Pakistan’s film industry has produced many remarkable films in the past that have dealt with real-life issues including human rights violation of Muslim dominated areas such as Palestine and Kashmir. That’s exactly the same road veteran director Pervez Malik’s elder son Imran Malik wanted to take through Azaadi, however, the film failed to make the same kind of impact even though the intentions were good and the heart of the makers was in the right place. Azaadi could have been a contender but falls short despite excellent cinematography, the presence of Moammar Rana and a powerful performance from the legendary Nadeem Baig.
Zara (Sonya Hussyn) is a Pakistani – British journalist who is all set to marry Raj (Omer Shehzad) in London when she finds out that her father had married her off to her cousin Azad (Moammar Rana) when she was young. In an attempt to get her marriage annulled, Zara goes to Indian Occupied Kashmir to find out that her uncle (Nadeem Baig) is ill and her estranged hubby has turned into a freedom fighter, leading his band of merry men into a fight against the stronger Indian Armed forces. Does Azad manage to take revenge for the injustice done to his family, are his friends able to foil the Indian plan to divide and rule the Muslim forces, are the barbaric treatment of humans in the Indian Occupied Kashmir depicted truthfully in the film, watch Azaadi to get the answers.
The collaboration between Nadeem Baig and Pervez Malik resulted in classic films such as Pehchaan, Talash, Sachchaee, Qurbani, Meherbani, Kamyabi to name a few and you can add Azaadi in the list because the legendary actor gives a dynamic performance as a Kashmiri leader who lost everything in his quest for freedom. Every time he came on the screen, you wanted to have him more because the pain, the conviction and the emotions were there, waiting to be tapped. Moammar Rana as the leading man makes a comeback and executes some action sequences well which no other hero from this side of the millennium would be comfortable with. Fresh from her success on TV, Sonya Hussyn comes out as a promising newcomer but she has to carve a separate identity for herself, not become the local version of Priyanka Chopra and Anushka Sharma. It was good to see veteran actor Aurangzeb Eshai back in a film but it would be better to see him in a more prominent role than that of a newspaper editor.
Azaadi could have been the first of many films on Kashmir but despite some explosive dialogues, it had nothing much to offer. Showing Indian soldiers as the most stupid in the world, making their life miserable with just six mujahideen and showing a culture that resembled Pakistan more than Kashmir are some of the points that could have been bettered. The suitcase Sonya’s character carried from London to Srinagar seems to have had an endless supply of clothes as she changed from one designer wear into another. There was also the curious case of ‘Good Morning’ that happened at night (she must be greeting as per British Standard Time), a nikaah nama that didn’t exist till recently, the unworldly action moves and the lengthy first half that should have been edited by 30 minutes.
The Verdict 2.5/5
One must commend the producers – Irfan Malik and Imran Malik – for going for such a strong subject that would have made their father Pervez Malik proud. Their reteaming with Nadeem Baig, their decision to go to the Northern Areas to shoot the film, taking Ben Jasper on board are easily the highlights of the film. However, the weak action sequences and special effects damaged their final product big time. When an action film doesn’t have linked scenes and well-choreographed action sequences, it comes out as disappointing and Azaadi falls into that category. Had it been released during the Independence week, before and around the Defence Day and/or on 23rdMarch, it would have done better. Instead, in the fight for supremacy between 4 films, it might suffer due to half-hearted execution, limited number of screens, expensive tickets and the on-going FIFA World Cup.