Review: ‘Money Back Guarantee’ is entertaining in parts and banks too heavily on a star cast

The ensemble film featuring Fawad Khan, Wasim Akram, others, is quite frankly a let down

Asfa Sultan April 24, 2023


When slapstick humour meets a case of mistaken identity, puns and quirky word play, a comedy of errors is born. Faisal Qureshi’s Money Back Guarantee creates a broth using the same ingredients and peppers it with social messaging and political satire to savour the taste. The now director’s brand of humour isn’t new to fans of his writing in Teen Bata Teen. But perhaps the world has moved on since…

Qureshi’s directorial debut, Money Back Guarantee (MBG), which premiered in Karachi on Thursday, was the most-awaited film to release this Eidul-Fitr. With a star-studded ensemble cast featuring the likes of Fawad Khan, Hina Dilpazeer, Gohar Rasheed, Javed Sheikh, Mikaal Zulfiqar, Kiran Malik, Adnan Jafar, Ayesha Omar, among others, alongside debut actors Wasim Akram, Shaniera Akram, Muniba Mazari and George Fulton – it was touted to be a full-blown entertainer.

Set in a strange land that feels part-Pakistan and part-New Jersey – actually shot in Karachi and Thailand – the film explores the dichotomy of capitalism and socialism as it dabbles in numerous societal problems, such as corruption, VIP culture, stereotyping, theft, political point-scoring, injustice and discrimination. It sets the tone for a certain brand of dramedy that is both satirical and ridiculous. The great thing about Money Back Guarantee is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously as it gathers a motley crew of degenerates to carry its plot forward, while mocking the very values it tries to instill.

These degenerates represent the various ethnicities of Pakistan as they attempt to shun while ironically perpetuating stereotypes the society propagates about them – such as Pushtoons being “dumb”, Christians being “Karanta, Choora” (slurs), Punjabis being “hungry,” and more. Symbolism has been used at a stretch in the film, with the setting taking jabs at the core values of the subjects it inhabits.


Majority of the film has been shot in Pak bank – a fictional bank that hosts the wealth of all the corrupt politicians in Pakistan – with our crew of degenerates planning to rob it. Everyone’s blood has turned white – quite literally, the Pakistani flag is represented by a WiFi signal, Pak bank’s design mimics the map of Pakistan with minor alterations to suit the rich, as it ingeniously represents how each province and part of the bank operates – or not. The “most secure” bank of the country has been designed by a lawyer, not an architect. The only way to access the millions of rupees inside its cells? You guessed it; biometric! A painting of The Last Super hanging inside the bank has been beautifully morphed to feature the greedy politicians of the country, feasting on the poor. And the politicians have been played by the same actors playing the robbers-cum-rebels to signify “Jesi qoum, wese hukumran.”

The plot of the film revolves around the heist that our gang of amateurs set out for with the purpose of reclaiming the people’s money. The plan, however, is not foolproof and keeps on changing as the robbers fail successively. While that is meant to be hilarious, it leaves the film appearing chaotic, almost struggling to find a center. It also leaves much to the imagination, and not necessarily the things that should have been left unattended.

The plot isn’t seamlessly weaved together. There are, in fact, cause and effect issues and one can never decipher how or why somethings are happening.

The characters, albeit, are well fleshed out. Fawad’s role as a cheapskate bank manager, Bux, who caters only to the wealthy and listens only to the powerful is written to perfection. The actor also wears it like a glove as he finally embodies a non-romantic, non-emotional, grey character, widening his acting scope and career graph. His dialogue-delivery and maniacal expressions are beautiful, to say the least.

Kiran, Gohar, Mikaal, Ali Safina, Afzal Khan – part of the robber gang – display exceptional acting chops too. Sticking to his usual sidekick energy, Gohar plays an unemployed goon that struggles to provide for his wife. But somehow, his Sindhi accent doesn’t grow on you as the film progresses. It is also quite painstaking to watch each of the robbers struggle to speak in a particular accent to represent a particular ethnicity. It is because of the demand to do so that the film reinforces another stereotype about the ethnicities represented.

And while that may be a creative choice, given that MBG also takes a dig at the way brands are promoted in Pakistani films to appease sponsors by doing the same thing, the audience’s ability to connect with the characters is compromised.

Wasim and Shaniera’s roles aren’t very demanding. So as debut actors, they shine. Mani tries too hard to play circuit from Munna Bhai, or so it seems, while his accent also continues to annoy.

There are moments in the film that could have been cut short, and moments that the film could have done entirely without. The opening scene, for example, is too long and boring to grip the audience in. The closing scene, or scenes, are too many to call the film well-rounded. It’s as though the editors struggled to prioritise what to keep and what to do away with.

Something films directed by writers often struggle with is that they leave little room to breathe in terms of dialogues. Becoming too verbose at times, with each character falling in love with the sound of their own voice and every character having something to say. At times, there is so much social messaging that the message is lost. And instead of relying on the actors’ comic timing, the characters are made to give ques to laugh.

All in all, Money Back Guarantee can be watched for the variety it offers in terms of cast and characters, the awami comedy, the political jabs and definitely the scope of production. But the film could have been shortened at least half an hour, doing away with extensive social commentary, announcing of intentions and unsought resolutions. I was actually afraid ‘Umeed ki Kiran’ will grow old -- If you know, you know.

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