Movie Name: Verna
Release Date: November 17, 2017
Director: Shoaib Mansoor
Review by: Momin Ali Munshi
Verna is Shoaib Mansoor’s third outing as a film director after having delivered two milestone films Khuda Kay Liye and Bol which released in 2007 and 2011 respectively. The third film was eagerly awaited ever since it was first announced, and the inclusion of superstar Mahira Khan as the lead actress was another layer of icing on this already delicious cake. Goes without saying that expectations were soaring high for this film which was supposed to complete the hattrick for director Shoaib Mansoor, who by the way is one of the very few filmmakers who has simultaneously tasted commercial and critical success. But does the film live up to the expectations? The answer is a harsh no!
The film in itself is bad, but what aggravates the situation is the fact that it is a Shoaib Mansoor film with Mahira Khan as the lead. Had this film been made by a newbie director the response might not have been that harsh, hell we might have actually celebrated the film for tackling an issue and taking a road less traveled. But when it is Shoaib Mansoor you expect nothing but the best, and that is because we have seen what he can do be it films, television or even music videos. A man of that caliber giving us something like Verna which in all honesty comes across as an amateur film, does not sit down well. The entire film is one big joke where absolutely nothing seems to work!
The film talks about rape, which is definitely a gutsy move on the part of the makers but that is it! It just talks about rape, in a very superficial manner and does not really explore and delve into it fully and to be honest the rape element seems to be there just for the sake of it. Films have the power to inspire and bring about a change and past Shoaib Mansoor films have done just that and much more. However here what could have been a powerful film turns into a joke courtesy the over the top twists and an Abbas Mustan style ending.
The film begins with married couple Aami (Haroon Shahid) Sara ( Mahira Khan) and Aami’s sister Mahgul (Naimal Khawar) singing, dancing and picnicking in a rather secluded park. Two goons come kidnap Sara, warning Aami to not go to the police and that they would return her back safely three days later. The family decides to stay quiet for Sara’s safety and three days later Sara is back but we learn that she has been raped repeatedly. The family does not want her to report the crime and with that begins the rollercoaster ride that is Verna, which definitely crashes at the end.
One of the most important thing for such a film is for the viewer to feel for the victim, the protagonist, who has gone through the trauma of rape but that is hard to do when you see the victim escorted back home after three days of apparent hell and the family decides to have a soup party. The recovery process is also accelerated where you hardly get to feel for the victim. Also, the fact that all you know of the crime is what the protagonist is hinting towards takes away from the impact. I’m not suggesting that they actually show the act but there are more impactful ways of doing it, for instance in film ‘Mom’ where Sajal’s character gets raped in the moving car and the director uses an aerial shot is almost as distressing had they actually showed the deed. But here in ‘Verna’ there are fleeting references which fail to establish a connection.
Moreover other than Mahira Khan and Zarrar Khan nobody really delivers whereas the acting department is considered! All the supporting actors comprise of either newbies or bad actors and in both the cases, they fail to help the film which rests on a poor script anyway. Mahira Khan does decent, but how could she fully deliver when she is surrounded by mediocrity. But then again what could have the actors done for the material they had to work was pathetic. The script as mentioned earlier is weak, direction kind of directionless, cinematography average, pacing questionable, all in all, nothing really works for this film.
Verdict: Weak script, poor direction, and unimpressive performances make this film a big no for us!
Rating: 2/5 stars