Na Maloom Afraad: the game-changer

Published: October 1, 2014
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The film marks the silver-screen debut of television actor Fahad Mustafa. PHOTOS: STOCK IMAGE

The film marks the silver-screen debut of television actor Fahad Mustafa. PHOTOS: STOCK IMAGE

KARACHI: 

It’s colloquial, well-paced and engaging. Na Maloom Afraad is, perhaps, the only Pakistani film to come out in recent years, which is an out-and-out entertainer. We are certainly not categorising it as a mindless entertainer, such as Dabangg and Chennai Express. It’s a smartly-crafted film, which guarantees a paisa-vasool experience. New-age Pakistani director Nabeel Qureshi has finally managed to find the perfect match between intelligent filmmaking and value for money.

Farhan (Fahad Mustafa), who works as a sales representative at IFU life insurance company in Karachi is fired after he fails to materialise any deal in a month. Moon (Mohsin Abbas Haider), who hails from Punjab, wants to go to Dubai to make a living, but he ends up coming to Karachi. He roams around with an empty pocket, as his family continues to believe he is living in Dubai. Then, there is Shakeel bhai (Javed Shaikh), who is under societal pressure to get his younger sister (Urwa Hocane) married, but can’t manage to do so due to financial constraints. Eventually, the trio’s paths meet and the rest of their journey is left for you to witness in cinemas this Eidul Azha.

Although the film’s premise does not make it any less of a cliché, it is the hilarious yet subtle socio-political commentary within the narrative, which makes it stand-out. This includes the depiction of the host of a crime show Choree Ke Peechay Kia Hai, played by Paras Masroor (of Shabbir Tou Dekhe Ga fame). At another place, a bearded groom-to-be who offers a girl a bottle of ittar is sure to crack you up. These small moments are what make Na Maloom Afraad a gripping film and are reflective of the director’s comprehensive understanding of Karachi and its ever-evolving culture.

The perfectly-paced script, with some golden one-liners, doesn’t make you feel that the film has stretched over a period of two hours. And even if you feel that way, the cameo appearances by Ali Rizvi as a tea-restaurant owner and Nayyar Ejaz as Samuel, show that top-class acting has permeated through generations in Pakistan. They also signify that if casted well, Pakistani films can yield results that are of international standards.

This is complemented with brilliant performances by all three leads, especially Haider, who was the surprise package, and Urwa, who has probably given the best performance in the film during her short career. Mustafa has succeeded in switching to the big screen and the smart editing shots save the few moments, where he seems to go overboard. Sheikh is indeed a great actor, but we have seen more convincing performances by him before.

On the down side, one can’t help but compare the film with Priyadrashan’s Hera Pheri because some scenes and situations are not simply inspired by the film; they are literal rip-offs. So much so that the audience could be heard figuring out who plays Sunil Shetty and Akshay Kumar in the film.  The director often becomes so overzealous with copying Bollywood that he forgets the film is actually set in Karachi and not Mumbai.

A clear reflection of that is in the song where the boy and the girl hold each other’s hands as they enter a shrine, just like you see in every other Bollywood ballad, especially the ones that feature Muslim characters. The keffieh was, perhaps, the only thing missing. Adding to that is the almost angel-like presence of Hina (Kubra Khan) in the narrative, whose preachy monologue in the end doesn’t fit the otherwise raw and insensitive story.  Same goes for Billi (Mehwish Hayat), whose purpose in the plot was confusing and one wonders why she wasn’t just restricted to the brilliant thumkas.

Verdict: Na Maloom Afraad is a smartly-crafted film, which guarantees a paisa-vasool experience.  From the item number to the one-liners, every scene has a purpose and reveals something about the ongoing social circus in the country.

Rating: 4/5

Published in The Express Tribune, October 1st, 2014.

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Reader Comments (14)

  • Rajesh
    Oct 1, 2014 - 10:04AM

    Come on Mr Rafay.. you have broken every pakistanis heart. They were waiting eagerly to comment how pak films are much better than bollywood etc etc… but instead you say they copied. Now they have to wait for another 2 years for the next film to be made.

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  • lol
    Oct 1, 2014 - 11:21AM

    @Rajesh: Where does the piece say its better than Indian films?

