In a country where everything is taken literally — sarcasm requires disclaimers, emotions trump data and taking offence is the new cool — creating a mind-boggling concept for a movie and executing it to perfection takes guts, and team Money Back Guarantee (MBG) proved to be daring!
Directed and written by Faisal Qureshi, MBG is a political comedy, armed with a war chest of excruciatingly funny moments, clever quips and intelligent jokes, involving rib-tickling scenes and cheeky parodies.
The movie rolls out a (metaphoric) red carpet, featuring an array of bigwigs from Lollywood, such as Fawad Khan, Jawed Sheikh, Hina Dilpazir, Ayesha Omar, Gohar Rasheed, Salman Mani, Kiran Malik and Mikaal Zulfiqar, along with debutants Wasim Akram, Shaniera Akram, George Fulton and Muniba Mazari.
The story revolves around a group of multi-ethnic people who plan to rob “Pak Bank”, a fictitious bank that contains all the wealth of contentious, divisive and controversial political figures.
You’ve got a Pashtun, a Christian, a Punjabi, a Mohajir, and a young, middle-class lady, with a different set of problems, such as azaadi [freedom], paani [water], izzat [respect], gasoline, and rozgar [employment]. Their issues represent our attitudes towards our underprivileged communities and the stereotypes we attach to their personalities based on their ethnicity, with Pashtuns being considered “dumb”, Christians being labelled insulting “karanta and choora” and Punjabis “hungry.”
The movie also sheds light on violence against minorities, misuse of blasphemy laws, the quota system, electing rigging (“Vote ko Bux do“ — Spare the vote), juggar [jury-rig] culture, population control, immigration laws, lack of “uni-tea”, foreign debt, provincial demand for segregation, converting black money into white money, and gutka [betel nut] culture, among other things. Interestingly, MBG also takes a dig at the blatantly shameless placement of irrelevant (and sometimes relevant) sponsored products in our content.
In addition to good messaging, the movie has brilliant cinematography, characterised by some really interesting shots and picture-perfect framing. Stylised by subtle hints of sarcasm, these scenes showcase Pak Bank’s design imitating the map of Pakistan, a “Made in Cheena” logo on a product, a “Bay-Kar” car showroom, a “RIP-999” number plate on an ambulance, and, literally, “safaid khoon” as a humble nod to our collective apathy.
When it comes to music, all the songs pack a punch, with brilliant lyrics and powerful dance sequences. Among these songs, the soundtracks that stood out the most for me were ‘Dil Pe Hukumat Karle’ and ‘Kami Na Ho’.
Having said that, the movie walks a thin line between intelligent and slapstick comedy, with an uncommon plot, extended runtime, and far too many characters, with only a few getting the time to truly shine. Some characters seemed a bit caricature-ish, particularly those essayed by Mikaal Zulfikar, Hina Dilpazir, Shafaat Ali and Fawad Khan. That said, I genuinely appreciate Fawad for choosing another versatile role after The Legend of Maula Jatt, however, his performance in MBG failed to impress.
Qureshi’s decision to act also didn’t pay off. His scenes came across as nothing more than a sequence of a monotonous ad.
A few dialogues in the movie seemed redundant and derivates of age-old sayings and idioms and hence lost their impact. For instance, “jaisi awaam wese hukmuran” [like people, like leaders] and “sari quom so rahi hai per tum jagte rehne or apne phonon mein ghusey rehna” [The nation is asleep but you must stay awake and use your phones].
But, is the movie worth your time? Definitely, yes. It’s a solid 3.5/5!