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Lollywood in trouble

Teefa In Trouble is hands down the entertainer of the year. In fact, one could go a few months further back and that claim would still remain valid. That, in a nutshell, explains everything that’s wrong with the Pakistani film industry.

The commercial ventures preceding Teefa In Trouble ran the wide gamut from the abysmal to the ordinary. The only saving grace for the local film industry was Cake, which could’ve been an epoch-defining product, but not many are likely to follow suit given the contrast in commercial gains.

On that particular front Teefa In Trouble has been an absolute trailblazer, and more records might indeed tumble. But is it really quality entertainment?

Let’s underscore the positives, of which there are a few. Visually, the film absolutely is unlike its peers or predecessors. The cinematography is absolutely top-drawer, with settings ranging from Androon Lahore to Warsaw, being prominently utilized with the needed technical prowess.

The visual dexterity is also visible in the action sequences, which have clearly been given a lot of attention. It is evident that Ali Zafar has put in a lot of effort in something that he was never really comfortable with, as has been evident in his stints in Bollywood.

Music is another strength of the film, without which a South Asian film customarily struggles to qualify as a commercial success. There is melody in tracks like Chan Ve, Sajna Door, Ishq Nachunda and Nahi Jaana. Butt Sahab and Item Number are fun tracks, with the latter being a satirical take on its own title.

With Ali Zafar doing pretty much everything in the movie – from production to acting to generating the controversy to keep the film in the news – he also stars heavily in the soundtrack, which definitely is an ace.

But what about other, more old school, ingredients of what once constituted an entertainer.

Someone on social media commented that Teefa In Trouble “is like a really long Ufone add”. The point here of course is that while there is humour and is unlike what we usually get to see on this particular screen, it has been spread out over a span that is longer than it should’ve been.

The comparison with the Ufone advertisements is also owing to the team that has made the film, with Faisal Qureshi himself starring as Ali Zafar’s chum bringing his own brand of humour to the film.

But as far as the writing is concerned, there are quite a few occasions where the film will make you laugh – even out loud, unless you’re really en garde – but the inconsistency remains. A true test of a successful comedy is the tempo that it maintains in its humour – for once you’ve upped the ante, the fall isn’t particularly glamorous, and it becomes that much difficult to raise the bar again.

Ahsan Rahim has director a bunch of successful music videos – Dosti, Kismat Apne Hath Main, Laga re, Preeto, Sajania for instance, many of which have a humorous tilt as well – but he hasn’t quite been able to maintain similar crispness that in a two and a half hour long feature film, where of course his editing team has let him down severely by not reducing the length of the movie by quite a few minutes.

Whether it was his call or not, but Ahsan Rahim has left Ali Zafar the space to dominate the screen. And while the actor himself has come across with all the tricks that he could pull, it has created monotony that affects the overall product.

What this also means is that while the film is a complete Ali Zafar show – which he does manage to pull off more for his own profile than the movie itself – there isn’t much space for anyone else to do much. These include Maya Khan, who might’ve done enough on her debut, but it is hardly a groundbreaking entry into Lollywood for the actor.

Without delving into the storyline for those who are yet to, and will, watch the film, there was never going to be much to write home about, and it was always going to be a vehicle to put together humour laden scenes. It is the fact that many of these don’t work that end up being the downfall for the film.

Hence, the fact that Teefa In Trouble is likely to break records and will eventually be the biggest hit of the year, is problematic for the future of Lollywood and the movies that the local filmmakers would aspire to make.

K K Shahid

The writer is a member of staff

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