Before I get canceled for the blasphemous title, hear me out.
Asim Raza is not an unknown name of the Pakistani entertainment industry. For decades, this man has proved his mettle as a director who has a very unique vision and an ability to present that vision beautifully for the screens. He has won a Lux Style Award for Best Music Video Director in 2004 for Faakhir’s chartbuster song Maahi Ve. Then, in 2013 he won the Best Telefilm Director for Behadd. He has been associated with some of the biggest brands of the country for whom he has directed countless memorable TVCs.
When Asim Raza brought his more than two-decades-long experience in the industry to the big screen, he made sure that it left an impact. Ho Mann Jahaan might not have been the critics’ favorite movie of the year, but it gave the audience a chance to experience the grandeur that did not look unrealistic. The film’s hit song Shakar Wandan Re was shot in one of the most expensive outdoor sets created for any Pakistani film. Till this date, the song and its visuals remain fondly etched in the audience’s memory.
With Parey Hut Love, Asim’s second directorial feature which is all set to release on Eid ul Azha, he has only gone further to prove why his experience makes him a force to be reckoned with. And that is exactly why, I believe, he is making it difficult for the rest of the industry to catch up to him.
The First Look
Parey Hut Love has been sold to the audience as an “Eid Entertainer” by the team behind it ever since they started the promotions. Of course, that does not mean the other two films, Superstar and Heer Maan Jaa, are, in any way, less deserving for the title. But if we compare the trailer of the three films it becomes clear that PHL wins just by the extravagant grandeur it promises to deliver on the big screens.
Lavish sets, stunning real-life locations, an ensemble cast portraying various kind of characters, emotions ranging from humor to drama; Parey Hut Love’s trailer might not have told what the film’s story is about but it most definitely showed every emotion that is packed within it.
Superstar’s trailer put the spotlight on both the limited budget and vision of the film. There is something so claustrophobic about some of the frames of the film. The trailer also makes the story of the film very clear. Heer Maan Jaa, unlike the other two films, promises a quirky fun story. But the mood and aesthetics of the trailer heavily remind of the previous IRK Films venture, Parchi. There’s nothing new about it and there’s no reason why this film should release on Badi Eid.
One way of attracting the audience to a film is by its music. And in this regard, the three films are not leaving any stone unturned. PHL has released four music videos, Superstar has released three with the fourth one on its way, and Heer Maan Jaa came out with its second music video today. Just a brief comparison of the songs of the three films is enough to show that PHL is, yet again, miles ahead in terms of cinematic excellence as far as the visuals go.
Ik Pal from Parey Hut Love and Addi Maar from Heer Maan Jaa, for instance, are both shaadi songs aimed for rocking the mehendi dance floor with. Also, both the songs feature a classic Lollywood diva in a special appearance. But comparing the visuals of both the songs is like comparing apples to oranges. But where Asim Raza really wins, is how he has treated Meera’s guest appearance in the song. She is in the center, and she is the star. Among the hundreds of perfectly synced back up dancers, Meera shines the brightest. While Zara Sheikh makes an entirely forgettable appearance in Addi Maar. From her dressing and makeup to the choreography, none of the things are suitable for a comeback of such a beloved face of Lollywood.
The Mahira Khan factor
I am, like millions of other people, a Mahira Khan fan. So, the idea of a double Mahira Khan feature on this Badi Eid really excites me. But when I see Noori from Superstar and then Morey Saiyaan from Parey Hut Love, I can’t help but wish that Noori was more Asim-fied. What can I do? Asim Raza has completely spoiled me with the finesse with which he has directed all the PHL songs.
Morey Saiyaan looks like a dream and with Mahira in the middle of it, it immediately becomes unforgettable. She fits right in the grandly created set as her long, red, 100-yard dress swishes and flows around her with every twirl. The visuals pull you in and mesmerize you and it made me think, this is something only Mahira can do. And Asim is the only one who could make her do it.
Noori shows an uninhibited side of Mahira but her infectious energy is not supported by the visuals. A film is a visual medium and every element of the frame needs to be in harmony for it to look beautiful on the big screen. Unfortunately, Noori lacks that as far as the visuals go.
The Special Songs
Superstar with Beqaraan and Heer Maan Jaa with its title track, both have released specially shot songs for the film’s promotion. Beqaraan was released ahead of the film’s trailer and is all about the chemistry of the lead pair of the film. Heer Maan Jaa’s title track is a Punjabi dance number with dark, edgy visuals and a rather robotic choreography. The film’s titular Heer (Hareem Farooq) is present there to dance with and for the leading boys of the film and her silent, smug expressions throughout don’t exactly make this song appealing.
What remains to be seen is how Asim Raza has treated the special song for his film. Balma Bhagoda is the only song of PHL that is not been shot on an extravagant set or gorgeous locales. Shot in a studio and featuring the primary cast of the film, this special credits song of the film is going to be the final test for Asim Raza to prove that his vision is the standout winner among the three big Eid releases.
Judging solely by the content that has been officially released for the three films, I have come to the conclusion that Asim Raza and his loyal team, is the only one taking the words “grand cinematic experience” seriously on this Eid. It definitely looks like he has come a long way from his debut film Ho Mann Jahaan and has applied the lessons learned from there to make Parey Hut Love a more wholesome product. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the other two films based on what they are promising and the history of the teams behind these films.
Of course, the real result will only be seen when the three films will be presented in front of the audience on Eid ul Azha but in my eyes, Asim Raza and Parey Hut Love are already very close to be standing on top of the victory podium.