Every now and then comes a Pakistani film that does well in the festival circuit but bombs at the box office, because it isn’t commercially viable. The first release of 2019 Gumm meets the same fate despite winning multiple awards internationally and being labeled as a not-to-be-missed film by the makers.
The biggest draw of the film was Sami Khan who made a return to films after a decade and a half and carried the story forward with his brilliant acting, but even that didn’t seem to be enough as the cons were more in numbers than the pros.
Asad (Sami Khan) finds himself in a car accident with no memory regarding how he got there or why there was a dead guy beside him. Things change drastically when he learns that there is a bag full of money in the car, that Haider (Shamoon Abbasi) has something to do with a robbery and that he has a daughter in the hospital getting treated for a disease. What is his link to all and does he manage to get away from the mountains despite being injured, with wolves on his track and with the law enforcement agencies in the vicinity.
It took him 15 years to return to films but what a return it turned out to be, Sami Khan is the film if you ask me because everything that happens revolves around him. From thetapori Asad to the family man he becomes, from the guy who fights for the money to the one who has no idea about his whereabouts, he is perfect in every way. Shamoon Abbasi does come across as the bad man he excels in however with a dubbed voice by someone else, he doesn’t register the way he should in the movie. Some of the indoor scenes are well shot and look filmi however they don’t comprise of most of the film. Surprisingly, the songs are good and catchy despite being from lesser-known composers and featuring unknown singers.
If Shamoon Abbasi’s dubbed voice wasn’t bad enough, there was the leading lady Shameen Khan who doesn’t have much to do except look pretty in front of Sami Khan who plays her husband. She was a misfit as a mother of a five-year-old and had the role been done by a little mature actress like Mansha Pasha (Sami’s frequent collaborator on TV), it might have turned out better. The stock shots of wild wolves, rainy clouds among other things would have passed off had it been a college project but since the film was released commercially in cinemas, it was differentiable since it looked different from the other parts of the film. Writer-director duo of Ammar Lasani and Kanza Zia did try their best to make the film look original but it resembled Adrian Brody’s Wrecked a lot and since it was released as late as 2011, most people have seen the film. Despite the Pakistani treatment, it came out as a local version of a Hollywood flick and that’s something that will keep us back no matter how good the final product turns out to be.
The Verdict – 2/5
The film might have won many awards at the festival circuit but it was never going to look threatening at the box office, especially after the release date was announced. At a time when Aquaman was ruling the box office, Simmba was crawling behind, a disastrous Jackpot was being rereleased, Indian movie K G F was making it big in cinemas and Hollywood films Escape Room and Instant Family occupying the screens, to release a low-budget suspense thriller was always a bad idea as they didn’t get more than one show per day, per cinema in fact. The film, however, helped Sami Khan register himself as a film hero and how he carries on from here with Kaaf Kangana and Wrong No. 2 will decide whether he is made for films or should he continue his successful film journey forward. Had the film been released a month later when there was a viable window and had it not been stretched from the original length, who knows the result might have been different!