After the issues that Project Ghazi went through on its initial premiere in 2017, I was concerned about the film.
There were evident problems and improvements I wanted to see. By the time the film was readied for re-release by its producers on March 29 2019, I was in a limbo, stuck between hopeful and skeptical. There was ample time to improve but how much could be improved?
So what happens in Project Ghazi?
The 'Project Ghazi' that the film's title refers to is an experiment by specialist Dr Ziad (Talat Hussain) whereby soldiers are enhanced so that their abilities are at maximum capacity - a nod to Captain America and the like. 15 years from the project, Salaar (Humayun Saeed) is the only surviving soldier around, due to a sacrifice made by his partner Taimur.
Taimur's son, Zain (Sheheryar Munawar) has inherited these super genetics from his father, although he is unaware of the origins of his abilities. When scientists and others involved in 'Project Ghazi' are targeted and super villain Kataan (Adnan Jafar) plans to drown the city in chaos, Zain must team up with Salaar to put a stop to it all.
Considering I had no idea what had happened in the original film, I was pretty happy to be able to locate a cohesive plot in the upgraded Project Ghazi.
A whole different movie
I have to say this. Watching Project Ghazi after having seen the original, the improvements made weren't subtle at all. The audio was clearer, the timeline more logical and the CGI rendered to an acceptable state.
The scenes spent in confusing silence in the 2017 version had dialogues! I couldn't help but exclaim "Oh so that's what this was" on numerous occasions.
The crew behind the film utilised the year and a half they had since the original premiere quite well and not only does it show, but it made me happy. This is the power of proper post-production.
As the film progressed I realised that my viewing experience was affected by my comparing it to the 2017 version. For that reason, I may be appreciating the movie's improvements more than a general audience would.
However, I needed to see the movie as a stand-alone project. Sure, there were improvements but does Project Ghazi hold up on its own, keeping in mind that this is the only version the audience will be watching?
Did the director bite off more than he could chew?
While any efforts on advancing the entertainment industry are worth appreciating, I do believe that the team behind Project Ghazi took on a monumental challenge with the film. They could've succeeded had they been more selective with the content.
While the CGI was top-notch compared to the previous production, there were still inconsistencies. At times, the VFX looked really good and at times they looked incomplete. There were also moments in the films that did not require any graphics at all, and scenes could have been cheated to get what the director needed from the sequence. Instead of fighter planes flying around in bad graphics, we could've had shots of the pilot in the cockpit.
During an already loaded action sequence, machine gun loaded drones - which looked like average drones - weren't necessary. Instead the team could have focused on the Salaar and Zain's battle with the mecha-tanks that defended the villain's base.
Had the unnecessary bits been removed, the team could have focused on the detailing of the important sections and provided graphics that would awe us all.
The entertainment industry has a long way to go and the filmmakers behind Project Ghazi didn't need to force all their ideas in one film. Had they been critical of their choices, they could've even readied a sequel.
There is such a thing as too many monologues
I loved that Project Ghazi wasn't over 2 hours long like the average Pakistani movie but within the 1 hour 40 minute flick it was obvious that the script needed to be tightened up.
There were few plot holes but what really put me and many members of the audience off was the frustrating amount of monologues in the film. Adnan Jafar's Kataan is rarely in dialogue with anyone. He. Just. Monologues.
Half-way through monologue number three I was exasperated. I wish I could say Jafar did his best with the script he received. After all, he has championed monologues from his theatre days. But Jafar's portrayal of Kataan was an amalgamation of every single villain from Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. Bane, Joker and the Scarecrow, there was really nothing original about his character or how he played it and it was all over the place.
Sheheryar Munawar and Humayun Saeed definitely looked their parts and were pretty solid in the first half of the film. Towards the end, however, they felt too stoic for the intense action and the more passionate moments.
I was very hopeful of Syra Sharoz's Zara, a scientist who wants to get to the bottom of 'Project Ghazi' and what the realities were. Her first interaction with Zain showed that she can hold her own. However, as the film progresses it was heartbreaking to see Zara as a very redundant character, who's absence would have made little difference to the movie.
Speaking of redundant characters, it was also just agonising to see Nusrat Hidayatullah's character rendered so useless in the film.
From the looks of it she was suppose to be the right-hand of Kataan but her character isn't fleshed out, has no impact, and has little context. She enters and exits her scene like a hyper cat, zipping in swatting at her targets and disappearing just as quickly. Can we still not write powerful female characters that are human and believable?
Talat Hussain's powerful speech gave him great presence on screen. He too had a few too many monologues but he played his character perfectly. We depend on his narrative to understand the backstory of the movie and also the progression of the film.
The gem of the movie, however, was Aamir Qureshi as Dilawar, the modern day armourer with a knack for developing high-tech weaponry. He yearns to go into the field for the action, definitely has the strength and built for it, but his intellect is much more valuable than his physical self.
Aamir's natural dialogue delivery and casual body language made him the most intriguing character around. In fact, his segment of introducing Zain to his creations and giving his own little backstory was the highlight of the movie. I wanted to see more of him and hope there's a spin-off with him in the lead in the works. May I suggest, Project Dilawar?
Project Ghazi on its own does have its flaws but knowing the journey the movie made, I'm glad to see the progression.
I respect the decisions made by the producers regarding the work to be done on the film and even their decision to delay the film by a week to avoid a clash with Sherdil and Laal Kabootar.
It shows the concern the team has regarding not just their film but the entertainment industry as a whole.
I just wonder what the film could've been like if the attention to detail had been there from the start.
I hope the entertainment industry has taken their notes on the importance of post-production and taking time for perfecting a product. If nothing else, we need to be aware of what quality comes out of what deadline.Project Ghazi took some bold steps with a genre relatively new in Pakistan and if nothing else, it just might pave the path for more films, which will be a step ahead every time.