Since Rangreza was first announced, there has been a lot of talk about Gohar Rasheed’s uninhibited character. A lot of this talk has labelled him as an anti hero. I don’t think that’s what his character is.
Why? Watch the video; I go on for a full eleven minutes (I know).
But, there are some things that I couldn’t fit into the video. Simply because I didn’t want to give Faraz more reasons to hate me. So, I thought that the accompanying write up would be my playground.
I want to take a few more of your minutes and talk about some recent Pakistani film characters. Because of late, we have seen our fair share of anti heroes. Waseem just wasn’t one of them.
Pakistan’s Anti Hero Club
As mentioned in the video, I am taking on a universally accepted, and rather broad definition of the word. Simply put, to be an anti hero, a character has to be the main character, and not traditionally heroic. So, rather than a self-less paragon of virtue with natural ability, think flawed, selfish, even violent.
In light of this, it would be fair to say that Pakistani cinema has a bit of an anti hero tradition.
I mentioned the legendary Maula Jatt in the video, but you can find other examples as well. Also, yes, many of them were played by Sultan Rahi; because Punjabi cinema.
But today, let’s talk about the recent additions to this club. As, while Waseem Wallay wasn’t anti hero, we have seen plenty of Pakistani anti heroes recently.
Sara in Verna
As is the routine for such films, Sara kind of starts off as a conventional hero, but progressively turns into an anti hero. In the beginning, she is a happily married, beautiful leading lady. By the end, she has committed some rather questionable acts.
Many a revenge fantasy has gone down the vigilante route. Given the kind of outcry this film generated, Mahira Khan’s character is indicative of the kind of anti hero that the public loves. Sara, albeit slightly unrealistically (I mean it is a movie) enunciates the rage of the powerless.
Farhan in Na Maloom Afraad
Technically, all three leads in both Na Maloom Afraad films are anti heroes. But, I’m singling Farhan out of the trio because he fits the dark triad perfectly. As I mentioned in the video, this entails narcissism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism.
Farhan is convinced of his own cleverness, manipulative from the onset, and breaks rules without blinking. And while I don’t want to diagnose him as a psychopath. I will say that he has multiple shades of grey.
Also, this is a great character to compare Zaheem with. Why is he stronger? Simply because the stakes are higher and the film doesn’t pretend that he’s a better person than he is.
Firstly, while he is trying to vow a girl, but the girl is not the end goal for him. Rather, what he seems to be after is what she represents; a better life. Simultaneously, the film doesn’t frame his quest as noble. This is not a ‘nice’ guy, and his plan isn’t justifiable. Anyone living in Karachi will tell you.
But, he is compelling, because his frustrations make him so. We don’t agree with him, but we understand why he does what he does.
Bash and Eman in Parchi
An anti hero power couple if ever there was one. I think we can also contrast the narrative structure of Parchi, with that of Rangreza. Unlike the latter which revolved around the lovely breeding pair, Parchi is much more of a multi-protagonist affair.
Thus, both Eman and Bash share the spotlight.
Everyone in Jalaibee
Every. Single. One.
Another multi-protagonist film, and clearly inspired by the Quintin Tarantino brand of cinema. This one goes the caper comedy route. The twists and turns are structured in a way that each story is vital to the main narrative. And all the characters are terrible people. Loveably terrible, but terrible. An anti hero brigade, basically.
My personal favorite was Jimmy. Uzair Jaswal basically fused a ruthless assassin with schoolboy charm. Sounds weird, I know. But he’s adorable.
Sherry in Jawani Phir Nahi Ani
I have already mentioned that I liked this film much more than I thought I would. This was also when I discovered that, try as I might, I can’t dislike Humayun Saeed. You have to, when he puts himself at the core of a film, and makes fun of himself in the same movie.
Sherry really could be the clichéd, philandering best friend who convinces his married friends to go wild. But, the humour is incredibly self-aware, often at the expense of apparently suave Sherry. The meta-comedy is what makes this film work.