In one scene in “Project Ghazi” its super-villain Qataan, sits across the table with a chotaa at a ramshackle dhabba and says “I too was once like you”, revealing that he too grew up on the streets, absorbing the vices of his environment and eventually becoming aware of his super powers. This is a rather poignant moment in a film, and heavy with symbolism given how poverty is known to breed social ills.
It is moments like these, peppered throughout the film, that make “Project Ghazi” a rewarding watch. Qataan spares no occasion to mouth his reality-laden jibes whenever he faces off the movie’s hero Zain (Shehryar Munawar) or his mentor Salar played by Humayun Saeed. Some of these may come across as harsh truths.
Played with a certain panache by Adnan Jaffar, Qataan is the embodiment of everything wrong around us in the society. Similarly, Zain and Salar are out on a mission to prove him wrong. Zain, who has inherited super-hero genetic traits from his dead father, is raised by his uncle, a scientist who is now a tycoon (Talat Hussain). He realizes that he has his father’s legacy to live up to. Through the film’s narrative arc, Zain discovers a few truths about himself and the characters he is surrounded by in the film. Aided by research scientist Zara (Syra Shehroz) and Salar, Zain eventually has to prevent Qataan from achieving his evil goals.
Among its plusses, the film has a relevant storyline along with competent performances from the cast. The writing, at times is intelligent too and like previously said, heavy on symbolism, but there are moments when more eloquence was required. Performance wise, Shehryar Munawar does a decent job, although at times he seems to be a bit too earnest. Humayun Saeed lends his star-power and shines as Salar, while Talat Hussain is the real dark horse here with a multi-layered character. The veteran performer steals every scene he is in. Syra Shahroz does not have an awful lot to do, however she too does well given the limitations of her character.
However, the film’s screenplay and editing is unforgivably choppy, and few scenes transition back and forth sometimes with little connection. There are also indications of missing scenes in the film, too. All of this results in the story moving forward in jerks and rather long pauses. The writing too could have done with some more emotional depth, which does make a belated appearance towards the end of the film.
On the brighter side of things, the film’s visual effects here are very good, indeed. Some sequences, such as the movie’s finale, are particularly done well and leave a solid impact. However, this is science fiction on a budget and it shows at times. Some scenes, such as the many fight sequences, needed more technical skills to be effective.
“Project Ghazi” does have an authentic sci-fi look and feel. Some credit for that goes to the film’s superb art direction and background score, which complement each other rather well. Another positive is the film’s length, which wraps up at under 95 minutes. Also, there is absolutely no masala here, although the film may come across as rather bland to those used to masala cinema. And last but not the least, director Nadir Shah and producer Syed Mohammed Ali Raza must be lauded for breaking new ground here and dealing with a risky genre.
Overall, “Project Ghazi” does have its moments and makes an impact on the viewer by the time its final frames roll. We would recommend it for a weekend watch to enjoy some sci-fi thrills and decent performances.