Anwar Maqsood has termed it as a work along the lines of David Lean and Roman Polanski; Director Jami called it a story about Pakistan and Strings was hopeful that the music will reach out to the people. Well, I say that Moor is in a class of its own!
It is Jami’s best work as of yet and as for the soundtrack, it touches the heart and mind alike. Moor may have taken its sweet time to reach the big screen but it delivers a powerful message.
Using the right actors
One lesson that the director learned from his last production O21 is to use the right actor for a given role. Eshita Syed couldn’t have done the Sonia Hussain role; Ishtiaq Rasool (I.R. Omar) wouldn’t have looked good in Ayaz Sammo’s character. Shabbir Rana (known as the Pakistani Dilip Kumar) gives a perfect performance as the mentor of the protagonist played oh-so-brilliantly by Hameed Sheikh. As for Sheikh, words cannot do justice to his performance because he is one of the two people who carry the film on their shoulders; the other being the Hollywood import Shaz Khan who is outstanding in his role of a modern Balochi.
Using veteran Quetta-based actor Abdul Qadir was a good move because many of us have grown up watching him on TV, and here even in the role of Baggoo, he is able to make us both laugh and cry. Sultan Hussain as the villainous Lalu is quite convincing as the person who damages the railways property for personal gains. Television veteran Akbar Subhan in his guest appearance along with Noman Habib and Adnan Jaffar are convincing; casting Hameed Sheikh’s sons for his younger version is something only Jami could have envisioned.
In Jami’s Moor, parallel cinema meets commercial cinema in Pakistan, and even if it doesn’t do well at the box office it will still make a place for itself in the annals of world cinema by just being ‘different’
Samiya Mumtaz is one of the better actresses in Pakistan and doing young-to-old so elegantly is something only she is capable of. Her Balochi accent is convincing, as are her costumes, and it is around her that the story revolves, although she only appears in during the flashback mode!
Cinematography does the trick
The director uses so much energy in capturing the natural beauty of Balochistan (and Sindh) that it seems he forgot all about Nayyar Ejaz’s moustache that appears magically in the second half. Also, in the scene where Shabbir Rana’s character convinces Hameed Sheikh to do what he believes is right, the absence of an insert with the latter’s reaction is sorely missed. The beauty of the Balochistan landscape is truly captivating thanks to Farhan Hafeez’s excellent cinematography. The use of colour grading is something new for the average audience but that’s what makes Jami, Jami. The film isn’t dubbed in the usual manner but follows the Lagaan legacy where natural sound is integrated into the dialogues. The scenes featuring a train in motion are simply breathtaking as is the camera movement.
A soundtrack to die for
There was some controversy ahead of the music release of Moor but all is well now. They didn’t include the song Peera Ho in the album, but even without it, it sounds quite amazing. This is the first time Strings (Bilal Maqsood, Faisal Kapadia) are seen at the helm of a Pakistani film soundtrack after Hollywood (Spider-Man) and Bollywood (Shootout at Lokhandwala, Zinda). Few expected the duo with a golden track record to do outstandingly well in films as well but they came through with flying colours. Be it Meesha Shafi’s beautiful song Eva, Rahma Ali and Noman Faruqi’s soulful Jeye Jeye Ja, Rahim Shah’s Gul Bashri, Jawed Bashir’s Talabgaar Hoon and Jogiya as well as Strings’ very own Tum Ho and Ku Ku Ku, every song fits into the story like a gem. Anwar Maqsood’s lyrics have always been the secret ingredient in Strings’ success and here he adds variety by writing according to the situation and making a huge difference.
A screenplay that engages
The plot of Moor revolves around the relationship between the father played by Hameed Sheikh and the son portrayed by Shaz Khan who find themselves at a crucial point of their lives where they have to make decisions that will determine the future course of their lives.
While all the Station Master cares about is his job and his house, his son migrates to Karachi and starts making the wrong choices in life. The scene where the father-son confront each other in a police station is a must-watch since it resolves the multi-layered plot.
The audience might find the pace difficult to digest as the first half unfolds at a snail’s pace and could have been trimmed. It picks up post-interval when the Station Master takes matters in his own hands and finds out about his son’s erring ways.
The story doesn’t move in chronological order but that’s the modern way of filmmaking — as long as it concludes in the right manner. Hameed Sheikh’s character sums up the story in the climax, although the addition of a character during the final train journey is too much to take.
On the whole, Moor is where parallel cinema meets commercial cinema in Pakistan and even if it doesn’t do well, it will managed to make a place for itself in the history of world cinema by just being different.
Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, August 16th, 2015