Wow. This is already the third film from my ‘Four Pakistani Movies that Should be on Your Radar’ list. And so far, the first two weren’t really something to write home about (I did write reviews though). Parchi though, I held on to such hope that it would be different. That it would be fun, cohesive and potent. I was floored by the trailers and the songs. Heck, my heart has been dancing to ‘Billo Hai’ all month.
But did it rise to the challenge or fall way short of the destination?
Here’s my ‘expectations versus reality’ review. Also warning; there are definitely spoilers ahead, mostly after the score but they are there.
Expectation: Parchi Will Blow Your Mind
Reality: yes. Although it’s not on the level of Inception or that delicious twist at the end of Kahaani. But there are a lot of twists that work. All of them contribute to the comedy too. Not much
in this film is ‘show and forget’. Unlike what so many Pakistani films end up doing with their sub-plots. I guess the only thing Parchi needed was a little more heart. Otherwise it is a brilliant way to open the year. My score: 9/10.
Expectation: There is a Love Triangle between Emaan, Bash and Bilal
Reality: Watch the song ‘Imagine’ on YouTube, that should answer this. I mean the triangle is there but this isn’t Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. And thankfully the filmmakers don’t force it to be.
The triangle is never at the forefront of the story. Except when it’s needed to induce comedy between Emaan (Hareem Farooq), Bash (Ali Rehman Khan) and Bilal (Usman Mukhtar). And that comedy really works. It’s never forced or contrived nor does it resort to cheap thrills.
Expectation: Bash has a Falling Out with His Friends
Reality: again this was something that was obvious from the trailers. However, I love the way it is dealt with.
Parchi is full of twists. But not all of them are so precocious that they demand all the attention. Some are much subtler and that’s the case with Bash’s arc. Though I admit it’s clichéd for the outwardly tough cool dude to actually be really caring. And for the girl to be the only one to realize it. But the fact that it’s not overplayed, especially in a comedy, makes it work.
Expectation: Bash Makes Some Bad Decisions
Reality: this is an understatement. Bash’s brash decisions are one of the main driving forces of the film. Had he not taken extortion money from Zodiac’s perceived territories, Zodiac wouldn’t be after him. He wouldn’t have sent a ‘Parchi’ to his house, prompting the gang to end up asking Emaan for help. Which caused all the madness to ensue.
However, the movie does address the motives behind some of Bash’s bad decisions. His mother wasn’t able to run the household on her own. Thus prompting Bash to dropout of school and look for work, for the sake of his brother Bilal’s education. A fact that Bilal is mostly unaware of. Though, I don’t think Bilal was ever explicitly made aware of this fact. But the dynamic between the brothers is definitely one of the strongest points of the film.
Expectation: Emaan has Some Ulterior Motives
Now, normally I don’t delve into major spoiler territory. Because then I get angry comments like “thanks for spoiling the whole movie” or “you don’t spoil Star Wars, ever”. Wait, you’re saying the last one was me?
Anyways I generally don’t spoil things. But this moment in the film left me absolutely giddy. Don’t you just love it when a film drops subtle hints, only to come to a highly satisfactory reveal of a major plot point? That’s pretty much how the reveal of one of Emaan’s two ulterior motives for helping the gang goes. The other is pure, rom-com gold. I’m still debating whether or not to reveal that Emaan is…
I almost gave it away; but I actually want you to watch the movie this time!
Expectation: The Dance Sequences Work
There are only two major dance sequences and thankfully both are done right. The first is ‘Imagine’, and it’s just as tripy in the film as on YouTube. It takes place when Emaan meets the gang for the first time. Its main purpose is to ensure the dynamic between the three main leads is set up well. It is also the only time the love triangle is front and centre. While at times, that could have been made more prominent.
I’m thankful it isn’t, so as not to turn Emaan’s story which is essentially about revenge into one about boys.
