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The young protagonist in Shahzad Ghufoor’s The System just can’t take it anymore. The corrupt politicians, immoral villainous (and easy to buy) police men, rising expense – nothing makes sense to him, so he does what any filmi hero would do: take them down. Or as he says in his own words: “Main system kay saath nahin chal sakta. System ko meray saath chalna paday ga (I can’t follow the system; the system has to follow me)”. How quaint, and maybe, egoistical.

The rebelling youth Haider (Sheraz Ghufoor) is a karate apt, postgraduate son of a masjid imam (the obligatory Nadeem Baig), who often sneaks up to his veranda for some romantic escapes with Sara (Kashaf Ali), the girl next door.

A scene from movie, "The System". – Courtesy Photo
A scene from movie, "The System". – Courtesy Photo

Ghufoor’s movie is neither as drastic nor as desperate – or as easy to anger – as Haider. An act of political game-playing (by a derivative Nayyar Ejaz) implicates him, his friends and soon dad, as criminals. The charges don’t stick, but they do propel him into police service – and the movie’s first action set-piece at a cargo dock.

The villains are, naturally, scared – including his police subordinate played by Shafqat Cheema (unimaginatively named SHO ‘Jimmy’ Cheema in the script).

A scene from movie, "The System". – Courtesy Photo
A scene from movie, "The System". – Courtesy Photo

Cheema is a god-sent to The System. A morally reprehensible soul, Cheema (the character, not the real Cheema), plays Jimmy to the hilt.

In one scene, Haider stops an “item number” mid-way and forces Cheema to dance wearing a pair of hefty ghungroo over his khaki police pants. Already well in the groove, at least Cheema was having a blast. The rest of the cast, judging from their stunted parts or run-of-the-mill dialogues, were a bit of a disappointment.


A pat (or not) on the back


We all know the apparent war cries about supporting Pakistani cinema. But there is a difference between supporting, and turning a blind eye on the shortfalls of a motion picture. Filmmakers, sometimes as angry as Haider is of the system, want a pat on the back for a lackluster product. Oftentimes, these productions are inane in technicality, aesthetic, or too driven by the filmmaker’s own enthusiasms or egoistical accomplishments.

A scene from movie, "The System". – Courtesy Photo
A scene from movie, "The System". – Courtesy Photo

The System was made in a budget of Rs7 Crores, and did Rs1.8 Crores in its first weekend; a movie needs to make three times its budget to break even.

In such harrowing circumstances, a motion picture’s success – and especially of a re-emerging film industry – depends on good, commercially viable, wide-ranging, genre specific fare with one chief attribute: an engaging, well thought out, script.

A scene from movie, "The System". – Courtesy Photo
A scene from movie, "The System". – Courtesy Photo

There are over forty Pakistani films under production now; not all of them will see distribution – or a pat on the back for doing a mucked up job.


Hits and misses


The Systems has a few things going for it: It is technically competent; the crisp, high contrast graded, cinematography is by Syed Faisal Bukhari; the songs, by Music Director Shailesh Suvarna, are far from a throbbing headache – Aa Re Aa, Saiyyon Re and Naughty Saiyyan, are fine with a premeditated Bollywood feel; and of course, there is the indispensible Cheema.

A scene from movie, "The System". – Courtesy Photo
A scene from movie, "The System". – Courtesy Photo

On the other hand, Sheraz’s diction is accented and off; his acting skills, limited to gruff and grunts, necessitate heavy coats of polish.

Sheraz is good for a laugh; none of it is intentional though. Haider’s use of The System’s tagline about mending the system to his will may as well be chapter bookmarks.


The Final Word


The System, as incredible as it sounds, is briskly paced. This, unlike Ishq Khuda, is an old-fashioned commercial film. Its entertainment level can be compared to Son of Pakistan – at once bad, yet forgiving.


Distributed by Prime Film International, Green Chili Entertainment, ‘The System’ is family friendly – despite some booty shaking dance numbers.

Directed by Shahzad Ghufoor; Written by Wajid Zubairi; Cinematography by Syed Faisal Bukhari and Jennifer Lucien (Norway sequences); Editing by Ahtisham Ali; Music by Shailesh Suvarna; Produced by Leos Productions.

Starring: Sheraz Ghufoor, Kashaf Ali, Nadeem Baig, Irfan Khoosat, Shafqat Cheema, Nayyar Ejaz, Mariyam Ali Hussiain, Ejaz Hussain Bugti, Rabia Tabassum, Sufian, Saleem Shah, Saima Saleem, Saira.