By Adnan Murad
Around two years ago, in one of my features, I wrote:
“We have to understand that there needs to be an incentive for people to go to the movies, and that incentive should come from the Pakistani cinema by creating better films.”
I just want to analyse this statement in this review and see what we can do to make our films more entertaining without falling for the masala tropes.
The film in case
Chupan Chupai begins oddly enough with three men, Koki (Ali Rizvi), Feddy (Zayed Sheikh) and Teeli (Vajdaan Shah), sleeping in an old-town house. The setting, which immediately reminded me of Nabeel Qureshi’s sensibilities, is utterly convincing and realistic. However, this impression is soon marred by a two-second sequence where one of the men is scratching—or perhaps fondling—his crotch while sleeping.
This scene brought my spirit down, but I persuaded myself to watch the film and judge it in its entirety.
Few scenes forward, the film throws at us a top adult film website’s reference and a bizarrely directed sequence between Koki and Teeli.
Talking to Koki, Teeli remarks, “Husband escapes after stealing wife’s jewellery on the wedding night.”
To which, Koki amusingly responds, “I could only get that in haste.”
In this scene, Koki makes a sly sexual innuendo—and rest is left to one’s imagination, which is limitless.
There is another cringeworthy sequence where we see the other protagonists—Babu (Ahsan Khan) and Pari (Neelum Muneer)—sitting in a car. Babu is secretly trying to monitor the movements of a woman; meanwhile, Pari gives him a red underwear with his name conspicuously emblazoned on it in golden letters.
These are just few vignettes that one gets to see in the first 20 minutes of this film.
Following this, the movie picks up, getting rid of suggestive remarks and sequences. The protagonists get together within the first half of the film, manage to kidnap a minister’s son Bobby, played by Faizan Khawaja, and do a lot more, which I cannot disclose.
Barring the first 20 minutes, which are crucial for setting a firm base for all characters, the first half comes together neatly with no obvious glitches to hamper the film’s pace.
However, Chupan Chupai, like the game it is named after, yearns to find its true beat in the second half, failing almost every time it tries to make an impact; writers Mohsin Ali and Zayed Sheikh relentlessly work to provide Pakistan a boundary-pushing comedy movie of this winter, but they only inspire sporadically, creating a film that slurs, stumbles and trips through its two-hour journey—without any element of surprise.
Writer Ali, who is also the director of this film, gives all actors enough room to perform, but sadly there is not enough scope for them to display their acting skills. The film’s most refreshing memory is watching veteran Sakina Samo, who plays the role of Bobby’s mother, on the big screen; her lively screen presence provides the film with some of the most entertaining scenes. Samo, who is an institution of talent and who the industry looks up to, shows how to crackle the screen with restrained energy.
Chupan Chupai gets convoluted in the second half and, in the final 30 minutes, it fizzles out like Alka-Seltzer in a highball glass.
Ali and Sheikh use laid-back humour—previously seen in 2013’s Tamil film Soodhu Kavvum—to hide their inability to evolve. They coax themselves into believing that they are creating an inventive film, but the fact is that they are not quite ready to tell their own stories to audiences; they are not knowledgeable enough to explore the craft by venturing into unexplored territories.
This, my friends, is a stunning disappointment of the year—and a major misfire. I hope Ali had worked this hard on an original idea; meanwhile, people are still looking for an incentive to go to cinemas, thinking whether the Pakistani film-makers will be able to catapult the echelons of local cinematic landscape in 2018 or not. That is the big question.