Review: Moor power to Pakistani cinema

Published: August 11, 2015
the film clearly avoids cliches usually inherited by Pakistani films from Bollywood. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

the film clearly avoids cliches usually inherited by Pakistani films from Bollywood. PHOTO: PUBLICITY


Celebrated Pakistani photographer Kohi Marri once said, “Such is the beauty of the landscape of Balochistan that we can shoot an entire Lord of the Rings here”.  Though Jami was not present when we discussed it, but maybe he was, in another dimension.  And the visual magnum opus that Moor has turned out to be is more or less, the culmination of Marri’s account. The only difference is that Frodo Baggins was aided by the fellowship and Wahidullah Khan (Hameed Sheikh) only has a fragile family by his side.

Wahidullah, the station master of Khost railway station reluctantly agrees to sell off the railway infrastructure due to political pressure and promised financial benefits. But as his son Ahsanullah Khan (Shaz Khan) moves to Karachi,  he finds himself entwined in the dilemma of not letting go of what is inherently his (the railways) and embracing the hope of a better tomorrow. The simple yet thoughtful execution of this conflict makes it dark-to-the-core but apparently an ethereally white story — a dense emotional experience. The rest of the film is an engaging collection of non-linear sub-plots that meet for a definite purpose while enticing you with enough twists and turns to keep you fastened to your seats.  Surprise! You have the first ever complete Pakistani film of the year.

It was evident from the baffled response to Operation 021 that Jami has a habit of over-complicating things. He does not refrain from that in Moor — as a result, it might take you some time and talking to  fellow cinemagoers to decipher the connection of subsequent deaths in the first half. And those deaths are significant theme elements, as well as imperative to the plot detail, so a little clarity would have helped convey the foundation of the film.

However, the deep understanding of the social issue, coupled by powerful performances make up for the complications as the film progresses. Hameed Sheikh‘s journey from complete sanity to neurosis is not only reflected through his swift aging post-crises, but also the subtle brilliance with which his mannerisms become more timid with time.

Shaz Khan adapts the Pushtoon accent fluently and effortlessly while maintaining his composure —almost comparable to a dead volcano — whenever he did erupt on screen, you knew from within all your being that he means business.  Abdul Qadir as Baggu Baba turns out to be the highlight of the film.

Bagoo generally preserves a very goofy attitude towards things but doesn’t let the viewer confuse him for a clown. He, in many ways represents the true essence of a native, one who would kill or get killed for his soil. The most exceptional part of Qadir’s portrayal of Bagoo is that he actually serves as the moral compass of the story but never asserts it. Kudos to Jami for crafting such unique characters and more so, directing them in a way that they get their fair share of impact.

Stylistically speaking, there are plenty of beauty shots in the film — offering the Pushtoon belt of Balochistan as a possible tourist spot for the rest of the world. But the shots do get a tad more claustrophobic in the interior scenes of Muslim Baagh. It could have been intentional, but a little more breathing space would have emphasised the attention-to-detail in the art direction.

The soundtrack of the film when listened to in isolation seems something out of the Strings’ Coke Studio but provides a spine-chilling experience when teamed with snowcapped mountains. Gul Bashri by Rahim Shah in particular, hits you like a cold breeze cuts through your muffler on a dark winter night — it’s haunting but hopeful. The often wall-to-wall use of the score, however, does get a bit vexing at times.

All in all, Jami manages to pull off the impossible with Moor. He grants us a true Pakistani film sans being pretentious or preachy and makes the much rural and suburban concept of ‘love for your motherland’ moving for urban audiences. This breathtaking emotional journey not only highlights the lost livelihood in Balochistan but also gives us hope that Pakistani cinema will not only be taken as an extension of Bollywood. Way to go, team Moor!

Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th,  2015.

Like Life & Style on Facebook, follow @ETLifeandStyle on Twitter for the latest in fashion, gossip and entertainment.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (14)

  • just_someone
    Aug 11, 2015 - 11:22PM

    I am very happy that the Pak cinema is back to making movies that are art rather than the smut it had been making till recently.
    Let the smut come from India, we are and have always been more creative and more sophisticated than our neighbors and it should show in the art we produce.Recommend

  • Tani Taseem
    Aug 12, 2015 - 12:25AM

    I was flabbergasted that this was probably the first review of a Pakistani film review by Rafay Mahmood that was a review not a low blow hit piece, the Pakistan film Industry is changing through leaps and bounds so lets celebrate our industry ! These film makers are putting it all on the line working with limited resources bringing new talent and displaying the beauty of the countryside of Pakistan which in itself is a promotion to the rest of the world that has been missing out the culture, hospitable people and hoping it will cause the rest of the world to see Pakistan through an entire new prism! Recommend

