Tele-Films

Mr. Khan’s Review on Neeli Dhoop (1994)

A review on Pakistani longplay Drama, Neeli Dhoop (1994). The PTV classic longplay is directed by Nariman and is written/ starring the veteran actress of Pakistani Industry, Bushra Ansari. The longplay also stars Sajid Hasan and Nighat Chodhri. This telefilm was aired on Pakistan Television in 1994.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Nariman
  • Written by Bushra Ansari
  • Edited by Fakhar-ul-Hasnain Zaidi
  • DOP by Salman Naji, Ibnul-Hashim and Mohammad Moiz Khan
  • Music Composed by Javed Allah Ditta
  • Produced by Meera

+ Note

Neeli Dhoop is the debut of Bushra Ansari as a writer for Pakistani Television. The longplay deals with such heavy themes like late marriage and the societal complications that come with it. Just by viewing the longplay, one could tell how personal the project of Neeli Dhoop was for the veteran actress. With the direction of the elder daughter of Bushra herself, Nariman brings the camera up close and personal, challenging the norms of a society and misperception regarding customs and religion. According to a DAWN newspaper interview of Dec 19 2010, Bushra Ansari came up with the script after she met a woman in a similar situation about 12 years ago before the release of the longplay. Upon release, Neeli Dhoop was relatively a critical and commercial success.

 + Main Cast

  1. Bushra Ansari as Nasira
  2. Sajid Hasan as Mansoor
  3. Nighat Chodhri as Rani
  4. Shahood Alvi as Shahood
  5. Arjumand Rahim as Naveeda
  6. Faryal Ali as Mano
  7. Mubassir Khan as Mrs. Barki
  8. Shahzad as Pervez
  9. Nilofar Khan as Shaila

+ Plot

Nasira (Bushra Ansari) is content with her life or at least she thinks she is. Although she became a widow some decades ago, she is happy to see their daughter start a family of her own. But with each passing day, the solitude of old age creeps upon her. After a marriage proposal from her cousin Mansoor (Sajid Hasan), Nasira reluctantly accepts it but ends up being mocked and ridiculed by the society and people around her. 

+ High Points

i – I don’t think anyone can start this review without addressing the controversial subject matter of Neeli Dhoop. Back in 1994, this was such a daring topic to engulf upon the Pakistani audience. Although the concept of late marriage is approved by Islam, it is still a controversial subject to bring upon the dinner tables of all Pakistani households. If a woman lost her husband at an early age and decided to not remarry right away, she is forever damned to remain lonely and unhappy for the rest of her life rather than finding happiness on her own later on in Life. High Art is a concept which is supposed to challenge the viewer’s perception on life and his/ her surroundings and Neeli Dhoop’s unapologetic wallop with the face of truth makes it such an engaging watch. Personally, I miss 90s Pakistani Television where they dared to be bold and different, where the only subject for each drama wasn’t a “love triangle” between three handsome co-stars. The content made you think, left a lingering thought long after the show was over. And Neeli Dhoop does exactly that.

ii – While also serving as the writer for the longplay, Bushra Ansari is enigmatic and fully in control of her performance as always. It is admirable how easily she could mold her acting skills with each passing scene, creating a concucment of happiness and despair. Perhaps an obvious statement but a longplay like this would’ve never worked if not for Bushra Ansari’s meticulously calculated performance.

iii – But all is not gloomy and dark, Sajid Hasan brings a much needed levity and comedic relief to the longplay. Whenever onscreen, Sajjid is fun to watch but most importantly, the quips and jokes never overstay their welcome. They are pretty much timed according to where the script could serve best. Watching two veterans of Pakistani television; Bushra and Sajjid on screen together is always a delight for the viewers.

iv – It is hard to imagine that this was Bushra Ansari’s first ever debut script for Pakistani television. The scenes blend well with each other, creating a perfect narrative flow throughout its 90 min runtime. But most importantly, it is the dialogues that are incredibly down to earth, giving the viewer a sense of “familiarity” and a certain attachment to its characters. They transcend beyond “written literature” and are casual enough for the audience to undoubtedly relate to the characters they are witnessing onscreen. Some of the off-hand jokes and observations of Sajjid Khan genuinely made me chuckle. 

v– The interactions between characters feel real. They never come off staged or exaggerated to enhance the audience’s perception of the emotions that the longplay is conveying. It never insults your intelligence nor does it look down upon you. Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of Neeli Dhoop is that it encourages you to elevate yourself and look at the longplay straight in its eyes and choose to either admire it or hate it.

vi– While giving away no spoilers, the ending pulls no punches. The longplay ends exactly how it was meant to be; bold and uncompromising. With all honestly, I really admire Bushra Ansari to take the high route and not succumb to false, unrealistic resolutions.

