Ashfaq Malik’s ‘Ajnabi’ is based on a story which has all the ingredients of popular melodrama: Muslim Uzbeks fighting to preserve their independence against the mighty Czar; an ideal ruler who is just and brave and invincible; girls ready to sacrifice everything for the sake of community’s independence; intrigue and fighting; and comedy and music. But the film is not even half as exciting or entertaining as the story. One does not look far for the reasons for the debacle.
In the first place the writer has laid the basis of his undoing by specifying the locals and trying to pass off bad fiction as history. A less accomplished director than Ashfaq Malik might have been forgiven for accepting this basis of the story but not he especially when he knew he could not create the splendor of the Czar’s court nor collect the necessary properties. However the film’s deficiencies on this account are of secondary importance. One is no doubt shocked to see ordinary carbines causing more havoc than modern machine-guns, or the Czar’s army dressed in the uniform of West Pakistan constabulary, but these are not fatal mistakes. The film falls to pieces, firstly, because there is little logic in screenplay so much so that one does not know in which a particular artiste is moving.
There is a sequence in the film which reveals fully the confusion in which the writer and the director have landed themselves. The Uzbek chief learns that the Czar’s troops have encamped near the border of his territory. He shouts a bit and then follow shots of cavalry racing across a plain. These are beautiful shots of cavalry charge. But then what happens? There is a shot of cavalry halting a few yards from the tents (whose tents?) as a Russian general studies a map outside his tent.
Nobody can make head or tail of this sequence over which the director and his cameraman and the editor have really worked hard.
Then there are scenes of fighting. One does not know who is fighting whom. There is a long sequence in which Alauddin makes a poor parody of Burt Lancaster’s Apache. The public can swallow all kinds of incredible feats of bravery but here nobody knows where is he fighting? So much for action. As for drama, it is perhaps right to say that 90 percent of drama is dialogue but surely ‘dramatic dialogue’ does not mean only over-pitched voice and circumlocution and archaic language
These fundamental defects have robbed the film of its force. Another major disappointment is music. In an abstract sense, the camera work is impressive. There is a greater use of close ups than in earlier films by Ashfaq Malik. The photography of beauty spots is excellent. One can also notice ‘zooming’ effects with ordinary lenses.
Year – 1962
Language – Urdu
Country – Pakistan
Producer – Ashfaq Malik
Director – Ashfaq Malik
Music Director – Asghar Ali/M.Hussain
Box-Office Status – Flop
Cast – Bahar, Ejaz, Diljit, Asad Bokhari, Allaudin, Rukhsana, Laila, Diljeet Mirza, Sawan, Talish