Feature Length Films

Mr. Khan’s Review on Awāra (1951)

A review on Indian melodrama feature length classic film, Awāra (1951). The film is directed and produced by Raj Kapoor and stars the famous onscreen couple of Raj Kapoor and Nargis. The film is an All Indian Film Corporation production and is also produced and distributed by R.K.Films.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Raj Kapoor 
  • Cinematography by Radhu Karmakar
  • Written by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas
  • Music by Shankar-Jaikishan
  • Edited by G.G. Mayekar
  • Produced by Raj Kapoor

+ Note

Awāra is considered to be one of the greatest, all time classic of Bollywood cinema and also a film that solidified Raj Kapoor’s influence on Indian Cinema. It tackles themes like crime and social issues, accompanied by musical melodrama. Upon its release, Awāra became an instant sensation not just in India but also overseas in Africa, Middle east and the Soviet Union for its socialist/ reformist approach on poverty and lack of social justice for the common man. The film is estimated to have sold over 200 Million tickets worldwide and considered to be one of the most successful films of all time. In 2012, the film was even included into the 20 new entries added to the All-Time 100 greatest films by TIME magazine.

+ Main Cast

  1. Raj Kapoor as Raj
  2. Shashiraj as Young Raj (child artist)
  3. Nargis as Rita
  4. Baby Zubeida as Young Rita
  5. Prithviraj Kapoor as Judge Raghunath (Raj’s father)
  6. K. N. Singh as Jagga
  7. Cuckoo as Bar dancer
  8. B. M. Vyas as Dubey (Rita’s father)
  9. Leela Misra as Mr. Raghunath’s Sister-In-Law
  10. Leela Chitnis as Leela Raghunath
  11. Honey O’Brien as Dancer
  12. D. Basheshernath (Grand Pa) as a Judge

+ Plot

The film is a quintessential Bollywood melodrama; a young boy named Raj (Raj Kapoor) is born in the slums of India after his mother was rejected by his biological father (Prithviraj Kapoor) due to the suspicion of having an extramarital affair with another man. While living the life of a petty criminal, Raj has a change of heart when he meets the love of his life, Rita (Nargis) who is his childhood friend but is brought up in a higher social class. Will an alleged son of a criminal remain one by association or can one change himself for the better? Will Raj be able to successfully redeem himself or is doomed to live the rest of his life as a petty thief? 

+ High Points

i – The Raj Kapoor/ Nargis duo is and will always be one for the ages. The enigmatic onscreen chemistry that these two permeate will remain unmatched.

ii – Whenever Raj Kapoor is onscreen, his magnetic personality will always draw you into the film. No matter if you’re a Bollywood fan or not, his wit and charm is unparalleled with anyone else that has graced the silver screen of Bollywood.

iii – Awāra was the beginning of the creative collaboration between Raj Kapoor and Khwaja Ahmad Abbas who made several films together after this, spanning almost 30 years of work together. When analysing its script, direction, music and performances; one cannot be much surprised as to why their minds came together so well, time and time again.

iv – Some of the most memorable songs that we all know and love originate from this film; “Awaara Hoon”, “Tere Bina Aag Yeh Chandni”, “Ghar Aaya Mera Pardesi”, sung by the great Lata Mangeshkar. Shankar Jaikishan’s composition is in a league of its own and Awāra’s Soundtrack really solidified its place in the early decades of Bollywood cinema.

v – Awāra stars generations of Kapoor family all in one film; Raj Kapoor plays the protagonist, his real life father Prithviraj Kapoor plays his father, Raj’s brother Shashi Kapoor plays Raj’s younger self and finally, Raj’s grandfather D. Basheshernath also has a cameo role as the Judge in the film. Since they were so familiar with each other’s acting skills, the Kapoor family played off one another with such ease and surprisingly, this conglomerate of Nepotism never proved to be detrimental to the film.

vi – Some of the superimposition of pictures and sequences to visually depict grief and longing are very clever and innovative for its time. 

vii – A man who is born in criminal lifestyle destined to become a criminal?  Does he deserve redemption for his wrongdoings? Will he ever be accepted by society? The social issues addressed in the film were and are still very relevant in the modern day.

viii – The ending is surprisingly very convincing and well written. It refuses to be seduced by the typical “Bollywood happy ending” and leaves a slight question mark in our hearts and minds.

ix – The gritty Set Design of the slums of India, rain sequences convey gorgeously the feeling of emotional solitude and isolation.

+ Low Points

i – Although the film is mostly entertaining, it does drag on from time to time, namely the childhood sequence which could’ve been easily reduced for the betterment of the film as a structural, coherent narrative.

ii – The melodrama and dialogue can be very tacky and eye rolling at times. 

iii – Jagga as the antagonist is incredibly silly, does not pertain to have the viciousness and imminent threat that a Bandit should have. One could easily compare him to Gabbar Singh from Sholay (1975) who had the ruggedness and tenacity of being Evil. Even during his most menacing scenes, Jagga comes off goofy and has definitely not aged well.

iv – So as the main plot of the film goes, Jagga kidnaps the Lawyer’s wife because he wrongfully accused Jagga of his crime. When Jagga finds out that the lawyer’s wife is pregnant, he decides to let her go back to her husband in order to create a misunderstanding that perhaps she had an affair with Jagga while being in his vicinity. Okay… but what if she had already told her husband before the kidnapping that she was pregnant? Jagga didn’t know that, how was he so sure that she didn’t? The catalyst to the plot apparently has no strong basis to it.

v – Although the dream sequence contains one of the most memorable Bollywood song of all time “Ghar Aaya Mera Pardesi”, it does bring the whole film to a halt and disrupts the overall flow of the narrative. The costumes design and makeup of “savages” in the dream sequence have also unfortunately not aged too well.

