History has seen its fair share of macabre criminals with unconventional, even what we may refer to as colorful and idiosyncratic personas. Such individuals not only transgress against established dictates of the law, but they also seek to go against the moral grain of the society.
In ‘Gulzar’ director Jasim Khan explores one such character who refers to himself as Gulzar (played by Abdullah Ejaz) and who models himself the namesake Urdu/Punjabi poet. With the opening close-up shots of various cosmetics and make-up products, the film drops not-so-subtle hints that there is more to the character than may be readily apparent. Gulzar travels in rickety taxis, meets dodgy-looking goons, and eventually is revealed to be involved in illicit human trafficking. Over the course of an eventful night, his paths cross with a private erotic dancer (Tamkenat Mansoor) and her companion cum make-up man.
Writer Faseeh Bari’s script is not for the faint of heart, for the language and plot elements may cross the line for some viewers. The writing is laced with the screenwriter’s trademark movie world references, and there’s an obvious attempt to humanize what we see as the other i.e. the criminal. Abdullah Ejaz in the titular character presents a decent account of himself as Gulzar, this is easily among one of his better performances. Another bright spot is the film’s above-par production value. The frames are framed and lit quite nicely and the effort to transcend beyond the limitations imposed by a typical short, and to go for a straight-up cinematic look is quite visible. By the time it ends, one feels there was enough of a plot and storyline complete with atypical character elements to make for an interesting half-hour of run time. All the ‘controversial’ baggage the filmmakers’ attempt to load on is extraneous.
Khushkhabri Kay Baad
Director Angeline Malik and writer Abdul Khaaliq Khan team up with NGO Aahung to bring this short that highlights the importance of sexual and reproductive health and rights in a lighthearted, entertaining manner. Looking at the project beyond its awareness-oriented objective, ‘Khushkhabri Kay Baad’ actually makes for an absorbing viewing experience, and the film is helped in no small amount by excellent performances from the ever-reliable Hajra Yameen and other cast members such as Hassan Raza, Saleem Mairaj, and Nazli Nasr.
The plot centers around a middle-class household with an ever-expanding number of children. When the eldest (Hassan Raza) gets married and brings his newly-wed wife (Hajra Yameen) into the rather crowded surroundings, matrimonial bliss which the couple aspires for is not easily achieved. Soon more complications arise when it is revealed that the mother-in-law is having another child. Under these circumstances, the ‘bahu,’ who also happens to be a reproductive health counselor, does what would be the right thing to do, only for events to take a more negative turn.
Writer Abdul Khaaliq’s script breaks taboos around reproductive health and the use of contraceptives and does so in a forthright, candid manner. The screenplay is dotted with unintentional humor arising from having too many members in the household, which helps in keeping the tone from getting too heavy-handed. This one is a message-oriented short for the masses.