“Why fart and waste it, when you can burp and taste it.” That’s the type of humour one can expect from Jackpot, a screwball comedy that makes little sense, even by screwball comedy standards.
This stomach-turning joke comes courtesy of actor Mehmood Aslam, who farts in every one of his scenes, and burps in one (obviously). Aslam plays a big-shot film producer who cuts the red ribbon of a billion-rupee lottery programme, but actually has nothing to do with the movie. Like most actors in Jackpot, he disappears after a few loosely connected scenes.
Jojo (Jawed Sheikh), a mob boss, abducts the people who started the lottery, and then buys every ticket except one. He’s even quite smug about it. Exactly why a Mafioso would buy the tickets before he abducts the ones who own the lottery makes no sense whatsoever.
Jojo, though, is a victim of bad luck. The winning ticket — the one he doesn’t get — somehow entangles two husband-and-wife pairs into his affairs. The first set, played by Noor Hassan and Sanam Chaudhry, work in a semi-posh hotel in Lahore. The second couple has Adnan Shah Tipu playing a jealous husband married to Sana Fakhar, a semi-sluttish dhoban (launderette) who captivates every passing Tom, Dick and Harry’s wild imagination with her outdated Lollywood aura.
Disgusting humour, sexual depravity and guts to make a movie without a fleshed-out story seems to be the new gold-standard for filmmaking in Pakistan
Similar to other men in recent Pakistani movies (Danish Taimoor in Mehrunisa V Lub U, Ahmed Butt in Shor Sharaba), Tipu’s character’s burning desire is to procreate with his wife. Period. Like others, he sulks nonstop about not getting the chance.
There’s also Sana’s cousin (Inayat Khan) who ends up living every juvenile man’s dream of landing a job in a foreign country, where he doesn’t have to do anything other than romance his seductively dressed office liaison (Reyhna Malhotra).
Sweat and manual labour isn’t meant for anyone in Jackpot, including screenwriter Babar Kashmiri. The screenplay is ludicrous, especially after the intermission break. The scenes are choppy and dimwitted, disserving everyone’s intelligence, be it cast, crew or audience.
The acting is mundane; the casting, doubly disastrous. Cameos from ‘Lollywood’ celebrities litter the already-crammed movie in a bid to add star value to an already lost cause. The list includes Sangeeta, Afzal Khan, Zara Sheikh (in a non-speaking role) and Meera, the latter donning a pair of ugly spectacles.
Sweat and manual labour isn’t meant for anyone in Jackpot, including screenwriter Babar Kashmiri. The screenplay is ludicrous, especially after the intermission break. The scenes are choppy and dimwitted, disserving everyone’s intelligence be it cast, crew or audience.
Still more unprompted supporting actors slide in and out of the story on whim. Two in particular are Ismail Tara and Iftekhar Thakur, whose inclusion reminds me of another unneeded fiasco titled Sawaal 700 Crore Dollar Ka.
Thakur, Tara and Mehmood Aslam are also here to remind the audience of the low bar set by Jackpot. Aslam farts and mumbles, Tara is desperately horny and Thakur finds opportunities to pivot around on one leg in a display of bad physical comedy timing.
Disgusting humour, sexual depravity and guts to make a movie without a fleshed-out story, apparently, is the new gold-standard for filmmaking in Pakistan at the moment.
Out of everyone, Jawed Sheikh — now permanently type-cast as a cigar-smoking baddie — seems to be having fun. As Jojo, Sheikh is funny in some scenes and sympathy-evoking in others.
Referring to himself in the third person, Jojo deems himself to be a criminal mastermind who self-professes to know everything (there’s even a song about it), and yet has the intelligence of a gnat. I’m sure this particular development of character is a byproduct of dumb luck and not the screenwriters’ intellect.
Director Shoaib Khan lets his cinematographer Anubhav Bansal frame shots that mimic the feel of a motion picture (Bansal’s credits include Balaji’s internet series Dev DD and Ragini MMS Returns). Hoping Bansal’s work will be enough, Khan forgets to choreograph his actors who appear to be moving artlessly around the sets while spouting rambling dialogues no one cares about.
The lack of clarity on Khan’s part kills whatever smidgen of attraction Jackpot had at its disposal. But then again, it had little to lose of anything in the first place.
Published in Dawn, ICON, July 15th, 2018