+ Overall

It certainly goes without saying that Awāra will always remain a classic and a pinnacle of artistry in Bollywood cinema. Even after Sixty plus years, it has certainly stood the test of time. Although the melodrama is laid on thick, the charm lies in its performances by the two main leads (Raj Kapoor and Nargis) and the timeless songs of yesteryear. If the modern audiences can get past the “Black and White”-phobia, this timeless classic has a lot to offer. 

Rate: 4 out of 5 stars

Feature Length Films

Mr. Khan’s Review on Dukhtar (2014)

A review on Pakistani Drama feature length film, Dukhtar (2014). The film is a directorial debut by Afia Nathaniel and is also responsible for writing and producing the film. It is a Zambeel Films and The Crew Films Production and is distributed by Geo Films.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Afia Nathaniel 
  • Cinematography by Armughan Hassan & Najaf Bilgrami
  • Written by Afia Nathaniel 
  • Music by Sahir Ali Bagga & Peter Nashel
  • Edited by Armughan Hassan and Afia Nathaniel
  • Produced by Afia Nathaniel and Muhammad Khalid Ali

+ Note

Dukhtar is a film that tackles the unfortunate hardship of being a female in the tribal areas of Northern Pakistan. In order to settle disputes between tribes, young girls are used as “peacemakers” and are forcibly married off at a very young age. The film premiered at 2014 Toronto Film Festival and was also released in Pakistan that same year. Dukhtar was an official entry from Pakistan for the 87th Academy Awards but was not nominated.

+ Main Cast

  1. Samiya Mumtaz as Allah Rakhi
  2. Mohib Mirza as Sohail
  3. Saleha Aref as Zainab
  4. Asif Khan as Daulat Khan
  5. Ajab Gul as Shehbaz Khan
  6. Samina Ahmad as Rukhsana
  7. Adnan Shah as Ghorzang Khan
  8. Abdullah Jaan as Tor Gul / Hikmatullah
  9. Omair Rana as Zarak Khan

+ Plot

In the depths of Northern areas of Pakistan, two tribal families are in the midst of a battle for their honor. In order to settle the dispute once and for all, Daulat Khan is presented with an opportunity to give his young 13 year old daughter’s hand in marriage to Tor Gul, a man five times her age. The child’s mother Allah Rakhi (Samiya Mumtaz) sees no alternative but to run away with her daughter and escape the fate that she once also had to face many years ago. Along the way, they meet a sympathetic Truck Driver Sohail (Mohib Mirza) who tries to help them reach their destination. 

Will Allah Rahki and her daughter be able to escape fate and live their new lives away from the clutches of barbaric tribal customs of child marriage?

+ High Points

i – The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous. Even though it’s not a hard task to present the Northern region of Pakistan as eye pleasing visuals, it takes skilled Cinematographers to present it so fantastically. Kudos to Armughan Hassan & Najaf Bilgrami!

ii – Speaking of beautiful images, the lighting or even the natural sunlight has been brilliantly used to its full potential. The seeping sunlight through the cracks of wooden boards, the busy street corners of Lahore, it’s simply amazing what visual poetry moving images can come up with.

iii – Although her dialogues were limited, Saleha Aref did a fairly decent job as Zainab and brought a convincing fictional character onto the screen.

iv – Music was not the most prevalent but was skilfully used during the dark times throughout the film and added the much needed ‘mystical’ element to the mother/ daughter’s plight and the dream sequences.

v – The mother/daughter relationship is very well explored and presented visually to its viewers. It captures well the innocence of the relationship that the filmmaker was going for.

vi – The quieter scenes where there are no spoken dialogue or music, only ambient sounds of bird chirping are mesmerizing to look at/ listen to.

+ Low Points

i – The script is almost a complete mess. The first act moves fairly well but upon halfway through the film, it falls badly off its rails. The tension is highly subdued, there are no stakes left for the viewer to be invested in by the halfway point. The pacing is uneven to say the least. It’s almost as if the film was originally a tele film but was prolonged to meet the feature length requirement of 90 minutes.

ii – The romance was forced, unconvincing and quite frankly, abysmal. Not every film needs a romantic plotline and felt like an obvious studio mandate. 

iii – The third act is sloppy, carries no weight to where it started from and the film then just decides to end.

iv – Some of the performances are (for a lack of a better word) cheesy as hell. Most prominent being Samina Ahmad who had her TV Soap Opera acting chops on, completely out of place for the realistic tone that the movie was going for.

v – Some of the shots in the movie were unnecessarily “shaky” and felt amateurish in execution. 

