The failing local film industry saw a ray of hope with the recent premiere of the Lollywood period film, Channa Sachi Muchi (CSM). Its makers claim it to be one of the most expensive film ever made in the history of Pakistan, labeling it as a revival of Pakistani cinema. CSM has been produced by Ijaz Bajwa (he has 28 TV serials to his credit in the past 27 years), and he made his debut as a director with this film.
His role as film director came as a result of him not being satisfied with the previous director, “In 2007, as the producer I was facing great losses as the director was not paying attention to the film,” said Ijaz. Keeping this in mind, he has done a good job with the film, as his work is a notch higher than the others who have been at it for a much longer time.
The cast of CSM includes Babar Ali, Moammar Rana (Momy), Saima and Hina Shaheen. Initially, Shaan had been cast in the role later played by Momy. All of the four main actors have given satisfactory performances, however, I expected acting performances on a much higher level of a film being referred to by its makers as a revival of Pakistani cinema. I also expected better dialogues, make-up and wardrobe selection as the colors worn by some of the lead actors did not go well with the background.
Babar Ali’s performance as the baddie was convincing and different from the roles he usually plays. When approached to comment on his character and his take on the film’s potential for the revival of cinema at the premiere, he said, “I have been working for 23-and-a-half years, and have never had such an experience before. I have played the hero in most films but have been appreciated much more as a villain in CSM. As for the revival of cinema, I feel if films are good then cinema will also revive as a direct result. CSM is a good film and that is why it can be associated with revival.”
The plot is typical of Pakistani/Indian films, depicting a love story between a Muslim boy and a Hindu girl intermingled with the independence of the subcontinent. The film, however, has no scenes showing the violence of Partition, which was a positive. Although watching it was somewhat interesting and entertaining, I felt that nothing new was offered in terms of storyline and it was painfully predictable.
Bao (Moammar Rana) is a well-educated Muslim boy who falls in love with Pooja (Saima), a Hindu girl. The plot reaches its climax when his fiance Lajo (Hina Shaheen) and Pooja’s fiance Sooria (Babar Ali) find out about their blossoming love affair. The dance sequences are well-choreographed and the backdrops are pleasing to the eye.
This may be a result of the fact that 80 per cent of the filming has been done outdoors at original locations. Sets have been used only for indoor shoots. The film has seven songs including an item number with Mehr Hassan’s voluptuous dance performance.
The music of Channa Sachi Muchi is by Zulfaqar Ali with lyrics by Khalilur Rehman Qamar. The songs are sung by Azra Jahan, Saima Jahan, Naseebo Lal, Harash Deep and Babul Supriyo and the soundtrack has received a good response so far at music stores in Lahore. The song Yeh Ishq Nahin Hai Aasan with Mehr Hasan moving seductively on screen is especially popular among the masses. It is also downloaded off the internet on a daily basis.
There was a mixed reaction when the general public was asked about CSM bringing something new to Pakistani cinema. A majority of them appreciated it, with one man claiming that he has watched it four times already. “I just love the dances and the music,” he said. The more skeptical of the lot don’t want to bother as they feel they would rather watch a good Indian film. A few who have seen it said that it has the same old storyline, dances and dialogues, and don’t consider it a step towards the revival of film in any way other than better backdrops and a catchier soundtrack.
Ijaz Bajwa said it’s an effort by the film industry in these tough times, “At least people in Punjab are going to watch the film as it offers a good entertainment option to them. I don’t think the film doesn’t have flaws, but at least someone with courage and financial muscle has tried to revolutionise the market. This is not the typical five-song masala film, and certainly not vulgar. It has a good story, good music and post-production is good, too.”
Channa Sachi Muchi is the first Pakistani film which has digital intermediate treatment and post-production from Adlab, Mumbai. It is one tiny step forward. Now all we need is the revival of Pakistani films being associated with fresh, new and original storylines.