Chalay Thay Saath review: A beautifully bad film

Published: April 21, 2017


Every time I go and watch a Pakistani film, I am reminded of something my theatre professor once told me, “We need to tell stories about people not stories about social issues.”

This has been as much of a chronic problem with Pakistani cinema as the heavy reliance on dialogue to tell the story. Chalay Thay Saath dares to negate both these conventions and ends up falling on its face.

It offers a breathtaking view of the Northern areas with plenty of eye candy to admire to your heart’s content – but that’s where the film begins and that’s exactly where it ends too.

Chalay Thay Saath looks like an emotional roller coaster

Sadly, it doesn’t even aspire to do something above and beyond. What turned out to be the first classic case of ‘failure to launch syndrome’ in Pakistani cinema, Chalay Thay Saath becomes a victim of its own crime.

In trying to create a visual spectacle, director Umer Adil pays so much attention to the apparent majestics of the film that he ends up crafting a narrative that proceeds with snail speed and has a light year to cover.

The destination however remains unclear till the interval. It keeps on going without actually building up on anything and by the time it does, so has your bladder.

I doubt you will, but if you still manage to stick around after the interval then you may end up witnessing a few dramatic moments, most of which barely follow the laws of causality. It’s almost as if someone from a parallel dimension pokes one of the characters in the wrong place and they get furious and turn it into a matter of life and death.

While they figure out their personal struggles, you struggle to divert your attention from the randomness of events, thankfully, for me; the Panama verdict was a good alternate reality to ponder on, it was equally hilarious for all the wrong reasons.

‘Chalay Thay Saath’ is very different from ‘Janaan’: Syra Yousuf

The film starts with Resham (Syra Shahroz) introducing all the characters of the film while making a few entries into her diary.

Flashback to how and where this journey actually started, we see Resham who is a local of Hunza being joined by her friends, two of them, Tanya (Mansha Pasha) and Zain (Osama Tahir) playing a fighting couple and Faris Khalid being the loner. Later on, the tour guide stops to pick a sixth guest, Adam (Kent S leung), a Chinese visitor in Pakistan. Together they explore the beauty of the surrounding areas – and themselves.

The only other thing that comes to the director’s rescue is a perfect choice of soundtrack, with the likes of Bell, Moroo, East Side Story, Bakshi Brothers and Abbas Ali Khan lifting the mood when you’re convinced that it was a bad decision. In all honesty, I felt that with such great music and visuals, Chalay Thay Saath could have worked better as a concept album and not a film.

And it’s primarily because the film is garnished by major plot development issues. Somewhere between stating the obvious and being completely discreet about giving away information lies the treasure of subtlety.

And in aiming to find that ideal balance, the director concealed all the character arcs, making us wonder about the countless and oh-so-sudden transformations within a short period of time. Chalay Thay Saath is essentially a film suspended in midair waiting for a Newton to define its laws of motion and regrettably, he never shows up to save it from being a comfortably bad film.

Revealed: Meet Syra Shahroz’s co-star in Chalay Thay Saath

With a cluster of issues enveloping the script, one can’t even place the cast, comprising a mix of seasoned and fresh talent under the hammer for their performances. Be it someone as refined as Zhalay in a brief appearance to someone as amateur as Faris, everyone did well in their own right, but they essentially didn’t have much to do.

The only memorable scene in terms of performance comes towards the end when Resham and her father share a deeply emotional moment together. Behroz Sabzwari and Syra both bring their A-game to the screen making you genuinely feel the depth of their conflict for the first, and possibly the last time in the flick.

One wonders how many talented people are going to bear the brunt of shallow characters and pointless plots on their way to big screen recognition. Sighs.

Verdict: Go visit the northern areas instead. The season is just around the corner.

