Nabeel Qureshi and Fizza Ali Meerza’s mood board must be an interesting sight to behold. Whenever you look at their films, there are popular elements of everything we’ve loved growing up. A touch of Pakistani stage dramas, a dash Bollywood, a hint of television’s hit moments and now there are plenty of political and social media based commentaries too. From Aurat March remarks to roadside bun kebab feels, Nabeel Qureshi and Fizza Meerza’s Quaid e Azam Zindabad is a classic Nabeel and Fizza film: entertaining but not without its relevance and reference to serious themes.
Quaid e Azam Zindabad is the story of Inspector Gulab (Fahad Mustafa) who is unapologetically corrupt. He falls in love with Jiya (Mahira Khan) an animal-rescuer, brave and kind-hearted feminist who becomes the voice of conscience in the film. While the film centers around these two characters for the most part, supporting actors such as Javed Sheikh, Mehmood Aslam, Nayyer Ejaz and Qavi Khan round off the film with their excellent performances. Fahad Mustafa carries the role of an action hero easily on his well-formed shoulders and his comedic timing amplifies the witty script.
Mahira Khan is a classic Nabeel and Fizza heroine. She’s smart, funny and modern. She’s unafraid and lovable, intelligent and capable. Even though occasionally we do need the hero to save her from flying bullets. But that’s just the film formula for you. The script makes up for it as they show what being strong truly means: it’s to face the truth and to do the right thing.
The first half of the film is mostly fun and frolic. All key characters are introduced and two of the most played songs on anyone’s current playlist, Loota Re and Dil Karey, feature in the first half. Mahira Khan looks stunning and shares a palpable and fresh chemistry with Fahad Mustafa. The main themes and the conflict is set up nicely and you have bought in to the magic and the masala. In one scene between Qavi Khan and Fahad Mustafa, the tearjerker element is cranked up and the cliffhanger at the interval could not have been more perfectly timed.
The running themes in Nabeel and Fizza’s films are always the real core of the story. While Fahad has been made the larger-than-life hero, and boy, does Fahad deliver! – the hero is still the message. The corruption pandemic, systemic failures in our country and how it’s always easy to bully the little guy but tough to go after the big fish, all are relevant and current themes that traverse through the daily lives of Pakistani people and Pakistani media.
The second half struggles with some repetitive scenes but the one-liners keep it interesting. Fahad Mustafa’s hero persona carries many difficult scenes and perhaps hard-to-buy action sequences. Eventually the movie dials back to its democratic message and talks about the power of the people. Saleem Mairaj and Beo Zafar make small but memorable appearances and the emotional arcs of the films are explored beautifully by the lead actors. Quaid e Azam Zindabad establishes Fahad Mustafa as a bona fide big screen hero (not that he wasn’t one already) and also opens a floodgate of ideas and opportunities as to what Pakistani filmmakers can explore when it comes to action adventures or even fantasy romantic drama features in the cinema.
In the current scheme of things, Quaid e Azam Zindabad provides plenty of laughter and brilliant visuals and a play on a compelling theme that will make the audiences want to watch it with their friends and family. The film is also a much needed boost to our fledgling industry that needs great films and entertaining features to attract audiences. Quaid e Azam Zindabad is as relevant and crisp as all of Nabeel and Fizza’s films and that alone is a guarantee that the film will be loved by audiences worldwide. The film is playing in theatres across the world and it really is, as the filmmakers say, a story we wish to be true.