The System: Clichéd but needed

Published: June 1, 2014
The film turns out to be a fresher extension of the lollywood culture and not the new wave of Pakistani films.

The film turns out to be a fresher extension of the lollywood culture and not the new wave of Pakistani films.


The System is a Lollywood action drama film, directed by Norway-based Shahzad Ghufoor. The film, starring Sheraz, Kashaf Ali, Nadeem Baig, Shafqat Cheema, Irfan Khoosat and Nayyar Ejaz is set in a neighbourhood in Lahore and focuses on the corrupt legal system and lingering social issues within Pakistani society.

Veteran actor, Nadeem Baig plays the character of a neighbourhood maulvi and is also the father of the protagonist of the film, Haider Ali, an unconventional looking commercial cinema character who looks to challenge the formations of localised corruption which start from the very bottom. The character is played by Shehraz a new edition to the Pakistani film fraternity. He brings out Pakistan’s own version of Salman Khan with his shirt-tearing actions and heroic dialogue, particularly (Iss system kay saath mein nahi chal sakta, ab system ko meray saath chalna paray ga [I can’t follow the system, the system will have to follow me).

After last year’s buzz surrounding the action-intensive film Waar, there has been an on-going divide over the potentialities of localised commercial thrillers which have both, easy consumption value and also a relatable character that can reach the diverse and divided audiences across the country.

When speaking about Pakistani cinema, it’s about the small gains. It is commendable how Ghafoor managed to release and make the film in under a year. The director successfully brought his own stylistic value and emphasised on the quality, something that has been missing from Lahore for several years. Utilising flashbacks and simple narratives, he has been able to bring cinematic quality.

The film builds on the narratives given through the 1980s and 1990s; action-thrillers which focus on masculinity and machismo laced with moralism, which have become inherent to the culture of nationalism that has developed over the last couple of years.

The rival of the protagonist is corrupt police officer played by Shafqat Cheema. Ali fights against a corrupt legal system which has negative impacts on society. In an attempt to take down this system, Ali becomes part of the system itself by joining the police force.  Even Ali’s love interest, whose character is played by Kashaf Ali, is the daughter of a corrupt inspector in another government office (Irfan Khoosat).

Ali becomes the unlikely anti-hero, as he works his way up the policy ladder and infiltrates the network of corruption which leads its way up to the Chief Minister (Nayyer Ijaz). He then tries to obliterate the corrupt individuals who have sold the nation for money and power.

The film does not have a shortage of talent and Shehraz has proven himself to be promising and determined. A lot was expected from the supporting cast of villains in the film, considering the vast amount of experience that people such as Nayyar Ijaz hold, more depth could have been added to the characters they played. Cheema, however, acted brilliantly.

The film has moments where the story is unnecessarily stretched; however the score keeps you engaged throughout the film. The music of the film was composed in India and has four songs; each of them is different from the other. It’s a shame that the energetic dance number called Naughty Saiyyan sung by Supriya Ramalingam and Mohit Pathak is not being played in every neighbourhood in the country.

The film fits in the tradition of Lollywood which has long been looking for its time back in the spotlight. This will be an interesting and original experiment of commercial cinema which the masses will be able to connect to.

Verdict: The System is as poignant as the trailer of the film, full of sound and fury signifying nothing in terms of content but spot on stylistically. Shehraz however is a good contribution to the league of Pakistani actors and given the time can prove to be one of the better new faces.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 2nd, 2014.

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Reader Comments (5)

  • Niolfer Baloch
    Jun 2, 2014 - 4:19AM

    “Finally 2014 has see the first film released” so many of the others release posters and songs and take years to materialize but this film fighting the odds managed to get itself released. We need to know the bottleneck of so many films announced and so few make it through the pipeline for a film media to be healthy there has to be a constant flow of releases not all will be mega hits but we can all learn at least the tide is changing in Pakistani films there are some people with talent and vision that can hopefully end the dying saga of Lollywood & its sad history.


  • great news
    Jun 2, 2014 - 9:04AM

    looking forward to watching it.. Pakistan film industry has a lot of potential


  • Realist
    Jun 2, 2014 - 10:04AM

    I simply couldn’t take the film seriously given the amateur-ish / B-movie style trailer that made it seem like a complete joke. Congrats to the team for locking distribution and getting it onto the big screen… but come on, we need to move beyond mindless 80s-style flicks and create something fresh.


  • Zubdiah-un-Realist
    Jun 3, 2014 - 12:24AM

    @Realist – I simply couldn’t take the film seriously given the amateur-ish / B-movie style People like this never cease to amaze me! Have you ever heard the words…baby steps?
    Pakistan film industry has just surfaced to produce films albeit a few but at least compared to the previous years we do have audiences that are coming back to the cinema. The we have the uppity people like @ Realist who expect a grander type of film, Do you know the challenges that face our film makers have to go through. There is limited financing, very little proper distribution and a huge percentage that anxiously wait to download the film on torrents and other illegal sites. There is no real film school or academy to train actors, technicians and set designers our film industry in NOT Bollywood so get off your high horse and support our films by watching them NOT every film will be great for you can please some of the people some of the time but you cannot please all the people all the time.


  • Jun 3, 2014 - 10:11AM

    I think a big round of applause for these guys for at least trying and making an effort


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