+ Overall

Dukhtar is definitely on the right path in moving away from the glitz and glamour of Lollywood and has its own unique, gritty realistic feel to it. But when it comes to writing, it just fails miserably and that is extremely disappointing. I really wanted to like this film because the barbaric culture of child marriages is very prevalent in some part of Pakistan and needs to be addressed by the artists of Pakistan. It is fairly obvious that Afia has all the right intentions of making this film but the script really needed some time in the oven before it was ready. It is unfortunate that Afia has not made a film since Dukhtar but I definitely would like to see more from her. Perhaps not as a writer but more so, her directorial work. 

But is it worth a watch? I’m really on the fence with this one but ultimately, Dukhtar gets the benefit of the doubt due to its gorgeous imagery and the intention of being different from most of Pakistani cinema.

Rate: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Feature Length Films

Mr. Khan’s Review on Soul (2020)

A review on Animated feature length film, , Soul (2020). It is directed by Pete Docter (Monsters Inc. (2001), Up (2009), Inside Out (2015) ) and is produced by Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures. The film is also distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures and is a Disney Plus Original film.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Pete Docter 
  • Cinematography by Matt Aspbury & Ian Megibben
  • Written by Pete Docter, Mike Jones & Kemp Powers
  • Music by Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
  • Edited by Kevin Nolting
  • Produced by Dana Murray

+ Note

Soul is the fourth animated film directed by Peter Docter for Pixar Animation Studios. The theme of the film is very familiar territory for Docter as it once again deals with concepts of human personalities, determinism and of course, the human Soul. Since the main protagonist of the film is a Jazz musician, the music plays an important role throughout the movie. Soul was first premiered in October 2020 at London Film Festival and then was released in December 2020 as a ‘Disney Plus Original’ film, exclusive on their streaming service.

+ Main Cast

  1. Jamie Foxx as Joe Gardner
  2. Tina Fey as 22
  3. Graham Norton as Moonwind
  4. Rachel House as Terry
  5. Alice Braga and Richard Ayoade as two of the soul counselors 
  6. Phylicia Rashad as Libba Gardner
  7. Donnell Rawlings as Dez
  8. Questlove as Lamont “Curley” Baker
  9. Angela Bassett as Dorothea Williams

+ Plot

Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx) gets by as a High school music teacher in the heart of New York City when suddenly, out of sheer luck, lands a huge gig at a local Jazz club. As Joe prepares for his big break, he accidently falls into a manhole and his Soul ends up in the ‘Great Beyond’. There, he meets another fellow soul named “22” (Tina Fey) who is in search of her special “spark” which will allow her to be born and start her life on Planet Earth. 

Together, they must help each other and find a way to reach their goals and discover throughout their odyssey, what it means to have a Soul.

+ High Points

i – I guess this is always a ‘no-brainer’ compliment for Pixar films but the animation is absolutely gorgeous to look at. The beautiful lighting effects (especially scenes on Earth) brings out the warmth from the screen and onto your hearts.

ii – The character designs are brilliantly thought-out and executed. Although the facial features are exaggerated, they never feel too “cartoony” or stray away from reality too far. 

iii – The designs of soul counselors are especially unique (kinda like Apple “Mac Finder”-esque) and creative. They lack details or a coherent body structure but play beautifully to the concept of beings who handle the abstract land of ‘Great Beyond’.

iv – The film is simply outstanding with the more “quieter” moments of the story where instead of dialogue; the music, animation and visuals consume the screen. Even though Pixar/ Disney is a big money making conglomerate, such scenes show that it still inherits that creative spark; the spark that made Pixar resonate so much with the audiences to begin with. 

v – Joe Gardner is a sympathetic and lovable main protagonist with whom people from different parts of the world can relate to.

vi – Even though the subject matter deals with the afterlife, Soul never becomes religious or preachy but keeps a good balance with people all over the world with different faiths (or none for that matter).

vii – The voice acting is great from everyone involved. No celebrity voice felt forced or out of place with the overall theme of the film.

viii – Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross have done a fantastic job with the Soundtrack of the film. They had the daunting task to make the music a central part of the film and they delivered in spades. The “In the Zone” scenes were probably the biggest highlight of the movie.

+ Low Points

i – As a fan of Docter’s previous Pixar film Inside Out (2009), the biggest disappointment for me was the plot of the film itself. It was once again treading the same waters as before of determination, Persona, finding oneself. Did ‘Soul’ have anything new to say? Not really.

ii – Some of the comedy doesn’t work and unnecessarily drags the movie. Why did the cat have to give a haircut? Why the madcap subway chase? It seemed that the film was struggling with what it really wants to be; An honest, spiritual look at what makes human life special or an odd couple, hijinx comedy of errors?

iii – It is obvious that Pixar’s spark as a creative force in Animation has been massively subdued since pairing with Disney Animation Studios and unfortunately, it still shows. The overall structure of the film is nothing more than a list of checkmarks that need to be fulfilled in order to please the audience (and the company’s stockholders!). Challenge the audience’s intelligence a bit like WALL- E (2008), don’t hand them solutions to conflicts on a silver platter like any other regular animation studio.

