Pakistani films had a much better 2018 thanks to some of the quality flicks that were released throughout the year.
That doesn’t mean that there weren’t bad films around; it is because of these absurd films that make you understand the importance of relatively better ones.
There was Cake and Motorcycle Girl in the first two quarters, Teefa in Trouble, JPNA 2, Parwaaz Hai Junoon and Load Wedding in the third and finally The Donkey King and 3 Bahadur: Rise of the Warriors in the last quarter that kept the audience’s belief in local cinemas alive. Let’s go through the A to Z of Pakistani films this year and discuss whether they were hits, misses or worse.
3 Bahadur: Revenge of the Warriors: Sharmeen Obaid – Chinoy’s third and final installment in the series was the last released film of the year and was doing well in cinemas despite stiff competition from Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse and even The Donkey King.
The film marked the animated film debut of Mehwish Hayat and Nimra Bucha who played out-of-this-world superheroes and joined the ensemble voice-over cast that already has Behroze Sabzwari, Fahad Mustafa and Sarwat Gillani. Written by Kamran Khan and directed by the two-time Academy Award winner Sharmeen, 3 Bahadur 3 also introduced ‘Dettol Warriors’ who might take the story forward next.
7 Din Mohabbat In: Meenu – Farjad’s mixture of romance-fantasy was well-received when released during Eid ul Fitr; despite being the best film that Eid, it was unable to do well at the box office and ended its run as an average grosser.
Faseeh Bari Khan’s second feature film had him at his best and with Mahira Khan and Sheheryar Munawar teaming up for the second time in as many years, the chemistry was electric. Amna Ilyas did a wonderful job as did Mira Sethi, Aamir Qureshi, and Danish Maqsood as the sidekick whereas Jawed Sheikh and Hina Dilpazeer were at their usual best.
Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor: Before there was The Donkey King, there was Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor where animals conversed with good humans and battled with the bad ones, emerging as saviors of the entire animal kingdom.
The story revolved around the illegal hunting of preserved animals and featured popular artists Ali Noor, Azfar Jafri, and Arshad Mahmud as Voice Over artists. The film was released in February and was in cinemas till late March, battling other releases as well as standing tall against Pakistan Super League.
Azaadi: Moammar Rana’s comeback to mainstream films and Sonya Hussyn’s debut as a film actress was part of the 4-film Eid ul Fitr in which neither film was able to emerge as a winner.
Momi and Nadeem Baig stood out in this Imran Malik film but since it was more of a patriotic film, it couldn’t register the way it would have had it been released on 14th August.
Azad: Rehan Sheikh has been around for quite some time but not many knew that there was a writer/director in the actor who came out in Azad. With Salman Shahid, Sanam Saeed and Sabreen Hisbani in the cast with Rehan playing an RJ who likes to talk to his audience, the film appealed to the festival public despite being liked by the critics.
The soundtrack by Abbas Ali Khan was much appreciated as was the cinematography by Ilyas Kashmiri who has emerged as one of the better DOPs in the country.
Cake: Asim Abbasi’s directorial venture was loved by all when it was released one week after Pakistan Super League in March; it was this film that made many filmmakers realize that if the script is strong and the direction air-tight, you can come up with a good film in less many than usual.
Aamina Sheikh, Sanam Saeed, Adnan Malik, Mohammad Ahmed, Beo Zafar, Faris Khalid, and Mikaal Zulfiqar were amazing in the film that revolved around the life of two sisters who meet each other after a long time but instead of coming closer to each other went further apart. The film was Pakistan’s official submission to the Academy Awards but couldn’t make it to the final list announced recently.
Jackpot: This Shoaib Khan film took the audience back into the 1980s when dual meaning dialogues, hapless situations, and vulgarity were a must in order for a film to do well at the box office.
Thankfully, the audience rejected the film and even though the makers are interested in re-releasing the film in 2019 (they blamed Sanju for their film’s failure – let that sink in!), the audience is intelligent enough to prefer other films than trash such as this film.
JPNA 2: Humayun Saeed is a visionary and knows what the audience wants – in the sequel to his 2015 blockbuster, he inserted the very-popular Fahad Mustafa as a lead, included the rising Kubra Khan and Mawra Hocane and gave writer Vasay Chaudhry all the free hand he needed.
The result was the most successful Pakistani film ever produced in the country’s 70-year-old film history. Every actor did a fantastic job, including the Bollywood import Kanwaljit Singh who was phenomenal as the bride’s father. This was also Nadeem Baig’s third film that crossed 40 million rupees in Pakistan and gave the audience a super wedding planner in Maina, played by the ever gorgeous Ahmad Ali Butt.
Load Wedding: In another time and country, this Fizza – Nabeel collaboration would have been a blockbuster but since it was released on Eid ul Azha with JPNA 2 and Parwaaz Hai Junoon, it came out third because there wasn’t much dhoom dharakka or action sequences.
Instead, the audience got treated to a film that dealt with social issues such as widow remarriage and dowry with Fahad Mustafa, Mehwish Hayat, Faiza Hasan, Samina Ahmed and others doing a wonderful job as middle-class people who reminded the audience of themselves.
Maan Jao Na: Although the film introduced Elnaaz Norouzi to Pakistani audience way before Sacred Games and launched Adeel Chaudhry as a film actor in his country, Aabis Raza’s Maan Jao Na didn’t turn out to be the blockbuster it was expected to be.
It stayed in cinemas for a month, gave Ayaz Samoo a chance to show his comic timing and launched Hajra Yamin, but there was something missing from this romantic comedy. Asma Nabeel wrote the script and went onto pen a song in Bollywood movie Helicopter Eila; the controversy surrounding a medley in this film also hurt the film that could have done better in ideal circumstances.