 + Low Points

i – Since Neeli Dhoop is a 90s production, it does have the obvious 90s production tropes. The camerawork is insipid, mainly working with mid close to close ups of actors, music is forgettable, sound design is non-existent. Neeli Dhoop solely works as a longplay solely due to its tight script and performances. 

ii – While I did praise the conclusion for its boldness, it does admittedly feel a bit abrupt with many threads left tangled. But I suppose that’s how real life is. A minor complaint but perhaps a better resolution was needed between characters that we grew to love and care about. I wasn’t expecting them to ride together into the sunset but I suppose some vital questions were deliberately left unanswered, mainly the daughter and mother relationship at the end.

+ Overall

“They don’t make them like they used to!”. Nope they sure don’t. With so much monotony and insipid TV shows of today, Neeli Dhoop blows all of them out of the water with its bold and courageous storyline and characters. It is a hidden gem that every Pakistani drama lover should watch.

Rate: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Tele-Films

Mr. Khan’s Review on Do Bata Aath (2021)

A review on Pakistani telefilm Comedy, Do Bata Aath (2021). The TV film is directed by Kamran Akbar Khan and is written by Rizwan Hassan. The telefilm stars the comedian Ahmad Ali Butt and Maria Wasti as leads with Ahmed Hassan and Zhalay Sarhadi serving as supporting cast. As the name suggests, the telefilm also includes eight child actors. Do Bata Aath is a Momina Duraid/ HUM TV Production and was aired on the 3rd Day of Eid-ul-Fitr 2021 Special.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Kamran Akbar Khan
  • Written by Rizwan Hassan
  • Cinematography by Abdul Qadoos
  • Editing by Sheeraz Fayaaz
  • Produced by Momina Duraid
  • Production House: MD Production

+ Note

Do Bata Aath serves essentially as a 75 min situational comedy, where the comedic antics are always connected to the vast number of children that the married couple has. The premise can be attributed to a Hollywood comedy classic of the 2000s Cheaper By The Dozen (2003) starring Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt. The telefilm also creates hilarious situations out of handling day to day life in the Faraz Family. Do Bata Aath is presented as the “lighter side of Life” and was a special broadcast on the 3rd day Eid-ul-Fitr 2021.

 + Main Cast

  1. Ahmad Ali Butt as Faraz
  2. Maria Wasti as Aleena
  3. Ahmed Hassan as Faraz’s Boss
  4. Zhalay Sarhadi as Biloo

+ Plot

There’s always fun and trouble brewing in the Faraz Family. While handling eight kids simultaneously with his wife, Faraz (Ahmad Ali Butt) struggles to make ends meet… or even remember the names of his kids or who came before or after. After not being appreciated enough for her efforts, Aleena (Maria Wasti) decides to take an indefinite hiatus off her motherly duties and let Faraz take her place in taking care of the kids instead. Hijinks ensue and now Faraz needs to find a balance between family life and maintaining his sanity in the process.

+ High Points

i – Maria Wasti was probably picture perfect casting as the grizzly, overworked mom of eight children. She not only looked the part but her performance matched well to her character. Probably the least offender from the whole bunch of terrible performances.

 + Low Points

i – Do Bata Aath had ONE joke throughout its entire runtime; “Hey, isn’t it funny that the family consists of EIGHT children?”. And five minutes into the telefilm, this joke got old real fast. For a comedy, there was absolutely nothing funny about this. All the jokes and setups were lazy and uninspired. The writer Rizwan Hassan probably wrote the script in an hour’s time as I refuse to believe any effort was put into this project. It’s nonsensical and unfunny throughout its runtime. You can find more comedy in the evening news than this pile of garbage.

ii – The performances are just way too ridiculous and over the top. Since the dialogue is so abhorrent, the actors are directed to over exaggerate their acting to compensate but ends up making it much worse. I don’t understand what people see in Ahmad Ali Butt but he’s not a good comedian by any stretch of my imagination. When it comes to comedy, Pakistani TV shows/ telefilms just fail miserably at it. Subtlety is not even in the cards, every performance needs to be like they are on an Umer Shareef Theater show. While Theater thrives on exaggerated performances, Television/ Film needs subtlety because the camera is much closer and personal to the actors. Why is this such a difficult idea to comprehend for Pakistani Television Production?

iii – Also the whole family dynamic makes no sense. Unlike Cheaper By The Dozen, all the children are more or less the same age. How is that even possible? Did they adopt kids in between? Were they born in pairs? What possessed them to have so many children if they clearly can’t afford all of them? It also seems obvious that there is no real ‘fatherly love’ to the kids as Faraz half the time doesn’t even remember their names or birthdays. Some context or backstory was needed for this comedy to work but the audience is given no explanation. The idea was there but absolutely nothing was built upon it. The whole telefilm relies on cheap comedy antics from its co-stars.

