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April 22, 2016
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‘Maalik’ with overwhelming message of patriotism premiered

Islamabad

April 22, 2016

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Aashir Azeem’s advent into the world of silver screen with a political-thriller ‘Maalik’, premiered Wednesday with an overwhelming message of patriotism and social justice, however the audience appeared divided over their views regarding the movie.

Earning acclaim from the drama serial ‘Dhuwaan’ set along a nationalist patriotic theme too, the star’s return to onscreen storytelling after 22 years was highly anticipated, and it would be safe to say that he did not disappoint his audience. The movie depicts the take of the producer/director on the issues he identifies as being the core of the problems of Pakistan, including the challenges of settling into a new cultural setting faced by the Pakistanis displaced from northern areas due to conflict and war; rampant corruption and injustice in every cog of the civilian government system; the civilian law-enforcement agencies; the judicial system and all tiers of political leadership from the bottom right up to the top. 

The movie is the story of a patriot army man who loses the love of his life, his wife, because he preferred being in the line of duty over being with his pregnant wife. Retiring from the army early to take care of his newborn, this devoted Pakistani decides to setup a topnotch private security agency, which introduces him to the non-army civilian world and its essential evils. The story highlights the struggle within that character as he feels helpless, bound by the system that seems tailor-made to oppress and exploit the people of the country. 

That is when he decides to set up a private clandestine unit of black-ops with his ex service-men to take action. The movie’s regional focus on Sindh rather than a general scenario and its depiction as an absolute cesspool of corruption, injustice and exploitation too is rather controversial. And as if that wasn’t enough, the extortionist, murderer and rapist chief minister in the movie is rather blatantly associated with a real world political party with Benazir Bhutto’s picture seen clearly hung in his home, which is bound to spark conspiracy, “the movie strikes a chord with every Pakistani as majority feels undone by the social injustice and corruption, however it has subliminal undertones of utter hopelessness in the political system and the climax of the movie too sends a controversial message”, said Zunaira, a medical practitioner who had come to watch the premiere with her family. 

Others however, saw the movie in different light, “I absolutely agree with the whatever the director of the movie brought to the screen, the armed forces is maybe the only institution that we can now look up-to,” said Kashif, a student of engineering. Aashir Azeem while talking about the movie said people of Pakistan are the true owners of this land and they are the centre of power rather than any individual. We as people need to realise this power and choose the best for us, he added. To a question regarding the message absolute hopelessness in the political institutions and the encouragement of taking matters into one’s own hands, Aashir said the movie does not encourage any action above the law. 

It only advocates that the civic duty of a Pakistani does not end with casting a vote every five years, it extends towards contributing to solutions instead of just whining about the problems and sitting their hoping that their leaders would do it all. While this movie is not an outright ISPR production, the credits mention a major contribution of ISPR to the movie shows that the armed forces are learning the ropes of using mass media in paving public opinion. But that notion can easily be dispelled, as by the end of the day, it’s just a movie, with fictional characters - or is it?

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