'Karachi Se Lahore': a long but uneventful journey

Published: July 30, 2015
The film nosedives as soon as it hits the highway, with random characters running into the caravan. PHOTOS: FILE

The film nosedives as soon as it hits the highway, with random characters running into the caravan. PHOTOS: FILE


Taking the road less travelled has its pros and cons. If you succeed in your journey you’ll have a great story to tell and if you fail, you end up getting lost somewhere in the wilderness. Wajahat Rauf took on a similar task by making a Pakistani road movie but, much like the green Foxy in the film, the story loses its ‘shocks’ before it hits the highway .

Written by actor-turned-writer Yasir Hussain, the film revolves around the life of a struggling banker Zaheem (Shehzad Shaikh). With a poster of Joker plastered in his colourful apartment, Zaheem in many ways represents the average urban Pakistani in his twenties: he hates his job, and his girlfriend Aashi (Ishita Syed) never misses a reason to be unhappy about their relationship. Zaheem is obviously not alone and is accompanied by a self-obsessed Sam (Ahmed Ali) and the bearded Moti (Yasir Hussain). Moti always wears a strange collection of berumudas and not to much of our surprise, he stammers.

His stammer is one of the many clichés that become redundant and unneeded after providing a few bouts of comic relief in the film. Their chemistry, however, is one to look out for as the three musketeers complement each other’s puns, gestures and mood swings quite naturally, giving a much-needed hook to the narrative.

Read: Karachi Se Lahore has been invited to premiere in Hollywood: Ayesha Omar 

The three of them are at a dance party when Zaheem finds out that Aashi is all set to get married to his family acquaintance who has just come back from Canada. To satisfy the Romeo in him, Zaheem decides to take a road trip to Lahore to stop Aashi’s marriage and is accompanied by his friends and neighbours Maryam (Ayesha Omar) and her younger brother Zeezo (Aasher Wajahat).

Ironically, the film nosedives as soon as it hits the highway, with random characters that serve no purpose in the narrative running into the caravan. What’s even more disappointing is that most of these characters are stereotypes, that too very inaccurate ones. Where in the world (let alone, the route from Karachi to Lahore) do Pathans have a festival where they indulge in ‘Kushti’?

Read: Karachi Se Lahore: En route to the big screen

That is what brings us to the biggest tragedy with Karachi Se Lahore: it is written like a stage drama, not even a theatre play. You only wait for one-liners that serve no purpose in pushing the narrative forward. Beyond that, you just keep waiting for the film to end. In fact, jokes like ‘Sardi Ka Saleem Javed’, ‘Garmi ka Hasan Jahangir’ and a short preachy speech about Pathans being peace-loving people at the end of that festival reminds you about the flow of a quintessential Umer Sharif stage drama. By giving prime importance to making people laugh, Hussain fails to concentrate on the plot, making people look forward to the next joke, and not what happens next.

Where Ahmed Ali makes good use of his experience in theatre, Shehzad Sheikh turns out to be the real surprise package. It seems like Wajahat shook him well before using him in the feature film and it turns out to be Shehzad’s career best performance.

There was barely anything for Ayesha Omar in the script, which is why her performance doesn’t get noticed more than a girl wearing a revealing top, in a jeep flooded by guys. Even her item number Tooti Fruity was a touch jittery and certainly not worth the hype. It relies heavily on inserts that make her thumkas seem rather mechanical.

You must look out for some honest and hilarious cameos by Pakistani musicians and the placement of some iconic Pakistani songs in the film. Kudos to Wajahat for using Noori’s Do Dill for the big screen, as the song leaves an impact much more soul-stirring than many of Bollywood OSTs.

Karachi Se Lahore releases in cinemas across Pakistan on July 31. A relativley shorter version of the film be screened in theatres.

Verdict: Karachi Se Lahore has hilarious moments that at times seem out of place. Watch the film to learn some new jokes, but opt out if you are looking for a good big screen experience.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st,  2015.

