Released on 21st April, Film Chalay Thay Saath (CTS) is perhaps the most anticipated Pakistani film of this year.
The story of the Film Chalay Thay Saath revolves around four friends, their relationships and personal struggles. Pak-China friendship is a loosely adapted theme. The lead male character is a Chinese traveler on his journey of self-discovery. The female lead is a doctor who studied in Karachi but actually belongs to Hunza.
The trailer surely impressed many and gave the illusion that this will prove to be a great movie. So what is worth the hype? Let’s find out!
The Good Stuff
This film effectively captures some of the Pakistan’s most treasured beauty, the Hunza district of Gilgit-Balthistan. The first part of the movie shows breathtaking sceneries, each with their names and background commentary, which actually makes you feel as if you are visiting them yourself. Kudos to Shahzad Khan for the wonderful cinematography!
This is done to perfection. Every actor plays their part well and stays in character throughout the movie. Casting Kent S. Leung as the male lead is a winning decision. Apart from the seasoned actors, we also get to enjoy some fresh talent displayed by Faris Khalid and Osama Tahir.
The lead male character, Adam, is played by Kent S. Leung, a charming young Chinese/Canadian international actor and filmmaker. Despite having very few Urdu dialogues, he manages to entertain the audience with the emotions and comic scenes delivered impactfully.
Syra Shahroze gives it her best, with a very natural, genuine and convincing performance. Apart from Syra, this film is also Mansha Pasha’s film debut, and she, too, gives a spectacular performance. Veteran actors Behroz Subzwari and Shamim Hilaly prove once again why they are two gems of the Pakistani entertainment industry. Zhalay Sarhadi delivers well but we wish we could have seen more of her and of Shamim Hilaly in the movie as their part is too brief.
It is interesting, apt and not overdone. The songs are not used as fillers and they are not used too often. Interestingly, ‘The Jinn Song’ is Behroz Sabzwari’s singing debut and he performs it quite well. It makes one nostalgic and reminds us of the old PTV times when similar TV shows and songs were regularly aired for children. The other songs are Pariyan, Bolo, Jeep Racey, Mariam and Khalis Makhan.
The film offers an exploration of two contrasting perspectives. One is Adam’s outlook on Pakistan and the other is about how the Pakistanis react to him.
Adam had come to Pakistan to find more about his Chinese father, who had died during the construction of the China-Pakistan highway. We get to feel emotions connected to his side of the story. Themes such as these open up one’s mind and make you think about our culture and people from the eyes of foreigners. Though the storyline is not strong enough, the underlying message is clear: Strangers from far-off lands may not seem trustworthy, but bonds of love and friendship break all barriers and connect us with each other.
We have to say that a great job was done at the styling of all the actors. The boys have been dressed and groomed perfectly. The girls are seen wearing both decent western attire and trendy Pakistani clothes. This is undoubtedly refreshing as it gives a real feel to the movie. The makeup and accessories are also appropriate and overall the styling hits the perfect balance of being not too much and not too little. Syra’s sister Palwasha Yousuf deserves to be applauded for her work.
Adam’s background and the fact that he cannot speak Urdu creates a lot of room for comedy. The humor is unapologetically very Pakistani. The actors manage to pull it off and succeed in giving us enjoyable moments. Though a few jokes were a bit too clichéd, they add life to the film.
8. Family Entertainment
This movie lacks vulgarity and cheap humor so it is perfectly safe to enjoy it with your family. This is a great plus point as very few (read almost none) of the recent movies (both foreign and local) can boast of having this quality.
9. Limited Advertising
Unlike some of the other recent Lollywood films which had forceful appearances of their sponsor’s products every now and then, this film has just a couple of subtle and short advertisements.
10. Refreshing Originality
The storyline, despite its weaknesses, is genuine and realistic. This movie is thankfully free from any obvious Bollywood (or Hollywood) influences. It is purely Pakistani and that’s something we should all be proud of.
The Bad Stuff
1. Weak Storyline
The storyline has serious flaws. It is probably what prevents this movie from being a great one. Some of the characters have too short a part, and this compromises their impact. For example, the audience would have loved to see more of Zhalay Sarhadi, the strong-headed and independent working woman and single mother. Not only is her screen time very limited and random, but the romance between her and Faris Khalid also lacks substance. Similarly, Shamim Hilaly’s character could have been built up properly and more of her side of the story told instead of haphazardly showing the audience well towards the end of the movie why she had come solo on this road trip.
Surprisingly, the execution and the build up to the climax is so weak and spontaneous that the movie fails to present an exciting and engaging climax. It involves a destructive flood swiping off a whole village (inspired by a true story) but regrettably it does not convey the feelings of terror and uncertainty associated with such a natural calamity.
Also, the romances, sort of, lack depth. The love story of Resham and Adam takes an interesting start but goes downhill afterwards. It lacks intensity and the plot is clumsy too. Similarly, there was a weird transformation in the story of Zain and Tania.
Overall, the narrative is slow. Particularly, the latter half of the film feels dragging at times. One also feels that some stories seem incomplete because this movie is trying to tell too many stories at a time.
2. Flimsy Screenplay
There are certain script issues. The dialogues are simplistic, which contributes to issue of the story lacking depth. The script could have written better. The Pakistani audience is used to enjoying impressive dialogues in the Pakistani dramas, which set the bar high. Consequently, we expect something comparable, if not more, more from the film industry.
Luckily, the good acting and direction covers up the faults in the screenplay at times. However, this leaves one wondering how good this movie could have been if the screenplay could have been strong.
All in all, film Chalay Thay Saath is a light, road trip film with mesmerizing visuals and great performances. It is a warm-hearted, slightly romantic, feel-good movie, with some hilarious and charming moments here and there.
Definitely not something that would blow you away but not a bad source of entertainment with friends/family over the weekend either!