iv – Speaking of conflicts, they just felt really unconvincing and seemed like they were only added as a necessity to have a conclusive, feel good resolution to the film. The Cat/ Human switch did not make much sense but hey, talking animals are always funny, right?

v – The last act of the film was forcefully wrapped into a neat little package and made no sense to the overall theme of the film. I’ve elaborated it a bit further… 

NOTE: SPOILER ALERT! (Skip ahead to the “Overall” if you would like to avoid it)

The “Noble” sacrifice by Gardner never paid off and was immediately reversed in order to have a happy ending to the film. Why does he get his life back but no one else on the conveyor belt? Why tease this bold move if you don’t have the guts to go through with it? Children films have successfully dealt with issues like death before (The Lion King (1994), The Land Before Time (1988)) so it can be done. At times, it is necessary for kids to learn that not everything works out in Life the way you want it.

+ Overall

Soul does bring out the best in Pixar when it comes to animation, voice acting and music but unfortunately, it is quite lacklustre when compared to their other long list of great films. There are a couple of really great sequences and It’s still a fun time with the kids but don’t expect this experience to be a memorable one.

Rate: 3.25 out of 5 stars

Feature Length Films

Mr. Khan’s Review on AK vs AK (2020)

A review on Indian/ Hindi language black comedy thriller film, AK vs AK (2020). It is directed by Vikramaditya Motwane and the Production House is Andolan Films. The film is distributed by Netflix.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Vikramaditya Motwane
  • Cinematography by Swapnil Sonawane
  • Written by Anurag Kashyap (dialogues)
  • Screenplay by Avinash Sampath and Vikramaditya Motwane
  • Produced by Deepa De Motwane

+ Note

Ak vs Ak is a dark, comedic look into the culture and impact that Bollywood has on everyday life of India. AK vs AK is unique for its “film within a film” style of storytelling and everyone is playing as “themselves” makes everything seem authentic. The idea was initially pitched in 2013 with Shahid Kapoor playing the title role alongside Anurag and Vikramaditya Motwane attached to the project as its director. But delays and rewrites pushed the project further back to 2019. Finally, Motwane decided to cast Anil Kapoor for the role instead as he has been a bigger “commercial” star of Bollywood and fits the narrative of India’s obsession with its stars much better.

+ Main Cast

  1. Anil Kapoor as himself
  2. Anurag Kashyap as himself
  3. Yogita Bihani as herself
  4. Sonam Kapoor Ahuja as herself
  5. Harshvardhan Kapoor as himself
  6. Sucharita Tyagi as herself
  7. Boney Kapoor as himself
  8. Nawazuddin Siddiqui as himself (voice, cameo)

+ Plot

While attending the MAMI event, Bollywood icon Anil Kapoor and renegade director Anurag Kashyap get into a major public feud with one another as to who the bigger “star” of Bollywood is. This leads to Kashyap writing and directing his best film yet; kidnapping Anil Kapoor’s real life daughter (Sonam Kapoor) and forcing him to search for her within 10 hours time (till sunrise) while being filmed throughout this ordeal. No breaks, no cuts, no reshoots. Everything goes!

+ High Points

i – Its safe to say that the filmmakers had a lot of fun making the film and it shows! Every scene/ performance was taken up to 11. Nothing was off limits. All real life actors made fun of themselves and their dwindling careers. Is Anil Kapoor just a relic of the past? Is Kashyap just a talentless hack who only knows how to write obscene dialogue? 

ii – Unsurprisingly, the snappy dialogue of the film is written by none other than Kashyap himself and its always fun to witness how he blends spoken dialogue with a sprinkle of ‘Bollywood masala’ mixed into it.

iii – The film (very successfully) takes shots at Bollywood and how deeply rooted it is to the lives of every person growing up in the slums of India. The Bollywood stars are not mere actors but dancing gods who cannot be separated from their onscreen personas.

iv – The dark humor is hilarious. There were numerous times I chuckled at the absurdity of the scene or just burst out laughing. The collaboration of Kashyap and Motwane always bring out the best in both of them.

v – The performances are great all across the board. Surprisingly, even as a non-professional actor, Kashyap kept up with Anil Kapoor pretty well throughout the film!

vi – The ‘Lakhan’ scene. ‘Nuff said!

vii – The city of Mumbai is as vibrant as ever and is undoubtedly a character on its own.

+ Low Points

i – Although the film was engaging for the most part, the last act of the movie felt a bit like a deadend with its creativity and the filmmakers really had to take a very “uninspiring” way to end the story. Predictable and lackluster end to what was a very fun ride.

ii – Such an ‘off the wall’ script could’ve been accompanied by experimental editing but unfortunately, that was not the case. The footage was sped up numerous times throughout the film (to save time I suppose) but it just felt tacky and amateurish. 

iii – As you would expect from a Kashyap/ Motwane project, the film throws every idea they can concoct onto the wall to see what sticks. Some do, some don’t, namely the presentation of the film. Video game sprites and text don’t match up well to the dark, humorous tone that they were going for. It belongs more to Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010) rather than the gritty streets of Mumbai.

iv – The music is (for the most part) pretty forgettable. I thought Kashyap/ Motwane projects always had an excellent soundtrack to them (Dev.D (2009), Raman Raghav 2.0 (2016), Sacred Games (2018-19)). What happened?

