Movie Name: Karachi Se Lahore
Release Date: July 31, 2015
Director: Wajahat Rauf
Review by: Momin Ali Munshi
Just as I was starting to write this review, I received a message from a friend asking how I found the film ‘Karachi Se Lahore’. I replied, and he messaged me back asking whether it was ‘Momin the friend’ or ‘Momin the critic’ answering. This response had me baffled and made me wonder why the ‘critic’ is always seen as someone alien and someone whose opinion is not the same as the average cine-goer. I am sure you all have the same perception when it comes to critic reviews. ‘These critics are harsh, they scrutinize every tiny detail, have their own unique lens through which they view the film right, have very diverse opinions, do not represent the public?’
Well I am a film critic myself and have been reviewing films for more than four years now. In my reviews, however, I have always made a conscious effort and tried to make my review more audience friendly. I have always viewed the films as an average member of the audience and in my reviews, I have always conveyed how the audience would react to the film. And why not, for it is the audience who has the power to make or break a film. There are dozens of examples where a critically acclaimed film has been a box-office dud while films that have been trashed by film critics have become box office blockbusters, so what is the definition of a good film? Well for me a film is good if it has the power to entertain you and to have you hooked and waiting for whats going to happen next. That is a good film!
Moreover lots of people have been complaining that I am too lenient when it comes to reviewing Pakistani films and that I am biased. Well yes, I’ll openly admit that I do not view a Pakistani film with the same lens I use while viewing a film from Hollywood or Bollywood. Put quite simply it is not justified and is completely unfair on so many levels to use these international films as benchmarks for comparison. No, I am not saying that there exists a blanket mercy for all the errors made in Pakistani films and that I close my eye to the mistakes they make. But what I am trying to say is that we need to highlight the positive parts more while we also address the short comings. I am not asking you to blindly follow the ‘Be Pakistani Support Pakistani’ campaign. All I am asking of you is to keep in mind that we in Pakistan have just started doing (this revival is actually a re-birth) what our Bollywood and Hollywood friends have been doing for decades. We are just starting out and are in a period of experimentation. We don’t have huge budgets, the returns on investment are not that great, we lack the infrastructure, and we are an infant industry that is just striving hard to make its presence felt.
Now I am sure you are wondering why this long rant like speech. It’s just that the film premièred in Karachi before Lahore and lots of reviews have started coming out, highlighting the shortcomings of the film.Therefore I thought it necessary to put my cards on the table so you know where this review is coming from. This review is more a reflection of the 600 people including me who could not stop cheering and hooting while the film played and not the 0.0001% of the population; the hardcore critics.
This road-trip comedy film directed by Wajahat Rauf gives you exactly what it promised in the trailer i.e heavy doses of laughter. This is probably the only film which not only lived up to its trailer but had a lot more to offer. Usually for comedy films, the best one-liners are already made public via the trailer and there is not much comedy left for the film. But the case here was competely different. Although the trailer did have its fair share of humour but the real surprise is when you go see the film. Although the story as such is not that strong, but the dialogues, specially the one-liners by Yasir Hussain more than just make up for it.
The story in a nutshell is of a young banker Zaheem (Shahzad Sheikh) who makes the titular journey from Karachi to Lahore to stop the wedding of his lady love Ayesha (Eeshta Syed). Accompanying him on his journey are his two best friends; Moti (Yasir Hussain), Sam (Ahmed Ali), his next door neighbor Maryam (Ayesha Omar) along with Maryam’s younger brother Zeezu (Aashir Wajhat). What follows is a mad journey from Karachi to Lahore that will not only force you to fall of your seat while laughing but will also make you fall in love with Pakistan.
Amongst the new wave of Pakistani Cinema, this is the first road trip film we have seen and the director Wajahat exploits this genre to the fullest. The entire journey has been shot beautifully and there are surely some picturesque views that you can enjoy on the silver screen. Moreover, making full use of the road trip angle, Wajahat introduces a plethora of interesting characters who our main five come across on their journey. These characters not only bring more comedy, but also add a freshness to the film, which is extremely crucial for a film that could otherwise become a bit boring. Full marks to the director for cleverly using each character to the film’s advantage.
However, the film did seem a bit dragged at times and was unnecessarily stretched. But the director did announce that the film screened was an extended version and that the film that would play in cinemas would be about 15 minutes shorter. But anyhow, the film could have been more crisp in its editing.
Coming to the acting I would like to start by Yasir Hussain who is surely the star of the film. He perfects the stammering act and makes a strong film debut. Although the stammering act could have gotten redundant and boring but his witty liners and the way he says them will have the viewer in fits of laughter. Moreover, since the dialogues have also been penned down by this talented individual, he deserves double the appreciation. This guy surely has a bright future in the film business.
Shahzad Sheikh makes a promising debut and surely shows spark. Although he needs to work a bit on his dialogue delivery, but he surely has the hero like persona. And specially since we don’t really have many young film actors, it was a breath of fresh air to see a young hero.
Ahmed Ali as the third member of this gang also shows lots of potential. Being a theatre actor, he is very expressive and makes full use of his acting talents. This guy can make a plain dialogue sound funny with the way he emotes. This guy is a complete package as he has everyone going for him from looks to acting. Hope the directors are listening and cast this young man in some interesting roles.
Ayesha Omar does well in her role despite the fact that she doesn’t have much scope for performance. However, there is a small Punjabi portion where Ayesha gets a chance to showcase her comic side. She does that scene to perfection and it’s due to her finesse that the oridinary scene becomes one of the highlights of the film. Moreover, while the ‘Tutti Frutti’ dance number may have been a let down due to Wahab Shah’s unimpressive choreography, but Ayesha surely impresses. She knows how to groove and it’s solely due to her latka jatakas and expressions that the song becomes ‘seethi worthy’.
Aashir Wajahat as the young ‘Zeezu’ is a treat to watch. This young kid knows how to deliver dialogues and he surely impresses with his performance.Javaid Sheikh, Eeshta Syed and the others do a fine job and provide the much needed support to the film. They are all good in their roles.
Moreover, the film has a plethora of cameos and I will not take away the surprise but will mention that each and every cameo is outright hilarious! The lonely lights sequence, featuring Rubya Chaudhry, is just too good.
The music of the film by ‘Noori’ and ‘Shiraz Uppal’ is another strength of the film. The duo knows exactly how to use the music to the film’s benefit. It would not be wrong to say that the film would loose its soul if we were to take away the music from it. This surely is one hell of an album.From the peppy dance numbers ”Tutti Fruiti” “Rabi Ralli” ,the melodious “Aja Re Aja” and the energetic ‘Lahoriya’ each song has something to add to the film. This is one music album you should all have.