Watching the newest Pakistani addition to the animated films genre is quite an experience. It really is. It takes one back to the good old days: the days of outdoor games, STN, minesweeper, and pencil-drawn, 2-D animation. It’s like a blast from the past, shattering all that is new, refined, and appeasing.
Tick Tock is the story of two friends, Hassan and Dania, voiced by Ahsan Khan and Maria Memon (respectively, of course), whose antagonist, voiced by the great Ghulam Mohiuddin, is called Gobo. The concept, to be fair, is an interesting one, which is why, one would imagine, such notable names signed on for the movie. The adventure-laced movie – with an undesirably high level of guns and violence – sees Hassan and Dania, led by their mentor and teacher KK (voiced by Alyy Khan) travel into the past to stop Gobo from changing Pakistan’s history for the worse. En route, we encounter the animated versions of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, his sister, Fatima Jinnah, and the Bengali Chief Minister A.K. Fazl-ul-Haq. I’d sign on to the film if I were offered this script.
However, what it makes up for in script, the film prodigiously squanders in execution.
First things first, the animation is not the best. It’s pretty awful, to be honest, reminiscent of the video games we used to play in the late nineties – a huge step backward from the detailing and creativity of Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor, which came out not too long ago, and has set the bar for animation films in the future. Tick Tock is all that Allahyar wasn’t: dull, stiff, expressionless, and quite simply, not convincing. It would’ve passed as average a few years ago, when Pakistan had no longer produced a string of impressive animated movies, because back then it would’ve been a relief that we had produced an animation at all. But that time is now past: producing “something” and “anything” is no longer equivalent to being a creative genius, one must produce a quality film in order to impress the local audiences. Besides, an animated feature film must first and foremost get the animation part right. Or just go ahead and make a film for children – that’s not forbidden, y’know, and would make you somewhat of a pioneer as Pakistan has had a dearth of films made for children.
Next: the dialogue. Again, the creators of Tick Tock have displayed a lack of creativity when scripting the dialogue. The film has tried very hard to impress with the dialogue but fails miserably with sleazy humour one wouldn’t even crack when lounging with one’s homies. And as is the case with humour, it lifts a script immensely when on point (think Blackadder) but makes it descend farther than Hades if it misses the mark (think every Adam Sandler movie ever made). Unfortunately for the filmmakers of Tick Tock, the case with their production is the latter. The rest is the usual: boastful, loud dialogue that looks, feels, and sounds like an extended version of Commander Safeguard. Heck, the lead KK even sounds like Commander Safeguard (Sorry, Alyy Khan).
Thirdly: the theme was limp and violent. Tick Tock is a perfectly typical Pakistani animated film production. Almost like a continuation of the usual 3 Bahadur and Burqa Avengers. Why are we, as a nation, so obsessed with fighting and violence, as though nothing else is worth teaching our kids? Why is physical aggression the only thing worth portraying in films intended to be watched by children – or by anyone at all? We need more animation films about subjects other than kids fighting – physically – against injustice. Surely there are other things worth showing our children.
Now for the positives – the positive to be exact: the historical aspect. Fictionalising history is one fun way to get children acquainted with the subject, however, we, as a nation, really need to get over the (very important) theme of the “ideology and creation of Pakistan”. There’s enough of that going on in textbooks, can people please introduce new aspects of history to our children?
To sum up: despite having an interesting angle to it, Tick Tock is mostly a bland new addition to our collection of animations, giving viewers nothing new and fresh to look forward to in terms of story and script, and positively setting the clock back in its technical aspects. Oh the irony.