+ Overall

AK vs AK is definitely a fun ride but the somewhat predictable/ disappointing ending will leave you a bit deflated at the end. But the duo of Anil Kapoor and Anurag Kashyap play off each other hilariously and for that alone, its definitely worth a watch!

Rate: 3.75 out of 5 stars

Feature Length Films

Mr. Khan’s Review on Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

A review on Hollywood feature length film, ‘Wonder Woman 1984‘ (or WW84) (2020). The Film’s distributor is Warner Bros. Pictures and is part of the continuing DC Extended Universe.

+ Crew I

  • Directed by Patty Jenkins
  • Cinematography by Matthew Jensen
  • Written by Patty Jenkins, Geoff Johns, Dave Callaham
  • Produced by Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder, Zack Snyder, Patty Jenkins, Gal Gadot, Stephen Jones

+ Crew II (Production Houses)

  • DC Films
  • The Stone Quarry
  • Atlas Entertainment

+ Note

Wonder Woman 1984 is the direct sequel to the film Wonder Woman (2017) and stars once again Gal Gadot as arguably the most famous female superhero, Wonder Woman. After the success of the first film (critically and commercially), Patty Jenkins obtained the faith of Warner Bros. executives to this time, write and direct the movie herself and in-turn, pursuing a larger and more creatively driven story with less studio driven constraints. Will Patty Jenkins be able to pull off yet another ‘Wonder’ in the long list of Superhero movies?

+ Main Cast

  1. Gal Gadot as Diana Prince / Wonder Woman
  2. Chris Pine as Steve Trevor
  3. Kristen Wiig as Barbara Minerva / Cheetah
  4. Pedro Pascal as Maxwell Lord
  5. Robin Wright as Antiope
  6. Connie Nielsen as Hippolyta

+ Plot

Its the Eighties! Wonder Woman/ Diana has continued to save the world since her last major encounter but her heart still wishes for her love Steve Trevor to return. Enter Maxwell Lord; a low life businessman/ con artist who dreams of striking big in the Oil business with not much luck. He then discovers that the archaeologist at the Smithsonian Barbara Minerva (villainess Cheetah) has the possession of a “Wish Stone”; An ancient stone which can grant any wish you can desire, with consequential results. 

It is now up to Wonder Woman to stop this destructive chain reaction of “wishful events” and rid the world of Evil once again.

+ High Points

i – If you were a fan of the original Superman movies from the Richard Donner/ Richard Lester era, the vibe in some parts of the film (especially the Shopping Mall fight scene) perfectly encapsulates it, giving it a comedic yet charming look to it. 

ii – The cinematography works well for the most part. The pictures are mostly vibrant, colorful and very reminiscent of the Golden age of Wonder Woman comics.

iii – Kristen Wiig as Barbara Minerva / Cheetah is entertaining and holds up quite well throughout the film’s runtime. She knows when to play it straight and when to ‘ham’ her performance up a bit.

iv – The depiction of the 80s is very prominent but never overbearing. The overpaded shoulders, the crazy hairdos, the aerobics outfits. I’m a sucker for anything 80s so I quite enjoyed it.

v – The film remains faithful to the Wonder Woman principles of truth and justice. Its nice to see the film not be tainted by the dark/ brooding or the overtly comedic/ quip machine superhero movies of the modern era.

+ Low Points

i – This film is tedious with its “message”. It hits you on the head with it so many times that as an audience member, it literally insults your intelligence.

ii – The opening scene on the Amazon Island is long and uninteresting. If the first scene of the film fails to capture your attention, then that’s always not a good sign for the rest of the film. The Wonder Woman character was already established in the last film, why not start with the 80s Shopping Mall scene? So many baffling decisions…

iii – This time around, Patty Jenkins decided to co-write the script and it unfortunately shows. She has written some good films in the past (for e.g. Monster (2004)) but this is definitely not one of them. The pacing is all over the place, the dialogue is hokey (even for a silly superhero movie!) and worst of all, there are too many “filler” sequences which add nothing to the overall narrative.

iv – Remember when I said that WW84 is reminiscent of the 80’s Superman films? Apparently this also applies to its special effects! The CGI is embarrassingly atrocious and pulls you out of the movie every time Wonder Woman flies through badly greenscreened clouds or the murky, dark final battle between WW and Cheetah (the fight obviously takes place at night to hide the horrible CGI effects). Terrible!

v – In the last film, Gal Gadot’s Israeli accent and not so great acting chops kind of brought a certain charm to the “fish out of water” story. Unfortunately one cannot say that now since she has been saving the world for decades now. Her lack of acting skills are too obvious at this point.

vi – Donald Trum— uh, I mean, Maxwell Lord as the main antagonist is lame. Couldn’t the filmmakers come up with something rather more original and interesting?

vii – So where does WW84 fit into the DCEU? Is it part of the Zack Snyder universe or the Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker universe? Or the Shazam/ Aquaman universe? At this stage, it is clear that Warner Bros. has no plan where they are going with all this.

