July 28, 2022
by Carla Hay
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.
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.