What makes 3 Bahadur different from other movies produced in Pakistan is the fact that it was an underdog from the moment it was conceived.
Not many believed that the Academy Award-winning director had it in her to come up with an animated flick in a country where nobody had even tried to venture into the arena. Sharmeen and her team (Kamran Khan for script and animation, Salman Nasir for art direction) make the film look lively with cleverly inserted pop culture references, brand placement and subtle messages for parents and children.
The story of 3 Bahadur takes place in a town aptly named Roshan Nagar (it becomes Andheri Nagar after darkness takes over) and the characters — both good and evil — are relatable to us; especially to the ones living in the City of Lights. The studious Saadi (Zuhab Khan), the confident Amna (Muneeba Yaseen) and the comical Kamil (Hanzala Shahid) represent the current generation of kids.
In a country where filmmaking is a gigantic undertaking, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy successfully serves up Pakistan’s first feature-length animated flick
Deenu chacha (Behroze Sabzwari) comes into their lives like a breath of fresh air whereas the parents (voiced by Alyy Khan, Abu Rashid Khan, Kulsoom Aftab Ahmed and Farhan Qureshi) play an important role in the children’s character development. Even the villains named Tony, Sannata, Teeli, Chapta, Pateeli and Gutka are baddies we wish to stand up against but have yet to muster the courage to do so.
When the three youngsters get their superpowers, they decide that enough is enough. The back story of one of the kids’ father adds a filmi touch and same can be said of the reasons behind Mangu’s accent (the young Mangu is voiced by Alyy Khan and the older one by Khalid Ahmed) who lends his soul to a kind of devil in exchange for great powers.
The scenes where the children get their superpowers and when they are told about their destiny as well as the action sequences, are mind-blowing. In fact the steady pace of the narrative doesn’t let your attention wander for even a minute during the film’s entire 90-minute run.
The scenes where the children get their superpowers and when they are told about their destiny as well as the action sequences, are mind-blowing. In fact, the steady pace of the narrative doesn’t let your attention wander for even a minute during the film’s entire 90-minute run.
The selection of actors for each and every character is done in a commendable way and rather than going for big names, the director went for suitable ones. The background score by John Angier and Dan Golden’s Sound Design reminds you of Hollywood and same can be said of John Bowen’s sound mixing. Not once do you get the feeling that you are watching something from Pakistan; even Shiraz Uppal has outdone himself in the songs.
Emotions and realism are the strong points of 3 Bahadur; be it Saadi’s mother telling him to stay away from the clock tower, Amna’s father getting beaten up by thugs or Kamil’s house being robbed. Each of these incidents plays a pivotal role in the character’s development. Maybe 3 Bahadur heralds not just the birth of courage but that of change as well, and one hopes that more and more filmmakers come forward and make Pakistan proud by following Sharmeen’s cue.
Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, May 31st, 2015