Great performances and a powerful message, yet ‘Saawan’ will fail terribly at the box office

Published: September 15, 2017
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PHOTO: IMDb

It is next to impossible to produce an experimental film in Pakistan, mainly because the distributors do not support the venture unless it comprises of a star-studded cast.

Director Farhan Alam and Kalakar Films deserve appreciation for breaking barriers with their new film, Saawan. The film is written by Mashood Qadri and features Syed Karam Hussain, Imran Aslam, Najiba Faiz and Saleem Mairaj in pivotal roles.

The film revolves around Saawan (Syed Karam Hussain), a physically challenged young boy who suffers from polio and lives in a valley in Balochistan. His father is frustrated, depressed and hopeless because of his son’s disability and does not treat him well. Thus, Saawan’s parents abandon him and move to the city because of a certain life-threatening situation. Despite his disability and abandonment, Saawan heads out to search for his family and uncovers various hidden truths about his life.

We can easily divide the film between its hits and misses.

Hits:

1.Overall, I would say the performances were a hit. Syed Karam Hussain, who plays the lead protagonist Saawan, was most definitely a hit. His expressions are brilliant and the audience is left extremely impressed by his skills, more so because of his young age. The role he was given was not an easy one, but he pulled through.

Najiba Faiz plays Saawan’s mother and she’s another great actress to watch on screen. She effortlessly wins the show due to her power-packed performance. Not only does she make her character believable, she also brings a level of sincerity to it that makes it convincing. The only downside was Saleem Mariaj, who, unfortunately, is on another level of boring. His acting was way too over the top.

2.The message was extremely powerful. The fact that Saawan is unfazed by his disability and heads out to help his family sends out a strong message to society.

3.The cinematography was a winner. The picturesque locations helped a great deal in taking the film forward.

4.The film has won numerous international awards such as the Social World Film Award and the Madrid International Film Award.

Misses:

1.Although Saawan has a good ideation and an unusual story to offer, the film unfortunately fails to stand out. There were several loopholes in the film but the one that stood out the most for me was its execution. The unnecessary lengthy scenes dragged on for no apparent reason and failed to keep the audience engaged.

2.The dialogue throughout the film was just not up to the mark. I believe a film, especially one with such a compassionate storyline, requires impactful dialogues. However, due to a lack of strong dialogues, the film loses its grip.

3.The film was not edited well at all. From an average person’s perspective, I could point out some major editing flaws while watching the film.

4.The character-building in Saawan is a bit scrawny to be honest. Saawan’s character needed more depth. However, the writers just used his disability to gain pity and there was no effort or thought put into it. His character could have been infused with so many layers, yet the writers just went for a cookie-cutter, 2-D boy.

The film raises more questions than providing answers. Some questions that lingered on in my mind after the movie are as followed:

1.What happened to the grandfather who was narrating the story?

2.If Saawan could stitch a shoe after losing his family, why couldn’t he do the same earlier?

3.Why would a goon act so childish?

4,Why did everyone prefer to run in the desert instead of using their cars?

5.What is with the 200-year-old soul and the story?

I suppose we will never find out.

Saawan is expected to fail terribly at the box office, owing to its weak content and severe competition. It will be no surprise if people do not buy tickets for a film that has almost no entertainment and a not-so-praiseworthy script.

Farhan Alam’s attempt deserves appreciation but at the end of the day, this industry is about entertainment, execution and presentation. And let’s be honest, Saawan lacks all of the above.

Overall, I would say Saawan was a big fat miss.

Photo: Screenshots

Shafiq Ul Hasan

Shafiq Ul Hasan

The author is an avid movie lover and reviews films and dramas regularly. He is a professional digital inbound marketer. He has worked with a silicon valley-based social network as a content analyst. He blogs at www.shafiqsiddiqui.com and tweets as @shafiqulhasan81 (twitter.com/shafiqulhasan81)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Shaheer Khan

    After watching Saawan and reading the comments from Mr Shafiq ul Hasan, It will be unfair not to reply to his critique and commend on the bold and courageous experiment from the Team Saawan

    Probably Saawan is the first film of its kind on these drastic issues and topics ever made in Pakistan, No wonder it was able to bag 5 international awards uptil now, hopefully more to win

    Dear Sir, It won the The Best Film – Salento International Award and at Social Film International Film Festival, The Best Foreign Film- Madrid International Film, it is worth mentioning without a great script it’s impossible to get even nominated for these awards. We have to realize its not “garam masala” or a melo-dram” in Shah Rukh Khan or Sultan Rahi style, it is narrating and depicting common, poor people in their impoverished getups.

    I must also comment on your comments about editing, this film was edited by Aseem Sinha, a film editor of International fame, I can say it is better edited than many other Pakistani movies during last 5 years

    Reading your comments on disorganized character of Saawan, it is truly the disorganized helpless character which writer and director are building to reach such bravery, from a handicapped polio victim to the role leader of victim children and land them towards safe grounds.

    Mr Rehman, Then you asked! Why Saawan could not stood up on his own, you might need to read the reviews on Hip, the comments are saying how the film portrayed the harsh reality with a piece of art: such disabled children never could stand up on their own, because of the ignorant society. There are no rehabilitation programs in such villages. Common people consider them a curse. This movie is a message, a positive one, a beautiful one of encouraging such poor children morals. We should not disrespect the concepts (because of our duty to critique) which have been boldly brought up by the film maker & writer.

    Saleem Mairaj showed the pathetic nature of a goon, how low a pathetic criminal can go
    I think he did justice with his character , As a Pakistani, We need to start appreciating our real heroes talents, rather than criticizing their excellent art of acting.

    Another of your comments, Why did everyone prefer to run in the desert instead of using their cars?
    I think the vehicles are shown well the film track has been well narrated, Saleem Meraj mini-truck tires were made flat by presence of mind by Saawan, before he rescued other children from him.
    Father Arif Bahlim was left out alone by the driver, who brought him for Saawan search.

    Then you have asked! What is with the 200-year-old soul and the story??
    The local myths are legends are quite common in rural socities , the elements to make story intriguing and leave such character as enigma (called an art of conundrum in the plot writing) .

    I want to ask you a few questions now !

    H ow many real social issues have been raised in the story line?

    Shouldn’t we appreciate such a piece of veiled art trying to address social justice issues ?

    Shouldn’t we appreciate a Pakistani film winning 5 international awards, first in the history of Pakistan?

    The film is based on on truism, realities of our society. We need to to appreciate this rather risky but high class Social climb first of its kind to enlighten and encourage others

    I will conclude! Saawan is an excellent film, perhaps not for media writers, critical writes of your domain
    Kudos to Saawan. I wish rather I want Saawan to be selected for Oscars, 2017.

    Sincerely
    Navaid KhanRecommend

  • Saawan

    Dear Writer, you are entitled to an opinion but Pakistan Oscar Committee comprising of industry experts recognised for their contribution to arts have nominated this movie for the Oscars, that speaks volumes for Saawan and not su much for its criticsRecommend