The latest film wave in Pakistan is off to a disastrous start in the horror genre
‘In their quest to muster all the formulaic ingredients for a typical horror film (of midway through the previous century), the filmmakers forgot to focus on the one thing central to the success, nay existence, of almost all the movies: coherent storytelling.’
‘Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor isn’t flawless, of course. But as the first of its kind animated movie, ticks most of the boxes. It quite positively ranks significantly higher on the entertainment coefficient in its genre than Pari.’
On the first weekend of February three Lollywood movies were simultaneously released: Maan Jao Na, Pari and Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor.
While MJN was reviewed in this space a couple of weeks ago, the other two movies were trailblazers of sorts, or aimed to be as such, considering that they led forays into previously unexplored genres.
Here we discuss how the two fared in their respected navigations into unchartered waters.
While there have been previous attempts at horror, Pari is the vanguard of the genre in recent years, which have been dubbed as the ‘revival of the Pakistani film industry’.
Of the three releases this month, it was Pari that had the most promising trailer – and it wasn’t just because a Pakistani horror film is a completely different ball game.
And it’s safe to say that Pari even outdid Maan Jao Na in being the most underwhelming of the trio, which also owed to the film’s dealing with a genre that the team was clearly inept at.
That the storyline centered around a done to death foundation – family moves into new secluded house, strange things happen, turns out it’s because of supernatural beings – was understandable, since the filmmakers might’ve wanted to go with a tried and tested formula and offer it to the local audiences.
Perhaps they took the ‘tried and tested’ too literally, and too liberally, and decided on playing the religion card as well. Again, considering how religion sells, even that move can be understood.
However, in their quest to muster all the formulaic ingredients for a typical horror film (of midway through the previous century), the filmmakers forgot to focus on the one thing central to the success, nay existence, of almost all the movies: coherent storytelling.
There wasn’t much of a story to tell, to be honest. And even the one that time excruciatingly managed to suck out of the film screen, was more preaching than any form of entertainment.
Granted a blend of entertainment and evangelism is selling on TV, but there still needs to be some existence of the former, and not complete reliant on the latter.
Pari felt the billing of being ‘Pakistan’s first horror movie’ would’ve sufficed in bringing people to the cinema. Others might have mistaken it for Bollywood’s Pari, starring Anushka Sharma, that releases next week.
For, the latest film wave in Pakistan is off to a disastrous start in the horror genre.
Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor
As far as exploring new genres is concerned Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor fares significantly better in the realm of animated films for children. Allahyar has all the makings of a hero for kids, and the film has the messages that touch all the right chords for children – and their parents.
Themed around a supernatural love for nature, which allows the protagonist to speak with animals, Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor also portrays wonderful chemistry between Allahyar and his father.
As with all animated productions, there isn’t anything more pivotal than the quality of the visuals on display. And on that particular front, the film is an absolute trailblazer.
The cinematography is absolutely top-drawer and self-reflects in the attention to detail, visible throughout the movie. This is especially true for the depiction of the scenic north of the country, which pictorially blends seamlessly with the film’s theme, which revolves around love for nature and its expression.
Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor isn’t flawless, of course. But as the first of its kind animated movie, ticks most of the boxes. It quite positively ranks significantly higher on the entertainment coefficient in its genre than Pari.
Allahyar isn’t the sole focus of the movie. He has fitting companions in the shape of Mehru, a markhor, Hero, a chakor, and a snow leopard Chakku.
What adds to their journey is the captivating soundtrack, led aptly by Ali Noor and Natasha Humera Ejaz.
Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor is a prime example of an ambitious project panning out as desired by the filmmakers, and a new genre being explored with the intent to leave the print for those that might follow.
The same can absolutely not be said of Pari.