The second one is no doubt the superior one though. I’ve already mentioned that my heart has been dancing to ‘Billo Hai’ for the last month.
After watching Parchi, it’s only gotten worse. Like seriously, it takes all the energy I have not to burst out singing this at all times. Unlike most Pakistani and nearly all Bollywood films, the song serves the situation. As opposed to the the situation being constructed just so the popular song can be fitted into the storyline.
Beyond that, making a film that doesn’t rely on songs to drive it forward (*cough* Arth *cough*) is definitely a step forward for Pakistani cinema.
Expectation: The Jokes Are Actually Funny
Reality: They aren’t just funny, not even close. They are nothing short of hilarious. I was laughing out loud. And during such perfect comic timing (especially from the character of Bholu) when words would fail me, I would clap loudly.
Yeah there are times in this film when even simple words like “ha ha ha” would fail due to the sheer hilarity induced on-screen. There rarely is a moment that turns awkward or seems contrived. Heck the most awkward moment, was me loudly exclaiming “ooh” when one of the lead actors took their seat in the row ahead of me. And I had to awkwardly nod after making eye contact. Side note; He wore a turtleneck; what is this, 1992?
Expectation: There is A Heist of Sorts
There are three actually, and none of them are successful. Aside from the fact that they are some of the most hilarious scenes in the film. Two of them in particular include some entertaining and unexpected comedy from Facebook Star Faiza Saleem.
All the heists though are prime examples how a comedy of errors and slapstick should be done. Most importantly, these are master classes in how to be funny without having to resort to potty humour or casual rape jokes.
The underlying point that this movie attempts to make is against the evils of extortion and how it ruins lives. To do so in a comedy could have gone one of two ways. Either ridiculed to the point where the message becomes a cheesy plot device. Or it would be as Parchi presents it, a hard-hitting yet comical ode to the downtrodden. With a message to rise to the occasion.
Expectation: Faiza Saleem has A Blink and Miss Role
Reality: Absolutely not. She is pivotal to much of the comedy of the film, including the climax. Faiza plays Ahmed Ali Akbar’s would be mother-in-law. She values two things above all else, her daughter and her money. If she senses that either is in danger, she goes on a rampage to ensure the safety of her two most prized possessions.
And the rampages are some of the best comic moments in the film. During the climax, she is the one woman wrecking crew that comes to the heroes’ rescue. Yeah, for once the guys are the damsels in distress. Her appearance during the climax actually had me clapping.
Expectation: Emaan actually beats someone up
Reality: Several people actually. I said in an earlier article that Hareem is out to prove that a woman can do it all; from ‘Madam Sahab’ to ‘Billo Hai’. And girl does she ever!
Hareem is the hero of the film, there is no doubt about it. She trash-talks with the villains, beats up henchmen and saves the day. Heck, there’s a scene where Bash is cornered and the henchman is terrified of Emaan coming to his rescue.
This is yet another step forward for Pakistani cinema. Introducing more and more women in strong and traditionally masculine roles. While Bollywood remains pleased with its Macho hero archetypes.
Expectation: Zodiac is Funny and Menacing
Your honor, the jury finds Zodiac, guilty on both accounts. Although he isn’t a thoroughly memorable or quotable villain, he is enjoyable. I still don’t get why a desi gangster is called Zodiac though. He is an extortionist and a gangster yet he’s named after an American Serial killer (I hope). Someone people this side of the pond are hardly aware off.
However, Shafqat Cheema delivers a masterful performance.
But he would need more in terms of dialogue and script in order to really shine.
Parchi loses one mark only because the film’s villain fails to shine and the romance remains loitering the background. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the fact that now not every movie has to be a love story to be good and all. However, if you’re going to write something into the plot, don’t leave it as inconsequential.
There are a few points here and there, and in the end, they’re just distracting. Thankfully though, the distractions are sparingly so. In the end, Parchi comes in all guns blazing, and leaves with a bang.