23 Pakistani movies hit cinemas in 2019. We ranked them all

While Laal Kabootar won us over, we feel the quality of movies didn't hold up as last year's offerings.
Updated 31 Dec, 2019 01:13pm

The Pakistani entertainment industry is on its way to revival and we have much to show for it.

Last year, we had a whopping 21 movies release and the number is similar this year with 23. 2019 also saw many productions shift away from only hitting the screens during Eid, with big releases spread throughout the year. While it wasn't much, it's a start we hope to see more of in 2020.

This was the year of big debuts like Kamal Khan and Nehr Ghar's Laal Kabootar and even bigger comebacks like Meera's Baaji. However as a whole, we feel like the quality of movies didn't hold up as last year's offerings which included Load Wedding and Cake. Maybe our expectations were too high.

Here we rate every single one of past year's major releases so you can catch up on what you missed:

1) Laal Kabootar

Was there any doubt that Pakistan's Oscar submission wouldn't be our number one? Kamal Khan's directorial debut impressed us all and raised the bar way too high. The film is a rollercoaster ride taking you through Karachi’s dark underbelly alongside Ahmed Ali Akbar as Adeel Nawaz, a hustling taxi-driver and Mansha Pasha as Aliya Malik, an unstoppable force searching for her husband's murderer.

Read the full review here: In Laal Kabootar we finally have a movie that equals Karachi's chaos and glory

2) Durj

Despite almost being banned, Shamoon Abbasi's psychological thriller/horror is based loosely on a series of true events and we applaud the crew behind the film for taking a topic that can be easily too grotesque, and treating it right. Also, shout-out to Sherry Shah for a brilliant performance!

Read the full review here: Shamoon Abbasi’s Durj is about so much more than cannibalism

3) Baaji

Meera made her major comeback in a movie that seemed to tell her own tale. Her passion, drive and rapport with the equally on-point Amna Ilyas was a treat to watch and despite some flaws in the script, the duo's dynamics and individual stories got them to here.

Read the full review here: Meera finally gets the role she deserves in Baaji

4) Parey Hut Love

Based loosely on the classic rom-com Four Weddings and a Funeral, Asim Raza’s second feature is a light-hearted and fun watch. Just make sure you keep in mind what you’re heading into the cinema for — two hours of pure rom-com escapism full of tons of wedding inspo for Decemberistan aka shaadi season.

Read the full review here: Parey Hut Love is pure rom-com escapism

5) Superstar

What really worked for the Mahira Khan and Bilal Ashraf-starrer was the simplicity in the story — a welcome change from the wacky OTT plot twists we've been seeing in mainstream cinema — and an idea we could be invested in. Had the script been detail-oriented, it would've ranked up higher.

Read the full review here: Mahira Khan and Bilal Ashraf do their best in Superstar

6) Heer Maan Ja

What sets the tone for HMJ is not its roller coaster plot, half-baked chemistry between the film’s leading pair, or a cursory exploration of serious socio-cultural issues. What makes it a worthwhile watch is the film’s promise to entertain, and by being a jack of all trades, entertain it does. Suspend your disbelief and you will be amused.

Read the full review here: Heer Maan Ja fails to impress but doesn’t fail to amuse

7) Chhalawa

While the ensemble — especially Zara Noor Abbas and Aashir Wajahat — impressed us with their potential and we laughed to half of the jokes that landed quite well, we really wish the plot didn't have so many inconsistencies and unclear shifts in character motivations.

Also, can we stop making crass jokes with suicide as the punchline?

Read the full review here: Chhalawa is filmoun ki Imran Khan

8) Sherdil

Mikaal Zulfiqaar has us rooting for our nation in the cinemas as he soars the skies. We loved the action, especially the well-executed scenes with the fighter planes. However, it wasn't enough! Perhaps if we got more action and humour instead of the boring romance, we'd be giving it a higher rating. A sequel is in the works and we request more fighter planes please!

Read the full review here: Sherdil uses patriotism as bait and hopes a love for Pakistan will keep you hooked

9) Project Ghazi

The superhero action film serves as an important lesson to the film industry about the importance of post-production and being aware of what quality comes out of what deadline. The film improved magnanimously from its 2017 premiere. While it has its fair share of flaws, at least we knew the plot!

Read the full review here: Project Ghazi is a superhero film that learned from the past

10) Ready Steady No

Amna Ilyas shines in this rom-com that attempts to raise awareness about caste marriage. If the film had carried out the comical aspect thoughtfully instead of relying on ludicrous twists every 15 minutes, it would've fared much better and delivered its message clearly.