+ Overall

This has unfortunately been quite a letdown. The film has potential to be good but playing it safe with its over simplistic plot and bad CGI really makes it into yet another below average DCEU movie. Here’s hoping that Robert Pattinson’s The Batman (2022) will save DCEU from mediocrity. 

Rate: 2 out of 5 stars

About

A letter to our readers

To Mr. Khan’s Reviews followers,

It is with great sadness that I write to inform you that the author of Mr. Khan’s Reviews and my brother, Zeeshan Ahmed Khan, untimely passed away. Although he is no longer with us, I can tell with utmost certainty that my brother was very passionate about films and theater as he always used to endlessly discuss his upcoming reviews with me. Penning down reviews was his labor of love and he appreciated every single person who read and wrote comments on his work. 

We both grew up watching films and TV shows, it was what always brought us together. As we grew older, we wrote film reviews on different platforms like Dawn.com, Express Tribune and finally, we both ended up with our own separate review platforms; me at ‘Bucket List Reviews’ on youtube (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwSdyPZ_htZng0Ec-2cmlgg)

while my brother on his own website: https://mrkhansreviews.com/

Considering the circumstances, what should the future be for Mr. Khan’s Reviews

As far as I knew my brother, he undoubtedly would like his website and reviews to continue. He would never leave his readers disappointed at these unfortunate turn of events. Therefore I would like to honor this task of further pursuing my brother Zeeshan Ahmed Khan’s legacy by continuing to write and publish reviews on his behalf, on the website as well as on Mr. Khan’s Reviews facebook page.

But there needs to be some form of assessment. First of all, I have been residing in Europe for many years now so access to Pakistani TV shows and Theater might not be so easily possible. Apart from that, my interests and taste in movies/TV shows might differ from what you readers might be used to with my brother’s reviews. I cannot and should not try to emulate how my brother used to write or decided on his upcoming reviews because no one can replace him. Instead I will try now to do what I can do best and diversify the selection of movies, reviewing TV shows/ Films from many different genres and nationalities, ranging from Pakistani, Indian, Bollywood, Hollywood, Foreign cinema etc. As a passionate cinephile myself, I have a long list of reviews that I would like to write for the website for many years to come.

But this is where all the Mr.Khan’s Reviews followers could help me. What Pakistani/ Indian TV shows/ films or theater plays would you like to be reviewed? Please send your suggestions at:

https://mrkhansreviews.com/contact/

OR 

bucketlistfilmreviews@gmail.com

Please, share the website https://mrkhansreviews.com/ or facebook page https://www.facebook.com/zshaan.khan31 with your friends and family. A ‘Like’ would be very much appreciated in keeping the memory of my brother alive. This website was one of his passions in Life and will keep all of us going strong into the future. 

I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being a loyal reader and for supporting my brother’s work. Please stay tuned for more reviews coming up in the future!

With all love and respect to our readers,

Jibran Khan

Theatre Plays

Mr. Khan’s Review on Soch (2018)

A review on Pakistani Drama-Movement theatre play, Soch (2018). It was performed at NAPA International Theatre Festival 2018.

+ Crew

  • Written & Directed by Bazelah Mustafa
  • Lighting by Aisha Bukhtiyar
  • Music by Masood ur Rehman
  • Produced by Bee M Productions

+ Note

Soch is an exploration of acknowledging the agony but welcoming contentment. Traumas do not spare anyone but when examination over the sufferings in life becomes continuous, one usually ignores the happiness around. It is a collection of distressing life experiences and the aspiration of euphoria.

+ Performers

  1. Bazelah Mustafa
  2. Shahrukh Arif
  3. Sheraz Jhakrani
  4. Umer Arshad
  5. Hunain Kamaal
  6. Asfand Yar
  7. Ahad Tauqeer
  8. Danish Irshad
  9. Waqar Nadeem
  10. Wasay Qureshi
  11. Rehan Nazim
  12. Gaizan Abbas
  13. Saqib Ali
  14. Raam Govind
  15. Kiran Siddiqui
  16. Raheel Siddiqui
  17. Asma Noor

 

+ Plot
It’s the expression of broken souls and sore bodies. Don’t murder your dreams but make them come true.

+ High Points
i – Great direction by multi-talented star, Bazelah Mustafa. In this play too, she had not only directed but written, choreographed and performed as well. She is no doubt, a valuable star for our theatre world.

ii – Splendidly written screenplay by Bazelah; making the scenes very interesting. Since this is a movement play, so your interest level could now be focused only on the screenplay and performances.

iii – The performance given by Bazelah Mustafa was not only the best out of the lot but it clearly showed that her body language was the most flexible and suitable for such movement plays. Bazelah’s bold performance on several occasions throughout the play has made the audience eager to see more of her performances in her upcoming projects.

iv – Gaizan Abbas bought pleasant humor in his effective performance as one of the drug addicts. Other Honorable Mentions: Hunain Kamaal, Waqar Nadeem and Asma Noor.

v – The humor level supersedes when it comes to a serious play like Soch. And it suits well with the characters that portrayed them.

vi – Good dance choreography during its musical sequences.

vii – Excellent use of the body movement and the use of its creativity such as family tree, playground scene, clock and many more.

viii – The lighting was efficiently controlled and executed.

