Mr. Khan’s Review on Rozi (1990)

A review on Pakistani telefilm, Rozi (1990). The telefilm is directed by Sahira Kazmi and stars the legendary Moin Akhtar in one of his most iconic roles of his career. Rozi is an Urdu adaptation of Dustin Hoffman’s classic Tootsie (1982). Rozi is a ‘Tele Theater’ Production. 

+ Crew

  • Directed by Sahira Kazmi
  • Written by Imran Saleem
  • DOP by Aem Nawaz, Jameel Akhtar and Arif Saheel
  • Make up by Shamina Kaisar
  • Editing by Ahfaq Ahmed

+ Note

Before we proceed any further, let us first discuss the Elephant in the room. Rozi is now cited as an “Urdu adaptation” of the Hollywood classic Tootsie (1982) starring Dustin Hoffman. But it has been clearly not credited anywhere in the End credits of the telefilm and I severely doubt if the producers took the permission from Columbia Pictures to adapt Tootsie into a Pakistani telefilm. As a reviewer and fan of the original film, it makes it harder for me to judge Rozi based on its own writing merit since every scene and dialogue has been directly lifted from the Hollywood classic. But for the sake of the review, I will judge the telefilm on its own achievements here on out and analyse what the Pakistani creative team managed to accomplish on its own. 

Apart from the controversy, Rozi was clearly a role tailor made for the talents that Moin Akhtar possessed and unsurprisingly, Rozi elevated Akhtar to stardom and proved to be one of his personal favorite roles of his career.

 + Main Cast

  1. Moin Akhtar as Haroon/Rozi
  2. Fazela Qazi as Nazia
  3. Akbar Subhani as Rashid
  4. Fariha Altaf as Sahana

+ Plot

Haroon (Moin Akhtar) is a down on his luck actor who is sick and tired of the Pakistani TV industry and its lack of originality. Therefore, Haroon disguises himself as a woman Rozi in order to land a role in a major TV soap opera. Along the way, Haroon falls in love with Nazia (Fazela Qazi) and realizes what difficulties a woman has to face in the world of Television.

+ High Points

i – As far as adaptations go, Rozi has very seamlessly been adapted from an American setting into Pakistani culture and Urdu dialogue by Imran Saleem. 

ii – There was arguably no one in Pakistani Industry at the time who could have played the role of Rozi other than the legendary Moin Akhtar. Since the character within the story is a disguise, Moin Akhtar had the monumental task of playing two fictional characters within one narrative; Haroon and Rozi and its safe to say that Akhtar played it off with such flair and tenacity that leaves viewer not only charmed by his performance but are right alongside him throughout the narrative. Rozi might arguably be the pinnacle of Moin Akthar’s career in Television. 

iii – Speaking of role models, Rozi speaks to many female actors how hard it is for them to be recognized for their talent and not brushed aside once they reach a certain age. Although the character of Rozi is fictional, her plight for self-respect and recognition is very much real. And just for that, this telefilm was incredibly groundbreaking in Pakistan for its time.

iv – Rozi is full of excellent performances. And although Moin Akthar undoubtedly takes the center stage, Fariha Altaf as Sahana is clearly the highlight of the film. Her desperation and anger plays hilariously to the comedy of errors that Haroon has concocted in order to salvage his acting career. Whenever these two were on screen together, you know there will be laugh out loud moments.

v – Comedy is all about timing. And Rozi nails it with such impeccable precision that even after 30 years, Imran Saleem’s writing has still lost none of its charm. 

vi – The makeup of Rozi is not the most believable out there but honestly, it never needed to be. The wig, fake eyelashes, lip stick work are sufficient enough to make the viewer buy into the fact that most characters would not be able to recognize Haroon in disguise. And I am completely onboard with some ‘suspension of disbelief’ in order to enjoy the story.

vii – The scenes between Rozi and Nazia’s father are hilarious and they play fantastically off one another.

viii – The ending of Rozi will leave a warm, fuzzy feeling inside you long after you are done watching it. It’s the perfect ending you could have to the story.

 + Low Points

i – Rozi consists of such a talented team of writers, actors, producers which makes it so frustrating to see that they “adapted” every scene, every dialogue from the film Tootsie. With all this effort, why could they have not just taken the premise of Tootsie and wrote original scenes and situational comedy around it? If you have already seen the Hollywood film, It is so utterly frustrating to know what is going to come next. In Urdu, one says:

“Nakal ke liye Akaal ki bhi zaroorat parhti hai!”

(To plagiarize, one still needs the smarts to pull it off!)

But why not just use the “smarts” to write something original instead?   

ii – The telefilm sadly feels incredibly low budget and cheap. The set design looks exceptionally dull and uninspiring. It’s obvious that absolutely no location scouting was done prior to the production of the telefilm. The team just arrived on location and had to shoot X number of scenes for the day. This approach unfortunately does no favours to all the hard work that the actors put into each scene.

iii – Director of Photography is pretty much non-existent. There is absolutely no skill involved. The lack of proper framing a shot, not bothering to set proper light exposure, the camera moves arbitrarily as it please, regardless if the scene requires it or not; the only successful task they managed to accomplish was press the ‘rec’ button on the camera.

iv – The production quality (for lack of a better word) sucks. Visually, the telefilm is hideous (and I’m not talking about the VHS quality of it which is currently uploaded online). I know I should go easy on it since it’s 30 years old but Tele dramas before Rozi have accomplished so much more so there clearly is no excuse for it.

v – The editing is god awful. The telefilm (or tele theater) has two minds whether to edit it like a theater play or a telefilm. And it fails on both aspects. It’s lethargic and sometimes lingers far too long on one shot. Did the editor fall asleep while working mid scene? 

+ Overall

Even after 30 years, Rozi is fondly remembered due to its stellar performances and comedic writing but the lack of proper production makes it at times hard to watch. But just for Moin Akthar’s iconic performance alone, Rozi is worth a go.

 Rate: 3.0 out of 5 stars

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