iv – Of all the performances, Ahmed Hassan as Faraz’s disgruntled boss was the worst. I felt literally embarrassed whenever he was onscreen. I hope he made some good money from this telefilm because this is one performance he can never live down.

v – NOISE. That’s what this telefilm is. And I don’t mean just the kids shouting all the time (although that would’ve been fitting to the premise). NOISE equals Background music here. By having constant Music running in the background of every single scene without a second’s rest, the telefilm made it perfectly clear that they had absolutely no faith in their writing and performances to maintain their audience’s attention span. It’s the “shaking of the keys in front of a cat” syndrome, HUM TV knows its garbage television and they have to try everything to keep viewers from changing channels.

vi – Speaking of Production, the camerawork and editing is just awful and unpleasant to look at. Most scenes just begin with a closeup on the actors without giving any indication to the audience where exactly the scene is supposed to be taking place in.

+ Overall

Do Bata Aath is just another uninspired mess of a telefilm which is neither funny nor creative. Its 75 minutes of my life that I will never get back.  

Rate: 0.75 out of 5 stars

Tele-Films

Mr. Khan’s Review on Teri Meri Kahani (2021)

A review on Pakistani telefilm Drama, Teri Meri Kahani (2021). The TV film is directed by Aehsun Talish and is written by Saima Akram Chaudhry. The telefilm stars Haroon Kadwani and Sehar Khan as leads while veterans such as Javed Sheikh, Bushra Ansari and Usman Peerzada serve as supporting cast. Teri Meri Kahani is a Geo TV exclusive and a 7th Sky Entertainment.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Aehsun Talish
  • Written by Saima Akram Chaudhry
  • Produced by Abdullah Kadwani & Asad Qureshi
  • Production House: 7th Sky Entertainment

+ Note

Teri Meri Kahani is a light hearted portrayal of young love. It is the modern Romeo and Juliet induced romantic comedy. With this telefilm, Geo TV gave two relatively newcomers, Haroon Kadwani and Sehar Khan to play the leading roles along with veteran actors as supporting cast. This project was handed to Aehsun Talish since he already has experience directing comedy such as the TV series Suno Chanda (2018) and also has received a nomination for the Lux Style Award for Best Director.

 + Main Cast

  1. Haroon Kadwani as Arman
  2. Sehar Khan as Zara
  3. Javed Sheikh as Zara’s father
  4. Bushra Ansari as Arman’s mother
  5. Usman Peerzada as Arman’s father

+ Plot

Teri Meri Kahani plays the oldest of love tales; Arman is the son of a wealthy businessman who takes life easy and finds his passion in sports & luxury cars. Zara, on the other hand, wants to succeed in Life and make her only surviving parent proud of her accomplishments. The two play pranks at one another which eventually leads to a comedic, romantic predicament. 

+ High Points

i – The only way I could see Teri Meri Kahani being “worth a watch” if you have it in the background and you’re busy during house chores on a lazy weekend. And this is the biggest praise I could give this hot garbage.

ii – The telefilm can be unintentionally hilarious at times during its dramatic moments. While the whole film is not consistent in this tone, parts of it can fall into the “it’s so bad, its enjoyable” category.

 + Low Points

i – Teri Meri Kahani is honestly the worst telefilm/ drama I’ve reviewed on this website. It’s bad in every conceivable way; the direction is horrid, the script looks like it was written by a computer bot on the pretenses of every cliché of a romantic comedy imaginable and the actors are obviously there just to collect their paychecks. There is absolutely nothing praiseworthy about this telefilm. Its badly acted, predictable nonsense that gives television a bad reputation.

ii – The “comedy” is pathetic. The only way that this telefilm made me chuckle was how terrible and desperate it really is. To top it off, none of the veteran actors could save this abomination. 

iii – SPOILER ALERT!!! If you would like to avoid it (I’m not sure why you would even bother), skip to the next point):

(This is how probably a conservation with the creative team go regarding the plot and conclusion of this telefilm):

xxxx

Audience: Why did the protagonists fall in love with each other? They have absolutely nothing in common. Did just playing abhorrent pranks on each other somehow equals love?

Geo TV: Um…why not?

Audience: Wait, why is there a conflict all of a sudden? Why didn’t Zara’s father just ask Zara what she really thinks of Arman before having an anger fit in front of his most trusted friend? 

Geo TV: Does it matter? Oh look, Javed Sheikh is in the hospital now.

Audience: Huh? He faked his own heart attack?? And Arman’s dad was also into this? How does this all make sense? Why was this necessary?

