By Omair Alavi
During the most famous PTV Awards in 1986, there was a skit – written and directed by Shoaib Mansoor – where the late Saleem Nasir commented on ‘The fall of the Roman Empire’. Little did anyone know that 31 years later, ShoMan will have a great fall due to a film that could have made him an Oscar contender. Verna turns out to be Shoaib Mansoor’s lackluster attempt at filmmaking and unless he makes a comeback with a better film, people will judge him for the ‘worst project of his career’.
Sara (Mahira Khan) and Aami (Haroon Shahid) are a happily married couple whose life is turned upside down after she is raped and sent back; Sara wants justice while Aami wants to start afresh. The case goes to court after Sara manages to get the rapist’s DNA (don’t ask how) but the government’s machinery nullifies her efforts since the rapist Sultan (Zarrar Khan) is the Governor’s son. Will she get justice despite all odds or will she perish like all the other rape victims out there, watch the film to know the answers … Verna!
Mahira Khan, Zarrar Khan and Haroon Shahid are the saving grace of the film – in a few scenes Mahira does look animated but that is because of the script; Zarrar Khan has the persona of a villain and if he chooses wisely, he can become the next big thing. Haroon Shahid joins the film industry as a leading man in his debut film and stands out as a handsome man who with a little grooming can have a great future in TV and films. He can sing and that is his superpower, something he should make use of in his coming projects.
Sadly, the film has more negatives than positives and Shoaib Mansoor falls in the negative column. As a writer, he has always been specific about the words he uses, however here it seems that a school kid had approved the script. It’s not Ganday Shoaib sahab – its Kharab, Ghatya and Bura. As a director, he banked on non-actors as supporting cast and the move backfired especially since it is the supporting actors that keep the story moving. The whole film was shot in close-ups for no reason, showing that the great director was in a hurry to release a film. The amateurish treatment and the immature content resulted in the film’s fall from the top. Technically, ShoMan has been the benchmark for all directors in Pakistan yet he didn’t know that the tickers running on screen were running from the wrong side – it’s like writing Urdu from the left-hand side of a paper!
The Verdict 1/5
ShoMan should never have made this film – simple. The dialogues are so bad that had I been sitting with my female relatives or friends, I would have puked on the floor. The scenarios created to insert a plot in the film reminds me of all those ‘gandi’ films produced in Pakistan that bombed at the box office. Those films now seem better than Verna as they had something to offer in return – Verna didn’t. Here, the less is written, the better because Shoaib Mansoor’s fall from grace is not a good sign for Pakistani films – Khuda Kay Liye and Bol still remain the only two films that you can be proud of in front of other film industries.