Instep Today

In search of a genre

By Omair Alavi
Sat, 11, 19

Talash tries to fit in somewhere but is unable to do so and as Pakistani cinema continues to battle with several issues, half-baked efforts won’t do it any good

The cinema industry in Pakistan is in bad shape because of lack of quality Pakistani films, rising ticket prices and the absence of Bollywood films. In such a scenario, when half-baked films like Talash are released, they hurt the cinema industry more than take it forward.

Written and directed by Zeeshan Khan (Zeekay), Talash is an NGO-backed film that seems to be in search of a genre and tries to fit in somewhere and falters while doing so.

For two hours a local and very cheap version of hit TV series Grey’s Anatomy made the audience laugh when it was supposed to make them realize the importance of an urgent matter at hand. The main topic of the film is ‘malnutrition’ but when it is pronounced ‘maalnutrition’ by one of the leads, all hopes of adding something to the revival disappears. Add the constant ‘Selfie Hojaye’ scenario by one of the leading characters and you feel like running away from the cinema, in the Ford that is etched on the poster.

The film revolves around two doctors, Tania (Fariya Hassan) and Salim (Zeb Ahmed) who are also cousins. Though Salim loves Tania, the latter is searching for her beau, Khurram (Noaman Sami) who had gone missing during an earlier Health Welfare Program.

Add a landlord with a heart of gold (Mustafa Qureshi), who suffers from short term memory loss yet remembers the girl, his bodyguards who roam around as jokers and villagers and you get a drama that should have been ideal for theatre or at the most television, but not enough to be a film.

The makers of Talash could have used their money and the presence of legendary film actor Mustafa Qureshi and veteran Sindhi TV actress Mumtaz Mughal to better use, but instead focused on irrelevant things. The Ford, in which the two of the leading actors traveled, was inserted to give the movie a modern touch but it backfired. Even a Suzuki Mehran would have gotten the job done, which is transporting two people from distance A to distance B. The same goes for the huge emphasis put on a very unknown Noaman Sami’s entry in the film as if he was the reincarnation of Shah Rukh Khan. Yes, the producers seemed to think he was the local version of a young SRK but loads of makeup on his face hints at desperation more than anything else.

Sadly, none of the three new lead actors in the film stood out; Fariya Hassan will have to work hard to look different than a Maya Ali clone, especially when Maya is young, and doing well in films. Zeb Ahmed needs to work on his ‘super-cool’ attitude because acting is about convincing the audience, not irritating them. Noaman Sami tries to copy Shah Rukh Khan but that doesn’t work especially when the original actor isn’t doing well in cinemas himself. The hand-moving-over-his-hair act reminded the audience of Main Hoon Na where both brothers used to do that, and that was over 15 years back. All three actors must work hard before going in search for another project, possibly for TV where they can be groomed well.

It seems no research was conducted by the makers; otherwise they wouldn’t have sent a lady doctor dressed in a plain white shirt and jeans to interior Sindh. Why a husband-wife couple in Sindh was addressing each other in Punjabi words (Wohti, Mard, instead of Murs, Zaal), why Saleem Mairaj’s character uttered nonsense over and over again (baba pari utri hai, main ne khud dekha hai), why a serious actor like Sajid Shah was constantly winking at others, such are the questions the film fails to answer. Hence Talash, the name of the film suits it best. With each and every substandard film – Kaaf Kangana came out in October – the cinema industry is being pushed towards oblivion. Let’s hope someone comes up with a film that steers the film industry towards quality films that benefit both the audiences and cinemas.

Irrespective of the review, Talash is doing better at the box office than Durj and Kaaf Kangana and the film was screened at the UN headquarters in New York. The screening included a number of distinguished guests such as The Pakistani ambassador to the UN, Muneer Akram who was the Chief Guest, Botswana’s UN Ambassador Collen Vixen Kelapile, and senior UN officials, including Stewart Simonson, assistant director-general, WHO, and Haoliang Xu, assistant secretary-general, UNDP. Director Zeeshan Khan also made an appearance and thanked the UN staff Recreation Pakistan Club in the chamber of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) for hosting the event, which commemorated the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Convention on the Right of the Child.