Geo TV: Oh look, the telefilm ended. Thanks for dropping by.

xxxx

In short, conflicts are forced, resolutions are swift just as the telefilm is about to end, nothing makes sense in this world…

iv – There is absolutely no perception of the director Aehsun Talish leading his actors through each scene. It seems like the crew had probably incredibly limited days of shoot and each scene has the exact same flow, regardless of how lighthearted or essential that scene is to the narrative. It’s obviously terrible writing but even worse how minimal effort you find from the director and crew themselves.

v – If you ever want to see money being burnt on screen well, there you have it folks! It is fascinating that with all the budget, luxury mansions, lavish gardens you see on your TV screens, the telefilm still somehow looks incredibly cheap. Perhaps it lacks the talent or artistry that you need to make good Set designs or even just a sense of what visually looks good on screen and what looks tacky. And no money on earth can buy you that kind of talent.

vi – Bushra Ansari’s character is apparently an addict to Pakistani dramas but not any other dramas… no, no….only Geo TV dramas of course! Did that play any role or quirk to her character? Nope. Just a cheap, pathetic way for Geo TV to promote their content onto the viewers.

vii – I can’t fault the young talent for being part of this telefilm as they have a massive opportunity to be the leads of a telefilm but the veterans? Don’t they have any sense of moral integrity? I was embarrassed just to see them being actively part of this monstrosity. How they didn’t feel uncomfortable to be part of this project is beyond me.

viii – The sound editing/ mixing is one of the worst offenders of this telefilm. Each emotion has to be spoon fed to the audience because the creatives behind this project have zero confidence in their skills to convey emotions on screen with skilful dialogue and meaningful performances.

+ Overall

Teri Meri Kahani is devoid of any sort of originality. Its writing is terrible, acting is insanely exaggerated, it’s arguably one of the worst Pakistani telefilms I’ve ever seen. Avoid it like the plague.

Rate: 0.5 out of 5 stars

Tele-Films

Mr. Khan’s Review on Zikr Hai Kai Saal Ka! (1995)

A review on Pakistani longplay Drama, Zikr Hai Kai Saal Ka! (1995). The PTV classic longplay is directed by the veteran Sahira Kazmi and is written by Dr. Anwar Sajjad. The longplay stars Rahat Kazmi and Atiqa Odho. This telefilm was aired on Pakistan Television in 1995.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Sahira Kazmi
  • Written by Dr. Anwar Sajjad
  • Edited by Salman Zaidi
  • DOP by Tanvir Malik
  • Theme Song Lyrics by Momin Khan Momin
  • Music Composed by Arshad Mehmood
  • Produced by Sahira Kazmi

+ Note

Zikr Hai Kai Saal Ka! is an in-depth look into such vital themes as marriage and relationship which are the cornerstone of Pakistani culture. Is it better to be married and unhappy or long for the one who you are truly content with? How does staying in a despondent marriage affect your children? Is it better off to be separated but happy instead? The longplay is an exploration of regret and remorse of past decisions and if we are forever damned to perish through them for the rest of our lives. Even back in 1995, this was a very controversial topic to discuss on National Television but Rahat and Sahira Kazmi both felt it was an essential social theme to explore in post Zia ul Haq’s Pakistani society.

 + Main Cast

  1. Rahat Kazmi as Sikandar
  2. Atiqa Odho as Neelofer
  3. Ali Kazimi as Suhail
  4. Arshad Mehmood as Amin
  5. Amber Rizvi as Fouzia
  6. Naveen Anwar as Nida

+ Plot

Sikandar (Rahat Kazmi) and Fouzia (Amber Rizvi) are confined in an unhappy marriage. After years of being together, bearing two kids, the couple has grown apart from one another and Sikandar contemplates if marrying Fouzia was the biggest mistake he made in his life. Upon travelling on a business trip to Karachi, Sikandar ends up meeting his previous love, Neelofer (Atiqa Odho). After a brief interaction with one another, they both realize that they still have feelings for one another. But with Sikandar now with his wife and family, is it wise for him to relive his past love or continue in remorse for the rest of his life?

+ High Points

i – Zikr Hai Kai Saal Ka! is considered a classic amongst the 90s Pakistani dramas and longplays. It touches upon such intricate yet human themes like marriage and happiness. Dr. Anwar Sajjad’s brilliant writing gives us a keen understanding behind the so-called formula of a perfect, content life. Is it necessary for us to be married at a certain stage in life, regardless if you are unsure of your decision? Are we even allowed to regret our past decisions and seek true happiness? It’s an excellent piece of storytelling, themes that are still essential to our society. Zikr Hai Kai Saal Ka! is a harsh look into our pakistani society and as decades have gone by, the longplay has aged like fine wine.

ii – Of course, the thematic elements in the longplay would’ve never been successfully conveyed to the audience if not for outstanding performances by Rahat Kazmi and Atiqa Odho. Whenever they are both onscreen, it is obvious that they have shared a past together, the endearment that they still have for one another is now unfortunately a relic of sorts. But can they reclaim it? Can they relive their past? Not taking anything away from Dr. Anwar Sajjad’s writing but just from instinct, I could tell that the delivery of some dialogues had been slightly improvised to give it a more “humane” touch to it. And that usually happens when the actors are in complete control of their characters in front of the camera. The performances from both leads show how deep they dived into their respective characters and made them sympathetic and relatable onscreen. I have to admit, this is arguably one of the best Rahat Kazmi’s performances I have ever witnessed. 

iii – Apart from the leads, even the supporting cast brings a lot of vibrance into the scenes. Amber Rizvi as the disgruntled mother and both the child actors (Ali Kazimi and Naveen Anwar) bring intriguing introspective into the life of the Sikandar family. A look into how unhappy marriages affect the children who are always the main casualties in such scenarios. 

