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I finally watched Kaaf Kangana and instantly wished I hadn't

Nov 15, 2019

Islamabad (Pakistan) Nov 15: Where do we begin? Perhaps with the statement that sitting through the entire duration of Kaaf Kangana (KK) is the greatest feat of dedication to her craft this writer has ever accomplished.
Written and directed by Khalil ur Rehman Qamar and bank-rolled by ISPR, KK is Pakistan's answer to Bollywood's jingoistic movies, a plethora of which we have been subjected to over the years.
We understand the need to represent Pakistan in a better light globally, we agree that cinema is a fantastic format to tackle propaganda against the state and to project Pakistani culture but is KK really the best we have to offer?
The story, though hard to piece together from the trailers, is simple enough in essence. Ali Mustafa, embodied by Sami Khan is a humble but intelligent Lahori boy, from the heart of the old city, Bhatti Gate.
Where do we begin? Perhaps with the statement that sitting through the entire duration of Kaaf Kangana (KK) is the greatest feat of dedication to her craft this writer has ever accomplished.
Written and directed by Khalil ur Rehman Qamar and bank-rolled by ISPR, KK is Pakistan's answer to Bollywood's jingoistic movies, a plethora of which we have been subjected to over the years.
We understand the need to represent Pakistan in a better light globally, we agree that cinema is a fantastic format to tackle propaganda against the state and to project Pakistani culture but is KK really the best we have to offer?
The story, though hard to piece together from the trailers, is simple enough in essence. Ali Mustafa, embodied by Sami Khan is a humble but intelligent Lahori boy, from the heart of the old city, Bhatti Gate.
He encounters Kangana Rathore (Eeshal Fayyaz), an Indian girl with a penchant for always being decked to the nines in the final round of a SAARC quiz competition, where he loses to her over a controversial (read: Kashmir related) question. Kangana wins a trip to Lahore as her prize and sets into motion events that had been building up since partition.
With a screen time of 2 hours and 37 minutes, KK is a celebration of stereotypes, dialogues that seemed to be written in the early 90's and acting that can only be described as inspired by Ekta Kapoor's over the top soaps for Star Plus.
While the crux of the plot, lifted by KRQ from a real life story about Kaneez Fatima, revolves around a girl who was stopped at the border during Partition and was unable to join her love in Pakistan and the movie has an overt peace message, the execution of it all leaves much to be desired.
Coming to the acting essayed by the countless characters that crop up every now and then, one can't entirely decide who is at fault for the sensationalised tone that renders each one an exaggerated caricature of what they might be in the real, modern world.
With a screen time of 2 hours and 37 minutes, KK is a celebration of stereotypes, dialogues that seemed to be written in the early 90's and acting that can only be described as inspired by Ekta Kapoor's over the top soaps for Star Plus.
Can the writer/director, in this case both accolades belong to KRQ, be taken to task for Fizza Ali's hysterical dialogue delivery in every scene? Was Sami Khan meant to transition without warning from a soft spoken man to vein popping maniac?
KRQ also takes the opportunity for launch the career of his son Abi Khan as an actor. Abi plays the role of Tony, a local goon in love with Ayesha Omar, who is obviously in love with Sami Khan's character. If the story doesn't possess a love triangle is it even a legitimate South Asian romance?
Omar's character, though brief in its screen-time provides some relief, both aesthetically compared to odious styling featured in the rest of the film and in terms of acting and dialogue. Her natural effervescence shines through bringing some respite to sore eyes.
Much has already been spoken about Neelum Muneer's "item" song in movie. Honestly, the song adds nothing except extra minutes to a film that is already in dire need of sharper editing and Muneer doesn't exactly bust out scandalous moves; she emotes with her eyes and facial expressions, trying to make sense of the dialogues of the song.
It is perhaps the least offensive number in the whole movie though the need for full song and dance sequences in 2019 can be questioned. If they add nothing of value to the plotline, what purpose do they serve? On a gourmet plate of food, serving inedible items even for aesthetic purposes is considered to be malpractice, can the same standard be applied to films?
This brings us back to the heart of the matter and the man at the center of the production, KRQ.
Though KRQ generated waves before and around the time of KK's release with some rather strange and misogynistic interviews, this writer believes in holding a movie up on its own merit and chose to disengage with his personal discourse. Even by that standard, the film fails to deliver.
We understand the need to represent Pakistan in a better light globally, we agree that cinema is a fantastic format to tackle propaganda against the state and to project Pakistani culture but is KK really the best we have to offer?
Known for his incredibly crafted dialogues for some of Pakistani TV's best loved drama serials, KRQ pens conversations that left one wondering, "who talks like that?"
Do people in real life actually go about saying "Is haveli par pyaar ka shraap hai," even in India? KRQ is unable to secure a willing suspension of disbelief in his audience and the whole series of events have an unrealistic tint to them.
As you, the astute reader, have gathered by now, this is not a review that will praise the quintessential masala film, especially given how poorly the entire project is executed. Maybe KRQ bit off more than he could chew with his debut as director.
Or maybe, he just needs better stories and human understanding before embarking on such ambitious projects.
Verdict? Watch at the cost of your precious brain cells.
Source: Dawn