Review: ‘Yaara Vey,’ starring Aleeze Nasser, Sami Khan, Faizan Khawaja, Jawed Sheikh, Marina Khan and Ali Sikander

January 9, 2023

by Carla Hay

Aleeze Nasser and Sami Khan in “Yaara Vey” (Photo courtesy of Hum Films)

“Yaara Vey”

Directed by Manish Pawar

Urdu and Hindi with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in Thailand and Dubai, the romantic drama film “Yaara Vey” features a predominantly Pakistani and Indian cast of characters (with some white people) representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: A successful executive at a property-development company is torn between getting romantically involved with her ambitious co-worker or the aspiring restaurateur who is competing for the same land that her company wants. 

Culture Audience: “Yaara Vey” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in watching formulaic love stories in movies that are more than 150 minutes long.

Aleeze Nasser and Faizan Khawaja in “Yaara Vey” (Photo courtesy of Hum Films)

“Yaara Vey” is a tepid, long-winded movie made like a silly soap opera, with a predictable plot involving a love triangle and family secrets. The characters and dialogue fail to be interesting enough to justify the movie’s tedious run time of 157 minutes. “Yaara Vey” has good-looking main characters in scenic locations but they can’t distract from a flimsily constructed story.

Directed by Manish Pawar, “Yaara Vey” (which translates to “whose way” in Urdu) uses so many over-used clichés from romance-based dramas, it’s easy to predict within 15 minutes after the movie begins how everything is going to end. Too bad it takes such a painfully long time to get to that point. Mahwash Ajaz and Althea Kaushal wrote the bloated screenplay for “Yaara Vey,” which is made even worse by the movie’s clunky film editing.

“Yaara Vey,” which goes back and forth between Thailand and Dubai, begins in Thailand. It’s where an aspiring restaurateur in his 30s named Sameer Baig (played by Sami Khan) is awakened from a deep sleep by his assistant Sikander “Sikki” Raina (played by Ali Sikander), a stereotypical goofy sidekick to the leading man. It’s 10:30 a.m., and Sikki is waking up Sameer and scolding his boss for being late for an important business meeting that morning. Sameer was out partying the night before at a nightclub, so he’s feeling a little groggy and hungover.

The movie then abruptly introduces viewers to Sania Siddiqui (played by Aleeze Nasser), a hard-driving business executive at a property-development company in Dubai. An unidentified narrator describes Sania, who is in her 30s, as “impatient” and a “perfectionist.” She has a persistent suitor named Arman Syed (played by Faizan Khawaja), who is a fast-rising business star at the same company. Arman, who is close to the same age as Sania, is also a “perfectionist,” says the narrator. And even though Arman is an attractive, eligible bachelor who could have his pick of women, he has his sights set only on Sania.

Sania was raised in a single-parent household by her strong-willed mother Sonia “Soni” Siddiqui (played by played by Marina Khan), who told Sania that Sania’s father died before Sania was born. Soni is now a successful architect who is still very involved in her daughter’s life and wants a say in Sani’s choice of a future husband. Sania isn’t forceful about it, but she’s very opinionated and outspoken about who might be a good love match for Sania. Meanwhile, Sania does not want to be in her mother’s shadow and is focused on her own career.

Sania, Arman and some other co-workers have to travel from Dubai to Thailand for a business trip to look at the property where their company will be building a luxury resort called Dreamland Resort. Upon landing in Thailand and arriving at the airport, Sania is annoyed that her luggage hasn’t arrived yet. And then, Sameer accidentally runs into her at the airport and spills his coffee on her clothes. It’s a very unoriginal “meet cute” moment for these two strangers.

Sania is already in a bad mood, and she rudely calls Sameer a “moron” for this accident, even though he makes a profuse apology. When Sania gets to her hotel, she finds out that her room isn’t ready yet, so she has another minor hissy fit. And what a coincidence: Sameer is staying at the same hotel too. Sameer and Sania see each other in the lobby, where Sameer (who was recently dumped by his girlfriend of four years) is flirting with a hotel receptionist.

Sania is flustered and impatient over all these delays for her trip, so she doesn’t notice that she has dropped a book on the floor of the hotel lobby. An elderly man named Kabir (played by Jawed Sheikh), who’s also in the lobby, notices that she dropped the book and returns the book to Sania, who graciously thanks him. Kabir introduces himself and says that he’s a bookstore owner, and he invites her to visit his bookstore at any time. And what a coincidence: Kabir happens to know Sameer too, as Sania later finds out.

“Yaara Vey” has many contrived reasons from why Sameer and Sania keep seeing each other on this business trip. The biggest contrivance is revealed when Sania and Arman go to the property where Dreamland Resort will be built, and they find Sameer and Sikki there too, because Sameer says that he’s building his restaurant on the same property. The people on either side of this dispute end up arguing over contracts and who has the legal right to own the property.

It’s already revealed in the “Yaara Vey” trailer that there’s going to be a love triangle between Sameer, Sania and Arman. Unfortunately, the movie takes an awfully long time showing Sania not being able to make up her mind between these two suitors. Sania likes Arman’s compatible business ambitions and financial success, but Sameer is the one who makes her more comfortable and can make her laugh. It doesn’t take a genius to predict what will happen by the end of the movie.