Motorcycle Girl: Adnan Sarwar’s second film after Shah was released a week before Avengers: Infinity War and if you know how film business works in Pakistan, you would know what this means. The Sohai Ali Abro – Ali Kazmi starrer was perhaps more well-made than other successful films of the year and deserved a better run at the cinemas.
It revolved around the life of Zenith Irfan the real-life motorcycle girl of Pakistan who motivated other girls to don the helmet and break the barrier without thinking twice. Adnan Sarwar had a cameo in the film but it was his writing and direction that impressed the audience big time.
Na Band Na Baraati: Although the film featured a star cast of Mikaal Zulfiqar, Ali Kazmi, Qavi Khan, Atiqa Odho and Mahmood Akhtar, it was haphazardly released during the 4-film Eid ul Fitr and failed miserably at the box office.
The film marked the debut of Anzhelika Tahir, Nayab Khan, Komal Farooqi and Shayan Khan but despite having fresh faces and a soundtrack boasting of Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan, the film proved to be a disaster at the box office.
Parchi: Imran Raza Kazmi Films’ first film after the blockbuster Janaan did well at the box office and was the first Pakistani film to be released in Saudi Arabia after ages. The film had an ensemble cast comprising of Ali Rehman Khan, Hareem Farooq, Faizan Shaikh, Ahmed Ali Akbar, Shafqat Cheema, and Usman Mukhtar among others.
Written by Shafqat Khan and directed by Azfar Jafri, the film revolved around a parchi that makes life difficult for the guys who approach Hareem’s character for help. The film had the best soundtrack of the year and with a little more effort especially at the script, it could have turned out even better.
Pari: When you think of conning the audience by making a film with minimum effort, Pari comes out as the result; the film was released earlier this year before Anushka Sharma’s similarly titled Bollywood film and didn’t impress the audience at all.
It went without denting the box office just like the ghost in the film that came, tried to scare the audience and went without doing much, despite the presence of Qavi Khan, Rasheed Naz and Saleem Mairaj in the cast.
Parwaaz Hai Junoon: MD Productions made a triumphant return to films with this Hamza Ali Abbasi – Ahad Raza Mir – Hania Aamir starrer that revolved around the lives of Pakistan Air Force cadets. It was the first film produced in collaboration with the Pakistan Air Force in the last 50 years and was written by Farhat Ishtiaq and directed by Haseeb Hasan.
The film emerged as a blockbuster despite facing stiff competition from JPNA 2 and was in cinemas as recently as early December. Hamza Ali Abbasi’s acting was hailed by many as he played a fighter pilot who loves his country; Shafaat Ali’s comedy, as well as Hania Aamir’s bubbly acting, impressed the audience as well.
Pinky Memsaab: Pinky (Hajra Yamin) goes to Jumeirah for a better income but ends up creating a misunderstanding between her employers including the same Memsaab (Kiran Malik) who tried to make her look modern and presentable.
The film suffered from weak direction and shaky camerawork and despite good performances from the actors including Indian import Sunny Hinduja, it couldn’t do well at the box office.
Shor Sharaba: When your mind is stuck in the 1970s, you come up with trashy films like this one where Adnan Khan (Mohabbatan Sachiyan) was reunited with singer-turned-actress Rabi Pirzada and failed to create magic. What the makers did create was easily the worst film of the year that had no story, no music, and no direction.
It seemed like a mixture of a few Indian films with Mustafa Qureshi in the cast who hates Indians and some promising-turned-hopeless actors (Meera, Ahmed Butt) who would have been acceptable in the pre-internet era.
Teefa in Trouble: It may not have broken records at the box office but Ahsan Rahim’s first film was undoubtedly the best of all the films released this year. It had better action sequences than JPNA 2, better editing than most of the movies, had an unbelievably good soundtrack, took you around the world and introduced Maya Ali to the world of cinema.
Despite the hue and cry over Ali Zafar, the film became the highest grossing non-holiday film in Pakistan and was recalled to cinemas early December on popular demand.
The Donkey King: Aziz Jindani’s first foray into films raised the bar for animated films in Pakistan; in a country where an animated film was supposed to be a hit at 6 crore rupees, this Jan Rambo – Ghulam Mohiuddin – Jawed Sheikh – Hina Dilpazeer starrer crossed 24 crores within 3 months, setting the bar higher than expected.
Like Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor, it featured talking animals but it had a superior soundtrack and a background score to die for. It also revived the decade-old ‘My name is Rambo Rambo’ as well as Afzal Khan Rambo’s character who was outstanding as the lead character who gets to become the King and proves his worth by acting royally after initial hiccups.
Tick Tock: The year’s third animated film featured a star cast of Ghulam Mohiuddin, Alyy Khan and Ahsan Khan besides Maria Memon but was released a couple of days before the final of Pakistan Super League that was played in Karachi and also screened in cinemas.
Directed by Omar Hassan (Dance Kahani), it failed to do well at the box office despite the story revolving around time travel and meeting historical characters such as a young Jinnah, Fatima Jinnah among others.
Wajood: Actor/director Jawed Sheikh’s directorial comeback after nearly a decade was his first film that was released on an Eid weekend and that’s where he miscalculated.
The film was shot in Pakistan and Turkey, featured an extremely good-looking cast, reunited Nadeem and Shahid after a long time but couldn’t do well at the box office due to the release of three more Pakistani films during the same weekend and the release of Salman Khan’s Race 3 a week later. Had it been released in the last quarter of the year, who knows it might have done well at the box office.