Verna was and is probably the most anticipated movie of the year. With epics like Khuda ke Liyay and Bol under Shoaib Mansoor’s belt almost every Paki movie goer was/is super excited especially after seeing the promo itself which is hard hitting and power packed.
So what is the movie like? Well I’m personally always a champion of evaluating Pakistani Cinema keeping its infant status foremost and the factor of encouragement paramount. But here we are talking about Shoaib coming up with a movie after six years and collaborating with the power house Mahira Khan in the lead role.
Initially the movie will sweep you away because it hits where it is supposed to hit. Right in the gut. You can see every one of our social taboos come in to play and while you will curse the stupidity of the supposedly enlightened characters spewing such stereotype responses you will also sympathize with them because we as a society in general are totally ill equipped to handle the trauma of rape even at our best.
But even though you curse the stupidity of the characters and even though your heart goes out to the victim but the movie fails to elicit the gut wrenching response that a subject as powerful as this should provoke. The casting of the supporting roles was not up to the mark and that is being polite. Where the dialogues were bold as is expected from Mansoor the supporting characters just failed to give the performance required of them which essentially became the first reason why the emotional bond which the movie should have established with its viewers failed.
Zarrar Khan the main villain of the movie gave a respectably good performance along with Iram Rehman who played the victims lawyer.
The loopholes in the script were unfortunately glaring. The movie failed to develop the physical and emotional trauma of Sara (Mahira) the victim as well as failing to communicate the anguish of the family and the spouse appropriately. It failed to convey the emotional trauma of everyone involved and what little there was in the script was sacrificed by the inferior performance of the cast.
Mahira, where delivered a praise worthy performance, ended up letting the emotion of hate overpower all aspects of her performance and therefore was not able to communicate the shock, distress and anguish which naturally would lead to the hate therefore once again severing the emotional connection of the movie and the audience.
Mansoor talks about issues no other Director in Pakistan wants to talk about but this movie could have altered the way we approach a victim of rape and how we cope with such situations, while setting a precedence and paving a path for other movies with burning female issues and could have cleared a path for strong female oriented movies to be made. Instead it failed to communicate the required emotions and totally screwed up the message with a totally unlikely ending which was more apt for a masala movie rather than a Shoaib Mansoor project.
If you have kids above eighteen you must take them to watch the movie and then talk to them about how to deal with God forbid such unwarranted situations in life because that is what we really need to do for our future generations.
Having given my readers the downside of the movie it still remains to be said that the subject was extremely relevant and the dialogues sensational. It “will” elicit a response from you mainly anger and will shed light on taboos that we need to break in order to better protect our sisters, daughters and wives. The fact that Mansoor did not depict a single scene featuring the violence itself was noteworthy but the movie could do without the crammed musical score which felt unnecessary and irrelevant.