This is being written before the Eid releases take over the multiplexes, and given how the film under discussion – and the one discussed last week – went, one wouldn’t quite have reason to look forward to the upcoming flicks.
Before we narrate, for the umpteenth time, the disasters of the local film industry as a whole, there is a masochistic juxtaposition between the two latest releases under discussion. For, of late there appears to be a crossover in Lollywood that nobody, literally nobody asked for: merging the 1990s and 2010s, often with the incorporation of the worst of each era.
This appears to be ongoing with absolute fervour in some quarters. Last week we discussed Sangeeta directorial Sirf Tum Hi Toh Ho – with or without sirf, that’s your pick – which demonstrated, with full conviction, just how atrocious Pakistani cinema was about two decades ago, and added its own newfound atrocities as well.
With that gruesome memory fresh in the mind, actor and debutant director Arbaaz Khan has made Roundabout, after watching which, you can only muster pity – not for the director and actors – but for the audience of 1990s, and 2019, both of whom are being given drivel in the name of art.
The storyline for Roundabout, just like its name, keeps on going in circles. It was, quite clearly, scribed in the absence of anyone who could even remotely pass as a writer, is completely directionless, has being randomly hanging out in the name of acting, and then haphazardly moving around in the name of choreography. But the music is tolerable – here is a straw for you to clutch.
Usually one gets a good idea – or bad, usually in our neck of the woods – of how the film is going to turn out to be with a single viewing of the trailer. That’s usually the route many cinemagoers opt for before deciding on wasting their hard earned money on something that is odds on to turn out to be part-time, half-hearted, mumbo jumbo – if you’re lucky.
The trailer for Roundabout has two disastrously choreographed songs, mute dialogues, for some reason all action scenes at the bus terminal of Niazi Express and the single dialogue at the end of it all that conveys that life all about, wait for it, roundabout. That is your cue to take a U-turn.
The film is perhaps years ahead of its time in that it just throws random pieces at you to create your own storyline out of. It’s a Do It Yourself Script, and here’s what we managed to put together.
There is a rich party-loving girl Anush (Mahi Khan). Sanam (Reena Ali) is her old friend. They meet at a party where the former listens to the latter’s sob story, at the end of which Anush offers Sanam to be a guest at her home – indefinitely. The next very day Sanam misbehaves with Anush’s aunt.
From there, love is used a tool of revenge. Enter Bhola (Arbaaz Khan), who then becomes Raja, and Sanam becomes Reena. Then there is murder, linked to a $10 million insurance fraud.
If you want to send fan mail, write it to Saleem Murad, who is the screenwriter for Roundabout, for giving you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create your own story while you’re watching a film for which you actually bought a ticket.
While you do that maybe send one out of courtesy to Ayaz Sono and Bilal Wajid because they actually seem to have put in kilojoules into the work done, more so in Laiyan Laiyan and Dharakta Hai Dil Dewana, even though they’re horrendously shot.
Roundabout is emblematic of the vicious circle that the local film industry is trapped in. The local filmmakers are either looking to emulate the worst of the past, replicate the mediocrity from across the border, or rehashing the same formula to earn a few bucks. That’s the never ending roundabout for Lollywood.