With Khalil-ur-Rehman Qamar’s ARY series Mere Paas Tum Ho making major waves, it is perhaps time to go over the infamous writer’s previous offering, Kaaf Kangana. An almost three-hour-long feature film that dropped unceremoniously last month and was a pretty sad affair both in terms of reviews and box office.
The movie is billed as the Landa Bazaar writer’s first feature film and is written, produced, and directed by him. What this means basically is that the dumpster fire that is Kaaf Kangana is Qamar’s own making.
The movie depicts an Indian girl Kangana Rathore (played by Eshal Fayyaz), who wins a seven-day trip to Lahore after she wins at the finale of SAARC Quiz Competition, much to the chagrin of her Pakistani opponent Ali (Sami Khan).
Despite it being alluded to that the Bangladeshi host has it out for the Pakistani man, Kangana’s reward for winning the competition is somehow a visit to Pakistan. It, of course, leads to more meetings with Ali with whom she strikes an initially reluctant friendship that blossoms into love.
After her seven days are up, Kangana returns to her small town in India, and Ali decides to go to India to bring her back. To the film’s credit, there is a little more to the story than meets the eye; however, despite it being inspired by true events, the film isn’t interesting in the slightest.
It is downright impossible to believe at times that the film is the brainchild of one of the most celebrated writers of Pakistan today, given how weak the film is on so many levels. While one can excuse the weak direction on this being Qamar’s directorial debut, there is no reason why the movie should have such a pathetic script.
The writing varies from amateurish to atrocious throughout the movie, with the Indian-Hindi dialogues, in particular, coming off as childish. There is also little effort to make the events in this film pass off as real: characters magically travel between Pakistan and India, seemingly without a passport, Ali transforms from a timid guy into an overbearing aggressive man in the blink of an eye.
Read more: ‘Would rather speak the truth and not get cast in Bollywood’: Mehwish Hayat
And for some reason, the movie is obsessed with Sunny Deol, giving a B-list actor’s comments on Kashmir, far too much weight. The film also stumbles thematically wading into Kashmir issue and the general Pakistan-Indian divide without having anything to say.
And although the ISPR film is decidedly pro-Pakistan and anti-India, the movie seems to mock the whole concept of peace between the two countries even as the movie ends on that.
The inspiration for Kaaf Kangana was old Indian anti-Pakistan films, and Kaaf Kangana seems content with using the same formula without bothering to update it. Unfortunately for the film, it really doesn’t seem to have good music or acting as its saving face.
Sami Khan, a TV vet, has given two film performances this year, before Kaaf Kangana, and yet his acting seems bafflingly on the nose. It is unclear, however, how much Khan is to be blamed for his acting appearing so over the top, given that his character morphs into a completely different person halfway through the film.
Read more: Screening of Indian movies banned in Lahore
Newcomer Eshal Fayyaz is as poor a performer as she appears in the trailers, and it was hard not to wince during her scenes. Other cast members, Saba Hameed, Fiza Ali, Sajid Hassan, and Qamar’s son Aabi Khan, all play the poorly conceived roles they have been given, and it is only Ayesha Omar who gets to have some fun with her character.
Her character Gulnaaz is a sharp mouthed and funny Lahori girl. If there is any life whatsoever in Kaaf Kangana, it is in the brief scenes where her role comes out guns blazing with perfect comedic timing.
Kaaf Kangana, Khalil Ur Rehman Qamar’s mediocre foray into filmmaking isn’t likely to get you excited for any future films of his. The film fails as a masala film, a musical, and a politically conscious drama, and ultimately, there is little in the ARY film that is worth anyone wasting three hours of their time.