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Mohib Mirza’s own production and directorial debut Ishrat Made in China, in which he is playing the titular character, is an action-comedy masala entertainer. With this film he revives one of his beloved characters of yore (Ishrat Baji 2006) so there is wit and traction when Ishrat is in action, but it all falls flat when the bigger picture kicks in. There are too many distractions throughout the duration of the film.

Ishrat Made in China has a rational premise — donkey racing, an indigenous game — which is muddled in the flurry of sub-par theatrics. Since it is highly unlikely that Gen Z or Alpha will relate to Ishrat’s nostalgic value, the film wastes a lot of time reestablishing Ishrat as a carefree and humourous slacker who is kind, likable and charming to the point that women are under his spell, but he has eyes only for Akhtar (Sanam Saeed). The film also explores that Ishrat is passionate for donkey races. It’s the only means of income for this troublemaker and he is devoted to it so much so that he will go to China to win a race worth millions of Yuan.




As soon as Ishrat lands in China, in his yellow jacket accentuated with an imam zamin, Pakistani flag and catchwords (like Jhulay Lolz, the continuous play on phrases throughout the film is cute), he becomes the eye of the storm between two Chinese clans who are fighting over a position of power. To avoid the language barrier, Ishrat breaks the fourth wall (for the umpteenth time) and changes the language setting from Chinese to Urdu. But why a donkey racer from Karachi, who is bullied by three harmless ruffians in his neighborhood, is hired for a dangerous task is anyone’s guess.

Mohib Mirza excels as an expressive actor with good comic timing and an action hero in the final sequence. But the most anticipated part of the story – Ishrat’s transition from a donkey racer to a savior of a Chinese clan — scores a goose egg if we’re rating action hero makeovers. He does house chores for his Chinese master, Black Panther (Shamoon Abbasi), and fights with wooden swords and sticks, to emerge as the next hero of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.


Ishrat Made in China

Mohib Mirza as Ishrat


Sanam Saeed is playing a glamorous role as Ishrat’s love interest, Akhtar. She is an assertive girl whose arc in the plot is to keep Ishrat in check. She is the only cure to Ishrat’s childhood trauma with which he struggles when someone calls him Ishrat baji. Sanam looks radiant and shines in every frame but the extent of her character ends there. The cast also includes several cameos and many eccentric characters that add little to no fun to the storyline. Mani, Mustafa Chaudhry and Ali Kazmi play Ishrat’s arc rivals (in Karachi and also their cheap copies in China, get it?). Shabbir Jan plays Akhtar’s slightly loopy father and alongwith Imam Syed, Sara Loren and Nayyar embody their roles with sincerity and their performances have an edge over the others.


Ishrat Made in China

Sanam Saeed as Akhtar


HSY as the antagonist Mangshi is the star of this show; his entry with a song is perhaps the film’s most note-worthy moment. With black and golden robes, a chilling gaze, commanding tone and no-nonsense attitude, Mangshi is a villain that will be remembered and HSY has done an impressive job for his big screen debut. Shamoon’s Black Panther, on the other hand, is all appearance but no substance; half of his verbose lectures in salees Urdu fly over the head! His attempt to embody Kung Fu Panda’s Master Shifu fail.


Ishrat Made in China

HSY as Mangshi


The film appears grand, vibrant and vivacious through his characters and cinematic landscape. It is so fast-paced and abruptly edited that the wafer-thin plot is lost somewhere in an endless sequence of comedy-song-dance-fight-romance. Though logic is thrown out of the window in most comic-action films, an entertainer sells for its comedy. However, comedy is not the strongest suit of this flick. Thankfully, action is quite slick and glossy which gets one hooked to the screen. It seems that someone has replaced all the flying vehicles in a Rohit Shetty actioner with donkey carts here.


Ishrat Made in China

Shamoon Abbasi as Black Panther

If rhyming dialogues and an unwarranted reference to Bajrangi Bhaijaan are not enough to tease you, there is also breaking the fourth wall. Ishrat is no Deadpool who can do it with ease. For a film like Ishrat Made in China, where the pretend reality is already so far-fetched, it seems like a whimsical decision to interact with the audience in every other scene and by any random character. The art of throwing catchphrases to make dialogues memorable is misused to the point of exhaustion. Characters in Ishrat don’t have signature lines; there is a shared twisted lingo and body language which creates a world of its own. Lines like Base check ki aap ne?, Come On, Ponka, Ok ki report hai, the intro of the twin triad Shamshad, Naushad, Dilshad or their Chinese names have been done to death. The ideal response to these will be Akhtar’s whatever.


Read: Ishrat Made in China has the industry buzzing again


The remarkably-stretched film (nearly 2 hour 40-minute long) has some blink and miss songs. The track featuring Sara Loren has some of the best cinematography depicting nature with the four classical elements – water, wind, earth and fire. She looks beautiful in every frame of the film and the song. Ishrat Aaya Re, which rolls before the end credits, reflects Ishrat’s flamboyant persona and has a catchy beat. Special shout out to the team for adding another dose of nostalgia with a slow version of Sami Khan’s Mein Yaad Aaonga (Lagan).


Ishrat Made in China

Sara Loren as Jia


With all its loopholes and overleaps, the main act of this entertainer is Ishrat vs Mangshi, and both Mohib and HSY show us how they have conquered the action space. Despite all ado, there are moments to laugh out loud, clap or slap your head in disbelief. These bits and pieces are not as gung-ho as expected from a masala flick, but right now anything entertaining is welcome to hold on to the hope of a bigger and better Pakistani cinema, especially after a long hiatus.




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