Mah e Mir

The tagline for this movie is Embrace your Madness, and so it goes with every literary/ creative genius out there. Don’t they all seem to go a little cuckoo in their minds before achieving super stardom?

The premise for this Pakistani movie is simple:

A struggling poet, Jamal Ahmad, has an issue with the modern world’s interpretation of what poetry should be all about. He is awakened from his slumber when his columns in the paper is dropped over a fashion show report.  While hanging out at the Coffee House, Jamal watches a TV show discussing about poetry, old and new. He calls in and asks the host about why the obsession with old poets.

My name is Fahad Mustafa, and even though I am a TV actor, you will see me here trying hard to play the role of a struggling poet. I am very angry at the world, but see, I am now reading Mir’s poetry, which will help me transform my life and find a real meaning to my existence.

This sets the tone for the movie, in which a debate begins about classical versus traditional versus contemporary Urdu poetry.

Hitting rock bottom, Jamal is visited by Dr. Kamal, who hands him his book of poems, which Jamal reads. In what is the best part of the movie, Jamal enters into his world of imaginarium, where he lives out the character in the poems/ ghazals.

In this imaginary world, Jamal becomes Mir.

Oh, look, here I am again. I am now imaging myself to be Mir. I will speak a lot of fancy Urdu, and so this is perhaps the best time for you to read the subtitles in English below on the screen. I will have clean hair and will be more  presentable than who I am in the modern world.

we encounter Mehtab Begum (Iman Ali) who is a courtesan, and develops a fascination with Mir, not to mention another man who also falls in love with the woman.

My name is Iman Ali, and I know I look beautiful, even though I wear contact lenses and don’t dub my lines very well. Oh, also, you will note that dancer besides me dances a lot better than me.

Ultimately, the movie becomes a journey into the maddening of Jamal Ahmad., who learns to rewire his brains and in the process of peeling of his layers and shifting his paradigms, discovers who he is and what he is meant to be. In other words, he had to go a little mad to discover his true self.

What do I make of this movie? I couldn’t have survived this movie, had there been no English subtitles.

The problem with the movie:

  1. The use of pure Urdu in the dialogues and poetry was a major put off. The subtitles saved me.
  2. The movie felt like as if it were made for television and not a cinema house.
  3. The acting by Fahad Mustafa, as Jamal, slightly backfired as someone with a greater control of Urdu prose was required.
  4. Iman Ali, though a beautiful woman, did a bad job of dubbing her lines (and please, get rid of the contact lenses!)
  5. There were lots of “artistic” elements, like the imagery of a full blue moon that failed on so many levels.
  6. I was not sure if this movie was a semi biography, and whether Jamal’s life echoed Mir’s life, or was Jamal able to relate to Mir’s misery so well? Not entirely sure.

Having said this, I do feel the movie had a few redeeming qualities, that could have been explored with greater handling of the subject:

  1. The debate between classical poetry and modern poetry is something worth exploring. Is the poetry written today destroying the classical ones? There is an interesting debate between the two main characters over the importance of the classics. “You can’t drive forward without a rear view mirror,” utters Dr. Kamal. A very valid point is made about the progression of culture while utilizing our cultural past glories.
  2. The use of flashbacks were effective and used sparingly. It didn’t hamper or slowed down the narrative. at almost 2.5 hours, the movie feels like it’s stretching out, but then it doesn’t.
  3. The quality of the movie is top notch (although some of the set designs felt amateurish).
  4. The movie does incite some level of interest in the renowned Pakistani poet Mir Taqi Mir. I personally had no idea who he was, and I came home and read up on him.
  5. Dr. Kamal’s love story, though juvenile at best, does raise up the point of a man’s ego getting in way of declaring love for someone. Ego does mess things up, and it’s fine if we can let go of ego at times.

Mah e Mir to seems to have a wonderful concept on paper, but got lost massively in it’s execution for the big screen. At best, this could have worked a two part TV series.

Save your money and keep on hoping for the next big Pakistani film to work.

Oh, also, one of my favorite Pakistani actress Sanam Saeed, is completely wasted in this movie. Hugely disappointing.

My name is Sanam Saeed, and I play the role of Naina Kanwal. I have a very small role, and I don’t even know why I picked this movie. I have nothing to show, except look pretty.

1.5 out of 5


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