Ali Kazimi (the real life son of Rahat Kazmi) plays off naturally to his father’s lead, bringing such a unique father and son dynamic that could potentially only occur if they also share a bond offscreen as well. Suhail looks up to his father but at the same time feels disoriented when he witnesses his father’s unsurety towards life. Perhaps he wonders: “will I also suffer the fate of uncertainty towards life?”. Of course, now Ali Kazimi is a well established Television actor but it’s fascinating to see such humble beginnings.

iv – Zikr Hai Kai Saal Ka! Is essentially driven by its set pieces. The narrative seamlessly flows from the dysfunctional family life to a life of endless possibilities. A chance for Sikandar to relive his past, rekindle his love with Neelofer. Fate has given an opportunity to perhaps correct his past mistake and have another shot at happiness once again. But is it all an illusion at the end? A lot of credit goes to Sahira Kazmi’s seamless direction which leads the viewer throughout Sikandar’s character arc and perhaps a definitive realization at the end.

v– The scene at the Karachi beach, the emotional confrontation between Sikandar and Neelofer is undoubtedly the highlight of the longplay. That scene alone defines why this longplay is fondly remembered as a classic of Pakistani television.

vi– The theme song/ Ghazal “Zikr Hai Kai Saal Ka!” by Nayyara Noor is absolutely gorgeous to listen to. It fits just fine with themes like reminiscing over the past and longing for unattainable happiness.

vii– The longplay ends on a perfect note, leaving the audience with a lingering thought of what might have been the right outcome from all this. It gives the viewer no definite answers but leaves them to ponder long after the end credits have rolled. It’s a perfect end to a brilliant PTV classic.

 + Low Points

i – For all that’s great about this longplay, Zikr Hai Kai Saal Ka! (in terms of its production) does feel like a product of its time. The camerawork is uninspiring at best, sound editing is amateurish, the mention of “dish antenna” was already dated in four years time and there is an incredibly corny “reminisenting of past love” montage which is just as cheesy as you would expect from a 90s TV drama. Thankfully, it’s only a one and done scene.

ii – Even though Arshad Mehmood as Amin is entertaining, it’s a tad bit hard to believe that he was a “class fellow” of Sikandar and Neelofer when he clearly looks a lot more older than them. 

+ Overall

With exceptional writing, brilliant performances from the two leads and a perfect conclusion, Zikr Hai Kai Saal Ka! is and will always remain a classic and pinnacle of Pakistani television.

Rate: 4.25 out of 5 stars

Click here for a short interview with Naveen Anwar, the child actress from Zikr Hai Kai Saal Ka! :

Tele-Films

Mr. Khan’s Review on Behadd (2013)

A review on Pakistani telefilm Drama, Behadd (2013). The TV film is a directorial debut by Asim Raza and is written by the Urdu novelist Umera Ahmad. The film stars Nadia Jamil, Fawad Khan and the young Sajjal Ali. This telefilm is produced by Momina Duraid and is a HUM TV production.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Asim Raza
  • Written by Umera Ahmad
  • Edited by Kashif Ahmad and Wasim
  • DOP by Suleman Razzaq
  • Theme music by Fawad Khan
  • Music Composed by Hasil Qureshi
  • Produced by Momina Duraid

+ Note

The famous commercial TV director/ producer Asim Raza announced to the press beforehand that Behadd is going to be his directorial debut in the world of telefilms. As many of Umera Ahmad’s screenplays, Behadd serves also as a ‘slice of life’ tale and explores the relationship between a widowed mother and her young teenage daughter. The telefilm indulges in themes such as single parenthood and ‘selflessness’ verses ‘selfishness’. How important is one’s own happiness as compared to your child’s. 

The film was primarily shot in Karachi, Sindh and used real locations and settings of the city. After its release, Behadd received praise from critics and viewers alike and was the recipient of Hum Awards for Best Producer in 2014.