Meanwhile, there’s a subplot involving Kabir that the movie handles in a very sloppily filmed way. “Yaara Vey” is filled with too many mismatched, unevenly edited scenes. Some scenes that needed more explanation and context are abruptly cut in awkward transitions to the next scenes. Other scenes drag on for too long and are very repetitive.

All of the performances and dialogue in “Yaara Vey” range from mediocre to bad. There isn’t one single idea in this movie that is original. And yes, there’s a scene where someone rushes to the airport to catch up to someone getting on a plane, in order to reveal true feelings to that person before it’s too late. “Yaara Vey” isn’t the worst movie you could ever see, but it’s such a lazy and lengthy rehash of so many old clichés, everything ends up being a complete waste of time.

Hum Films released “Yaara Vey” in select U.S. cinemas and in Pakistan on December 2, 2022.

Review: ‘Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad,’ starring Fahad Mustafa and Mahira Khan

July 28, 2022

by Carla Hay

Fahad Mustafa in “Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad” (Photo courtesy of Hum Films and Eveready Pictures)

“Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad”

Directed by Nabeel Qureshi

Urdu with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in Karachi, Pakistan, the action film “Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad” features an all-Pakistani cast representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: A corrupt cop, who is romancing a virtuous veterinarian, has to decide what to do when the bribe money he has collected mysteriously begins to look like counterfeit bills. 

Culture Audience: “Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad” will appeal primarily to people who don’t mind watching an action comedy with a confused tone and a weak storyline.

Mahira Khan and Fahad Mustafa in “Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad” (Photo courtesy of Hum Films and Eveready Pictures)

The action flick “Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad” undermines its comedic intentions with preachy and melodramatic subplots in this bloated and jumbled story about a corrupt cop who takes bribes. The movie seems very confused about the tone it wants to have. The introduction of a mystical/supernatural element to the movie’s plot doesn’t fit well with the story at all.

Directed by Nabeel Qureshi, “Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad” (which means “Long Live Rules” in Urdu) was written by Quershi and Fizza Ali Meerza. The movie takes place in Karachi, Pakistan. The beginning of “Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad” shows a boy of about 8 or 9 years old named Gulab Mughal (played by Usman), who becomes rebellious troublemaker. Gulab’s father Munir Mughal (played by Faiq Khan) is an ethical police inspector. However, because of Munir’s low income, the family has financial problems.

Gulab doesn’t like that his family is considered lower-class when it comes to money. He thinks his father being a cop who won’t take bribes has a lot to do with the family’s financial woes. And so, Gulab doesn’t really respect his father, and Gulab becomes a juvenile delinquent who steals and causes mischief. From an early age, Gulab has decided that he never wants to worry about being poor.

The movie then fast-forwards 20 years later. Gulab (played by Fahad Mustafa) is now a police inspector who is very different from his father. That’s because Gulab takes bribes and often physically assaults or makes dangerous threats to people who don’t pay these bribes. Gulab’s widowed father Munir (played by Qavi Khan) is retired and very ashamed of Gulab being a corrupt cop.

One day, Gulab is called to the scene of a possible suicide attempt. A woman is standing on the ledge of a high-rise apartment building. She calls herself Sweety. After trying to get her to come down from the ledge, Gulab finds out that Sweety was not trying to kill herself but she was actually trying to rescue a cat from the ledge. She takes the cat and brings it safely inside.

It’s at this moment, viewers can tell this is the “meet cute” part of the story because of the way that Gulab seems attracted to her. After she gets off of the ledge, Sweety tells Gulab that her name really isn’t Sweety, but she won’t tell him her real name. Gulab later finds out that her real name is Jia (played by Mahira Khan), and she is a veterinarian, who is passionate about animal rights and has high ethical standards.

Through a series of circumstances, Jia and Gulab see each other again after he comes into possession of her lost phone. Jia plays hard to get when Gulab shows a romantic interest in her, but eventually she and Gulab begin dating each other. She doesn’t know at first that he’s a corrupt cop. It’s very easy to predict whether or not she will eventually find out.

“Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad” starts to get ridiculous when there’s a major plot development about how the image of Muhammad Ali Jinnah (founder of Pakistan) starts to disappear from the rupee bills that Gulab has in his bribery stash. This mysterious change has to do with Munir dying with the heartbroken belief that his son Gulab never respected Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The bills then look counterfeit, which causes all sorts of problems when Gulab tries to spend the money.

“Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad” just becomes a series of convoluted scenes of Gulab dealing with his bribery money problems and facing a moral dilemma over whether or not he could continue to be a corrupt cop. “Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad” has supporting characters that are mostly portrayed as bumblers, dull people or irredeemable villains. They include Ronaq Ali (played by Jawed Sheikh), who is Gulab’s sidekick co-worker; Babar Jilani (played by Mehmood Aslam), who is deputy inspector general of Sindh Police and Gulab’s unethical boss who collects bribes too; and Rana Kamran (played by Nayyar Ejaz), a corrupt politician.

In between the musical numbers and silly-looking action scenes, Gulab and Jia have a very predictable romance story arc when a “good girl” falls for a “bad boy” who might have a chance at redeeming himself. There’s nothing in this movie that is innovative or clever. “Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad” also has a ludicrous subplot about a lion on the loose. At 142 minutes, “Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad” is also too long for a movie that doesn’t have much substance. Even if the movie were 90 minutes are less,

Hum Films and Eveready Pictures released “Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad” in select U.S. cinemas and in Pakistan on July 8, 2022.

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