Review: Wakhri is a bold tale of courage, struggle and societal rebellion

Faryal Mehmood shines as Noor, infusing the portrayal with a visceral authenticity that reverberates beyond the screen.
Updated 06 Jan, 2024

Wakhri, a Pakistani cinematic marvel, dares to traverse the untrodden paths of societal taboos, encapsulating the raw essence of human struggle, resilience, and societal revolt. Inspired by the life of the late Pakistani influencer Qandeel Baloch, the film resonates with the spirit of Noor Malik, portrayed impeccably by the talented Faryal Mehmood, depicting a woman of fortitude single-handedly navigating the tumultuous landscape of social norms and financial constraints.

The narrative unfolds with Noor, a dedicated schoolteacher shouldering the responsibilities of being a single parent to her 11-year-old son while grappling with financial constraints after the demise of her husband. With colossal dreams but limited means, Noor’s aspirations transcend the barriers of societal limitations.

Her encounters with transgender people, advocacy for girls’ education, and her relentless struggle to secure custody of her child etch a portrait of a woman audaciously challenging the conservative norms ingrained in Pakistani society. In her crusade to carve a path for her dreams, Noor finds an unlikely ally in her best friend, Gucchi, portrayed with remarkable finesse.

Gucchi, operating a modest studio directing local commercials, constantly urges Noor to exploit the potential of social media to amplify her voice and gather funds for her envisioned school. The transformation begins when Noor, clad in an eccentric persona, launches a viral video, thereby initiating a wave of both admiration and virulent online backlash, illustrating the double-edged sword of social media’s image-driven paradigm.

Mehmood’s portrayal of Noor is nothing short of brilliance, seamlessly encapsulating the nuances of her character, resonating with authenticity and depth. The film’s editing, crisp and seamless, enhances the narrative’s pace, effortlessly weaving together Noor’s trials, tribulations, and triumphs.

Mehmood’s depiction of Noor in Wakhri feels like a personal testimony, resonating with her own journey as a rebellious force in the industry. Known for breaking stereotypes and challenging norms, Mehmood has carved her niche as an artist unafraid to rewrite the rules. Her on-screen embodiment of Noor exudes a palpable sense of defiance, echoing Mehmood’s own audacious spirit in the face of societal expectations.

Embracing bold roles and fearlessly expressing herself, she’s been a trailblazer, challenging norms with every step. It’s as if Wakhri stands not just as a film but as Mehmood’s statement, a reminder to all those who dared question her choices or doubted her resolve — a resounding declaration that she’ll continue to shatter stereotypes and rewrite the narrative on her own terms.

She unmistakably channels her own rebellious streak into the character of Noor, infusing the portrayal with a visceral authenticity that reverberates beyond the screen. This film feels like Mehmood’s response to the naysayers and gatekeepers of conformity, showcasing her unwavering commitment to breaking barriers, challenging stereotypes, and leaving an indelible mark on the canvas of Pakistani cinema.

While Wakhri champions the cause of breaking societal barriers, it occasionally teeters on the brink of preachiness, opting for a more direct approach where subtlety might have conveyed the message more artfully. However, the film’s pièce de résistance arrives in the form of a bone-chilling moment when Gucchi, in a poignant stance of acceptance, dons a turquoise drape in the culminating scene.

This singular visual, devoid of dialogue, resonates as a powerful statement, articulating volumes about societal norms and personal acceptance.

The premiere of Wakhri glittered with star-studded elegance, gracing the cinematic release with its brilliance. However, the film’s resonance and relevance might find a more poignant reception on OTT platforms. Its thought-provoking narrative, coupled with the stellar performances, warrants a platform where it can be appreciated, dissected, and celebrated with the depth it deserves.

Wakhri transcends the boundaries of conventional cinema, serving as an ode to courage, defiance, and the relentless pursuit of dreams in a society shackled by taboos. It stands tall as a testament to the power of resilience and the indomitable spirit of those who dare to challenge the status quo.

Wakhri has been written by Iram Parveen Bilal and Mehrub Moiz Awan, directed by Bilal, and produced by Abid Aziz Merchant (Sanat Initiative), Apoorva Bakshi (Awedacious Originals) and Bilal’s Parveen Shah Productions.

The film stars Mehmood, Gulshan Mated, She’s Sajjad Gul, Salem Mairaj, Sohail Sameer, Bakhtawar Mazhar, Akbar Islam, Tooba Siddiqui, Behjat Nizami, Bushra Habib and Kainat.

Wakhri is playing in cinemas across Pakistan now.