Amna R. Ali finds the silver lining in the conversation about the recently released film Verna.
The reviews are out and the verdict is in! The majority of critics writing about Shoaib Mansoor’s Verna have found flaws in its direction and acting. Now that’s a huge demotion from being one of the most highly anticipated films to hit the big screen to a ‘meh’ flop — as the critics would have you assume. But seriously! Do people really need to smack someone’s baby! Despite the imperfections that impact the film – they exist – we believe in looking on the bright side and give you our top eight reasons why you should watch Verna!
- Verna deals with some extremely pertinent social issues which as Pakistanis we do need to be reminded of periodically! And no better platform than a film that educates while it entertains. Verna is about rape, misplaced family honour, women’s rights in Pakistan, a Godforsaken VIP culture that we don’t have the guts to rant against, the misuse of power that has left us numb as a nation – if Shoaib Mansoor can incorporate so many themes in one script without making it sound like a diatribe against society, all power to him! Women’s rights activists also believe that addressing such issues are critical in moving society forward
- Verna is very realistic! It is not unbelievable that some hideous thugs kidnap a young woman from Islamabad’s often sparsely visited F-9 Park! We hear of these things, finally someone is talking about it!
- The family’s reaction is shockingly honest! Yes, as always, a woman is told to keep mum and shut up! Forget about it, don’t ever talk about it, advises the heroine’s mother-in-law. And in typical style, the husband turns away from his now sullied wife! How true and how awful! Let’s face it and attempt to change the way we think!
- Mahira Khan is a powerhouse of an actor! There is no denying that she carries this film on her shoulders as the main protagonist Sara! Good to see the diversity that this top star has embraced in her repertoire! And also amazing to see that for a change the woman is not just a hard-done-by victim. She takes control and deals with the issue when the justice system and society fail her! Mahira is top notch in the role. Kudos!
- Haroon Shahid is ineffectual in his role as he is meant to be! Many viewers were puzzled as to why Mahira’s partner on screen was not as accomplished as her! But the silver lining is that his role called for exactly that state of perplexed inertia! Haroon as Aami is meant to be a rather useless character – his personality comes through well.
- Pakistani viewers are mature enough to view taboo issues on screen! We are blessed to have a forward-thinking youth (at least a majority of it) who want a change in society! In fact, in the cinema house that I went to, viewers of my parent’s ilk were impressed with the issues addressed.
- At least the backlash is not about beheadings! Thank God! The reactions are positive, in fact, good constructive criticism. All I can say is, dear Shoaib Mansoor, please make another film soon!
- Pakistani cinema has come into its own! Definitely! We are not emulating our Bollywood neighbours or the Persian speaking film auteurs who also live next door. Here is a genre of film that is home-grown Pakistani – a thriller that keeps you on your toes with all the masala of social commentary thrown in! Let’s keep the cameras rolling!