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Pakistani Cinema Witnesses Progress in animation with “The Donkey King”

Animation has been a popular genre ever since its inception for myriad reasons, from allowing the creators to exploit an extensive creative freedom to the vast color palette as well as morphing out characters of any possible sort to the financial viability in terms of acceptance by a wider family audience, the list could go on and on.

With the much used phrase of “Pakistani Cinema Revival” it was only natural that our film makers resort to such projects and albeit the list of such films is a shorter one in the local arena, the critical and financial success of these projects have been encouraging enough. From “3 Bahadur” Franchise & “Allahyar & the legend of Markhor” being already popular amongst audience, this week our cinemas witnessed another animated flick titled “The Donkey King“.

Coming to the film itself, as the trailer already suggested this “Animation for all Ages” tells the story of a Donkey named Mangu who is a dumb washerman, yet is hardworking and believes in his dreams.

The film progresses further where an aging  king (a lion,of course) decides to render the throne to his spoilt, selfie-addict, narcissist son, only to be advised by a cunning Vixen, Ms.Fitna to do it the democratic way to appease the general public who are not happy with the Lion’s decision of giving the throne to his son. What ensues is the donkey’s ascension to throne and a resultant indulgence in the extravagant royal lifestyle and not caring about the people who voted for him, to the  realization of his responsibilities that he needs to undertake in order to become the “Real Ruler”.

With so many Veterans lending their voices to blow life in the animation the film is an audiovisual treat for the audience of all ages. That’s where the makers succeed in making it a mainstream film to engage families rather than just kids. There is a particular tendency shown by makers to impart tiny, Itsy bitsy details to make the canvas of the film believable and ” Cinema worthy” making it a big plus point of the movie. Hina Dilapzeer (as Ms.Fitna) and Afzal khan Rambo (as Mangu) deserve special mention of how they manipulate their vocal cords to make the characters full of life. Also there is the brilliant Ismail Tara voicing Mangu’s Uncle with his sweet Sindhi accent. Tara’s voice alone is enough to make you laugh. Other veterans like Javed Sheikh, Irfan Khoosat, Faisal Qureshi, Shabir Jan and new sensation Shafaat Khan equally do Justice to their roles.

Some sequences are funny especially the one with King Idol.However Pakistani film makers should get over the regressive technique of using transgenders as butt of the jokes (the scene could even be witnessed in the trailer). Perhaps it will take time for our creators to become more sensitive towards the marginalized sections of our society and not stereotype them so let’s give them some more time.

The  music of the film – both background score and songs – is another department where the flick deserves full marks as all the sound design gels well with the narrative.

The song “Inky Pinky ponky” is so addictive and stays in your head for a long time, it may make to the Kids collection of the poems in the smart phones that parents use to pacify them nowadays.

There are departments where the film could have done better especially the dialogues. The dialogues seem unfunny at many places and also sound unreal in a setup that is created to imitate real life. Like many comedy films that came out from local and international cinema the movie tries too hard to be funny, while some may find it laughable others may question the brand of humor that it exploits.

At some places It may be evident that the writers Aziz Jindani (also directing the film) and Kamran Khimani could not decide whether to make this animated film for kids or adults or for both of them and that’s one of the major flaws of the film. The plot seemed too loose to engage the audience, I wish the same focus was put on the story as was put on the animation.

With all its flaws, Nevertheless “The Donkey King” makes for an entertaining watch if you take your kids along. We are sure they will come out of theaters happily with few lessons engraved in their head. For adults, if the film is taken in a metaphorical sense, it does have the ability to evoke a political discussion in your drawing room or over a Cup of Tea.

Watch the film for its comedy, animation and its background score.The outcome is an encouraging one.

Verdict : 3/5

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