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Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad

Nabeel Qureshi and Fizza Ali Meerza’s latest cinematic offer Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad (QAZ) is a slick cop actioner. The genre is not new in the Sub-continent, but it is a first for the Pakistani film industry, the filmmakers as well as our main protagonist, Fahad Mustafa who plays Inspector Gulab Mughal. Our neighbors have mastered the genre by churning successful cop franchises but their blockbuster hits are mostly no-brainers with vehicles in the air, heroes in uniform fighting the bad guys, delivering one-liners and good triumphing over evil in impossible ways. Does Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad have anything more to offer? Well, perhaps a daydream that leads to the end of corruption in Pakistan.

Like any potboiler, the clichés here are plenty.

Our hero Gulab is the son of an honest police officer, Munir Mughal (Qavi Khan), who teaches him to earn through halal means. His father always insists that Quaid-e-Azam (on Pakistani currency) is witnessing all our deeds and will be upset if someone is dishonest. And like every cop drama ever, the son turns out to be a corrupt police officer who helps his juniors and seniors alike to collect bribes and works for an unscrupulous politician. Predictably, Gulab has a heart of gold, so he will have a love story as a side track and will turn a new leaf eventually.

Gulab and Jiya

QAZ is not an unfamiliar territory for any Bollywood fan. It ticks all the boxes that we expect from a contemporary cop drama: from a suave central character like Gulab who looks the part, his sidekick Ronaq Ali (Javed Sheikh) who has the best punches in the film, a corrupt mastermind politician Rana Kamran (Nayyar Ejaz), a middleman D.I.G. Babar Jilani (Mehmood Aslam), a love interest Jiya (Mahira Khan), who in my humble opinion is not Gulab’s moral compass, but is only as good as any female character in a cop franchise. Following the quintessential characters, it has high-octane action sequences with fights, bikes, lots of moolah and a plane crash.

The first half appears to have a jumpy pace at times, but Fizza & Nabeel’s magic wand always does the trick. The fantastical element, which is the core of the film and a major spoiler, makes a masala entertainer like QAZ grounded into reality. It is the very reason we get to see currency raining from the skies in the trailer and why the film raises the question why we have Quaid-e-Azam’s picture on our notes?

Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad

Fahad Mustafa as Inspector Gulab

Fahad Mustafa as a cop is a perfect fit; the actor neither carries an action star persona nor has any prior experience in martial arts unlike most Bollywood heroes. But as Gulab, his kicks, punches and slaps land solid as he smashes the hoodlums. He is impressive as he partakes in dance numbers or in goofy acts with his love interest. Fahad and Mahira’s chemistry is also sweet and something one wishes to see more. He is a mix of both fun and action and I like Fahad in this makeover.

Bummer is that there are buckets full of heroism in QAZ but the cop is hardly seen in his uniform. He dresses up immaculately though. The film also lacks comic punches. Except the repetitive log kya kahenge and a spin on khana and peena, there were not many dialogues to take back home which is what makes or breaks a cop film. It is commendable that the film isn’t dialogue-laden or preachy but lines by Nabeel and Fizza are known to resonate with the masses. Witty and comic dialogue or scenes could have made the camaraderie of a sharply-etched, fun cop like Gulab and his Sindhi constable Ronaq, unforgettable. QAZ bathes and floats in creative liberties so much so that hero successfully crashes a plane in a sea without pilots, survives and reaches Central Jail to slap a bad guy with only one scratch. The film is a potboiler so we are not complaining.

Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad

Best jori award goes to Inspector Gulab and Constable Ronaq

However, it is disheartening that the music of Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad is passable. The most lit scene musically remains Fahad Mustafa and Faryal Mehmood’s shot where they dance to a tune, which was an ode to Govinda-Raveena’s Kisi Disco Mein Jayein. There are four songs in the OST by Shani Arshad, that either appear like a dream sequence or a dramatization of the plot, moving the story forward but adding little to no charm.

Read: Worldwide box office report: London Nahi Jaunga scores high, Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad is in the race

As Nabeel and Fizza’s first action film, it is admirable that the shots are slick and entertaining. Fahad has done all the stunts himself which is equally praiseworthy. The filmmakers have discovered all the right buttons for an action entertainer; now they have to work on the shortcomings to lift its appeal. After all, we need desi cops, heroes, and villains, localized punch lines, diverse performances, right messages and feet tapping songs.

Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad brings into spotlight our neglected police force with a swag that is direly needed. It brings a degree of respectability to the police uniform and the profession that has faded over time. It draws attention to the epidemic of corruption and the whole shebang that we have learned to co-exist with. With a genre like this, the possibilities are endless and so is our hope.

Watch Aamna Isani and Hassan Choudary’s review here:


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