  • Joe Aranjo
    Aug 12, 2015 - 1:34AM

    More creative?? More sophisticated?? In exactly what, May I ask? Where is the evidence of this deeply elusive superiority that you as a Pakistani claim. Why does every half decent Pakistani film review end up in a comparison with indian films. We know you you guys are burning with envy at the success of the hindi film industry but still , why make it so painfully obvious. Gain some self respect for your self and celebrate your so called revival of Pakistani cinema which by the was only possible because of the infrastructure provided by money made through exhibition of indian films. Go figure!!Recommend

  • enu
    Aug 12, 2015 - 4:42AM

    Looking forward to the movie so much! Super excited. I agree with just_someone as well, we must stick to good story lines (which we should find aplenty in the current day and in our folklore) and realistic characters, situations, emotions and sincere acting. If anything we should look to our other neighbour iran for inspiration on how to make a stirring cinematic experience. they make some amazing movies.Recommend

  • Tani Taseem
    Aug 12, 2015 - 8:09AM

    @Joe Aranjo you may be slighly correect in your weak analysis Pakistanis are burning with envy over Hindi films, granted you also have a history and an advance in obtaining equipment, technolgy, investment, & cultural acceptance a great distribution and marketing that said Hindi films are prduced in mass & quality in not necessary quality also there are many Hollywood copies adapted to the Indiian movie goer, also sex has skyrocketed creating an atmosphere of instability for Indian women for rape without accountabilkity that no one celebrates ! True Indian films have infused a new energy into Pakistan film industry it has opened the gates of creativity, genere, and the minimal cross country exchange is a slow sign of improving cultural between the two countries. Recommend

  • Usman
    Aug 12, 2015 - 12:58PM

    Am happy the film industry is finally showing some genuineness. I was sick to the core at the nation in general copying India, on things like ‘Team Pakistan’, ‘Pakistan Republic Day’. It’s not Team Pakistan, it’s the Pakistani Team. And its not Republic Day, its Pakistan Day.Recommend

  • Arka
    Aug 12, 2015 - 1:47PM

    @just someone

    when you have no idea about world film/indian film ,please dont comment.have any idea about how many indian film won awards in canne,sundance,venice,berlin,toronto film fest?
    ever any pak film selected for any major film fest except dukhtar(toronto14,it has indian producer) ? :-PRecommend

  • kamal
    Aug 12, 2015 - 1:54PM

    Finally a decent review by “RAFAY MAHMOOD” . Finally he is learning to give an honest opinion rather than blowing off as did for WAAR and other reviews.Recommend

  • Arka
    Aug 12, 2015 - 1:57PM


    and Iranian film makers take inspiration from india.Satyajit Ray is guru of Abbas kirostami(father of iranian new wave film) and majid majidi.

    @Tani, good bollywood films dont release in pakistan.its go over the head of pakistanis,thats why producers dont release film like Margarita with a straw (toronto14 winner) ,masaan (canne15 winner) in pakistan.Recommend

  • Aug 12, 2015 - 3:21PM

    Tell me one thing, while praising a Pakistani film why you have to say something bad about Indian cinema? There are so many different genres of films thriving in the Indian industry. We have a very long way to go so dont get carried away.Recommend

  • Liberal
    Aug 12, 2015 - 3:40PM


    Little knowledge is a dangerous thing. It is clear that you are not aware of the awards being won by Pakistani films internationally. Pakistani films have won awards in the 31st Cairo Film Festival, in the Focus on Asia Fukuoka International Film Festival 2008, in the Asian Festival of First Films, and also the Roberto Rosellini award. Other Pakistani movies have won awards in the London Asian Film Festival, at the Fribourg International Film Festival, Switzerland, FIPRESCI Prize from the International Federation of Film Critics at the Osian Film Festival. It will be difficult for you to understand because all these films do not have ‘item songs’ like your bollywood. Please do proper research before talking about Pakistani industry.

    ET, If anti-Pakistan comments are allowed then this rebuttal should also be published.Recommend

  • enu
    Aug 16, 2015 - 3:24AM

    @Arka: satyajit was great indeed. but that era is long gone my friend.Recommend

  • Ahmed
    Aug 17, 2015 - 1:16AM

    We should support our local movies and i have watched every single Pakistani movie in cinema since Khuda kay liye but the movies should offer something. I spent 3000 rupees to watch this with my family and am extremely disappointed. There is no sense of story at all. Three different stories are intermingled leaving the viewers confused whats happening. Dialogues are weak and story line confusing. All the effort has been directed towards the cinematography, which no doubt is great. Music is also exceptional but overall the movie was no less than a torture. A number of people left before the end of the film. Extremely disappointed. The director (jami) had a chance in O21 which failed due to too complex and weak story line. He has repeated the same mistake in this movie too.
    The writer should do another review after watching the movie.Recommend

  • Umar Khan
    Sep 1, 2015 - 12:05AM

    Crappy article, not a review! Full of spoilers, ET please learn what to publish about the movies active on BORecommend

More in Film