Filmmaking is a tricky business; a writer pens down the scripts, a director adds his two cents and then makes the actor play the character to the best of his abilities. However, when a person writes the scripts, produces the project and even calls the shots, it falls in the danger zone. Either it manages to do extremely well or doesn’t do well at all; Khalil Ur Rehman Qamar’s Kaaf Kangana falls in the latter category, sadly. For a person who created Help Me Durdana catchphrase or is the brain behind Mere Paas Tum Ho, film direction was something new and he failed miserably in that department.
Ali Mustafa (Sami Khan) not only loses a quiz competition to Indian contestant Kangana Rathore (Eshal Fayyaz) but also his heart, during her seven-day stay in Pakistan. Gulnaaz (Ayesha Omar) loves him too but their neighbor Tony (Aabi Khan) wants to win her heart by hook or by crook. When Kangana leaves for India, Ali Mustafa plans to go after her and express his love, in her land and get the approval from her father Hari Das Rathore (Sajid Hasan). Ali Mustafa fails to realize that both he and Kangana are pawns in a bigger story which could end with his death in the alien land. Does he manage to win her heart or return to his country empty-handed, that’s what Kaaf Kangana is all about.
Sami Khan is the only cast member who tries hard to save the ‘intense love story’. He looks the part of a Pakistani guy in love with an Indian girl and preaches peace even when he is being bullied at home or in India. The one-liners he delivers are powerful and applaud worthy, and he even manages to show his dance skills in some of the songs. The soundtrack featuring Naveed Nashad and Sahir Ali Bagga songs is one of the best in recent years, and in a well-directed film, it would have done wonders. Aabi Khan steals many scenes in the film as the macho man who saves his friend across the border, but his character could have been developed in a better way. Then there was the eternal Khoobsurat Ayesha Omar who played Gulnaaz, Sami’s secret one-way girlfriend; whenever she entered the frame, it seemed like a breath of fresh air because the rest of the stuff in the frame looked old, and she looked out of this world. The leading lady Eshal Fayyaz looks good in patches as an Indian girl but fell prey to the stupidity of the screenplay, which would have succeeded on stage, but was in no way film-ready.
One could write a thesis on Kaaf Kangana as it came out as a 1980s classic releasing in 2019. In what world can Sami Khan be Shafqat Cheema’s biological son; why does Sami Khan’s character ride a bicycle in the first frame but gets a car suddenly a few minutes later; why does a bullet entering his body comes out as if it was placed there by hand and not shot by a gun; why was Kangana’s haveli the first and only thing he sees when he enters Gurdaspur; why did the India – Pakistan border have less security than out street barriers; why Kangana’s father’s business resulted in her ouster from Pakistan; why was Ali Mustafa always referred to as Ali Mustafa instead of just plain and simple Ali; why was it easy to kill an Indian soldier than a Pakistani civilian; why did every other dialogue feature Kashmir even when it was meant to be a romantic one and why were Indian ladies dressed 24X7, as if they were going to a wedding. A good director would have handled these loopholes better, but since it was Khalil ur Rehman Qamar’s stuff, he let it go and the result is in front of us.
The Verdict – Terrible
Films like Kaaf Kangana could only have done well in the pre-Internet era but not today. Unlike Mulaqat that began in 1947 and ended in the 70s or Tere Pyaar Mein that revolved around an Indian girl and a Pakistani boy, Kaaf Kangana was disappointing. It had something of this, something of that and it ended nowhere. Had it been directed by someone who had a hit or two to his name, he would first have bettered the draft and then went on with the job. Since it was Khalil Ur Rehman Qamar’s baby, it was bound to end up in a bad company, among flops in this scenario. It not only made Durj look much better but also damaged the film careers of Sami Khan, Eshal Fayyaz, Fiza Ali and Ayesha Omar. The film will be pulled down from major cinemas in Karachi because people want to smartly use their money on Joker, Terminator: Dark Fate and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil rather than an intense love story that makes them laugh uncontrollably.