It is one day later. I don’t recall ‘Ishq Khuda’ with vivid detail. But a lot of what I saw still haunts me subconsciously…and not in a good way.
Perhaps the most appeal of Ishq Khuda is in its end credits, but even those aren’t exactly gratifying. For a smattering of loose knitted ideas passing off for a plot and smudged to over three hours, there’s little to feel gratified about.
Shan Shahid plays Rulia, a local hood who finds Ishq-e-Khuda, after he is ‘blessed’ by the prayer of a Sufi Dervish. In a parallel unconnected arc Ashan Khan – playing Ahsan, an engineer from Karachi – falls for Iqra (Meera), while Kulsoom (Wiam Dahmani), Iqra’s best childhood-bud, falls for Ahsan.
Director Shehzad Rafique’s Ishq Khuda doesn’t have time for social stigmas or class consciousness; there’s too much story NOT to tell here amidst eleven songs and in-your-face placements of Tapal tea, the film’s branding partner.
Considering the alternatives, watching the Tapal logo pop into frame was a welcome distraction.
For a good while the screenplay by M.Parvaiz Kaleem and Saleem Zuberi dilly-dallies without consequence. Ahsan meets Iqra, a song happens; Rulia terrorizes someone; Ahsan meets Kulsoom, another song happens; Rulia drops someone in an open grave, hoists him back up, and terrorizes some more.
By the time the intermission springs up – right after Rulia rediscovers religion via Sufism – the audience (about twenty of us) think it’s near ending time. We couldn’t be more deceived. There was still an hour-and-a-half to go.
Ishq Khuda is one long, lingering, mediocre movie – and that’s a carnal sin by today’s cinematic benchmarks. Building on a wholesale quantity of lack and slack, there’s little appeal in characters, the journey, or the movie’s sense of mainstream (none of the songs by Wajahat Attray work).
At one point, we’re suddenly misled by Mr. Shahid’s penchant to pull the movie’s weight – but alas, a few scenes do not a movie make; especially when there’s nowhere to go to, and nothing to achieve.
Mr. Khan’s Ahsan is more or less a mannequin with pretty boy looks. Ms. Meera does her best to not be her off-screen self, so I guess that’s small praise for whatever acting prowess available to her.
Ms. Dahmani, a Middle Eastern model/host/actress debuting with the movie, is an eye-catch; however, her direction from Mr. Rafiq requires that every emotion should equal to squirms, twitches and convulsions that run the length of the entire movie (her Punjabi lip synch is quite tolerable by the way).
Unlike [Son of Pakistan], Ishq Khuda’s nearest parallel (considering both titles’ ostensible acceptance of the ‘Lollywood’ label), the sequences that make up the movie are dull. While the former was an unintended laugh-riot, the latter doesn’t even offer that miscalculated opportunity.
Nevertheless Ishq Khuda has something going for it: a clean, vibrant, organic-looking frame (the film is shot in 35mm), with nary an out-of-focus shot.
The epic clarity of the movie’s cinematography, and Mr. Shahid’s playacting, cons you into staying for a rather sudden, eccentrically executed climax. It’s a jolt – one which you may accept with a sigh a relief, and perhaps an accidental guffaw.
Directed by Shehzad Rafique; Produced by Shafquat Chaudhry; Screenplay by M.Parvaiz Kaleem and Saleem Zuberi; Music by Wajahat Attray; Cinematography by Muzamil Shah and Editing by Adeel pk. Released by IMGC Global, Ishq Khuda is rated ‘U’. The movie is ‘almost’ family friendly (minus one song, and one scene). The film’s language is Punjabi.