Alter an eye-catching teaser aired almost two years ago in 2014; Mah-e-Mir finally hit the screen last weekend. And to be honest, the two year delay pretty much adds on to the sheer disappointment Mah-e-Mir is only second to the fact that it fails to meet the high expectations it sets. From ooh-so-khalees Urdu to a dream sequence on a dhobi ghat to tacky class-less diamond-girl-volume-10-level mujras, Mah-e-Mir has both extremes of art packed into two hours of what should have been a visual treat instead of an endurance test of one’s grey cells and their capacity to absorb redundant crap.
I really don’t know why Pakistani film critics are going all out with praises for this movie because it clearly has some obvious directorial flaws and poorly acted performances that prevent it from being an orgasmic treat. They’re probably either still under the influence of the heavy dialogue-baazi, or they’re just being paid to write a good review! But really, it only takes half a brain to tell that Mah-e-Mir is a chocolate brownie that took too long to bake. Not to mention, something definitely went wrong with the recipe leaving it not only burnt, but absolutely void of the sensuous decadence the chocolate bean brings about in desserts.
In its face, Mah-e-Mir is a tribute to Mir Taqi Mir, but in essence the film is a comparison of both classical and contemporary views on Urdu poetry, and how the latter still has its roots tied down deep within the former. The movie tells the story of a modern day Urdu poet, Jamal (Fahad Mustafa), who challenges classical ideals of poetry by putting forward the question why Mir never saw Neil Armstrong in the moon as opposed to romanticizing it with the beauty of a woman, and highlights his journey into madness.
While some critics even go on to say that Mah-e-Mir lashes out at the commercialism that dominates the current world of Urdu literature, and how famous writers now seek to buy out the media in order to further publicize their work, they casually overlook how Mah-e-Mir shamelessly contradicts itself by giving out the message that no matter what you do, you’ll still need an influential to give you a much needed break in the world of literature as opposed to you justifying and dignifying your own artistic formations. What’s worse is that the movie lacks constructivism!
Ok… pause… let’s not be too bitchy… or… let’s save the fun part for the end…
What makes Mah-e-Mir shine?
Without a shred of doubt, the best thing about Mah-e-Mir is the exquisite use of the Urdu language and Urdu poetry; but only for a short while (more on that later). The camera work and art direction in some of the scenes that go back into Mir’s life and his rather shallow associations with ‘those’ kind of women were beautiful. Nonetheless, that just wasn’t enough to overshadow the countless flaws in the canvas that desperately tried to paint itself as Sarmad Khoosat’s Manto. In fact, at times I felt that parts of Mah-e-Mir had been re-shot to capture the darkness and intensity that Manto possessed. Hmmm… explains the delay! Alas… Mah-e-Mir failed!
Moving on to the fun part…
A plethora of directorial inconsistencies
Is the moon normally that disproportionately gigantic, or was the director just high on drugs? Anjum Shahzad clearly wasn’t wearing his director’s hat while working on Mah-e-Mir. The movie is punctuated with poor direction that sabotages most of its artistic attributes including the language and camera work. From fake moons that are up and about almost every night to the facade of Jamal’s building being completely unlit while a lonely Jamal sat in his room with the lights on, from the repetition of costumes by the characters in a scene too many to period costumes that were un-researched, Anjum seemed to have turned a complete blind eye to any attention to detail whatsoever.
And to add to all of these follies, Sarmad Sehbai’s writing was a drag. Like, what was the point of Iman Ali’s silent appearance in present day and those constant text messages that seemed as I she were sitting in the days of Mir when mobile phones weren’t even born? And Dr. Kaleem’s ex? Poorly executed and redundant subplots in my opinion!
Like most Pakistani films, Mah-e-Mir too is marred by a screenplay that is stretched like chewing gum and at places leaves you filling in blanks like other poorly written Pakistani movies. This is something our movie writers desperately NEED to get right. It’s one thing to write a script for television where scenes actually need to be long enough to kill forty minutes every week for six months, and it’s a completely different thing to write for a feature film intended to run for approximately two and a half hours!
Itni gaarhi Urdu
Normally the use of such heavy language ends up making one constipated, but I ended up having a severe headache that I had to pass on an IBA farewell dinner later in the evening. Potty jokes aside, the khalees Urdu that was one of the best things about the movie unfortunately became one of the negatives in no time. There comes a point when it feels like the characters of the story aren’t really talking but are instead shooting out verse after verse of heavy poetry in a faceoff that is the least bit poetic. It’s like Sarmad Sehbai thought “Oh, why write dialogues when you can just squeeze in Mir’s actually poetry as dialogues.” so much for khalees-ness! Naturally, the Pakistani audience isn’t accustomed to such heaviness!
The lack of performances
Ek to mujhe aaj ta yeh samajh nahi aayi ke who the fuck told Fahad Mustafa to become an actor?! His portrayal of both a struggling contemporary poet and the legendary Mir Taqi Mir were as hollow as an egg shell. Also his screen presence on the big screen is quite un-engaging compared to Pakistani men like Fawad Khan and Adeel Hussain. Dear Fahad, aap rehem karein humpe aur Jeeto Pakistan tak hi apne aap ko mehdood rakhein. Shukriya! What is the name of that stupid cycle he gives off as a gift?
And to all those people slobbering over Iman Ali’s beauty as Mahtab Begum, I’d simply say GO GET YOUR EYES CHECKED! She was never a good actress and all you need is a hose to wash off all those layers of makeup on her face to realize that. Not to mention, her beauty doesn’t quite translate all that well on the big screen; she kinda looks like Bella Swan’s asian cousin rom heera mandi. And god… is she one terrible dancer! Wait… was she even dancing?
Sanam Saeed was interesting, but her character ended rather abruptly; more explaining by Sarmad Sehbai required.
The actor who actually did do a fantabulous job with his role was Manzar Sehbai as Dr. Kaleem. Especially towards the end when he takes his glasses off and questions Jamal on his interpretation of Mir’s madness. Wow… that was actually scary!
The two pointless mujras
So bad that they’re actually worth special attention for my crude insults! I just wanted to poke a knife in my eyes to stop the visual torture. Firstly, Iman’s terrible lip-syncing and robotic and un-seductive gestures. Secondly, WHAT WAS UP WITH ALL THOSE DANCE MOVES BY THE SECOND WOMAN? I shock!!! Like I pointed out earlier; tacky class-less diamond-girl-volume-10-level mujras, even Meera’s leaked secrets were far more entertaining than this untalented and hideous looking human anomaly. Also, why was she constantly flashing those star-plus-evil-bahoo looks for no reason? Chalo… at least she was dancing…. all Iman Ali was doing was showing off her cleavage! Hunh… like we haven’t seen that before in all the modeling she’s done in her past! Also, the songs were shit!
To wrap it up, Mah-e-Mir promises quite a bit with its theatrical trailers, but fails to deliver on a multitude of levels. Instead of being a glorious tribute to Mir Taqi Mir, Mah-e-Mir glorifies nothing but trashy beauty, poor direction, and the ability of so-called critics of Pakistani cinema to clearly identify the difference between a once-in-a-blue-moon-film and a fake moon!