January 18, 2018, 11:23 am

Movie review: ARTH – The Destination.

by Valeed Shahid.

Today, promotions are almost vital to any movie’s success at the box office, regardless of the content, and it is not true for the Pakistani film industry only, but also for movie projects being produced world over. In fact, promoting a movie has only recently become a part of the pre-release hype strategy of most Pakistani movies.

Unlike all other movies, Arth was not heavily promoted, but still had a strong recall in the head of local audiences, mainly due to the presence of credible actors like Humaima Malick, Shaan, Uzma Hassan and Mohib Mirza. While Humaima, Shaan and Mohib have ensured success of movies in the past, for Uzma, it was an entirely fresh start, despite having played some really strong characters on television.

Like the trailer and name of the movie suggests, Arth – The Destination is based on Mahesh Bhatt’s 1982 directorial venture of the same name. Unlike we guessed by the initial teaser of the movie (see here: Watch Teaser: Shaan & Uzma Hassan in ‘Arth’), it is Humaima Malick who plays Smita Patel’s role, that of a movie star, and not Uzma Hassan.

The movie opens with Ali (Shaan Shahid), who has been a rockstar in the past, going through a divorce and simultaneously finding his place in the music industry again. On the other side, we are introduced with a happily married couple, Omer (Mohib Mirza) and Uzma (Uzma Hassan), where the former is trying to make it in the big bad world of movies, as a filmmaker/director. During his struggle, he gets a chance to work with Umaima Khan (Humaima Malick), a reigning movie star.

Eventually, Omer, despite being married and content, falls head over heels in love with Umaima, mesmerised by her super stardom. Things start to get worse, when Umaima’s schizophrenia brings serious troubles in their relationship. Ali, on the other hand, runs into Uzma, who has been a fan of his music in the past. Events unfold, and a really chaotic turn of events, makes life hard for all four individuals when their paths meet.

Arth – The Destination, has a strong storyline, like the original movie, but it falls short at many technical levels, including editing and background score, and even frames. At one point, Uzma Hassan is seen confronting her husband at a public event, and it is hard to guess how many cuts were required in that scene, but it almost seems like the editor was too busy doing something else, which made him forget where to put important cuts, so much so, that the character, Uzma’s body language looked really awkward in the entire scene, despite excellent performance. If a common member of the audience, like myself, could notice such flaws, I am sure the viewing experience was really unfriendly for many others too.

Apart from the mentioned scene, there were many other scenes with awkward silences and body language.

In my opinion, Humaima Malick and Uzma Hassan were the two most powerful performers in the film, who almost carried the storyline on their shoulders, despite some really bad editing. Though Humaima didn’t have much screen time, she was a very important part of the storyline throughout and had everyone jaw dropped with her usual strong/excellent dialogue delivery. Also, like always, she looked drop dead gorgeous in possibly every frame. Uzma Hassan’s television roles already had me hooked since the past few years, and her transformation from Sajida of Ullu Baraye Farokht Nahi to Uzma of Arth, is commendable and says a lot about her versatility as an actor. Having said that, we think her wardrobe and styling in the movie needed some serious attention.

Shaan, like always, looked thunderous on the screen. His undying charm and looks can put any young actor of our times to shame, but in all honesty, Arth is definitely not his best performance, probably because he was consumed in two roles simultaneously, those of an actor and a director. Mohib Mirza, though very talented, hardly had any margin to show his acting skills, but was pretty reasonabe in whatever part he was given.

The music direction by Sahir Ali Bagga was impressive, with songs that matched the movie’s storyline well, but it were mainly Murshid Ji and Sanwar De Khudaya with vocals by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, that almost make you ignore all the flaws of the movie towards the end. Also, Hone Do with vocals by Aima Baig was a soothing number, and we love how her voice has added to the soul of many songs and characters in the recent past. There weren’t any dance/wedding songs in the movie, which is probably one of the reasons behind the reduced mass appeal of its soundtrack, but we do understand the need to keep such tracks out of an otherwise serious plot. Aadat, featuring Humaima Malick, with vocals by Sana Zulfiqar had massive visual appeal, and already has a whopping 1 Million views on YouTube in about only a week’s time.

On the whole, even though it looks like one, Arth – The Destination is not your usual masala entertainer. It is a tale of four troubled individuals, who are set out on their own journeys of finding themselves. Arth is probably the most visually beautiful recent Pakistani film, with some amazing moments, and it could easily have been the best movie of this decade, had it been more well executed, with more attention to detail. Though faltered, it is not the kind of movie one can afford to miss.

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