Film: Dum Mastam
Release Date: 3rd May 2022
Director: Mohammed Ehteshamuddin
Review By: Hassan Hassan
Dum Mastam, the Imran Ashraf-Amar Khan starring big screen debut, alongside critically acclaimed actor, Adnan Siddiqui’s maiden production venture, was one of the most awaited Eid releases this year. It can also be considered a film that may have arguably been the most difficult to conceive, develop, and execute amongst all the Eid releases.
The film is one such affair that will leave an impact by creating starkly conflicting and perplexing opinions about it, analogous to the central conflict on which it is based. How you find it as a film, depends totally on what you are looking for in a cinematic affair, especially when you are paying to get entertained in this age of soaring inflation.
Set in ancient central Lahore, the story follows an ambitious girl Aliya (Amar Khan) and the lovable, street-smart Bao (Imran Ashraf). While Aliya’s world revolves around her aim to make it big in showbiz, Bao, a struggling singer, is more focused on winning Aliya’s heart.
Fate brings the pair at loggerheads with each other, when they dramatically face different outcomes of their endeavours to make it big in the glitzy world of glamor, and to achieve long-yearned love. How this one-sided, conflict-ridden journey of showbiz and love unfolds is for the viewer to experience on the big screen.
While the story may seem interesting on paper, its transcription onto the big screen is unfortunately not as promising and fulfilling. The journey of Aliya and Bao is peppered with colorful and foot-tapping dance numbers, a handful of soulful songs, some stunning visuals, and ornate set and production designs.
However, the lack of attention on developing and exploring the central conflict in more detail makes Dum Mastam a mere pyrotechnic affair with a rudimentary storyline.
What Did And Did Not Work
Of all the Eid releases, Dum Mastam’s trailer was arguably the slickest and most articulately cut. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the film. The trailer promised a screenplay that seemed like a rollercoaster ride of emotions and conflict with a high dose of fast-paced musical drama, and stunning visuals. The film, however, is paradoxically slow paced, especially in the second half, with its basic story overstretched than its elastic limit.
Salam Razaq’s cinematography – particularly in the first half, where the city of Lahore is captured in all its rustic grandeur and mystic beauty – combined with the visually appealing picturization of the songs across beautiful locales of Jhelum, Mangla and Interior Sindh, makes Dum Mastam the best visual affair this Eid.
Being a musical drama, Dum Mastam could not have had a better team than the likes of well-established names like Shiraz Uppal, Azaan Sami Khan, Shani Arshad, and Bilal Saeed.
The film has the best music album, with every song catering to a different mood. The music is soulful and ornately arranged. The crisp and colorful picturization makes it even more stunning. Kiran Malik’s cameo in the title song is a treat for sore eyes.
The Performances In Dum Mastam
Imran Ashraf as Bao, with his layered performance, is the real star of the show. He has glimpses of Bhola and Musa, and is lovable in each avatar. At such a young age, the actor has explored his range extensively and is a real asset for the Pakistani entertainment arena. The scene where he trims his hair in a conflict with Aliya is one of the best, amongst the many instances in Dum Mastam.
Closely following is Amar Khan, who is loud and headstrong in the first half, and broken and in despair in the second. Her performance may seem to go overboard in some places. However, she delivers one of the best performances of her career.
While the performances by the lead cast are bound to impress, the same can’t be said for most of the supporting cast. Saleem Mairaj as the sleazy manager/talent promoter, Momin Saqib as a plagiarising rockstar, and his accomplice Adnan Shah Tipu, are a tad bit disappointing, and even irksome most of the times. The only exception is Sohail Ahmad, as Bao’s father, who, despite being one-dimensional, is easy on the eyes and mind.
Despite all its strong points, Dum Mastam leaves the audience asking for more, and an overall better experience, when it comes down to the story and screenplay. The conflict between the two leads remains repetitive and fatiguing for the viewers.
A lot of time is wasted on the supporting cast, like Gudu Razor, whose absence wouldn’t have affected the narrative in anyway. Perhaps, better casting, or a less caricature-esque character would have worked in Gudu’s favor.
Dum Mastam In Isolation
When seen in isolation, a majority of the scenes of Dum Mastam are perfectly written, constructed, directed, and performed. However, the same cannot be said when they combine in the form of a screenplay. It’s this experience that many viewers may find unappealing.
With all the hard work put into visuals, music, production design, and artwork, the makers should have focused equally on the script, screenplay, and editing of the film as a whole.
Dum Mastam can be enjoyed if you are a fan of great visuals, music, Imran Ashraf/Amar Khan, or have a penchant for strongly delivered dramatic performances. However, the screenplay does fall short, and if that’s a selling point for you, you may not find Dum Mastam an engrossing experience.