1. Lahore Se Aagey. Bohat Aagey

Where movies like Actor in Law give us reason to believe in the revival of cinema, movies like Lahore Sey Aagay (LSA) are stark reminders that there is so much room for people to grow into their roles as filmmakers. When you consider than LSA is the director’s second outing and that there were significant lessons to be learnt from Karachi Sey Lahore (written, produced and directed by the same team as LSA), you can’t help but feel disappointed. A word of advice to those who have watched the trailer (which looks really good) and are considering watching the movie: watch Donald Trump’s victory speech on YouTube instead.lahors-sey-agey

 

LSA is an excellent example of what happens when you have a spectacularly weak idea for a story, and you try to bring it to life by peppering it with item numbers featuring Saba Qamar. Saba Qamar looks great in the film but she has performed better in TV dramas and even TVCs – and the director has to take some of the responsibility for that. But using her item numbers to save the film is sort of like trying to save a badly cooked steak with a great side dish. The producer/director has also tried to feature as many cameo appearances as he could – perhaps to appease his many friends – but it hasn’t worked. The cameos are forced – but then, so are the songs.

Yasir Hussain is a good actor and his stammering in the movie is pretty good. Whether that particular character trait was truly needed is something Yasir and Wajahat need to think long and hard about. However, what Yasir is not, is a writer. He has tried reasonably hard to make the movie funny – and has failed miserably. There are two or three jokes that actually make you laugh – one about SQ’s breasts and a couple in the last 60 seconds of the movie. In fact, that last scene is actually better than the rest of the movie put together. A weak plot line can be acceptable in a comedy film because the comic aspect makes up for it – if you leave the cinema laughing, you feel you have been entertained. The problem is that LSA is not funny – you sit through most of the film without so much as snicker.

You do end up cringing though – remember how everyone said that Karachi Se Lahore was a shameless Cornetto commercial and no one could top it? Well, it seems the team took that as a challenge and yep, they have topped it. The Bank Al Falah Alpha App could conceivably have been listed as a supporting actor. All credit to Al Falah for tirelessly supporting Pakistani fashion and film but seriously, film-makers need to bring an awful lot more subtlety to brand partnerships.

The number of production/direction related screw-ups warrants a review by itself – from what looked like a drone visible in a shot, to a door in a (supposed) house which repeatedly shows a Union Bank PUSH PULL sticker, to a production support car clearly visible in a 2 minute car driving sequence with its hazard lights helpfully flashing. The whole effort seemed amateurish. After the first 30 minutes, I seriously considered leaving but a sort of morbid fascination made me stay and see just where this would go.

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I used to think that nothing worse than Bin Roye could ever be produced by Pakistan’s film industry again. The team behind LSA have proven me wrong. It’s strange because, being in the creative business, I know that when your product is not up to par, you feel it. You know it. So do the producers and directors not realize what they’ve done? Have they not watched other movies coming out of the industry? It’s not that they had bad actors or bad locations – just a really, really bad script and directorial shortcomings that are unforgivable.

The soundtrack to the film is surprisingly good. It sounds and feels nice. This is an area where local films have been lacking for a while – Actor in Law had a good sound track and LSA does too. It’s not enough to save the film but it’ll be something nice to listen to on the radio.

So while everyone is better off watching Donald Trump’s victory speech, there are some people who actually should watch this movie: Directors, producers, DOPs, AD’s, art directors, set designers, script writers: there is so much to learn here. It’s like the bible of what not to do in a film, so please, go watch it. And try to learn from it. Because after suffering through that, we must at least be able to cling to the hope that something like this will never be projected onto a screen again.

Annnd a counterpoint to that review by Hassan…the view from another member of the audience at last night’s premiere:

“So honestly, the second half is fun. It’s punchy though the first half drags a bit. The story is what it is. It’s meant to be corny. It had everything you want from a movie – comedy, romance, drama, emotion. And it was punchier and crisper than Karachi Se Lahore. The music was a definite improvement from what we’ve seen so far in Pakistani films. We do need good choreographers in the country though – and actors need to learn how to dance. Saba, Yasir and Abdullah played their characters well. I would point out though that if you’re playing a rockstar, learn how to handle a guitar. Saba looked like she generally plays a guitar out of tune! Behroz is an old hand, so no surprises there. The cameos were generally okay. Not sure how Ali Zafar made sense but I didn’t mind his presence.”

 

Hassan Ansari
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