There is no denying that Ali Zafar is one of those pop stars from Pakistan who has enjoyed stardom like only few have. His latest film Teefa in Trouble premiered in Pakistan last night amidst protests from a section of the public demanding to take the film down as the court verdict on the sexual harassment case is not out as yet. However, in the UAE, it opened to a packed house. However, keeping the controversies aside, does the film work? Here’s the verdict.
Production Values: It is said to be the most expensive Pakistani movie to date and that can be seen in all aspects of the film. From production values to cinematography to action sequences and locations, everything is visually and aesthetically top notch. And unlike several other Pakistani films, there are no sponsors in the frame and in-your-face branding besides one ‘Diamond Supreme Foam’.
Witty One-Liners: The dialogues have been written by Ali Zafar which work as a catalyst and there are more than a few moments where you laugh out loud. The loudest claps are reserved for the moment when he takes a dig at Islamabad ke burger and mulk chor diya per tharak nahi gayi.
Punjabi Tadka: Ali is originally from Lahore so the Punjabi accent comes naturally to him and he looks believable as a Punjabi goon. The second half is shot in Lahore and it looks great as part of the backdrop. Time and again, Mehmood Aslam and Javed Sheikh get into fights in a typically loud Punjabi manner and those scenes are show stealers.
Ali Zafar’s Star power: It’s hard to believe, but this is Ali Zafar’s first Pakistani film. And he has put his best foot forward. He looks good, has performed his stunts himself and his acting skills have improved a lot over time. My only issue is that given his character, his face and hair look too perfect in each frame ( notoriously reminding you of the self-obsessed Shahid Kapoor in Padmavaat where his puff remains intact even in the toughest of battles). Nonetheless, the film belongs to him and he is as keyed up as a Boost bunny, exuding charm and competence in equal measure.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK
Weak Plot: Unfortunately, the biggest turn off is the storyline. Ali plays a goon who believes that money is everything in life and he is hired to kidnap the female lead who is super rich, has had a troubled childhood and is ignored by her father, a multimillion dollar tycoon. She lives in a mansion and has a scheming stepmom. She thinks Ali is helping her elope and as expected, the pair find themselves drawn to one another, but she doesn’t know what he does for a living. Now could it get any more clichéd than this? We have seen such stories right from the time of Subhash Ghai’s Hero and then Raja Hindustani and very recently, Jab Harry Met Sejal where the two leads with super contrasting backgrounds get romantically involved, part ways and then reunite.
The second half is lengthy to the extent that it feels dragged. There is too much of chasing going on. We will not hold anything against the cinematic liberties taken time and again. For instance, the way Teefa lands in Europe in just one day and how Javed Sheikh’s army of guards are so useless that they can’t match with the actress' speed!
The last Pakistani film I had watched before this was Cake and it was no less than a masterpiece. Now, for an industry to survive, a healthy balance of art and commerce is a must. Perhaps, going by that standard, if Cake was a Yin, Teefa is its Yang.