+ Low Points
i – Most of the daring and more interesting roles were performed by Bazelah Mustafa. It would be recommended if next time it is more properly distributed, give other performers the chance to prove themselves worthy so that they could highlight themselves as well.

ii – The play would have been unforgettable for the times to come if there were stronger performers in this 17 performers’ play.

+ Overall
Soch is a daring, sensational and graceful hit play which has been produced in a long time.

Rate: 4.25 out of 5 stars

Theatre Plays

Mr. Khan’s Review on Do Tone (2018)

A review on a foreign Dance-Movement theatre play, Do Tone (2018). It was performed in NAPA International Theatre Festival 2018.

+ Performers & Musicians

  1. Katrin Schafitel
  2. Gergely Lukacs
  3. Sascha Luer
  4. Simon Otto
  5. Sunil Shanker
  6. Fawad Khan
  7. Kulsoom Aftab
  8. Umair Rafiq
  9. Raheel Siddiqui

+ Note

Do Tone is a Dance + Music + Audience play (literally without a plot). It is an art form that reacts spontaneously to the current circumstances in able to work with them. A trio of the most prominent artists from Germany, Switzerland and Pakistan have worked in this project.

+ High Points
i – Aside the German performers, we have great stars like Sunil Shankar, Fawad Khan, Kulsoom Aftab in the performers’ lineup for us theatre lovers to come and watch the play.

ii – The music is nicely played by the German musicians. It kept the mood going.

iii – The lighting is effectively handled.

iv – Kartin Schafitel was able to bring smiles to the audience faces in the end.

+ Low Points
i – Is this is a joke? I mean, really? It seems that NAPA management is playing with the people, such as pulling our legs to see who falls for these kinds of dull plays? Just to check out the audience tolerance level.

Afterwards, they are going to say, “See, we are just kidding. we do have very good quality plays like the one we performed in last year’s festival. do ignore these, as we were just testing you only”.

ii – A play without any directions or knowing where its headed to?

iii – Waste of talented stars in this dance play.

+ Overall
Do Tone is easily a forgettable play, where there’s only little to admire here.

Rate: 1.0 out of 5 stars

Feature Length Films

Mr. Khan’s Review on Lahore Se Aagey (2016)

A review on Pakistani Comedy feature film, Lahore Se Aagey (2016). The Production House is Showcase Productions while its Distributor is ARY Films.

 

 

 

 

+ Crew

  • Directed by Wajahat Rauf
  • Cinematography by Asrad Khan
  • Written by Yasir Hussain
  • Produced by Wajahat Rauf, Salman Iqbal & Asfand Farouk

 

 

 

 

 

+ Note

Lahore Se Aagey is a sequel of Karachi Se Lahore (2015). The character of “Moti” became so popular in it that he is bought back in as the lead role for this film. There are several minor roles appearances of different stars including of Hasan Rizvi, Atiqa Odho, Erum Bashir, Komal Rizvi, and Ali Zafar.

 

 

+ Main Cast

  1. Yasir Hussain as Moti
  2. Saba Qamar as Tara Ahmed
  3. Mubashir Malik as Ali
  4. Rubina Ashraf as Farah
  5. Behroze Sabzwari as Mamu

+ Plot

It centers on Tara who is a rock star but her fiancée does not agree with her dream goals. In their temporary break up, she meets Moti who is being chased by two bandits. As they both try to save their lives, during their journey Farah and Moti fall for each other.

 

 

+ High Points

i – Both of the lead stars, Saba Qamar and Yasir Hussain performed very well on screen. It helped the film to gain interest for the audience as they watched their unusual yet good chemistry. Other Honorable Mentions: Behroze Sabzwari.

ii – The cinematography is good with the scenery shots are well taken with promoting the beauty of our great nation.

iii – The makeover & hair-styling and slim physique of Saba Qamar made her gorgeous to look at.

iv – The screenplay, its humor throughout the film is funny and enjoyable.

v – The minor role of Ali Zafar is a good induction in the film.

 

 

+ Low Points

i – There is no proper structure of storytelling. There are scenes which are totally irrelevant and unrelated with the film’s plot.

ii – In Act III, the character of Behroze Sabzwari and Rubina Ashraf becomes so rubbish and idiotic just like its weak script.

iii – The script is so badly written that the construction of its story telling is just a forgettable one.

iv – Most of the things happening in the film are highly illogical and impractical. I don’t want to give away its spoilers but the questions would arise as why is this happening? or what’s the point of showing this’? really, i am telling you just… don’t ask!

v – Karachi Se Lahore (2015) showed too many product placements which was very annoying to watch. Similarly, in Lahore Se Aagey repeats the same mistake twice.

vi – Good mimicry does make one smile or even laugh however this technique is highly over used by weak writers to fill in a supporting comic character. The Big B mimicry was good in this film but this is not a creative way to bring humor in your work. Don’t pick the easy way out. Instead, work on your writing skills.

+ Overall

Since, Lahore se Aagey, never takes itself too seriously and ends up being a good time pass.

