How many hats can one wear at a time? It turns out, many, and it’s not advisable at all. TV anchor Sahir Lodhi wears multiple hats in his debut feature film Raasta — he is its lead actor, director, co-producer, scriptwriter and songwriter. Result: the film fails to impress cine-goers. Had it been a modern-day story, people might not have laughed at the supposedly serious scenes, action sequences and the inane dialogue. But the film seems stuck in a bygone era of cinema.
Raasta is about Samir (Sahir Lodhi) who lives with his brother, police officer Sultan (Aijazz Aslam) and sister-in-law (Sana). He uses his free time to watch film shootings and cares about nothing but himself. He falls in love with Maya (Saima Azhar) who has a close friend Sherry (Naveed Raza). Sherry’s brother Shahnwaz Rajput (Shamoon Abbasi) is the city don, someone Sultan despises. After being ‘nearly’ shot dead, Samir makes a comeback as the anti-hero and destroys all those who created problems for him. There are two heroines in the story — one for each half — but both Abeer Rizvi and Saima Azhar have nothing to offer. Throughout the story, their job is simply to look beautiful. One of them doesn’t even manage to do that.
The film revolves so much around Lodhi that you can spot him even in misplaced inserts. Other actors, who are more established in the film business than him, only play second-fiddle to him. They include Aijazz Aslam, Shamoon Abbasi, Saleem Meraj, Sana and Erfan Motiwala. It’s really sad to see an actor of Saleem Meraj’s talent being wasted in the side role of a goonga. Abbasi comes out as a drawing-room villain though he is the only one to challenge the hero with his fists.
By choosing to multitask in his debut feature film Raasta, TV celeb Sahir Lodhi botches up the story in more ways than one
The story has elements taken from Bollywood films Deewar, Shakti, Arjun and Gardish, all of which came out in the last century. When Lodhi’s character is looking for a job, he gets rejected for being too qualified (typical of the ’80s) and spends time being a tapori (very ’90s) while the ‘ruk jao warna main goli maar doonga’ (stop, or I will shoot) sequence in the climax takes you back further. The director (Lodhi, who else?) uses innovative filmmaking techniques to show his technical prowess: there is a narrator (in Lodhi’s voice, who else?) that keeps connecting scenes and filling in where he probably forgot to get the dubbing done. There is no link between the two halves of the story as the first one seems inspired by the Dever Bhabi plots, while the second looks straight out of a SRK revenge saga.
The only good thing about the film is that it’s extremely well shot by Nabeel Jawaid Qureshi. Music by Kamran Akhtar and Saji Ali is average — Lodhi has also penned the lyrics to most of the songs. There’s a somewhat vulgar Mathira number Ishq Samandar and Choti Umarya is the poor man’s version of Khayke Paan Banaraswala and 1, 2, 3, 4 Get on the Dance Floor. The frightened look on model Saeeda Imtiaz’s face is enough to tell the audience that she doesn’t want to shake it, but is made to match Lodhi’s dance steps. Then there are versions of Gherhua, Teri Ore and Guzarish but, trust me, when you leave the theatre not even one song manages to stay with you — they are cheap imitations of very popular Indian numbers.
“The film revolves so much around Lodhi that you can spot him even in misplaced inserts. Other actors, who are more established in films, only play second-fiddle to him.
The dialogue disappoints as well as everything that comes out of Lodhi’s mouth is an imitation of Big B or SRK lines from the 20th century. There were reports of infighting between the cast members during the making of the movie. Perhaps this is the reason why Saima Azhar has no post-interval presence in the story and that is why Shamoon Abbasi didn’t attend the film’s premiere. Surprisingly, the actor/director has promised to develop the characters further in the sequel to the film which is in the making.
Raasta is a film that is 30 years too late. The progress of Lodhi’s character in the movie is laughable: he doesn’t die when bullets hit him; he is shot three times before the intermission yet he survives and comes back with heavily streaked and dyed hair, as if he was mistakenly taken to a hairdresser instead of a hospital. In fact, bullets magically appear in his gun that he throws away when it’s empty in the climactic scene.
One thing is for certain — you may enjoy the movie for other reasons. But then you’d have to keep your mind empty, like Lodhi’s gun.
Published in Dawn, ICON, April 9th, 2017