 + Main Cast

  1. Fawad Khan as Jamal “Jo” Ahmed
  2. Nadia Jamil as Masooma “Mo” Jamal
  3. Sajal Ali as Maha
  4. Nadia Afgan as Shafaq
  5. Nasheen Masud as Popi “Po” Masood
  6. Rahma Saleem as Fareena

 + Supporting Cast

  1. Adnan Siddiqui as Hassan (Masooma’s husband)
  2. Adnan Jaffar as Shafaq’s husband
  3. Shamoon Abbasi as Masooma’s boss
  4. Hira Tareen as Shaista (Jo’s proposal)

+ Plot

After the unfortunate death of her husband, Masooma (Nadia Jamil) is left to take care of their daughter Maha (Sajal Ali) all on her own. Along her journey to single parenthood, Masooma ends up meeting her old friend’s brother Jamal (Fawad Khan) and they both quickly realize that they have much more in common than they could ever hope for. 

+ High Points

i – Behadd’s ‘slice of Life’ plot is what makes most Pakistani Television so appealing to watch. With Umera Ahmad’s impeccable writing and Asim Raza’s meticulous direction, the telefilm works pretty much on every facet of successful storytelling. Even if you have never had a child or been a single parent, Behadd just feels so magnificently real and relatable. 

“If you indeed have to be selfless, how far can you take it?”

“What if your selflessness and wellbeing is being detrimental to those around? Should you then focus on your own happiness?” 

These are incredibly valid questions that we, in our line of duty of being a parent, tend to forget. 

ii – Brilliant performances all around but what stands tall above the rest is Nadia Jamil’s depiction as an overzealous single parent. Her reading of dialogue and body language conveys greatly her anguish and suffering behind the facade of being strong for her daughter.

iii – Some of the best scenes came not only from the climactic scenes of the telefilm but also the much quieter moments when Masooma is just casually interacting with her friends and colleagues in the office. The nonchalant manner of speech and dialogue is so crucial in inviting the audience to become part of the scene itself and Behadd’s writing and supporting cast exactly does that.

iv – And of course, the breakout performance by Sajal Ali as Maha was also a valiant effort in making this telefilm a success. Her performance was essential in order to captivate the audience into buying into this tale of mother/ daughter relationship. 

v– Behadd is a perfect example of why a show/ telefilm doesn’t need overbearing music and editing to force the audience into feeling sympathy with the characters. The writing and performances have to be good enough to invite their audience into that. Never did my attention falter or felt manipulated in any way. And that’s a sign of pure class from the creative team behind this telefilm.

vi– The song “Nindiya Re” by Kaavish is how seemlessly music and visuals can create the perfect rhythm. Perfect selection for Behadd’s OST.

vii– The conclusion of the story was also brilliantly handled and executed. Considering the circumstances of the storyline, this was probably the most logical conclusion that could have occured. Kudos to the entire team behind this telefilm!

 + Low Points

i – Honestly, whatever low points I have are mostly nitpicks but are still issues with the telefilm’s onset production. Namely, the overuse of Close Ups. Now close ups can be very impactful in visual language but only if they are used sparingly. Behadd unfortunately indulges in it a tad bit too much and it does lose its impact after a while. 

ii – And speaking of close ups, the cinematography is also nothing to admire at. Although it’s fairly competent by Suleman Razzaq, he did not use the visual language to its full potential and now just comes off sub par in contrast to the brilliant writing and performances of the telefilm.

iii – As much as I adore Behadd, it also suffers from the “rich people with rich people problems” syndrome. Now being wealthy does not equate to happiness, that’s fairly obvious but almost all Pakistani dramas/ telefilms shoot in lavious, massive houses so that they visually look pleasing to the eye and almost never a decision made based on the script. But have to give credit to Behadd as they did explain that they are living in the house as tenants. 

+ Overall

A well written script, brilliant performances, no overbearing use of music/ dramatic effects, Behadd is what every Pakistani telefilm should strive to be.  

Rate: 4.25 out of 5 stars

Tele-Films

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

Tele-Films

Mr. Khan’s Review on ‘Thanda Garam: Eik Saath’ (2016)

A review on a Pakistani Comic thesis film, ‘Thanda Garam: Eik Saath’ (2016). The Production Company is SZABIST (students film production) while its Distributor is Rivayat Pictures.

 

+ Crew
I. Editing, Written, Directed & Produced by Mirza Shuja Uddin Beg
II. Cinematography by Affan Ahmed Khan
III. Sound Mixing and Makeup & Hair Styling by Altamash Ali Banani
IV. Co-Sound Mixing & Co-Edited by Rahim Aziz Sajwani

 

+ Note
Thanda Garam is a hilarious farce film where wrong people at wrong time are present in one house. A similar type of technique is famously used in the classic comedy film ‘Boeing, Boeing’ (1965) of Tony Curtis & Jerry Lewis. This thesis adviser is Zeeshan Haider while its Assistant Director is Amna Tariq and the 1st Unit Director is Sumair.