 

 

Rate: 2.75 out of 5 stars

 

TV series

Mr. Khan’s Review on Taleem-e-Balighan (1956/66 and 1973)

A review on Pakistani Classic Comedy Drama TV series, Taleem-e-Balighan aka Education for Adults (1956/66 and 1973). In 1966, it’s Production House and its Distributor is PTV Network (Lahore Studio) and PTV Network (Karachi Studio) in 1973.

 

 

 

 

+ Crew

  • Directed by Agha Nasir
  • Written by Khawaja Moinuddin
  • Lighting by M. Sabir and Javid Iqbal
  • Makeup by Afzal Ahmed & Zahid Sheikh
  • Production Design by Badar-Ul-Islam Syed

 

 

 

 

 

+ Note

Taleem-e-Balighan aired on PTV Network in 1966. In total, it consists of 02 episodes. This limited TV series was originally written for the Radio Pakistan in 1956 before the introduction of TV broadcasts in Pakistan in November 1964. This classic TV series is a social satire theatre play shot for TV as a mini-series.

It is based on Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s or Quaid-e-Azam’s three principles of ‘unity, faith and discipline’, which became an inspiring and effective slogan for the Muslim masses during the Pakistan Movement days around 1947.

Taleem-e-Balighan’s remake was directed & produced in 1973*. The late actor, Qazi Wajid is the only returning star who plays the role of the Maulvi Sahab in it. It was telecasted as one-episode TV serial.

This two-episode mini-series is considered a classic by some of the critics. 

 

 

*The given year is not confirmed.

 

  

 

+ Main Cast

  1. Mahmood Ali as Maulvi Sahib
  2. Qazi Wajid as Hajab (Barber)
  3. Subhani Ba Yunus as Qasab (Butcher)

 

 

 

xxxxxxx

 

 

 

+ Supporting Cast

  1. Qasim Jalali as Dhobi (Student) #3
  2. Bakhtiar Ahmad as Victoria Wala (Student) #4
  3. Sheikh Mahmood as Malwari (Student) #5
  4. Sheikh Ali Ahmed as Doodh Wala (Student) #6
  5. Razia Sultana as Maulvi Sahib’s Wife (Voice)

 

 

 

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

 

 

 

+ Crew (Remake)

  • Directed & Produced by Tasneem Aslam
  • Written by Khawaja Moinuddin
  • Title Graphics by PTV Studio (KHI)
  • Makeup by Aijaz Khan, Shakir Ahmed & Imran Ahmed
  • Production Design by Munza Ejaz

 

xxxxxxx

 

 

+ Main Cast (Remake)

  1. Qazi Wajid as Maulvi Sahib
  2. Behroze Sabzwari as Hajab (Barber)
  3. Shahzad Raza as Qasab (Butcher)

 

 

 

xxxxxxx

 

 

+ Supporting Cast (Remake)

  1. Ayaz Khan as Shagird (Hot Tempered Student) #3
  2. Sajid Shah as Victoria Wala (Student) #4
  3. Ayum as Malwari (Student) #5
  4. Famid Ahmed Khan as Doodh Wala (Student) #6
  5. N/A as Maulvi Sahib’s Wife (Voice)

 

 

 

 

+ Plot

It focuses around a Madrassa (school) where adults are provided an education in a satirical and humorous environment.

 

 

 

 

+ High Points

i – The writing highlights Quaid-e-Azam’s three principles of ‘Faith, Unity and Discipline’. These three principles are shown through their respectable POV for the audience to understand of bringing the betterment of our educational system and social welfare from their current weak status to a successful rank of the country’s establishment. Its mild humor keeps the interest level of the audience at bay.  

ii – A careful direction of photography is required for which scenes to be shot up close or from a medium angle. This helped in understanding that certain scene’s crucial moment or defining the features of a character, being described as untidy. The original TV series work is much superior.

iii – Subhani Ba Yunus as Butcher, plays as one of the best roles of a grown-up student. The number of times he is hit by the broom of his headmaster, no student is. His character’s realistic performance of agonizing in pain, laying out his dagger on being threatened and singing scenes, will definitely glue the attention of the viewers to their screens till the very end of this classic TV mini-series.  

iv – Mahmood Ali as Maulvi Sahib, who is the teacher of these aged students. He plays as the most remarkable and the most memorable role of his career. Mahmood brings smiles on the viewers’ faces with his uncanny timing humor and utter nonsense examples on the unheard idioms that the Maulvi Sahib is unfamiliar of. Other Honorable Mentions: Qazi Wajid (as Barber).

v – The three lead stars for the original as well as the remake, attracts the viewers to watch this TV series in the first place.

vi – The songs are mesmerizing and good to listen to. 

 

 

 

 

+ Low Points

i – Honestly, I had my expectations really high from this limited TV series. I read the praises a lot and wanted to know its specialty by finally watching it.  

ii – The remake comes nowhere close to the original release’s success in almost every department, whether it is the cinematography or the performances.  

 

 

 

 

 

+ Overall
Khawaja Moinuddin’s Taleem-e-Balighan, is one of the important works that is ever written for the silver screen.

 

 

 

 

Rate: 2.75 out of 5 stars