salman Ahmad Khan) and Tambi (Zohaib) and follows their day-to-day shenanigans. Khaldi falls for this street smart saleswoman Rubina (Amna Ilyas) and also has his adjacent track going which has its fair share of romance. Throughout the film, the underlying dream is to somehow get out of Pakistan in any way whatsoever and make it big in the foreign land. Puhlwan (Naseeruddin Shah) is the local godfather type figure who is either getting his eyebrows plucked or narrating an emotional anecdote that ends with him crying. The entire movie is based on the different interactions these characters have with each other.
If there ever was a character tailor-made for an actor then it was definitely the trio of Khurram, Salman and Zohaib who could not have been a better choice for the roles of Khaldi Chita and Tambi. Some might argue that it was because of the fact that the three gentlemen were hand-picked from the streets for the role, but anyhow they did a marvellous job. Khurram as Khaldi was a strong character while Salman as Chitta also did a commendable job. Zohaib did seem to have some inhibitions but this factor played in his favor as his character was somewhat innocent and reserved. His sheepish smile only added to his charm. Amna Ilyaas was spunky and lightened up the screen with her presence whenever she came. Being Pakistan’s supermodel people were questioning her being a part of the film as the stereotype goes ‘models can’t act.’ But damn did she silence the naysayers with her incredible performance.
Now lets talk about the USP of the film, Mr Naseeruddin Shah. As the villain of the film we were supposed to hate his character to the gut, but sadly that was not happening. This character with shades of grey was nowhere near being the character the audience lashes out at. Rather we saw him more as an old man with nothing more left but stories to narrate. Something on the lines of an old family member who is constantly fighting for your attention. However, I want to mention that Naseer Sahab’s acting as always was perfection personified and he nailed the Punjabi accent. Who knows maybe we were supposed to actually feel sympathetic for him? In addition to these main characters, all the supporting actors did a commendable job and did not just fill up screen space. The acting department gets a thumbs up.
First time directors (for a feature film) Meenu Gaur and Farjad Nabi have done quite the job with this film. They say it’s the director who’s responsible for the performance of an actor, if that is the case then this director/writer duo gets full marks for extracting the performance of a lifetime from the three debutants facing camera for the very first time. Also kudos to this duo for picking on minute details from the everyday life and translating them on screen. From the track which showed our obsession with the tv soaps (this track in the film was particularly entertaining), to how the average mother behaves. Nothing seemed fake or out-of-place and everything just gelled together.
Even the dialogues were spot on, specially the funny one liners. Though I would like to mention here that as the film is in Punjabi you will only understand the jokes if you know Punjabi. If Punjabi is not your cup of tea bring along a friend who can act as your translator because you just dont want to miss out on these comic scenes. The cinematography of the film was another win-win as it really captured the beauty of the andaroon Lahore. On the editing front everything was hunky dory except for a few songs that kind of took away from the pace of the film. On the whole this film is a winner in all the technical departments.
Finally lets talk about the music. You will find that there is something for everyone in the music album of this film. For starter you have Abrar-ul-Haqs quirky “Paani Da Bulbula” which I wish was used in addition to just being there in the opening credits. Then you have Rahat Fateh’s soulful qawwaali number “Pata Yaar Daa”. You feel a sense of patriotism (at least I did) when you hear Jabar Abbas singing “Dekhenge” although the picturization of the song kind of took away the feel from it, or atleast made it less effective. Also there was the romantic “Sari Sari Raat” alongwith the next hot wedding song “Tariyan” both sung bu Sahir Ali Bagga. Last but definitely not the least was Arif Lohar’s Paar Channah which gave me goosebumps and of course my favorite Ammant Ali’s “Kurri Yes Ai”. In short it would not be wrong to say that the music of Zinda Bhaag is one of the best ones, if not the only one, to come out of Pakistan in the recent times. This is what you call a movie album, where you have all kinds of melodies ranging from fast peppy numbers to thought-provoking and full of feel sad numbers. This is one album you don’t want to miss.
In conclusion I would like to say that this film is not your average masala fare (as the trailer might suggest). The film may have drama, romance, comedy and all the ingredients for a commercial pot boiler but it also had strong content and a message to give. The film is the perfect example for those who believe that a social message film must only have a serious tone throughout as Zinda Bhaag effectively delivered its message without being just serious in its tone and hence was saved from being tagged as the arthouse/niche film. A special mention here of the abrupt ending the film had. The film ended when you least expected it and left you with a feeling of “Bas Khattam?” The directors did not spoon feed the conclusion rather ended it on an impactful note, leaving the cinemagoer to think about the seriousness of the situation. All in all this is one film you should not miss!