Direction: Syed Ali Raza Usama
Rating: **1/2 (out of 5)
People who have seen Main Hoon Shahid Afridi have simply loved the movie and my social media feed has been swamped with raving reviews of the flick since its Aug 23rd release across Pakistan.
So walked into the cinema with extremely high expectations – literally – and on that front was disappointed …
Main Hoon Shahid Afridi is not brilliant, mind-blowing, perfect cinema everyone has been declaring and in fact has several glaring flaws (do not kill me just now!):
- The story is nothing unique – and in fact loaded with all possible clichés and melodrama, its writer, Vasay Chaudhry could squeeze in to make it a commercial success. Namely – the husband-wife split-up; estranged father-son relationship; the rich father-in-law vs. the cricketer son-in-law; a poor family with a worthless gambling father, unmarried crippled sister and a sick mother!!
- Several sub-plots that the makers took great effort in building just never got a closure – for example – did the Cricket Club get saved? Did Shahid’s mother get her operation? What was the fate of Shahid’s family? What happened to Akbar Deen and family? Did they reunite or remain separated?
- Music of the film could have been much better – Jera Vee, Angreja and Masti Mai Doobi are simply decent – while Malaal, the song sung by Rahat Fateh Ali, is a space filler at best. The songs are choreographed pretty poorly and really just thrown in the movie at random. I am specially disappointed by the film’s music because music is something Pakistan does well…!!!
- Noman Habib, who plays the protagonist Shahid Bhatti (aka aspiring Shahid Afridi) lacks the personality needed for audience to connect with him and feel his plight (he was just too whiny for me!!). Nadeem is wasted with hardly a role, and Mahnoor Baloch and Shahzad Sheikh need acting lessons.
- Editing and lip-syncing were both off in many places, also the movie needed to at least 30 minutes shorter to be more effective. That could be because Azam Khan, the editor of the film passed away before completing the post-production work – so the makers get some margin from me!
With that out of my system – let me tell you why Main Hoon Shahid Afridi still works and has been a box office success in Pakistan …
- Acting wise Ismail Tara steals the show. He is so convincing in his role, that one can’t help but feel with his character. Javed Shaikh & Shafqat Cheema are good. Humayun Saeed is film star material, but he needs to stop thinking of himself at Shahrukh Khan and find his own style.
- All the cricket team from Sialkot played their roles convincingly and the ones who really stand out for me are (in the same order): Hamza Ali Abbasi (as the racist Pathan Majeed Maulvi); Ainan Arif (as the Christian wicket-keeper) & Gohar Rasheed (as Shahid’s best friend Kashif)
- Movie has some really strong scenes that engage and to name a few are sequences between Moulvi and Michael Magnet; the evil Javed Sheikh moments and the great ending cricket match.
- Basic plot of the movie holds a definitely mass appeal. Quoting Friday Times “Its (MHSA’s) strengths lie in an exploration of Pakistani class differences and cricket’s ability to be the great leveler; the last grounds upon which a young Pakistani boy from a small town can still dream big dreams.”
- Main Hoon Shahid Afridi has pulled all the right marketing punches to ensure audience comes to the ticket counter and the venture makes a profit – from making a movie on cricket (which our nation loves), to irrelevantly using nation’s cricket hero Shahid Afridi’s name in the movie title, to content integration of Pepsi in the movie to a controversy creating Mathira item number!!
All in all, Main Hoon Shahid Afridi, despite its weaknesses, is a film that has its heart in the right place – it looks good, rouses your patriotism, keeps you hooked on, lets you unwind with thrills, laughter and most of all, pride!