Jackpot (Review): An awami khichdi

Movie Name: Jackpot

Release Date: July 6, 2018

Director: Shoaib Khan

Review by: Momin Ali Munshi

After a string of disappointing films that came out on Eid, Jackpot seemed like the perfect follow-up. The breezy comedy had an interesting ensemble cast, picturesque locations, technically sound and visually appealing shots and it definitely seemed like the film which would help us get over the Eid fiasco, at least that’s what the trailer and promos led us to believe, although yes they were a bit over the top. So does the film deliver what the trailer promised? The answer is both yes and no.

The plot of the film centers around a 100 crore winning lottery ticket and a bunch of characters who all want to get their hands on the ticket and the grand prize. Among them are hunky waiter (Noor Hassan), ambitious receptionist (Sanam Chaudhry), naive dhoban (Sana Fakhar) along with a good for nothing husband (Adnan Shah Tipu), criminal Jojo ( Javed Sheikh) and a handful of other amusing characters we meet on this roller-coaster ride which takes you from the streets of Old Lahore to Phuket and more.

Jackpot like its predecessors falls short on its promise, albeit not fully, as it does deliver a few genuinely funny moments here and there but since they are limited it doesn’t really help the film which was supposed to be an outright laugh riot. Also, the use of comedians from Lahore’s commercial theatre circuit might have seemed like a great idea to the producers as the comedians did elicit laughter in a few sequences but in totality their brand of slapstick comedy which might have worked with the theatre-going class, was extremely off-putting and did not gel with the otherwise high scale production and feel of the film.

Furthermore, Babar Kashmiri’s writing reeked of old school Lollywood humor which again was distasteful, and because of it, even veteran actors like Javed Sheikh and Ismail Tara came across as extremely repulsive. Also, I have no idea why Adnan Shah Tipu was constantly shouting whenever he would open his mouth. To see such a wonderful actor make a fool out of himself was disheartening, or maybe that’s how the writer envisioned his character. Quite honestly if one was to completely remove four to five characters, and mold the others slightly, the film would have been something else.

Noor Hassan, Sanam Chaudhry, and Sana Fakhar were the three redeeming forces in a film which was otherwise full of casting blunders. Let me start with diva Sana who makes a full-fledged Lollywood-y comeback of sorts to the silver screen after doing a few supporting roles and item numbers and boy is she back with a bang. She nails the role with her goofy expressions on one side and brings out the sultry siren on the other hand with these little dance sequences she has in the film. Her character and performance is an ode to Lollywood which any Lollywood fan would cherish, as did I!

Noor Hassan and Sanam Chaudhry light up the screen whenever they make an appearance. Their chemistry is too good, their style game on-point, and contrary to what I had thought, these two have a screen presence and I am sure they will be a regular on our cinema screens. Here I would like to give a shout out to Sadya, the stylist for the film who did a phenomenal job as Sanam looked super chic in each and every shot, something that other film-makers need to focus on too. Acting wise the roles aren’t meaty enough, but wherever they get a chance they deliver and you enjoy it. How I wish the director focused more on these two instead of the other buffoons because demonstrating impartiality in screen time division isn’t always the best idea. Sigh.

As for the other supporting actors, Inayat Khan, who came across as an overenthusiastic teenager on a sugar high in the promo of song Lovely Dovely, was considerably calmer in the film. He does well, but something seems off about him, he should focus on television or maybe be a muscially star. Reyhna Pandit is hardly there and she was probably added for the glam factor. Javed Sheikh is seen in a character which he has himself done to death and he does okay for the kind of content he has been given. All other supporting actors, I wish you all weren’t there in the film, you’re not bad actors but your roles were loud, cheap and anything but funny. Also, there are quite a few cameos, which Lollywood fans will definitely enjoy.

Shoaib Khan who debuts as a film director with this one definitely shows promise as the camerawork and direction are applaud worthy, something which had made everyone sit up and take notice since the first trailer dropped. Furthermore, all the recce seemed to have worked as Shoaib was able to capture some beautiful locations in the songs, and with the kind of production values we saw, we are anxiously waiting to see what he does next. The screenplay of the film, despite the many ludicrous characters and situations, was well thought out and for a no-brainer, comedy was pretty solid and fast-paced.

The music of the film is another strength with ‘Shukriya’ and ‘Hay Naya Naya’ being particularly well composed and shot. The party number is also not bad and ‘Jojo Janta Hay’ is still stuck in my head as I write this review. Also, the use of many familiar Lollywood classics here and there was a wonderful idea, and as I briefly mentioned earlier the film pays a tribute to Lollywood with Sana’s character and the accompanying music perfectly added to it.

Generally, when I start my review I already have a working title, but this time around I am almost done and yet have no clue as to what the title should be. While on one side I did enjoy the production values, and the beautifully shot melodious songs, on the other side the omnipresence of low-grade comedians, with their crass humor brought about a very tacky feel to the film. The film was stuffed with too many annoying characters, but I guess its target audience was the single screen audience who I think will enjoy this khichdi. Yes that’s what I will call it- an awami khichi.

Verdict: Beautiful visuals, doltish characters, and slapstick-ish crass humor- yes that’s Jackpot for you in one line.

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I might be an Economics graduate from LUMS, but cinema is where my heart truly belongs. Always up for a discussion on fims and I guess you could call me a Pakistani Cinema aficionado. Email: mominalimunshi@yahoo.com

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