Truth be Told

Daniyal Zahid on the last film of the 2010s, which again reflects Lollywood’s dubious “revival”

Truth be Told
A total of 22 Lollywood films were released last year, which averages less than a film every fortnight – in turn fewer than two releases per month. Given that a vast majority of these come out on the two Eids, the rest of the year averages around a release every month.

After a relative high of 28 films being released in 2016, 21-22 is roughly the figure that Lollywood has maintained over the past three years. While it is a significant spike from the 2010-2015 period, the frequency of Pakistani films coming out sums up the demand for them.

The 2010s were supposed to be the decade where the Pakistan film industry was going to retrace its feet and drag itself out of the abyss of 1990s-2000s.

While it can’t be denied that some efforts were made to ensure that the fixed formula of those years was abandoned for something more progressive, we aren’t sure whether the long touted “revival” of Lollywood ever came in any tangible form over this past decade.

And today, as we look at the last release of the previous decade, we have to question whether an average film from early 2010s – the 2012 release Gol Chakkar, as an examplewas any worse than those released later on in the decade, for instance, either of the Wrong No franchise productions, for a direct comparison.

In fact, it can be argued that the year 2013 with the likes of Waar, Main Hoon Shahid Afridi and Zinda Bhaag – with releases ranging from blockbusters to critical acclaim – looked to provide a turning point seven years ago. However, it hasn’t turned out to be one headed in the forward direction.

In many ways, the last film of the 2010s, Sacch, perfectly epitomizes this truth. The past decade was dominated by the dramas being fluffed into movies, often by illustrious TV names – and Sacch was no different.

The film sees the makers of some of the most celebrated TV dramas in the country – namely Ansoo, Des Pardes, Castle and Thori Khushi Thora Gham – make a comeback. Sacch is completely shot in Scotland.

The wife-husband duo Zulfiqar Sheikh and Tasmina Sheikh return after a decade-long hiatus. Sacch is produced by Tasmina, with Zulfiqar the director, combining to offer a largely new cast – including their daughter Elysee Sheikh.

Cue the archetypal South Asian love triangle, with two stepbrothers falling for the same girl, and the inevitable wedge that forms in the aftermath.

What has also been a feature of recent Lollywood films is veteran stars doing completely meaningless cameos in films that are completely devoid of any proper writing and dominated by a talentless cast usually dominated by actors who’ve been given an undeserved shortcut.

Sacch, too, has big names like Fazila Qazi, Uzma Gillani and Javed Sheikh who just allow yet another Pakistani film to self-implode, clearly without providing any of their invaluable feedback.

The lack of combined acting talent in Elysee Sheikh, Humayoun Ashrafand Asad Zaman Khan is second to none. Expressionless, emotionless – in both dialogue delivery and body language – the lead actors are completely clueless in an equally perplexing storyline. Veteran Haseena Moin’s dialogues, not her best to begin with, cannot undo the many catastrophes that Sacch brims over with.

The music and cinematography of the film do offer some respite, but when even the dubbing is out of sorts, it’s obvious that far too many people without basic knowledge of the profession have been hired for jobs that they are neither qualified for nor passionate about.

That, in a nutshell, is what Lollywood has offered us in the 2010s. And that is what needs to change for there to be any “revival” in the 2020s.