The first local release of 2018. Parchi, that premiered on Wednesday evening in Karachi, failed to justify the extreme hype that preceded its release.
Pakistan’s film industry – now ten years into its second lease on life - is still struggling to make films that have the potential to pull audiences to the cinemas. While some solid films came across as a beacon of hope in the initial years (Khuda Kay Liye, Bol, Manto, Dukhtar, Shah), those that followed seem to have lowered the standards of filmmaking. Last year was a mixed bag with the one stellar Punjab Nahi Jaungi, surrounded by a mixed bag of lukewarm films; luckily it ended on a better note with Chupan Chupai turning out to be a complete entertainer. Unfortunately, the fate of Chupan Chupai did not extend to the first local release of 2018. Parchi, that premiered on Wednesday evening in Karachi, failed to justify the extreme hype that preceded its release.
Scheduled to release across the country today, Parchi’s star studded premiere saw the entire cast, crew and a large number of celebrities in attendance including Humayun Saeed, Adnan Siddiqui, Yasir Hussain, Aamina Sheikh, Mohib Mirza and Sanam Saeed among others. Parchi has been directed by Azfar Jafri of Janaan fame while it features Ali Rehman Khan, Usman Mukhtar, Hareem Farooq, Ahmed Ali Akbar and Shafqat Khan (also the writer of the film) in pivotal roles. Besides them, the film features Mojiz Hasan, Shafqat Cheema, Faizan Shaikh, Faiza Saleem and others in significant supporting roles.
The story opens on an interesting note with Bash (Ali Rehman Khan) caught up in a dangerous situation as a result of his deceit and his brother Bilal (Usman Mukhtar) witnessing a horrifying incident at his workplace. At this point, our expectations grew a little and we hoped that a good start might lead to a good film. Unfortunately, the plot was lost a little too soon. As the story began to unfold, we were entrapped in an array of glitches that made the film quite unbearable by the end.
Two major highlights of the film were Ali Rehman Khan and Usman Mukhtar, who looked absolutely amazing on the big screen and were brilliant in their performances. Ali Rehman was the strongest link, one would like to establish.
Coming back to the story, Bash and Bilal share an apartment with two friends, Bhola (Shafqat Khan) and Saqlain (Ahmed Ali Akbar). They receive a parchi one day that requires them to pay Rs 50 lacs or else they will lose their lives. In a bid to gather money, they get into as many tough situations as they possibly can but failures as they are, always end up empty handed.
Hareem Farooq as Emaan, who one would refrain from calling a gangster after watching the film, joins the squad to lend them a supporting hand but the reason why she does this is the most unbelievable part of the film; it is as unconvincing as Emaan’s reverence as a gangster. The only time she looked and behaved like an influential figure that people are afraid of was when she first appeared on the screen. After that, her portrayal is very confusing and we never find out why she is what she is.
Ever since the film’s teasers and trailer were launched, viewers were curious to see Hareem in a strong, dominant role, a rare opportunity for women on the big screen. While the producers managed to create a lot of hype due to this, they failed to deliver on it. In fact, instead of making a statement with Hareem’s portrayal of being a strong and impactful woman, the film actually endorses the belief that women can’t take up strong positions and their emotions only weaken them.
The good thing is that Parchi has been shot very well, with good camera work and an exciting cast but unfortunately it falls flat in terms of plot and character development. It does have a story that has a beginning and an end but the execution is poor and there are too many unnecessary acts that only make it an uninteresting watch. It could have been cut short at least 30 minutes, if not more, whereas the two songs featured on film’s soundtrack, ‘Imagine’ and ‘Billo Hai’ are completely out of place.
Ali Rehman, Hareem Farooq and Usman Mukhtar at the Karachi premiere of Parchi