The only difference between Parchi and Arth 2/Chupan Chupai is the craftiness of its writer and director

Published: January 5, 2018
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The idea for Parchi comes from the infamous Parchi-system, which Karachiites will of course be quite familiar with. PHOTO: IMDB

The year 2018 has just begun and Pakistani cinema is all geared up with new releases for the new year. It is indescribable how good it feels to see our filmmakers trying their best in the capacity that they can, to keep producing films in a timely manner. Parchi is one film that created a lot of hype from the start, be it for Hareem Farooq’s fierce character, the catchy music, or the fact that this will be the first Lollywood film to be released in Saudi Arabia and France.

The director, Azfar Jafri, started his career with Siyaah and impressed all in Janaan, which only added to the expectations filmgoers have created for Parchi. Does Jafri meet the standards set by his earlier work? Will Shafqat Khan, as the writer of the film, be able to become the wittiest writer of the Pakistani film industry at the moment? Let’s take a look at Parchi to find out.

The idea for Parchi comes from the infamous parchi system, which Karachiites will of course be quite familiar with. The plot of the film starts when Bash (Ali Rehman), a low-key hoodlum, messes up and receives a parchi asking him to arrange 50 lakhs within five days. Bash shares this with Saqlain (Saqqi), played by Ahmed Ali Akbar, and Saqqi’s brother (Shafqat Khan), but in the process, his own simple-minded brother, Bilal (Usman Mukhtar), ends up discovering this information as well.

This unites our four protagonists, and one mess leads to another, leading to them meet Biscuit (Faizan Shaikh), and through him, Eman (Farooq), the wonder woman of the town. The antagonist of the film that our heroes will ultimately have to defeat is Zodiac, played by the great Shafqat Cheema. What happens next is a series of comic situations our heroes find themselves in, including stupid turnarounds involving zombies and improbable and absurd outcomes. To know more, you will simply have to watch Parchi.

Hareem Farooq genuinely looks amazing and fierce at the same time, not too unlike Gal Gadot in the actual Wonder Woman film. On the other hand, those who think Ali Rehman is Pakistan’s version of Ranveer Singh, really need to get their eyes checked; the two are incomparable, even though Rehman does act well, looks good, and is quite decent at dancing as well.

Usman Mukhtar, on the other hand, is just okay; he finds his own in some scenes, and girls will find him “cute” and “adorable”, but as a performer, he definitely needs to improve. Ahmed Ali Akbar, however, is in complete form, impressing in both the comical as well as the drama scenes and proving yet again that he is a bankable actor.

Shafqat Cheema is, as always, brilliant, and so is Faizan Shaikh. Shafqat Khan, on the other hand, constantly reminded me of a character from a Bollywood film, while Faiza Saleem is good but goes overboard in a few scenes.

The music, however, is where Parchi excels, thanks to Mika Singh, Nindy Kaur and Sahara creating some amazing tracks like Imagine and Billo Hai. Although Billo Hai is a reprised version of 2015’s popular track with same name, Parchi still remains very strong due to its catchy and memorable soundtrack.

Pakistani filmmakers seem to be inspired by Bollywood big time, which is perhaps the reason why within the short span of two months, we saw the release of Arth 2 (inspired by Mahesh Bhatt’s classic), followed by Chupan Chupai (which was an unofficial remake of Soodhu Kavvum), which has now been followed by Parchi. What separates Parchi from the other two is that it is not a blatant copy or a remake of any film. The writer and director played this very smartly, by borrowing characters and scenes from multiple films and upgrading them with their creativity.

First, they borrowed four main characters from Bollywood films to make Parchi a surefire masala film. Shafqat Khan’s character is quite similar to Manav, the not-so-bright guy played by Javed Jaffrey in Dhamaal. Usman Mukhtar’s role resembles Choocha’s from Fukrey, especially in his character’s storyline. Where the simpleminded Choocha falls in head over heels for the fierce Bholi Panjaban (Richa Chadda), in this case we have Mukhtar and Hareem Farooq sharing a similar story which definitely felt inspired.

