It was a few years back when the first teaser trailer of the film “Good Morning Karachi” (previously titled as Rafina) was released and people could not stop talking about it. The film, directed by award winning Sabiha Sumar, promised an inside look into the glamorous world of the Pakistani fashion industry and the buzz generated by the trailer was huge. Personally for me, this film was even more special as it would bring my two loves “fashion” and “film” together in one medium and hence the film became the most eagerly awaited Pakistani release for me. So imagine how excited I was when the film finally hit cinemas this weekend and I finally got a chance to lay my eyes on the film that for me should have been nothing but perfection.
However, after having seen the film; all I can say is that the film was like a gourmet dish that was presented midway before the chef could complete it, it was like a dress that was displayed before the designer could add that one final gem and hence could not deliver what it had promised in the promos. Though the film clearly showed the potential, but the weak storyline, haphazard editing and the abrupt ending reduced the impact the film could have had. Basically, in the hope of telling too many different stories and adding more flavour, the film failed to successfully present even one storyline with the detailing required. Therefore for me the film ended up as being a bit bland and left a bad taste in my mouth.
However, while the post production department disappointed, the acting department more than made up for it. Amna Ilyas as the main lead was a sheer delight to watch. After giving an amazing performance in last year’s “Zinda Bhaag” Amna again gives an applaud worthy performance in this film. From the sweet girl next door to the fierce model, the transformation looks believe-able only because of the acting prowess of the talented Aman Ilyas who is a strong contender for the best actress awards for this season. Saba Hameed as the conservative mother was also perfection while Beo Rana Zafar as Rosie also gave a commendable performance. All the other supporting actors do the required roles with ease and the entire film seems real only because of them. Yasir Aqueel as the fiancé of Amna Ilyas was good whereas Atta Yaqub as the advertising executive does a good job. Farhan Ali Agha did well in his role of the honcho of a company whereas Khalid Malik as the guide for Amna’s character was remarkable. All in all it was due to the performances of these supporting characters that the film looked half as good as it did.
Moreover, since the film was set in Fashion World, there were obviously quite a few cameos and it was fun to spot different models, designers and fashion gurus. Among them were Deepak Perwani, Rubya Chaudhary, Akif Ilyas and Zurrain Imam. Also, Faisal Qureshi, Amna Sheikh, Zoe Viccaji and Meher Jaffry were seen giving guest appearances in the film and to see them on screen was fun.
As mentioned earlier, the film tried to say more than it could and this created a huge problem. While on one hand was the constant struggle of Rafina (Amna Ilyas) on display along with how she wanted to work and wanted to live her life on her own terms with the backdrop of the Fashion Industry, the other side had the political storyline featuring Arif (Yasir Aqueel) which with the “Mullah” angle was meant to compliment the main story.
However, the connection between the two was clearly missing and at times the film came across as two different films badly trying to be presented as one. The film mainly tackled the age old question of should a woman work and the director Sabiha Sumar who is known for tackling such issues did a decent job showcasing this angle. However, it was the other side with the forced hullabaloo surrounding the burning of the posters alongside the political aspirations of Arif which felt totally unneeded. We as viewers were left wondering what exactly was the agenda behind Arif’s association with the political party. Moreover, the Mullah conflict which could have been linked more effectively did not create the desired effect.
Lastly, when it seemed like the film had set the foundation and was ready to move ahead, it abruptly ended. Though the direction of Sabiha Sumar was good but this abrupt ending killed off all the effect. Moreover, the note on which the film ended seemed very un-real for there was no build up to it. The film could have easily ended more effectively with one of the fashion shows which were shown earlier, but it did not.
The editing, moreover, seemed quite sloppy at times where one scene would end and the other would just pop up without any smooth transition. Another complain that I have with the director is of the language issue. Yes us Pakistanis have an inherent complex regarding the English language and aspire to be fluent in it and Amna’s character trying to master this language did connect with the viewers, but the fluency in English she had along with her conversations with Beo Rana Zafar seemed very unreal. There are films like “Waar” where everyone speaks in English and it’s assumed that everyone can speak the language and hence you don’t take that into account. Here, however, is a clear mention as to who is and isn’t an English speaker, but still Amna and her younger brother communicate only in English which seems very unnatural. Saba Hameed in one dialogue says ” Kaash tum logon ka baap hota. Silai aur Pension say do bachon ko paalna aasan nahi.” ( I wish your father was alive. It’s not easy to earn a livelihood and raise two children by sewing clothes and pension). The only question I have is where in Pakistan do you see people from such a social background communicate in English with each other, and that too in an English that would put many to shame?
This 80 minute footage titled as”Good Morning Karachi” is a hodgepodge where the director tries to tell a variety of stories but fails to convey even one with the desired effect. It’s not the film on fashion that you thought it would be and only go see it if you are an avid cinegoer supporting the revival of Pakistani Cinema.