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Umro Ayyar Review: In making a hit, don’t forget the script

The film boasts impressive visuals but struggles with weak storytelling and underdeveloped characters

By Shafiq Ul Hasan Siddiqui |
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PUBLISHED June 30, 2024

In the 80s and 90s Shaani (1989) and Sar Katta Insaan (1991) was released which were a step farther from other movies of the time in Pakistan, but were not amongst the finest due to lack of budget, technicians and equipment facilities. A few years ago, Project Ghazi met a huge disaster at the box office because of poor filmmaking, VFX effects and sloppy treatment. Pakistani cinema has yet to deliver a true sci-fi masterpiece.

After the release of The Legend of Maula Jatt in 2022, everyone hoped that Pakistani cinema will rise, but unfortunately not many movies were released and the ones appeared were mostly not successful at the box office.

Indeed, there were speculations that Azfar Jaffri’s upcoming venture a bold attempt i.e. Umro Ayyar (UA) — A New Beginning will be another box office champion since it revolves around the most interesting fable inspired by the iconic character from Hamzanama. Umro Ayyar, a cunning thief armed with a magical bag, promised a captivating narrative for audiences of all ages. The movie stars Usman Mukhtar, Sanam Saeed, Sana Fakhar, Ali Kazmi, Faran Tahir, Manzar Sehbai, Adnan Siddiqui and Hamza Ali Abbasi in pivotal characters. The film was in the buzz for its stunts, VFX and execution. Since the movie is in theatres now, let’s see what it has to offer to its viewers.


The plot unfolds

The plot centers on Amar, a young science professor unaware of his lineage as the last descendant of Umro Ayyar. Skeptical of magic and supernatural beings, Amar’s routine life is overturned when the malicious Laqqa targets him. Saved by a team of supernatural beings, Amar is introduced to his rich legacy and trained by a Guru alongside Maaz and Meena to combat evil. The narrative follows his journey of self-discovery and battle against dark forces.


Ambitious yet flawed

The ambition to create a Pakistani cinematic universe akin to Marvel is commendable. The visual effects are undeniably the film’s strong suit, presenting some breathtaking scenes. However, beyond the visual spectacle, the film falters. The storyline lacks coherence, and the script does not do justice to the potential of its source material.

Usman Mukhtar, portraying Amar, fails to leave a lasting impression. His character's transformation from a skeptic to a leader of ‘ayyars’ feels rushed and unconvincing. The supporting cast, despite their talent, struggle to shine through the weak script. Faran Tahir’s Laqqa shows promise, but his performance is undermined by poorly written dialogues that fail to give his character the depth it needs. There is another supreme evil power who Laqqa reports to, but the devil is not introduced in this movie but his references are found in the post interval and in the climax.

Manzar Sehbai is a seasoned actor and he performs his part well, with a few of his scenes becoming highlights of the movie. For instance, the way he shares the lineage of Amar to him expressing he is the last of direct descendent of Umro Ayyar clan was nicely executed and when he shared ‘No we are not the government’ gives a smile to the audience. His last scene could have been shot a little better because a Guru should have a decent adieu.

Sanam Saeed looks good in the character but her dialogues are weak. She is a wonderful actor but no one can do any wonders if they are not given with good script. The director could not bring the best of Sanam on the screen. Ali Kazmi is known for his looks and physique, so he looks impressive in the film. He gets a character that has a few good dialogues but not great ones. The speech that he gives to his army of ayyars is not convincing enough.


Cameo hype

When an actor who plays a cameo in the feature film is highlighted in the poster, it clearly sums up that the films’ promotion is dependent on him and he is a star. Hamza Ali Abbasi, is amongst the USP of the movie since most of the viewers after a point during the movie start to wait for his appearance. We have seen shades of Hamza Ali Abbasai as Noori Nut (TLOMJ), Ehtesham (Waar) and Majeed (Main Hoon Shahid Afridi — debut) where he impressed all his viewers but unfortunately, he goes over the top while performing his part. His fans will bear him as Amr Ayyar but not all. He plays with his voice and makes sure that he brings back the narrative style and dialogue delivery that once Qazi Wajid and Qavi Khan used to do with theirs for stories in audio cassettes for kids, back in 70s and 80s. Sana Fakhar is wasted, though her presence is strong in the movie.


Where was the plot?

The weakest part of UA is that it does not offer any solid story. The plot is haywire and it does not connect with the audience. There could have been so many references that could have been taken from the stories of UA but the script fails to include them. The famous ‘Zambeel’ of UA is missing from the film, and it is not even highlighted or mentioned in the narrative. One wonders if the makers trying to adulterate the story of UA or they just forgot to add the essentials of the character?

The movie unfortunately suffers from a mediocre style of writing. The audience cannot empathise with Amar’s journey or to his wants or motives, nor really accepts his sudden transition to the super leader of Ayyars. The entire training sequence where Amar is trained by the super-beings was very conveniently handled. It felt like it was all very easy for Amar to explore his inner powers by just listening to what his mentors and trainers told him.


Final verdict

The movie stands as an ambitious attempt with a strong visual appeal but lacks the substance needed to make a lasting impact. The film's reliance on VFX over a sensible script and engaging character arcs leaves it wanting. Despite its shortcomings, the film is a commendable effort and a step forward for Pakistani sci-fi, but it has a long way to go in balancing visual spectacle with storytelling depth. The run time of the movie is two hours and five minutes yet it does not impress in a way that people bring back scenes from the movie.

There is a probability that the makers might return with the prequel or/and sequel of UA because there can be stories revolving around the real Umro Ayyar i.e. Hamza Ali Abbasi, Adnan Siddiqui who played the father of Amar and is considered to be one of the finest ayyars and there is a possibility that a movie on Guru’s youth can be made where another actor can play the key role. But the question is, will Umro Ayyar — A New Beginning generate enough buzz to gather a fan base or a following? It all depends on the business this movie garners along with the craze it might manage to create in audiences.


Shafiq Ul Hasan Siddiqui is an avid movie buff, and film and drama critic and a digital inbound marketer. He tweets @shafiqulhasan81

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