This must be the longest review I have ever written, thanks to the enormous expectations I had with this project and also my equally massive disappointment after watching the film. Yalghaar is a big budget mess. The whole project is half cooked and seriously lack direction. Every element of the film is awful yet you survive the ordeal, thanks to the acting talent and subject matter of the project. I will be honest I wasn’t bored as who doesn’t like Army men shooting, walking in slow motion wearing aviators, flying helicopters around but a whole feature length action film simply cannot survive on these elements alone. I really wanted Yalghaar to be better than Waar, instead Yalghaar turns out to be a TV documentary giving insight into how Pakistan Army carries out the operations and as an action entertainer fails miserably.
Three things that are big disappointment in this film are screenplay(story), production and direction. And there is only one person to blame, Mr. Hassan Rana the writer, producer and director of this debacle. I wonder at what time while making Waar, he thought he could actually direct a film.
Screenplay is a disaster, even YouTube short films have better form of storytelling. There are so many half-cooked subplots that audience never really develops any connection with the characters. But you still manage to care for the characters thanks to connection that already exists with Pakistan Army (being a Pakistani) but Hassan’s screenplay has nothing to do with it.
It seems like Hassan had a checklist of what worked well in previous army based movies, like an army junior having a Mercedes worked well in Shoaib Mansour’s classic “Alpha Bravo Charlie” so let’s make one of the character rich and give him a Mercedes or Eman Ali’s being kidnapped/escape sequence was much loved in ‘Khuda Kay Lyay’ so let’s have one kidnapped girl who also has a failed escape attempt etc. When writing a script checklist strategy seldom works. I wished Hassan had focused on one or two stories only and had put all his efforts into developing them. Personally, I believe this film could have thrived perfectly with just stories of Shaan Shahid’s, Adnan Siddiqui’s and Ayesha Umer’s characters. These three stories if were done properly could have easily delivered the message, which this movie was intended to deliver
Also, a lot of scenes felt forced and added just to tick the check list, like training scene of Bilal Ashraf or Ayesha Umer’s escape attempt etc. I can’t mention all the moments here as list is very long .Dialogues are equally pathetic and literal. It feels like they are written for a very dumb audience which needs everything to be explained.
From production perspective, this has to be the weakest film to come from Lollywood, especially with regards to editing and camera work. This film is full abrupt transitions. Waleed Ughur’s camera work is bad (there is no fancy way to describe it) and it’s so poor that camera work from wedding videographers appears as of Oscar Standard. Camera work is so amateurish that simple scenes like showing your female lead in a slow motion are not done properly. For example, Armeena khan is any way petit yet in her slow motion scene, camera doesn’t capture her entire frame and so you can’t see her feet yet there is so much unnecessary head space, which makes her look even more ordinary when the scene was suppose to exaggerate her prettiness or in a scene where director wanted a close-up of Sana Bucha’s face and we know her face is longer than usual, so in that scene camera man has conveniently cut her chin out from frame, which looks really weird, I wish I could list all the scenes but list here is also very long.
But the biggest let down of all is the direction of Hassan Rana. I wonder how the outlook of the project would be if he had Bilal Lashari on board, I am sure it would have been a lot different. Direction is not even up to the standards we see on some of the good private TV channels we have in Pakistan now.
There is a scene between Humayon Saeed and Ayesha Umer which is like couple of minutes long. That whole scene is filmed like its being performed live on stage with certain body profile angles and movements. Camera feels like is set on a tripod and throughout the scene Ayesha Umer is given only one task which is to literally cry out loud which is first of all doesn’t look natural secondly makes Ayesha Umer performance look comical. Poor girl on the other hand tried hard but still there were couple of time, it felt like she paused mid-way to take a breath and then started crying all over again. Director simply failed to understand that when you are being hostage for weeks, you don’t cry or react with the same intensity every time your kidnapper is in for a random useless chit chat about his childhood. A more silent yet resilient reaction from Ayesha Umar would have been more appropriate. When compared to other movies with similar content from Pakistani Cinema Hassan’s effort as director looks even more terrible. There were many times you can see extras looking at the camera which is very distracting and doesn’t look professional at all. I am not talking about some extra standing at very back or far away but the one standing next to main antagonist or protagonist. I am still wondering how Hassan Rana approved these scenes to be added in the film? This so called most expensive production does not look professional at all.
In an action film if screenplay doesn’t help entertain then naturally audience will count on action to survive but that too is a big disappointment. And if action is a major issue in an action film then you can really asses, what big a mess it is. To build perspective let me remind you of the opening extraction sequence of Waar and that one sniper shot in the end of it, that was an impactful scene and it did perfectly set the mood for rest of the film. It was so memorable that its memory is still fresh in my mind after couple of years and yet this film which has 60 percent of action does not have a single memorable moment like that. Even the last combat sequence between Shaan and Humayun which I was expecting to be entertaining is very bland. Maula Jutt and Noori Nath’s vintage silly action sequence (from a regional film of 70’s) will look more creative and modern in front of this one.
Saving grace of the movie is performance from the cast and Pakistan Army's coolness. Everyone has acted really well and even though most of the roles were not written properly, Actors still managed to do justice with whatever scope they were given. As I said Pakistan Army’s charm does save the film for me as for me I am not really designed to hate anything associated with Pak Army. I am sure patriotic souls will have tearful moments in the end and again I will say the whole credit goes to the performances/our patriotic association with Pak Army.
Again, in the end I would like to add that I went to cinema to watch a feature length action military based film and my review is based on that, but what I got instead is a TV documentary of how Pak Army conducts operation in militant zones which is not fair, especially when you are catering to international audience. I remember I took my Jordanian friend to watch Hassan Rana’s previous film Waar which he was super impressed with, unfortunately I can’t say the same for Yalghaar. Yalghaar is only perfect for a TV screening and that too only on 14th August, I go with very generous 2 stars.