REVIEW of Pakistani Punjabi Film “Ishq Khuda (2013)”
Which is screened at Punjabi International Film Festival 2013 Toronto, Canada.
Masjid Dhaade, Mandir Dhaade, (Tear down the Mosque, tear down the temple)
Dhaade Joh Kuch Dainda… (Tear down everything in sight)
Par Kisse Da Dil Naa Dhaween, (But don't break anyone's heart)
Rub Dilaan Wich Wasda… (Because God lives there)
~ Bulleh Shah
I don’t think there can be anything better than this kalaam of Baba Bulleh Shah that sums up Ishq Khuda. This is my first time writing a review and because I loved the film so much, I thought I should give it a try so that I can encourage others to go watch the film when it releases this Eid in Pakistan.
Several things that stood out for me:
· References to the sacrifices of the Pakistan army.
· The depiction of the real teachings and ideologies of Islam.
· Promoting Pakistani values (respect, brotherhood, friendship, sacrifice, love).
· Encouraging the LOVE of the divine rather than his fear.
· Beautiful locales of Pakistan and great production values.
· The amazing dialogues by M Parvez Kaleem.
· Shaan’s extraordinary performance.
· The brilliant direction by Shahzad Rafique.
I’ll start with the basic details here, the film is directed by Shahzad Rafique who had earlier directed films like Ghoonghat, Nikaah, Salakhain, and Mohabbatan Sachiyan. The cast includes Shaan, Meera, Ahsan Khan, Saima, and newcomer Wiam Dahmani. Now for those who are wondering how I watched the film if it will be releasing on Eid, I attended the World Premiere of the film on May 18th 2013 in Toronto. The film was released through PIFF (Punjabi International Film Festival) and both the actresses of the film; Meera and Wiam Dahmani attended the screening.
I wanted to talk about the plot but I don’t think it’s a good idea as the plot was pretty basic and even if I explain it in a line or two, there wouldn’t be anything left for the viewer to watch, so I will stay away from revealing anything about the story. Firstly, I wanted to talk about the performances in the film. Shaan Shahid, who is the only superstar that we currently have in films, was brilliant. Sadly he hasn’t really done many films that used his talent properly, however in Ishq Khuda the director made sure that he gave this brilliant actor a challenging role and Shaan played it with gusto. If there’s anyone who doesn’t only impress but also makes the viewer reflect on their own meaningless lives, it’s Shaan. The transformation that his character goes through, might not be believable to many, but the way he played the character, and the way the director portrayed it on screen, I don’t think one would get the time to think about any flaws at all. Shaan totally stole the show and proved that he was and is the BEST that we have. Ahsan Khan looked great and his performance was also very good. The character required him to underplay and that’s what he did. Watching him on screen made me think how talent like him is being wasted in dramas even though people like him are made for film. His screen persona, his performance, his body movement, everything was flawless. The newcomer Wiam Dahmani looked great throughout the film and was quite impressive in a few parts, however, there were scenes where she was unable to portray the emotions that the situation demanded (especially towards the culmination of the film), but for an actress who does not know the language and is working in a film for the first time, she was amazing. Saima didn’t really have much to do, but whenever she appeared on screen she made sure she matched up to the performance of Shaan. The actor who played Shaan’s mentor was brilliant (sorry I don’t know his name). His performance was believable, powerful, and soul quivering at several places. Finally, I wanted to talk about Meera. To be honest, I was very disappointed with Meera’s performance. This lady has been a part of the industry for a long time now but still doesn’t seem to be knowing what to do. Sorry to say but she was like a “nazar ka teeka” on such an amazing film.
The story and screenplay by Saleem Zuberi were okay. The lovestory was pretty basic and ordinary however Shaan’s track is what made the story and the film extraordinary. The screenplay was also weak at several places but then there were also scenes that were brilliantly written, so it wouldn’t be wrong to say that Saleem Zuberi did an above average job at writing the story and screenplay. M Parvaiz Kaleem sahab’s dialogues were where the film scores full marks. The brilliant dialogues (especially those delivered by Shaan) made the film worth applaud. I believe that powerful dialogues are those that stay with you even after you leave the theatre, and the dialogues from this film do the same. There were so many lines that had a great impact on me, and played a major role in making the film what it was. Overall, if I were to rate the dialogues out of 10, I would give them 11, one extra mark for being extra special.
The music by Wajahat Attre sahab (who’s one of the best music directors in the country) was okay. It was plan ordinary and a disappointment after Mohabbatan Sachiyan’s great score by the same music director. The lyrics by Riaz ur Rehman Sagar were good. The cinematography was amazing and the locales of Swat and other places in KPK were beautifully captured in the songs.
Now comes the hardest part. DIRECTION. Shahzad Rafique is known as a filmmaker who has made several commercial blockbusters in the past, but this film will add his name to those directors who make films that are loved by the audiences as well as the critics because of the messages and themes that would leave their impact on the viewers. The way he balanced a love story (and many songs!) along with a parallel spiritual track was brilliant. Overall, apart from a few flaws (that each and every film has), Shahzad Rafique’s direction was very powerful and made the film a visual treat. The way that he balanced a love story (for those who prefer romance) and the spiritual track (for those who look for meaning in films) was marvellous. Shahzad Rafique also deserves 11 out of 10 was his extraordinary work.
Finally I wanted to mention the beautiful messages that the film sends across. The film encourages love of all kinds whether it’s the love of the divine being or the love of HIS people. It is a slap on the faces of the fanatics and extremists who are maligning Islam around the world by using violence and fear. The film gives several references from Hadith and Quran Pak that oppose violence and hatred but encourage love, tolerance, and unity. I believe that in the current crisis of our country it is the job of all filmmakers and TV directors to have some sort of social messages in their work in order to teach people what’s right and what isn’t. Shahzad Rafique has done an amazing job in giving some amazing messages through the film and promoting love, tolerance, harmony, and peace in a world full of hatred, violence, and force. Thank you Shahzad Rafique sahab for making this film and doing your part to save Pakistani cinema!
Overall, Ishq Khuda is a powerful film because of some amazing performances by the lead actors, brilliant dialogues, amazing themes and social messages, along with powerful direction by Shahzad Rafique. The film will be releasing in Pakistan this Eid and it is a MUST WATCH! It will surely be a life changing experience for those who watch it. So this Eid, one thing that SHOULD be in your TO DO is Ishq Khuda.
* Best Scene: Although I loved several scenes, but the best one was where Shaan confronts Nayyer Ijaz (the hypocrite cleric). Each and every dialogue in the scene was brilliant and Shaan’s brilliant performance made it even more impactful.
* Moment of Pride: Seeing Indians and locals clap at the end of the screening and then talking about the film as they left the theatre!