Rating: 2/5

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Reader Comments (14)

  • Raza Arif
    Apr 21, 2017 - 4:53PM

    I wish the film was written as good as this article.Recommend

  • Ali
    Apr 21, 2017 - 5:02PM

    Looks like everyone wants to make a film and in the process bringing a bad name to this so called revival where viewers are getting one bad film after the other. Directors should first try their hands on TV dramas before getting in to movie business. Recommend

  • Sehrish
    Apr 21, 2017 - 5:07PM

    Well, story is something that 90% of Bollywood films are still struggling with. Pakistani film directors are young and novice in the field, they must be given grace marks. I am happy that at least they are trying, films are being made. Hopefully sooner or later they will learn the art of storytelling also but let them master the skill of filmmaking first. And you know what, we must also encourage these new filmmakers to consult someone, who is not a writer but can give them suggestion and right feedback for their scripts even before they start shooting anything. And yes I loved the visuals of this film from its trailerRecommend

  • Ali
    Apr 21, 2017 - 6:07PM

    But in the process cinema goers have stopped watching Pakistani films. Continuous string of bad films except for one or two. Recommend

  • Sehrish
    Apr 21, 2017 - 7:10PM

    well I believe that there is a different set of reasons for not going to cinema, In India people are still going to cinemas though in my opinion their films have literally taken a downhill. No story, no good music no great acting, yet their industry is financially doing good. In Pakistan cinema going tradition is just building up, it will take time. And for this we need to showcase Hollywood and Bollywood films too. So people will keep on going to cinemas and ultimately it will be a normal routine activity for them. Once it happens then even bad Pakistani films will also work on box office. Though we do need one or two really good movies every once in a while. But we need to give our films a chance and this time chance should not last for one or two years only but a decade. I wish our industry gets this time from the viewers. Recommend

  • Asjad Nadeem
    Apr 21, 2017 - 8:40PM

    i think that’s part of the problem as well, producers and investors are hiring directors known for TVC’s and TV Dramas and they’re not able to transition well into the big screen. Just look at ‘Dekh Magar Pyaar Se’, it was basically a three hour long Sprite commercial. Also, ‘Ho Man Jaho’ felt like a run of the mill TV Drama on steroids. We need to give indie filmmakers a chance to come up to the big screen. Recommend

  • mad mamluk
    Apr 21, 2017 - 9:09PM

    agree sehrish!! well saidRecommend

  • Sabs
    Apr 22, 2017 - 1:19AM

    Well i dont agree with the review…i loved the was great decent pakistani movie..thumbs up to the director and producer.
    I have banned watching indian movies, our movies are quite decent..loved the fact that there were no dance number and item songs…loved the originality of our culture..i think the writer should re watch the movie with positive mind and not influenced by the bollywood and support our own industry. Change the review Raphay and get a life.Recommend

  • Harry potter baloch
    Apr 22, 2017 - 9:50AM

    Nothing will come out of mollycoddling subpar efforts sir. Film is the supreme art form. This is not television drivvle.Recommend

  • Last Man Alive
    Apr 22, 2017 - 12:49PM

    Looks like yet another wanna be burger flick like

    ho man jahan. Typical and boring.Recommend

  • Usman Ahmad
    Apr 22, 2017 - 2:28PM

    Seems like Rafay’s real problem is his bladder. Wonder how he managed to ever watch Lord of the Rings? But oh… Maybe he doesn’t know what constitutes good cinema and thinks that squeezing out a flawed, unjust and pathetic opinion of a well made movie will make him sound like an intellectual who is a deep thinker.

    Dost…Itna bladder par pressure na daal.

    The movie is wonderfully simple, exploring personal discovery in a glorious Pakistan. It shows how people can be mistrusting of those that seem different but that at the end of the day, we are all bound together by love and the feeling of belonging.

    In a novice industry, the direction, acting and cinematography is just breathtaking. Indian cinema could take notes of how to make a movie which doesn’t need songs as fillers and vulgar jokes to attract the masses.

    Rafay, maybe you need to take up another job. Being honest and unbiased maybe isn’t your forteRecommend

  • Ali S
    Apr 22, 2017 - 3:31PM


    Why compare with Bollywood? You’ll get nowhere with a bar that low. Consider what’s being produced on American mainstream cable networks like HBO, AMC and FX – they’re essentially packing 10-hour films into a season. That’s what Pakistan should be aspiring to, especially considering that our TV talent is a lot better utilized.Recommend

    Apr 24, 2017 - 10:50AM

    Stark contrast to what the article reports, and the string of comments …. i found the film beautifully shot and well scripted, its a great mixture of light comedy and love story coupled with great acting and direction. We need to promote our products, i fail to recall any movie which has done justice to the beautiful locations of Gilget and Hunza.Recommend

  • Prada
    Jun 30, 2017 - 12:16PM

    Pakistani girl falls in love with a CPEC guy??
    How original !! Recommend

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