Read the full review here: Does Ready Steady No succeed in calling out caste marriage?

11) Wrong No 2

While not a sequel to Wrong No. the Yasir Nawaz flick features the same brand of slapstick/occasionally R-rated humour in a plot that similarly relies on multiple mistaken identities and wildly intersecting storylines to keep the audience hooked.

Read the full review here: Wrong No 2 is more than a silly comedy film

12) Gumm

Sami Khan carries this thriller on his shoulders and he does so well. For all the small holes tearing at its plot, the film doesn’t drag and wraps up neatly in less than two hours. The story grips simply because it remains unpredictable till the very last scene.

Read the full review here: Sami Khan's Gumm is surprisingly watchable

13) Talash

Talash is dubbed as the first Pakistani venture to tackle the subject of malnutrition and the cast members feel that ‘working for a cause’ will open new doors for others.

The biggest draw of the movie itself are the three debutants — Ahmed Zeb, Noaman Sami and Fariya Hassan — who are not just leading the way but also enthusiastic about their project.

Read the full review here: Talash aims to take the film industry forward

14) Sacch

As if the trailer didn't give us Yash Raj vibes, the movie itself feels like it tries hard to be a Bollywood film but remains a Pakistani one with much room for improvement. We still commend Hum for taking a chance on complete newbies for a feature film shot in Scotland.

Read the full review here: Truth be told, Sacch could've been a better movie

15) Daal Chawal

For a film that is more or less a public relations message about the valiant men and women of the police force, Daal Chawal veers quite close to how things are in reality. That said, it came off more like a telefilm than a movie made for the cinema; it lacked that little polish.

Read the full review here: Propaganda without a bite

16) Kaaf Kangana

Khalil ur Rehman's directorial debut (which he also wrote) has a screen time of 2 hours and 37 minutes and is a celebration of stereotypes, dialogues that seemed to be written in the early 90s and acting that can only be described as inspired by Ekta Kapoor’s extra soaps for Star Plus.

We know the attention it got might have you wondering why it didn't make it to last place. Unfortunately, there were films that ended up being much more disappointing — at least this one gave us memes.

Read the full review here: I finally watched Kaaf Kangana and instantly wished I hadn't

17) Tevar

We're always glad when a movie steers away from the commercial rom-com and while this flick has a minuscule premise, it works in its favour. The characters are given ample room to showcase their traits and temperaments and, as a result, the actors have room to perform.

We just wish the brutality was a little toned down, it went over the top quite often.

Read the full review here: Poetic Justice

18) Betabiyan

This alternate universe of late 90s storytelling clichés has glib characters, a trite premise and a screenplay that stretches one’s sense of belief. Overall, the cinematography didn't add any value from the framing, the lighting, to the low-light noise of the camera that has been, quite apparently, cleaned up during post-production.

Read the full review here: Betabiyan will leave you betab for the film to end

19) Jackpot

We're done with disgusting humour, sexual depravity and guts to make a movie without a fleshed-out story. Also, how many more more films will we get with Jawed Sheikh as a cigar-smoking baddie?

Read the full review here: Losing the lottery

20) Sirf Tum Hi Tou Ho

The Danish Taimoor-starrer may have been a sufferable idea 15 years ago — but even if made back then, the script (provided there was one) would have needed a re-write, and a better cinematographer, editor and director.

Read the full review here: Lost in competence

21) Kataksha

Saleem Meiraj did his best but couldn't save the film from confusing writing and weak characterisation. The film self-professes to be Pakistan’s first psychological horror. The psychological aspect is nowhere to be found here. It is, quite evidently, lost, like the horror and the storytelling.

Read the full review here: What exactly was that?

22) Roundabout

Yet another stabbing nostalgic reminder of the bad 90s movies that ran cinema (and cinema owners) into the ground. The screenplay takes a brief one-line idea and expands it into an overlong, illogical, slapdash movie.

Read the full review here: All pain no gain

23) Junoon-e-Ishq

With a plot that's overstuffed with story-twists that may go anywhere and end haphazardly, the film falls into the “so-bad-it-makes-you-cry-with-laughter” category.

Read the full review here: Sheer Madness

Special mention: Zindagi Tamasha

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Sarmad Khoosat's film had its premiere at the Busan International Film Festival and also took home the Kim Ji-seok Award. The movie has not released in Pakistan as of yet and oddly enough the trailer has mysteriously disappeared. We hope that doesn't mean it won't release here!