After ensuring that the main character’s depth is borrowed from hit films from across the border, the filmmakers decided to add a comical character to add some much-needed entertainment, for which they hijacked Archana Puran Singh’s character from Masti; a mother-in-law obsessed with wrestling and the Undertaker. In Parchi, it’s Faiza Saleem who is similarly obsessed with horror films and an ardent admirer of zombies.

Why stop here, when you can add more entertainment that is derived from movies that already exist? The filmmakers then decided to adopt a scene from Masti, where the three protagonists try to loot a home and end up facing the biggest terror of their lives, Faiza Saleem’s character in Parchi.

However, although bits and pieces have definitely been inspired, they have been well-shuffled and crafted according to the taste of Pakistani audiences, making Parchi ready for the theatres.

Parchi offers content that is fresher than most, some really good scenes and a genre that is slightly different than what Pakistani audiences are used to. However, to a regular cinemagoer like myself, the film felt derived from previous Bollywood films, with poorly developed characters and a rushed plot that failed to keep me glued to my seat. Despite this, the film definitely has a fair share of great moments which will be enough to ensure that the masses will most definitely like this film!

All photos: 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.

  • Salman Raheel

    Absolutely bogus article to lambaste Pakistani cinema as usual. How the author in his delusional way claims that the characters are taken out of Indian flicks is ridiculously absurd. Building characters with peculiar interests isn’t just confined to Bollywood, it’s a universal phenomenon. Bollywood has been consistently churning out movies, so it’s highly likely that they may have covered the scenes, sequences or even stories, which our newly renovated industry will go for, but in no way does it mean that we are copying them, especially when it cannot be proven. On the other hand their highly acclaimed songs like…Munni Badnam huwi, Baby doll, Hawa hawa and many more were shamelessly stolen from Pakistani artists, but you don’t see anyone in Pakistani or Indian side talking about them.Recommend

  • vinsin

    No case filled for any of those things that you have mentioned. Author is only claimed what filmmakers claimed.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chupan_Chupai

    Arth2 has taken rights from movie Arth, Mahesh Bhatt.

    Rights of Munni Badnam huyi is with Lalit Pandit, Baby doll is with Rakesh Kumar etc. If you think lyrics are stolen then please file a case.Recommend

  • Salman Raheel

    Many singers do file cases and some don’t. Doesn’t change the fact that Bollywood steal Pakistani singers songs. PeriodRecommend

  • vinsin

    Tell the cases filed by Pakistani singers against stealing of any songs. I have never heard of not even a single case forget about many. I am not changing the facts.

    Rights of Munni Badnam huyi is with Lalit Pandit, Baby doll is with Rakesh Kumar etc.Recommend

  • Salman Raheel

    Don’t forget when Adnan Sami had stolen Pakistani qawali from Sabri brothers, the company which held rights had filed. If such matters are dealt with under the wraps then we can’t talk much. But your stubbornness to deny that if we hear a stolen song in Bollywood years later after the originals release then the Bollywood one isn’t necessarily stolen, then you my dear are unknown to the word called SENSE.Recommend

  • Salman Raheel

    We are not discussing cases, your knee jerk reactions to get technical doesn’t deny the fact that songs have been stolen.
    Sabri Brother owned the rights or not, still doesnt change the fact that Adnan stole it without permission and Emi had to take legal actions, what came of it we don’t know.
    https://www.dawn.com/news/1193603
    That’s is one fine example where the record company was big enough to pursue action against predatory practices of Bollywood, whereas there are so many other instances in which singers or record labels either don’t bother or strike deals by keeping mum.
    It doesn’t matter what you claim or anyone, if a song is plagiarized after decades in any industry it will get pointed out. Your blatant denial remains a DENIAL.Recommend