Allahyar and Pakistani Animation at Its Best


Okay, now I’m not sure how this one slipped my radar. Particularly as I am a devoted fan of anything related to animation. And, particularly when that animation is so beautifully executed.

But there you have it. While we were busy chronicling the good and bad of Pakistani cinema, we missed this little gem.

Allow me to right that wrong, immediately.

Allahyar and the Legend of the Markhor is an upcoming animated film. And when I say upcoming, I mean it will be released in less than a month. Why I didn’t come across the trailer until now I cannot understand. But trust me, this one is not something to be missed.

As you know, the past few weeks have been rather troubling. For me, and for the country. Hence when I came across the trailer for this delightful adventure film, I was doubly happy. I needed cheering up, and this film tells a tale so warm that just a snippet did the trick.


Animation that Brings Out Pakistan’s Best Kept Secret

Put yourself in non-Pakistani shoes for a minute. What would your vision of the country be? Security threats, pitiful literacy figures, violence. Yes, well all of that is true.

But, there is also another side. And I know what the pessimists will say; that doesn’t excuse everything that is wrong. And trust me, I agree with you. Moreover, so do most Pakistanis. It isn’t just difficult to ignore a fire when it’s burning right next door; it is impossible.

But this doesn’t make the better parts of the country any less relevant. in fact, it makes them precious. And like the rarest of gems, they deserve the limelight.

This is what Allahyar does so well. Just look at those scenic views.

From the trailer of Allahyar and the Legend of the Markhor

Look at that vibrant color.

From the trailer of Allahyar and the Legend of the Markhor

And believe it or not, all of this actually depicts some of the country’s realities.


Local Stories

Now, when I wrote about the The Glassworker (which I’m still excited about by the way) I mentioned loving how hard to place it seemed. I still do love that, and still believe that animation can be a great platform for such stories.

But, it can also be used to tell local tales. Importantly, animation can present a narrative that the local audience identifies with.

For this reason, I have to give this film some credit. At its centre, it has placed a brave young boy, someone who at once resembles and can inspire Pakistani children.

Simultaneously, the film has a wildlife preservation message woven into the plot. Many of us will remember studying about the rare and endangered animals that our borders house. We have seen news reports about the poaching and illegal trade that puts them at risk.

But, what we haven’t seen very often is a production that puts this story at its core. Allahyar is that rare project.

And really, this is what makes the film seem so compelling. Yes, the pretty animation is worth admiring (as I just did) but the story is the main draw.


Some Mature Themes  

Parent-child stories seem to be tailor made for animation. Particularly when they bear a certain kind of emotion in mind.

I’m just going to guess that you’re still not over that scene from The Lion King.

No, not the happy ‘circle of life’ spiel. That other scene. The one that still hurts.

Yeah, hakuna mattata.

But, despite how difficult the scene is to watch it also really effectively explains something rather important to children.

See, the best kids’ films manage to be that without treating their audience like idiots. Children are not stupid; they just don’t know some things yet. Okay, a lot of things. Anyway, a film that appreciates children will try to, sensitively, present certain mature themes to them.

Simba may have been a lion cub, and it may have just been a cartoon. But the message was clear for any child that sat through the film. And we can disagree about this, but I actually appreciate that.

Most Pakistani animation actively has a social message, so Allahyar is not unique in that regard. But I do appreciate one emotional issue that it is trying to address.

Some time ago I wrote about the film, Saawan, which chronicles the journey of a child who is separated from his parents. It is a widely loved project, and the message is pertinent.

But it is also grim. So forgive me if I don’t want my seven-year-old cousin to watch that movie.

And essentially, Allahyar deals with the same journey.

From the trailer of Allahyar and the Legend of the Markhor

But it presents it in a way that is okay for children. It will shake children up, just not emotionally scar them for life.


I’m So There 

Again, I cannot believe I didn’t write about it sooner. But get hyped. This film is a lovely sight for sore eyes. It has all the trappings of a really great film, one that the whole family can enjoy actually.

The animation is crisp, the story compelling and the message one that we all need to hear. I loved the trailer and the ideas behind it, and I can’t wait for the film itself.

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