The film, Virsa, is a joint venture between Pakistan and India — an apparent attempt for the revival of Pakistani cinema with the idea that it could be brought about through collaborative efforts, consequently resulting in meaningful cinema. The premier held in all its glory at CineStar Cinema was attended by the film’s star cast and other showbiz personalities.
Virsa has been shot extensively in Australia. The spokesperson for the film as well as the producer if its soundtrack, Pakistani singer Jawad Ahmad, said that the film sees a bringing together of the best talent from three diverse countries to give the viewers of Punjabi films an international cinematic experience like never before.
“This is the first Indo-Pak film production in the history of Pakistan, which is a ground-breaking step forward,” he said. “We have inadvertently raised the bar in terms of quality of production, production value and by ensuring that the film is simultaneously launched on the same date internationally. Our Indian counterparts helped us in making this happen.” Jawad stressed that Virsa has been given an international face and through this film they have been able to accomplish worldwide screening which is only something that has been talked about in the Pakistani industry prior to its launch.
The story revolves around a rich boy who falls in love with a girl. She strictly believes in remaining within the bounds of moral and social values. The tale concentrates on the boy’s efforts to prove his love to the girl played by model-actress Mehreen Raheal, and the adversities he has to face while at the same time having to deal with family issues. Virsa, in effect, deals with the expatriate Punjabi community and its crisis of identity and morality.
The cast includes Sardar Joginder Singh Grewal, Ranvir Singh Grewal, Harjinder Kaur, Yuvraj Singh Grewal, Meet, Gulshan Grover, Kanwaljeet Singh, Ruby, Aarya Babbar, Aparna Sharma, Nawaz Ali, Nauman Ijaz, Shazia Ali, Aaman Ali Shazia, Aman Dhaliwal, Mahi Sandhu and Mehreen Raheal.
The acting is overall satisfactory. Indian actor Arya Babbar, son of veteran Bollywood actor Raj Babar, plays the male lead. His performance was mediocre at best and one expects and hopes to see better work from him in future, especially since he’ll soon be appearing with Salman Khan in an upcoming film. Gulshan Grover was appreciated immensely for the role he played and Mehreen attracted praise for her acting as well as her presence on screen. It was widely agreed that her performance shouldered Arya’s somewhat disappointing histrionics. “I am overwhelmed by the response and I thank all my fans,” she said. Noman Ijaz, although only in a few scenes, played a very strong role in the film, to which he did full justice, “I enjoyed being a part of Virsa and would love to work with the same cast and crew again.”
The music of the film is outstanding with tracks sung by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Richa Sharma, Amna Khan, newcomer Farah, Fuad Ahmed, Kirshna, Sahir Ali Bagga and Jawad Ahmed. The music has been produced, arranged and mixed entirely in Pakistan. The song Yadaan has been on the top of the BBC Asia charts for the past two weeks.
In terms of feedback from audiences around the world, Australia has so far shown the best response with India not far behind. “We have our fingers crossed with regard to response from audiences,” said Jawad. “I am not sure how it will fare with the public but this waiting game is a part of the process for any production which has just been released.” A few Pakistani audience members agreed that the music is exceptional and a major pulling factor. However, lighting and make-up, especially in the close-up shots of Mehreen, could have been better.
Virsa is produced and released by Dr Amanullah Khan, Jawwad Ahmed from Pakistan and Vikram Khakhar from India. The film is a must see. It may not herald the revival of cinema in Pakistan, but it features many positives which gives the feeling that we are slowly and steadily moving in the right direction. “The saving grace of the film is the beautiful cinematography,” added Mehreen.
Cast and Production Credits
Year – 2010, Genre – Drama, Country – India/Pakistan, Language – Punjabi, Producer – Dr. Amanullah Khan, Mr. Vikram Khakhar, Jawad Ahmad, Director – Pankaj Batra, Music Director – Jawad Ahmad, Cast – Gulshan Grover, Shazia, Arya Babbar, Kanwaljeet, Mehreen Raheal, Naumaan Ijaas, Ruby, Aparna Sharma, Aman Dhaliwal