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With a half-baked script, awkward storyline and unconvincing performances, even Javed Sheikh and Ismail Tara are unable to save this ship from sinking!

Halla Gulla is the story of two friends — one happily married with two wives (who both think they are his only wives) and another who wants to get hitched. Confusion abounds as Saahil and Udaas (Asim Mehmood, Muneeb Butt) resort to lies to keep the latter’s two wives oblivious of each other’s existence. Their scheming backfires when both the wives run into each other and the game ends.

Flashback: back in the ’90s when Umar Sharif came up with his first film as a lead actor (Mr 420), everyone followed in his footsteps but no one was able to deliver hits in quick succession like the King of Comedy. Even the late comedian Moin Akhtar failed on this count when he played the lead in his home production (Mr K2) because it had nothing new to offer.

This is one film that does not make a difference to the revival of the Pakistani film industry

Halla Gulla belongs to the genre of predictable films where the lead characters have names like Saahil, Udaas and Muskurahat. The don goes by the name of ‘Golden Bhai’ with a female gangster called ‘Chat Patti’ and an effeminate character named ‘Shokh’.

These names might bring a smile on the faces of a particular class of theatre-goers but not film-goers on the lookout for classy entertainment.

Talking of theatre, there are three item songs of the likes of Nargis and Deedar. Fact check: when the film industry is in revival mode and doing well, a throwback to the ’90s is the last thing the audience needs and is considered a disservice to the cause. The songs by composer Sahir Ali Bagga are quite pleasant and had they been filmed under different circumstances, they might have actually saved HG from its fate.

The acting performances are the weakest link in HG — the mere presence of Fifty Fifty-fame trio Ismail Tara, Ashraf Khan and Adil Wadia hints at the director’s infatuation with all things past. While the fact that Ashraf and Adil have never done a film before is painfully obvious, Ashraf manages to cover up for an awkward first-half performance with better acting in the post-interval slot. Lead actors Asim Mehmood and theatre actors Hunain Maniar and Bilal Yousufzai try their level best to implement damage control but the dark shadow cast by Muneeb Butt’s overacting lingers with the audience throughout the film. The women are used as props except for Sidra Batool who looks good onscreen but acts like she is featured in a sitcom!

Last but not least; the film’s release date was the proverbial final nail in the coffin because had it been released as originally planned on August 28, it might have been somewhat salvageable. Releasing on the same dates as that of the much-superior Humayun Saeed’s Jawani Phir Nahi Ani does it no favours.

And if Halla Gulla producer Hanif Mohammad is still wondering where the project went wrong, writer Raheela Mushtaq Shah and director Kamran Akbar Khan need to further hone their skills on television before venturing forth into making films.

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, October 4th, 2015

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