Filmmaking in Pakistan is a bed of thorns as it still suffers to attain the status of an ‘industry’. Yet some creative minds are trying to revamp the film culture and ensure cinemas won’t end up as shopping plazas. The film calendar for 2023 ended with Zaheer Uddin’s directorial debut, Chikkar.
With a grand premiere in Karachi, the movie made its first appearance in front of the entertainment industry & critics. Chikkar’s teaser had the element of raising curiosity and interest. To be honest, there was a doubt that the movie would live up to the expectations set by the teaser or not.
Before entering the cinema hall, I questioned Zaheer about what to expect and he replied: “It’s something that will stay with you”. So the next couple of hours were all about examining Zaheer’s craft and here’s what my FilmCut mind ended up observing:
Using Film Noir
For a person known as an ad-film director, It was a brave call by Zaheer to jump into the Film Noir style. Violence, sexual assault, and a gloomy environment are essentials for a Film Noir. From its very first frame, Chikkar had a solid grip on the style.
Zaheer successfully established an atmosphere where the viewer has less room for calmness. The credit also goes to the Gaffer and Art Director for spot-on lighting & designing to deliver the style.
Surprise Factor: Nouman Waheed
There is always someone who can overshadow the lead cast. In Chikkar it was undoubtedly Nouman Waheed as Jamal Bhatti.
Pakistani cinema heavily relies on comic relief for the public. It’s a culture set by our former filmmakers and has now become the brand image of Lollywood. Call it a clever move or luck, Zaheer made the best decision by keeping Nouman (aka Jamal Bhatti) a parallel lead instead of a minor supporting actor. The comic relief in the most candid & unintentional manner allowed viewers to gel with the film.
To avoid spoilers, let’s simply say that Nouman Waheed did full justice to the character. It was surprising to know that the movie was his first project as a professional actor.
Choice Well Made: Usman Mukhtar
Some might argue that Usman Mukhtar is getting monotonous with his ‘serious man’ characters. However, as a director, you choose an actor that fits the character sketch. Usman was a valiant choice for an upright police officer who keeps a firm stand and does not put his foot down.
It may seem simple, but it’s difficult to pull off a role with no visible expressions. Usman Mukhtar did fair justice with a very tricky task of not saying but conveying.
There was a serious concern about how an ad filmmaker would be able to deliver a feature film as they both require a different treatment. Many new directors in Pakistan actually fail in film treatment. Mainly because of extensively working with dramas and ad-films.
However, it was a relief that Zaheer Uddin understood his assignment and made no mistake in treatment. This also reflects his hidden expertise in hard-core filmmaking as such a drastic switch is very challenging.
The Room for Betterment
There were some areas & choices that could have been better. As the film progresses the viewer has a growing urge to know more about Faryal Mehmood’s character. She looks perfect and left no left unturned, but sadly had a short screen time.
Similarly, Saleem Mairaj could have created a solid impact, but his character couldn’t connect with the plot. Adnan Shah Tipu had a very brief effect on the story that could have been rectified.
It felt that some sequences were left out due to the sensitivity of nature that affected the ‘show, don’t tell’ concept. The movie would have left a more lasting impression if it had the room to freely showcase more aspects of the story.
With its effort to ask questions on a less talked about topic, Chikkar is something that hits the mind and stays with the audience. So, to keep it short, the Upcut’s final rating is as follows: