By: Ayesha Babar
When the film makers who have previously brought films like Siyaah and Janaan to our screens announced their next Parchi, we were incredibly excited to see what would be on offer. The trailer of the film promised a rather different genre for Pakistani cinema – somewhere in the thriller-comedy space – which added to our curiosity about the film.
The much anticipated Parchi is finally out in UK cinemas after a great first few weeks of release in Pakistan, Canada and the US and here is why you need to go watch it soon!
Parchi is set in the fictional town of Debal and is the story of four friends and flatmates: Bashir Ahmed (Ali Rehman Khan), Bilal Ahmed (Usman Mukhtar), Saqlain aka Saqi (Ahmed Ali Akbar) and Bhola (Shafqat Khan) and how their lives are turned upside down when they receive a ‘Parchi’ from a goon called ‘Zodiac’. What is a Parchi, you ask? It is basically a note demanding a sum of money which if not paid, can result in dire consequences for the person who it is given to. Thus, enters Hareem Farooq’s character, Eman, who turns out to be one of the most interesting female characters we have seen on the Pakistani silver screen in recent times (but more on that later).
If you are a fan of comedies and like us have been disappointed with most of the comedy films that have come out of South Asia recently, Parchi is definitely for you. The film avoids the melodrama that desi storytellers so easily succumb to and instead keeps the comedy crisp and situational.
Even with a running time of just over two hours, Parchi manages to hold the audiences’ interest till the end, thanks to the sharp editing and the tight storyline.
Before we move on to the acting, there is an important question to be asked – what is it with these new Pakistani actors looking this good? No, we aren’t objectifying them, but I mean really, what is up?
While I enjoyed watching the portrayal of Ali Rehman’s impulsive Bash and Hareem’s strong yet vulnerable Eman, I was truly impressed with Ahmed Ali’s overthinking Saqi and Usman Mukhtar’s underplayed Bilal.
Usman’s comic timing was one of the highlights of the film for me as he plays the character of the hopelessly in love, self-righteous man to perfection. Special mention for his acting in the climax scene – trust me, you will know what I am talking about when you watch the film.
Hareem Farooq – the new kind of hero?
Hareem really does push the boundary with her character, which turns out to be a breath of fresh air for the audiences. As ‘Madam Sahab’ she is the only woman who is able to stand up to the tyranny of the fighting gangs and yet, she has her moments of vulnerability where you can see how broken she really is. There are very few actresses who have taken the kind of risks that she has with choosing roles in recent years. Drama audiences will remember her from her portrayal of Arjumand, playing Osman Khalid Butt’s mother in Diyar e Dil and more recently in Sanam where she played a young woman suffering from a mental disorder that she herself is unaware of. For those who are familiar with her film work, her role as a single mother struggling with love in Dobara Phir Se stands out. With Parchi, she adds to this very impressive body of work and definitely paves the way for more interesting roles for women in our stories.
Billo Hai and Imagine:
Dream sequences and numbers that burn the dance floor? Yes please!! Imagine had us in splits with Hareem, Usman and Ali’s antics especially that Mary Poppins reference! It is one of the catchiest tunes we have heard recently so you cannot blame us for listening to it on loop!
Billo Hai’s placement in the film might feel a little abrupt but we will happily take that because it was SO much fun to watch. Osman Khalid Butt’s ace choreography (yes, he does that too!) has ensured that Billo Hai has claimed it’s spot as one of the sangeet songs of the season. It is definitely refreshing to see Pakistani film songs that have been aesthetically shot as the trend that was started with Shakar Wandan (Ho Mann Jahan) and Largaiyan (Dobara Phir Se), is taken forward by Osman. A very special mention here for Hareem’s sass and Ali Rehman’s mad energy on Billo Hai.
With Parchi, director Azfar Jafri has cemented his place in Pakistani cinema – showing that he can deftly handle any genre and get the best performances from his actors.
Kudos, also, to the trailblazing producers – Imran Raza Kazmi and Hareem Farooq who, over the years, have really put their money where their mouth is and worked on projects that they have believed in – all while bringing new talent to the fore.
We are already looking forward to the next film from this team. Parchi 2, anyone?