 

+ Cast
1. Kaleem Ghouri as Khumaar
2. Saad Zameer Fareedi as Bhala Bhai
3. Shabana Hassan as Laila/Laiba
4. Jahan Zaib Naviwala as Hijir
5. Zeeshan Ahmed Khan as (Voice Cameo)

 

+ Plot
In a very difficult situation, Khumaar has able to convince his love interest Laila to meet him at his home all alone to spend some ‘Special’ time together. But due to sudden unfortunate events, his close friend Hijr forcefully enters his home as he needs an urgent quick shower to get ready and reach to a ceremony (Valima) where Hijr’s crush is also coming. While all this is going on, Khumaar’s neighbor Bhala Bhai also drops by and insists to watch his favorite drama series on Khumaar’s TV since his own TV is not working.

 

+ High Points
i. First & foremost the script which is written by the director. In many places he could had used open sexual reference-based jokes which he did not but rather used a more double / hidden meaning. Nowhere would I say that the jokes were vulgar or should not to be watched by mass audience.

ii. Saad Zameer Fareedi, {Wa Puthr! Tu To Cha Gaya} means this actor performed so brilliantly and intelligently that I would personally recommend him to any TV or Film Maker out there. This guy is the ‘Real Deal’, interesting to watch whenever his scenes were shown in the film. The director told me that he barely discussed with Saad what to do according to his character wants. He further added that the actor himself is so well trained and naturally talented that Saad knew exactly how to deliver the essential acting chops in able to gain audience attention towards him. Whenever Saad entered the frame as Bhala Bhai, the audience had huge smiles on their faces.

iii. It was a real challenge for the director that how he would be able to pull this off without raising his film ratings for targeted audience. At best I could say its a PG-13 film. Anyone who watches this film, would highly praise on its script analysis and in directorial POV that is how to keep the audience engaged throughout the film.

Mostly people, amateur film makers think or belief that its easy to make people laugh which in reality its not! Poor comedy films would usually use the help of random abusive remarks, stereo types, unrelated fight scenes, toilet or open sexual humor to make the film look like a good comedy film. In this film however, the sexual humor is carefully controlled by the director and not to present in open or explicit manner.

iv. Shabana Hassan really nails her character. She is a good experienced actress in theatre plays and films. Here the kind of love interest that she was told to perform, she did it with such enthusiasm that it was clearly shown on screen. The chemistry between Kaleem & her is comical and fun to watch.

 

+ Low Points
i. The art direction and the location (house) that the BTS team used to shoot worked against the main character’s status and personality.

ii. I do not agree with the director’s view on the film’s end, how he finishes it off. I believe it could have been better, brighter as almost the entire film was based on.

iii. The color correction in some scenes did not fit in properly. The transfer of the next scenes could have improved, sharper cuts.

iv. There were several movie mistakes in the film such as in one scene Bhala Bhai is standing next to the room’s door telling Khumar go and talk to Hijr in the lounge and in the very next scene, we see that Bhala Bhai is already sitting in the lounge where Khumar is talking with his friend Hijr.

 

+ Overall
Where many new film makers have failed to come up with genuine, creative jokes, it is Thanda Garam who has succeeded.

 

Rate: 4.0 out of 5.0 stars

Tele-Films

Mr. Khan’s Review on ‘Vicky’ (2016)

A review on Pakistani TV film, ‘Vicky’ (2016); Associate Produced by Zoobia Anwar and Onaissa Rizwani.

 
+ Crew
I. Directed & Executive Produced by Taha Bin Karim
II. Cinematography by Shajee Hasan
III. Written by Ali Abbas Naqvi & Ziad Azad
IV. Music by Zahid Qureshi
V. Edited by Saad Abbas
VI. Produced by Shahriyar Ali Soomro

 

+Note
There are several minor supporting roles while some of them played by Zeeshan Haider (thesis advisor), Sameena Nazir and Aamir Naqvi. Its Assistant Directors are Zoobia Anwar, Ali Raza Soomro & Mustafain Haider while it’s Production Designer is Ali Raza Soomro.

 

 
+ Main Cast

  1. Nazr Ul Hasan as Yaqoob Sergeant
  2. Muhammad Ahsan as Vicky
  3. Shabana Hasan as Bela
  4. Shajee Hasan as Anjum
  5. Anas Yasin as Saim

 

+ Plot
It is about Vicky, a hot-headed young lad who is troubled by his poor relationship with his brother and due to lack of resources. The only thing he has with him is Bela, who is the light of his dull life. However nothing remains the same as Bela chooses a ‘Comfortable’ life over him.

