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There is a dire moment in Shor Sharaba when Ahmed Butt, playing a horny bachelor named Sikandar, finally gets the object of his untameable desires: Meera. In that scene, Meera — playing a dodgy businesswoman named Billo — slinks towards Sikandar in a negligée, and the two get ready to consummate their marriage.

Yes, the thought alone is dreadful — but that’s not the least of one’s worries.

The moment’s direness isn’t the song Billo sings (Sili Sili Raat, sung more like Silly, Silly Raat), its quite adult picturisation or the relaxed ‘let it pass’ attitude of the censors. The direness stems from something simpler: Ahmed Butt’s expression. The look he gives Meera is not one of love or lust, but of bewildered disgust.

Butt may not be the best actor in the world, but his expression spells out the gist of the movie. One may not be appalled (frankly, everyone has seen far worse), but one will be bewildered — that much is a guarantee.

Shor Sharaba vandalises Priyadarshan’s Hulchul and places its essence within the cadaver of a cheap-looking, C-grade Lollywood production straight out of the ’90s

Sikandar’s storyline is hardly mention-worthy; in fact, he has nothing to do with the plot apart from his being sexually frustrated. Even in the preceding dramatics, all he does is incessantly ask Billo’s brother if their wedding bed has been set up.

Sikandar’s father Rana Bahadur (Mustafa Qureshi, too old and under-utilised to be associated with something like this), meanwhile, is in the middle of a family feud with his brother’s wife Sultana (Nisho).

To get even with the other family, Sultana’s daughter Fiza (Rabi Pirzada) concocts a plan to woo Rana’s second son, Imran (Adnan Khan); he, on the other hand, brews a similar scheme. Dadi (Bahar Begum), the matriarch of the family who is sick and tired of the bad blood between her descendants, believes the young couple’s lies of being in love.

Strangely, one can’t trust any character because the narrative itself is not clear on their motivations. A series of bad scenes with amateur performances follow, that you may or may not be able to make sense of.

Despite storytelling ineptness, the plot may feel vaguely familiar.

Shor Sharaba’s director Hasnain Hyderabadwala (co-director of a string of Mahesh Bhatt productions Jashnn, The Train and The Killer) and screenwriter/producer Sohail Khan, have heartlessly vandalised Priyadarshan’s Hulchul, placing its essence within the cadaver of a cheap-looking, C-grade Lollywood production straight out of the ’90s.

Women, especially throwaway supporting actresses, are shamelessly paraded around in skimpy wardrobes. One of them, assumed to be romantically entangled with the hero’s best buddy, answers the hero’s phone late at night wearing a low-cut negligée (which director of photography Syed Ali Bukhari exploits from at least two angles). Later, actress Laila rallies the sexually-charged male cast, in what I can only assume is a bachelor party song. One wonders how scenes and songs like these passed the censors — or for that matter, how Shor Sharaba managed to secure a “U” certificate.

The story awkwardly stumbles into a grand finale, where the filmmakers suddenly announce the movie as a family-friendly venture.

After two-and-a-half-hours of contradictory adult scenarios — including one where Rabi Pirzada has ketchup squirted on her by a small-time baddie — it takes an awfully strong set of delusions to assert an opinion like this. Or, for that matter, to make a movie like this.

Published in Dawn, ICON, July 8th, 2018