Friday 3 October 2014

Namaloom Afraad celebrates life in Pakistan and mocks it too

03:07 By Lollywood Online No comments

10626680_747224595338117_8547514038773201836_nThe movie NaMaloom Afraad is not just set in Karachi, but attempts to recreate the very essence of it and for the most part succeeds. Anyone who has ever lived in the city will recognize the bustling, noisy traffic jams and the civics that drive alongside donkey carts. Refreshingly unglamorous, the film does not center around spies who save the day but ordinary people who are trying to get through the day. Undeniably human situations like two guys sleeping on the floor, boiling hot water, putting on underwear, uncommon in cinema, are a welcome treat.
Local flavor was present in spades from the slang to the snacks adding an authenticity that was captivating and yet perfectly ordinary.  The film was a celebration of the commonplace and familiar. Unfortunately the small moments did not really fit together in a cohesive direction. The movie works well as a collection of scenes and observations but the actual plot fails to deliver.

Farhan (Fahad Mustafa) a former insurance agent is jobless and in love. Moon (Mohsin Abbas Haider) has been waylaid from his ambitions to move to Dubai and is stuck in Karachi. Shakeel (Javed Shaikh) is collecting funds for his younger sister’s wedding but his pension is denied and his house is scheduled to be bulldozed. Dissatisfied with the direction of their lives, they engage in some dubious activities and are soon entangled in a perfect mess centered round crime boss Gogi (Salman Shahid).
The first half of the movie is concerned with establishing the set up and takes its time doing so. The pacing is laborious and little happens until after the interval. Once the film does take off in earnest there are plenty of fun moments mixed in with socially commentary.   The enthusiasm with which the story is told largely compensates for the considerably thin borrowed plot.
Humor, violence and a hip soundtrack
More slapstick than witty, the humor generally relies on puns, shock value and the go-to desi favorite cross-dressing.  Many of the racy and suggestive jokes were genuinely funny creating an atmosphere of high spirits. Hidden within this broad humor is a handful of truly insightful digs mocking the law and order situation and clever jabs at overly dramatic broadcast news (one hosted by a real news anchor).
As a borderline spoof, the tone was hard to decipher. The violence escalates in the second half of the movie but is handled more like a farce than something disturbing. Raunchy humor and  casual violence exclude  Na Maloom Afraad  from being called a family film and is not something I would recommend for children.
The songs in general are all catchy, fun and short enough to not have me wishing there was a fast forward button. But like everything else in the movie they felt disjointed and abrupt.
Their middle of the road accessibility should have endeared these characters to the audience and yet I cannot bring myself to care about them.
The difference between Hera Pheri and the numerous movies that followed in its vein is that the original is essentially good-natured. The bumbling idiots who get embroiled in a crime purely by accident recognize what they are doing is wrong and eventually feel pangs of remorse. Here remorse is non-existent and the character’s occasionally seem mean-spirited not acknowledging what consequence their actions may have.
Fahad Mustafa had an everyman charm- unassuming and slightly foolish, which holds the film together.  Mohsin Abas Haider’s goofball was promising if a little patchy. Jawed Sheikh was good, but did not match his own high standard.
The weakest links were the villains. Gogi in particular was more creepy and weird than menacing. None of the female characters were given much to do. Instead of well constructed three dimensional characters the women seemed to be mere crutches for the male ones.  Urvwa Hocane as Naina is purely a love interest. She does well at portraying sweet innocence but we don’t know anything about her that is not linked either to her brother or boyfriend.  Kubra Khan’s Hina exists only for an unexpected plot twist near the end. Mehvish Hayat’s “item number” was fun but her character seemed to have no connection to anything else going on.
What makes NaMaloom Afraad worth watching is its dedication to realism. Whether it’s the sets and wardrobes or the streets of downtown Sadar it was great to see on screen, things that many of us take for granted. The gorgeous cinematography applied to ordinary things is so effective that you can almost smell the bun kebab.
I wish the authenticity and attention to detail of this movie were applied to a more thoughtful tightly knit film.
Nonetheless it is a rollicking romp that is a step in the right direction for Pakistani cinema. Watch this movie for the love of bun kebabs, for arguing with rickshaw drivers over Rupees 20 and for the daily life of a namaloom afraad.


Post a Comment