Zarrar is a 2022 Pakistani spy action thriller film written and directed by Shaan Shahid and produced by Ejaz Shahid and Adnan Butt under the banner of Jehan Films. It stars Shaan Shahid as the titular character along with Kiran Malik, Nadeem Baig, Nayyer Ejaz and Shafqat Cheema in supporting roles. The film was officially released worldwide on November 25, 2022.
To begin, Shaan Shahid’s achievements are self-evident. Nobody7 needs him to justify his acting chops, career, or notoriety. And yet, Zarrar is a much greater letdown.
To say that “Zahrah” is Sharn’s offspring would be an understatement. Besides directing and writing for the film, he has been working on it for almost a decade. Sadly, the finished product appears to have been ruthlessly demolished.
Storyline and Screenplay
First, a newsreel from Field Marshal Ayub Khan’s 1961 trip to the United States, when he was president of Pakistan. Here, President John F. Kennedy rides in an open automobile with a Pakistani leader who has been praised as a great friend of the United States—until the images cut to the attack on the World Trade Center four decades later. After it, Pakistan was seen as a safe haven for terrorists and was shunned by the West, especially the United States. The video then depicts the eventual withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan, effectively ending India’s dreams of gaining sway there. With his new film “Zarrar,” legendary Lollywood actor/director Shaan Shahid is attempting to make amends for his previous methods of working. Since Shaan’s last film, Arth (2017), was a financial failure, the superstar was forced to shoot a political action picture set around the world. Although Shaan’s father, the great director Riaz Shahid (who started out as a journalist before making movies), may have found this subject fascinating, it is not Shaan’s cup of tea. Lawrence, a nomadic character created by Riaz Shahid in Shaheed (January 1962), is a Pakistan separatist. Things were like this long before the ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ movie, in which Peter O’Toole played T.E. Lawrence (December 1962).
The Palestinian movement was also featured in Riaz Shahid’s diamond jubilee film Zarqa (1969). Shaan picked a subject that relates to the world we live in, where Pakistan is under attack from both inside and outside. The media, religious leaders, government agencies, corrupt politicians, and the eponymous “Bairooni Saazish” all play antagonistic roles in the film (foreign conspiracies). Regular Lollywood bad men like Nayyar Ejaz and Shafqat Cheema are among the many antagonists featured in the film. They both portray menacing characters, and the two were previously seen together in Maula Jutt earlier this year. Shafqat Cheema plays RAW agent Ravinder Kaushik, posing as a Moulvi, while Nayyar Ejaz plays corrupt politician Salman Shah who is trying to destabilise Pakistan (religious cleric). While Rasheed Naz (who passed away earlier this year) played Fahimullah Khan (the “Bad Guy from Afghanistan”), producer Adnan Butt plays the lethal Mahavir Singh Rajpoot from RAW. There aren’t many Englishmen (or “goray”) in the film because Zarrar, the “Man from Pakistan,” wipes out their entire squads.
Tim Fathom Wood shot this international spy thriller all the way back in 2016 in Pakistan, Turkey, and the UK. Thomas Farnon scored the film. All of the songs were enjoyable, but the one with Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s voice stood out the most. In a similar vein, the well-choreographed action scenes and patriotic dosage of language were well-received by the Pakistani audience, as was the Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI) utilised to demonstrate the multi-touch interfaces.
The Shining Light in the Darkness
Kiran Malik is easily Zarrar’s most interesting character. She’s got all the depth of a journalist who’ll sell her soul for a few dollars in bribes and kickbacks.
She promotes her father’s latest book, which is titled “The Truth” (wow, talk about being subtle). She provides a performance that, if only for a few minutes, sets the picture on fire as she mourns the death of her father, a journalist who was slain for his honesty. She also says “Sach sirf sooli pe latka hua acha lagta hai,” which is my favourite line from the entire film (truth is only appreciated when crucified).
The Far-Reaching Ambition
As far as Pakistani thrillers go, “Zarrar” has a rather unique premise. Political favorability, media sway, failed nations, hybrid conflict, and nuclear weapons are all within Shaan Shahid’s sphere of interest.
The plot focuses on the efforts of foreign powers to destabilise Pakistan in order to gain access to the country’s nuclear weapons stockpile. Viewers will identify with the film regardless of how well it depicts Pakistan’s current status, economic troubles, struggles with the IMF, FATF, World Bank, and other international financial institutions.
The central conflict in Zarrar involves a scheme to incite terrorist attacks and general anarchy in Pakistan. National Security Adviser of India Ajit Doval and the British and French private operator network RAW are the bad guys.
It also involves corrupt politicians in Pakistan and warlords in Afghanistan. The plot isn’t really creative or sophisticated, but he might have enjoyed it as an espionage thriller. There are just too many holes in the plot, unfortunately. To keep up with the times, adjustments were made to Zarrar, which was originally scheduled for release before the epidemic.
The 2021 U.S. pullout from Afghanistan is documented in the opening sequence. While this particular alteration was necessary, the plot as a whole was fundamentally altered as a result. Most notably, there is no charge for the terrible, glaringly evident dubbing. All of the actors had their natural English accents preserved while they are dubbed into Urdu. The scene’s frame rate was slowed down so that the audience wouldn’t be able to tell that the actor’s mouth was moving independently from the dub. The story is not complex or interesting in any way. The film only briefly touches on serious issues including hybrid warfare, terrorism, journalistic ethics, and corruption.
You don’t feel the gravity of his language, even when the great Nadeem Sahab, playing his former ISI colonel, discusses suicide bombing while constructing a pistol. The reason for this is that he never says anything new.
The dreadful editing in “Zarrar” is the first thing that will stand out to any viewer. It’s unclear how the characters got from one place to another because the film switches to new settings so frequently throughout crucial passages. Kiran (Kiran Malik) unexpectedly travels to Turkey to interview a corrupt politician (Nayyer Ejaz), while Shaan (Shaan Malik) unexpectedly finds himself in a vast compound looking down terrorists and a RAW agent (Shafqat Cheema). The difference between a great film and a mediocre one sometimes comes down to the skill of the editor. There’s no doubt that the latter applies here.
The Choppy Action Choreography
When 2013’s “Waar” hit theatres, its opening scene became the new standard for action movies to come. In 2018, with the release of “Teefa in Trouble,” a new standard was set for action choreography in the film industry. With its Gandasa, dagger, sword, and axe battle, “The Legend of Maula Jatt” raised the standard this year. In retrospect, “Zarrar” would have been deemed a respectable action film had it been released a few years earlier, alongside these other films. This project now appears to be a failure and not worth the price of admission.
With all due respect, I must state that “Zarrar” is not worth your time. The film is terrible, despite the fact that many people worked on it for several years. Whether the poor translations, alterations, and rewrites were Shaan Shahid’s fault or the studio’s, they spoiled what could have been an excellent picture.
The Adventures of Shan and Kiran in Zarrar
In an era where films are increasingly used to shape public perception of a country, “Zarrar” draws attention to the significance of hybrid warfare, exposes plots to undermine Pakistan, and reveals the danger posed by that country’s nuclear weapons. Before the outbreak, Zarrar was on track to become an expensive Hollywood copycat. Several points in the final product are particularly slow. Zarrar fails to achieve the same level of success as Bilal Lashari’s Waar because of flaws in its production, such as choppy editing, too many English-language lines, too many cuts to black, and too much CGI blood.