“Money Back Guarantee” (Movie Review): A Political Satire that Mostly Works

For any satire to succeed, it should be committed to criticism and observations it makes without remorse or sentimentality. In that, “Money Back Guarantee” definitely succeeds. There are plenty of laughs, and not for a second does it lose sight of its goal.

While Faisal Qureshi’s writing and direction are not perfect, “Money Back Guarantee” is a great step forward to bringing back actual comedy films to Pakistani cinema. It’s, therefore, one film you shouldn’t miss.

IT IS NOT a copy of Spanish TV show “Money Heist” AT ALL. It’s a wholly Pakistani film.

“Money Back Guarantee” Brings Back Comedy Films to Pakistani Cinema

The rom-coms which have become a staple of Pakistani cinema often scrape the bottom of the barrel when it comes to comedy. Thankfully, “Money Back Guarantee” is intelligent, if not subtle. The satire is on point, if not biting.

Faisal Qureshi’s writing hits upon the problems of Pakistan that everyone is aware of, from religious to ethnic, to provincial, to economic. In almost every frame, those problems are front and center. And he’s careful not to shift the blame on to any one person.

There are also comments about “interfering guards” and ethnic stereotypes as well as the inflation and exchange rate. None of it will make you ponder or think very hard, but then again, this kind of humour has been absent from Pakistani films for so long that it’s refreshing to see it executed at all.

Also, quite a few gags made me chuckle, and one made me clap with joy. A blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo by Ali Rehman Khan in the beginning will also split your sides. Also, the film is clean. Crass, cheap jokes and cursing is nowhere to be found. You can take your family without worrying about any awkwardness.

The Performances are All Over the Top

Everyone from Fawad Khan to Gohar Rasheed to Kiran Malik to Ayesha Omar is over the top in “Money Back Guarantee”. The film leaves very little room for subtleties, but even then, the pitch is loud. Where the writing succeeds for the most part, the theatrical performances don’t all work.

Mani and Fawad Khan as well as Gohar Rasheed steal the show. Even Kiran Malik is pretty convincing, and of course Hina Dilpazeer is effortless in her performance. Unfortunately, Wasim Akram, Shaniera Akram, and Javed Sheikh contribute VERY LITTLE to the narrative. Wasim Akram is never the menacing presence he’s portrayed to be. He could’ve done with a lot more dialogue and character development.

Faisal Qureshi could’ve toned down the pitch of the film just a tad, and it would’ve worked better. In certain cases, the actors are so loud that their dialogues get lost in the fray. That will only work against a film so fully dependent on its writing.

“Money Back Guarantee” Is Refreshing and New

When I interviewed Shayan Khan, the producer of “Money Back Guarantee”, and he told me that it was a social satire about third world countries, I was sure the film would be stopped or at least cut by the censor board. However, there appear to be no cuts at all.

This kind of filmmaking and experimentation is needed if our industry is to progress. A film like this hasn’t been made in the new wave of Pakistani cinema yet. And I hope that Faisal Qureshi, despite his flaws, continues to make movies and improve his craft. If this is what he can do in his debut, I want to see what he accomplishes when he hones and polishes his skills.

The Negatives: Repetitive Sequences and Restrictive Spaces

While the film hardly takes place in one room, “Money Back Guarantee” does feel restrictive in its sets. Characters often speak in small rooms and the same sets are repeated a little too often. The film could’ve benefitted from a little more outdoor shooting, and perhaps a better executed chase scene in the end.

That’s about it. The film looks great and feels very cinematic. While there’s room for improvement, “Money Back Guarantee” is exactly the kind of film Pakistani cinema needs, and it needs about a dozen of them every year.

“Money Back Guarantee” is a film that would’ve been a hit even without an Eid release. With some decent marketing, it could’ve joined the small list of great commercial successes from the new wave which succeeded outside the Eid holidays.

Money Back Guarantee is playing in theaters across Pakistan this Eid. Don’t miss it.

Written by Yousuf Mehmood


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