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  • Mohammad
    Oct 1, 2014 - 11:32AM

    almost all Bollywood movies are copied from Hollywood movies…. at least from 90s onward.

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  • bba
    Oct 1, 2014 - 11:48AM

    @Rafay: I mean wow! Your reviews for Pakistani Films took a 180 degree. Your critical response to movies and giving rating of not more then 2 (example Waar and Dukhtar) is missing here. I have lost trust on reivews by Rafay. It shows he changed due to reader pressure. A reviewer of a movie cannot be soo weak. Shame on ET

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  • Omer
    Oct 1, 2014 - 12:47PM

    @Rajesh, A sweet attempt this, trying to mock Pakistani masses, but the irony remains, you are too low on wits to support your sarcasm. The fact that you based your sarcasm on an assumption clearly shows you are desperate for attention but the douchery fermented clichés least help. Pardon the personal response, but I just felt like someone should address you.

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  • Kk
    Oct 1, 2014 - 1:45PM

    @Rajesh:
    Every single Bollywood movie’s story can be traced back to either Hollywood or another country’s cinema.

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  • Oct 1, 2014 - 2:14PM

    Urwa was sister of Shakeel Bhai not daughter. Make it correct please, in above story.

    Thanks

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  • Parvez
    Oct 1, 2014 - 5:31PM

    Saw the trailer………..and this looks like a MUST SEE.

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  • Faisal
    Oct 1, 2014 - 6:38PM

    What seemed to be an amazing film has been critiqued by once again a Pakistani with a Bollywood outlook. In order to appreciate Pakistani films for what they are one must look at the film objectively without bringing Bollywood into it. When we look at Pakistani films without a Bollywood outlook we will realise that the films are extremely good. The fact that films are being made now and are being made on a scale that wouldn’t have even been thought of before means that our films can stand side by side with film greats and compete. Let’s not take credit away where credit is due!! Also the critic is a die hard strict film fan and one shouldn’t take his views as sword in stone. We should all go to the cinema watch the film appreciate the film for what it is and build up our own opinions.

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  • Aftab Riaz
    Oct 2, 2014 - 12:50PM

    I am failed to understand, why we compare recent Pakistani films to bollywood? If you want to do something creative, sensible and productive for Pakistan then compare it to the actual art. Compare it to Irani films, some good hollywood films and some Britain movies. If you continue comparing it to bollywood then you will end up producing only dance numbers, masala movies and item songs.

    Be productive to build a progressive nation, as media make minds.

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  • Ahmed
    Oct 7, 2014 - 3:13PM

    I’m very fond of Gangsta movies for a while now, over 7 years i have seen most of Holywood known movies…

    I guess the ending is not what we would want our youngsters to see… Easy money doesn’t exist in real world.

    All the Gangsta movies I watch have a good starting with loads of fun, drugs, girls, cars but in the end its Jail and a complete turn of events… specially Goodfellas…. I’m not against the movie – i love it but the ending should have been strategically made to show that there is nothing like Easy money, you have to earn it!

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  • Hiba
    Oct 7, 2014 - 3:50PM

    lol @ rajesh. typical response that forgets that 90% of bwood is only standing because its copied off other countries (and ironically Pakistan is in that list too). i guess bwood started a “lets copy others” trend then :p more seriously though, the film is a good start but i expect a lot better next time and no item numbers please.

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  • Ahmed
    Oct 8, 2014 - 10:44AM

    @Hiba:
    Im glad we didn’t make a movie called flying people (Dabang) I left the cinema half way and later found out it was block buster… Indians need to learn physics. I hope Pakistan never makes such idiot movies that make more business.
    Bang bang again copy of knight and day (tom cruise and Cameron Diaz)
    Sarkar… kante… gaghni… ram leela.. most Indian movies r hollywood plots but r encouraged as innovative creative master pieces.

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  • Oct 18, 2014 - 2:59AM

    OMG don’t have enough words to explain this master piece of #Pakistani #Cinema
    This is the real revival of Pakistani Films.
    Nabeel Qureshi with master stroke of wonderful direction and outclass innovations in each and every scene and adoption of script amazing.
    Na Maloom Afraad Movie Review
    http://inewsium.com/na-maloom-afraad-movie-review/

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