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Reader Comments (20)

  • enu
    Jul 31, 2015 - 1:12AM

    never read a positive review by rafay for anything..Recommend

  • aleena
    Jul 31, 2015 - 3:05AM

    Not true! I really liked the movieRecommend

  • Usama Hafeez
    Jul 31, 2015 - 9:19AM

    Express Tribune never gives a positive review for a Pakistani movieRecommend

  • Taha Naseem
    Jul 31, 2015 - 10:46AM

    @Usama Haeez just bcs its a Pakistani movie it automatically qualifies for a positive review? Recommend

  • ahmed
    Jul 31, 2015 - 10:52AM

    This is a very accurate review. Recommend

  • rahat
    Jul 31, 2015 - 11:28AM

    Man that stage drama observation is so apt! The writer almost put my words in the article. Cha gayaRecommend

  • Noums
    Jul 31, 2015 - 1:20PM

    A much expected review when it comes to this genre. Comedy is and would always be perhaps one of the hardest skill to portray as an actor. Having said that, it is indeed a jovial moment for Pakistani movie industry for not only are we reviving the industry itself by making such movies but also setting a path for the future directors and actors to learn from such mistakes. Recommend

  • Safinah
    Jul 31, 2015 - 2:18PM

    I completely disagree with your review Sir. Seems like you’re writing for the sake of bad mouthing. It was a very well made, comedy movie which essentially revolves around the purpose of making people laugh. And it did just that. Hats off to Wajahat Rauf and the Cast to pull off something like this is Pakistani Cinema, a breath of fresh air it was! Recommend

  • A R Farouk
    Jul 31, 2015 - 2:27PM

    Review is not honestly written. I have seen 3rd class movies given best comments. Recommend

  • Anti-Bollywood Dude
    Jul 31, 2015 - 2:55PM

    ET never published a positive review about a Pakistani film!Recommend

  • Ikhlaq
    Jul 31, 2015 - 4:05PM

    Please support Pakistani cinema and also write against joker type Indian films like Bajrangi Bhaijaan etc.Recommend

  • Anju
    Jul 31, 2015 - 9:21PM

    Movie was really funny. There was never a dull moment for which i give full marks to Yasir Hussain. Contrary to what the article says , I felt Shahzad was the weakest actor in the movie. Everyone else did justice to their characters.
    I can watch it again just for the comedy and at the end of the day, it is a comedy movie!Recommend

  • Rana Zahid
    Jul 31, 2015 - 10:46PM

    Zaheem could have buy an aeroplane ticket to stop the marriage instead of a road trip. Karachi se lahore is going hollywood andbyet they haven’t updated their imdb profile. Recommend

  • Ali
    Aug 1, 2015 - 2:17AM

    A huge advocate of supporting local cinema and encouraging Pakistani filmmakers no matter how weak their work is. But I am sorry that doesn’t mean that they portray pathans as gays in the name of humor and we encourage them by finding it funny. Terrible movie! Please don’t take your family with you, you will definitely feel embarrassed! Recommend

  • ali
    Aug 1, 2015 - 12:42PM

    the movie has lacks coherence to the very core and lacks all kinds of emotionsRecommend

  • Ahsan
    Aug 5, 2015 - 10:50AM

    This isn’t an honest review. Looks like the author is either not interested in the comedy genre at all or he holds a grudge against this movie. The movie was great. It was really funny and the jam packed hall laughed and enjoyed so much. Its a comedy movie and they did justice to the movie. Yasir hussain was the best of all. I loved it. Will give it 4.5/5.Recommend

  • Usama Hafeez
    Aug 6, 2015 - 9:07PM

    Owsum movieRecommend

  • aamir
    Aug 14, 2015 - 1:36AM

    the writer should say comedy movie hay and you are guaranteed a laugh riot as i had. nothing else dosent really matter. he should be honest about it. rafay you could do much better. reviews doesnt mean you need to criticise only. you need to accurately tell your reader about the movie. i didnt want to watch this movie after your review but my friend made me watch this wholesome entertainer. please tell last time you watch comedy movie and you laugh that much from bollywood. your answer is awaited.Recommend

  • Ahsan
    Aug 17, 2015 - 1:19AM

    Absolutely loved the movie. Do watch it guys. Everyone had a smile on their face while leaving the cinema house which is what a comedy movie should do. Must watch!Recommend

  • rugoo
    Oct 4, 2015 - 2:08PM

    I saw the movie on one of the TV Channels. My intuition was right as soon as I finished it. The movie did not do any good at cinema and therefore aired right after a couple of months of its release. Though the movie makers and financers must have recovered the expense through sponsors, movie was bound to be a flop. Poor script, bad acting and direction were the most prominent features.
    Unfortunately the inclusion of item numbers could not save the movie. Had it been a good script and based on actual scenarios filmed while going from Karachi to Lahore, the movie could be a nice, decent and family entertainer.
    My humble request to all the prospective directors and producers, please start working on the script. Learning to add items numbers and cheap jokes is not something to be acquired from Bollywood. Recommend

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