*ing: Syed Karam Abbas, Imran Aslam, Najiba Faiz and Saleem Meraj
Directed by Farhan Alam
In terms of storytelling and ideas, Pakistan is a rich country. It is home, not just to commercially-driven filmmakers, but also to those who have what it takes to capture one’s imagination.
Director Farhan Alam and writer-producer Mashood Qadri are two such gentlemen. They must be commended for making Saawan and for presenting compelling issues that are extinct in most parts of the world but continue to persist in this particular country.
Though the length of Saawan and the slow pace of the narrative did not allow the film to maintain a good run at the box office, it has enough meat to cater to the Academy Awards which is why its selection as Pakistan’s official entry to the Oscars (in the category of Best Foreign Language Film) makes complete sense.
Saawan is the story of a young boy called ‘Saawan’ (Syed Karam Abbas) who can’t walk due to his polio-infected legs. When his whole village, including his parents deserts him to save themselves from an unseen monster, he decides to take matters into his own hands. As time passes by, he goes out in search of his family, unaware that his father as well as a TV crew led by a reporter (Imran Aslam) are coming back for him.
During his long journey, Saawan rescues abducted kids, gets to travel towards the city and even tames the monster as if on a worthwhile adventure.
The film is packed with powerful performances especially from Karam Abbas and Najiba Faiz, who plays mother to Saawan. The scenes between the two of them as well as those where they are not interacting with each other represent some of the best moments in the film. In fact, Najiba Faiz must get more roles because of her excellent acting. We need actors (in our films) who can express anger, love and other emotions through their eyes.
Saleem Meraj, on the other hand, disappoints and that too because of his irritating and repetitive ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ routine. The film also includes cameo appearances from a number of TV stars including Tipu Sharif and veteran actor Sohail Malik. The rest of the cast consisted of local actors who have done their best.
Farhan Alam is not only the director of the film but has shot the film as a DoP and edited it as well. Some of the sequences in the film, including the switching of timelines, lend the film an international appeal, the kind that is sorely lacking in usual productions that stem from this region.
The one drawback is the film’s length and at more than 137 minutes, it needed crisper editing. It should also be noted that had it been released clear of competition, it had the potential to do well. The issues of child trafficking, polio eradication, terrorism, and illiteracy are not discussed in films all that often and given this fact, the team must be applauded for presenting a film that falls in the genre of meaningful cinema.
Judwaa 2 *** ½
*ing: Varun Dhawan, Jacqueline Fernandez, Taapsee Pannu and
Directed by David Dhawan
Drawing inspiration from the original film, that was also directed by David Dhawan and featured Salman Khan in twin roles alongside Karisma Kapoor and Rambha, this one is more of a remake than a reboot. The story, for example, is the same as the last time but the cast of actors has changed and they have done a fine job.
Unlike the trailer that felt quite senseless, the film is sensible. Credit goes to co-writers Sajid and Farhad who have substantially added to the original script that was penned by E. V. V. Satyanarayana.
Varun Dhawan and Varun Dhawan (pun intended) play Raja and Prem in this version whereas Jacqueline Fernandez, Taapsee Pannu and Rajpal Yadav have replaced Karishma Kapoor, Rambha and Shakti Kapoor, respectively.
The story is more or less the same as last time with key scenes having been recreated. However, the script has improved in a big way as most of the 1990-ish stuff has been done away with. The father of the twins is thankfully not a police officer because, in the last one, he was shown as a cop with a business abroad.
The villain doesn’t die in the current film and neither does the mother go into shock, thankfully. It would have been better had the director opted to delete the butt-slapping sequence since it wasn’t needed and came off as offensive.
The film belongs to Varun Dhawan who excels as the weak Prem and the strong Raja. His ‘ammi jaan kehti theen’ routine is a laugh a minute riot that sends the audience into fits of laughter. A mixture of Salman Khan and Govinda, the Dhawan has the goods to carve a strong future for himself in the coming days. The girls provide considerable eye candy (as intended) but in terms of acting, Taapsee overshadows Jacqueline who needs to improve her acting.
Rajpal Yadav is miscast because one, at 46, he looks too old to be a sidekick and two, he is a brilliant actor who doesn’t need to stammer to prove his skills.
Anupam Kher is the only actor to have been cast in both the films and excels in the role of the father of one of the brides. As for the music, the soundtrack isn’t that bad considering it doesn’t feature Abhijeet and has Anu Malik featured as a playback singer on one song that serves as an interval before the interval.
– Omair Alavi is a freelance broadcast journalist and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rating system: *Not on your life * ½ If you really must waste your time ** Hardly worth the bother ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only *** Good enough for a look see *** ½ Recommended viewing **** Don’t miss it **** ½ Almost perfect ***** Perfection