 

+ High Points
i – Nazar-ul-Hasan played the role of Yaqoob very well. It terrified the audience with his devilish stare, his evil behavior with his ‘Loved Ones’ and use of his illegal authority during the day time as traffic police officer. Other Honorable Mentions: Muhammad Ahsan, Shajee Hasan and Shabana Hasan.

ii – The story was appealing to watch.

iii – The characters of Yaqoob and Vicky were well written.

iv – The art direction and locations were well chosen.

v – The cinematography especially of the bold scenes was executed cleverly.

vi – The screenplay is adequately written.

vii – The direction is above average.

viii – The ending has a good twist.

 

 

+ Low Points
i – Except for one character, there is absolutely no character shift of anyone else in the film.

ii – The clichés could had been avoided regarding Vicky and Bela’s romantic sea view scenes and Bela’s mom not listening to her daughter. This is an overused technique and shots that been taken by usually young, inexperienced film makers.

iii – Anjum’s character seemed very interesting. Unfortunately, we didn’t see much of his character development.

iv – The suffering of the victim/s were rarely shown. Their continuous struggle would have made a great impact on the characters and viewers alike.

v – Yaqoob’s voice seemed unnatural to the character that Nazar-ul-Hasan played.

vi – It was shocking to see that how causally Vicky especially Bela took the fact that now since Vicky is here, she should apply some makeup or make tea before leaving the house of the RAPIST! WTH! Are you serious?

vii – Throughout the film, there were several shock treatments while many plot holes were left unanswered. Such as did the neighbors do something about of the Yaqoob’s activities? Were the Yaqoob’s activities happening inside his house were ever discovered? Did Bela’s parents ever found out of her condition in groom’s house? Did Vicky ever find good, steady life? Did Bela ever confront her ‘To Be’ husband? Did the police ever catch Vicky?

viii – Is it possible to someone to get married without even once checking out the groom’s home or do some research before giving away your daughter just like that to groom’s family? It’s not like the girl was disfigured nor had lack of wedding proposals? The certain time period which takes place between during the days of marriage but here everything happened so quickly, as if only needed approval for court marriage certificate.

ix – When Vicky is told from what address he could pick his bike from whose house, at that time he would surely know who Yaqoob really is. But no acknowledgement is shown on Vicky’s face. It means either Vicky already knew who Yaqoob is and this was a movie mistake or it was intentionally kept that way and let the ending reveal it on its own.

 

 

+ Overall
Finding the emotional story within the drama, director Taha Bin Karim, enigmatic Nazar-ul-Hasan and intriguing Muhammad Ahsan craft brings a satisfying bitter twist to Vicky.

 
Rate: 3.0 out of 5 stars

Tele-Films

Mr. Khan’s Review on ‘Haraami’ (2017)

A review on Pakistani Tele film, ‘Haraami’ (2017); Assistant Cinematography & Editing by Affan Ahmed Khan, Assistant Directed by Ahmer Hussain while its Production House is AAL Films.

+ Crew
I. Directed, Screenplay & Produced by Ali Akbar Ladhani
II. Cinematography by Inzamam Jalal
III. Co-Screenplay by Ahmer Hussain
IV. Production Design by Saad Abbas
V. Makeup & Costumes by Pervaiz Iqbal

 

+Note
The film is inspired by infamous English film ‘I Spit on Your Grave’ (1978) & remake in 2010. It is a rape & revenge exploitation-horror film, shot with shock treatment. There are several minor supporting roles including Rashid Farooqui, Akbar Islam, Sahrosh Baloch and Mahjabeen. Its Music Composer is Asif Noorani and its Sound Mixer is Zeeshan Ali.

 

+ Main Cast

  1. Ahmer Hussain as Sufian
  2. Nazar Ul Hasan as Ms. Shaukat
  3. Arshad Malik as Jamshed
  4. Aqeel Ahmed as Affan
  5. Adnan Anis as Fahad

 

xxxxxx

 

+ Supporting Cast

  1. Kaleem Ghouri as Police Officer
  2. Naveed Mari as Police SHO
  3. Kulsoom Aftab as NGO Director
  4. Erum Bashir as Anum

+ Plot
Due to Sufian’s secret dark activity, his loved one has to pay the ultimate price for it.

+ High Points

i – Nazar-ul-Hasan played the role of transgender sex worker who played out very nicely. He was the key figure in this film. Other Honorable Mentions: Adnan Anis.
ii – Some of the visuals inserts regarding city’s scenery are well shot.

iii – The shock treatment used with Arshad Malik was very bold indeed.
iv – The art direction is satisfactory.

 

+ Low Points
i – Too many cast members hired from NAPA including its location been used did not gave a professional but rather a student film look.
ii – There was hardly any character development.
iii – The cinematography is disappointing.
iv – The story & screenplay is so-so written.
v – Nazar’s character seemed very interesting. Unfortunately, we didn’t see much of his character backstory either.
vi – The twists & turns were too predictable.

+ Overall
A glossy, tasteless revenge thriller that brings out fragile performances despite being boldly shot on a taboo subject.

Rate: 1.0 out of 5 stars