What makes a man step into a cargo container that is going to be sealed for days? Why does he step into a flimsy overloaded boat to face a stormy sea? Or dart across international borders dodging bullets? What are the compulsions faced by men in Pakistan, which make them take extreme risks to chase a mirage of a secure future in alien lands? Set against the backdrop of the world of illegal immigration, Zinda Bhaag is a film about three young men trying to escape the reality of their everyday lives ... and succeeding in ways they had least expected. In a nondescript neighbourhood of Lahore, three friends are desperate to get on to the fast track to success. Khaldi, Taambi and Chitta, all in their early twenties, believe that the only way out ... is to the West. The journey that unfolds through the story of this film gives us a peep into what constitutes the everyday in the lives of many young men and women in Pakistan - a sense of entitlement that cannot be fulfilled, desperation to ... Written by
Farjad Nabi & Meenu Kaur
Before even seeing this, the pressure was already one; submitted as Pakistan's entry for the Oscars (although it's not really the genre of film that wins that category), a star appearance from Indian actor Naseeruddin Shah and a hit soundtrack from Sahir Ali Bagga to boot- my expectations were very high. Fifteen minutes through the film I was reassured; the script is well written, making you empathise with the characters almost instantly and the narrative is perfectly timed. In my opinion this is much more relevant Pakistani film than say "Waar", because it's about people rather than stunts and action. Three star turns come from Khurram Pataras who is perfectly cast as Khaldi, supported by the equally excellent Zohaib Ashgar, whose character's insecurities and naivety make him immediately likable. The third friend is played by Salman Ahmed Khan and although less developed a character than the other two, it's another engaging performance. Both Naseeruddin Shah and Amna Ilyas of course turn in excellent performances, but for me it's the three friends who make the film what it is. This is exactly the kind of production Pakistan needs to be making; a serious topic light-heartedly portrayed with touches of ironic and black humour. In the much-touted "resurgence of..." tag that every new Pakistani film of the last 3-4 years seems to be labelled with, this one is wholly deserving of that accolade for simply trying and succeeding at doing something different. If you haven't seen this yet, you're missing out on one of the exciting slices of south Asian cinema released in the last year.
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