Talash Movie Review
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Talash (Movie Review): A Great Social Comedy-Drama and The Biggest Surprise of the Year

During the first 15-20 minutes of “Talash”, I thought I was in for another disposable film with a few fun sequences, but no real plot. However, “Talash” turns out to be probably the biggest surprise of the year. It’s a social comedy-drama that actually works, and has actual depth to its storyline.

The film is centered on a team of young doctors from Karachi who are going to set up camp in Interior Sindh. They’re part of a government program trying to address the problem of malnutrition in the region. While the film runs just shy of 2 ½ hours, it managed to fit in so many important issues that we couldn’t help but be surprised multiple times.

Also, the film is very funny. The theater we were at was packed with families and they were all enjoying the movie. Children and parents all were laughing at the one-liners and appreciating the social satire.

“Talash” has many Strong Social Messages at its Core

“Talash” talks about malnutrition, social taboos, child marriage, arcane traditions, and even a pivotal romance. While the present Pakistani film industry seems ill-equipped to deal with so many issues today, “Talash” surprisingly deals with all of it with nuance. There is acknowledgment, first and foremost, that these issues exist. However, the film doesn’t present its heroes as messiahs (saviors) who will solve everything on their own. Film depicts how deep seated these issues are and how only small, incremental change will bring solutions.

What caught us by surprise again and again was how Talash acknowledged that these issues aren’t going away any time soon because the burden of traditions is too heavy. It shows how the villagers and farmers are either too beholden by their traditions or by prior promises to go against the grain.

The Script is Excellent

The New Wave of Pakistani Cinema has unfortunately produced very few great scripts. Almost every film lacks a pivotal plot element, or tries to gloss over important events without justification. “Talash” stands out as a shining beacon among all these messy scripts. There is subtle foreshadowing, things aren’t force fed to the audience, and everyone’s trusted to figure things out on their own. “Talash”, being a social comedy at its surface, treats its audience like reasoning, thinking adults.

For those who have seen the trailer, there is a central romance that drives the entire story forward. The conflict within that romance is handled so well that you are actually left with your mouth agape. Again, this is all because we have been left to expect so little with the average Pakistani film that the slightest semblance of clever writing is surprising.

Also, as I mentioned earlier, the film is very funny. There’s a bit towards the end of the film involving a police station that had the entire audience in stitches.

Finally, the climax is something that is completely unexpected, in the best way. I won’t ruin it of course, but the entire movie was made all the better for it. Whatever awards are given out next year for Best Screenplay, they should be given to “Talash”.

The Camera Work

The beauty of Sindh’s village life is shown perhaps like never before in “Talash”. Galloping livestock, rolling fields, and beautiful landmarks are all shown in sweeping shots. There are a couple of fade-in shots that work incredibly well too. Zeeshan Khan has managed to use his camera for actual visual storytelling in some instances. As I said, this is so rare in Pakistani films that it is a pleasant surprise when it actually occurs.

The Few Flaws

The stars of the film, Noaman Sami (playing Khurram), Fariya Hassan (playing Tania) and Ahmad Zeb (playing Saleem) are all making their debut here. So it’s not that surprising that they’re a bit unpolished. Fariya Hassan is a bit melodramatic in some scenes and Noaman Sami is a little too subdued in others. However, for a debut feature, they put in enough subtlety, nuance and effort in to their performances to pull them off.

The first 15-20 minutes are also quite disposable, as I mentioned earlier. You think you’re going to get a run of the mill, typical Pakistani film with little to no subtlety. However, that quickly turns around as soon as Adnan Shah Tipu’s character Raju Rocket shows up. Still, the beginning of the film could’ve been shortened by about 10 minutes.

Also, Saleem Meiraj and Mustafa Qureshi, the powerhouses that they are, aren’t given much to do. Their characters are pivotal to the story, but they’re mostly reduced to a few plot points. If they were given a few introspective dialogues, the film would’ve been elevated a little further.

Final Verdict

Go watch “Talash”. I hope this film ends up becoming the surprise hit of the year. It deserves to be.

Talash Movie Review
  • Verdict
3

Summary

Go watch “Talash”. I hope this film ends up becoming the surprise hit of the year. It deserves to be.

Yousuf Mehmood

Written by Yousuf Mehmood

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