Something Haute rating: 3 out of 5 stars
There’s an acute shortage of programs for children in Pakistan; that applies to both television and film. If and when such films are released, the focus on imparting a moral lesson – instead of entertaining the young audience – is so strong that the film loses itself within its own verbosity. This could have been a problem with Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor, which does tend to get preachy at times but it’s a combination of the fantastic soundtrack, sharp animation and endearing characters that saves it.
Legend has it – we are told at the beginning of the film – that an act of kindness to the animals (especially the Markhor) magically gives the person a power to speak to animals. Lost in time, the film travels to the modern day, where this legend has been overwritten by tales of greed and animal cruelty.
Placed in the lush green valleys of Northern Pakistan, the film is the story Allahyar (voiced by Anum Zaidi) who is a shy young kid whose reclusive life revolves around him and his father, his few friends and the fact that he hates school and in indifferent to just about everything.Things go awry when poachers in the area accidentally drop a carton holding a captured Markhor by his house. In what follows, we find Allahyar trying to help the animal, and in turn, getting kidnapped.
In the pretty straightforward story, Allahyar receives the power to speak to animals due to his valor in saving Mehru, the Markhor (voiced by Natasha Humera Ejaz) and thus, vows to help her return back to her home. On this journey of hardships, Allahayar and Mehru find and befriend the overt Hero – a Chakor (voiced by Azfar Jafri) as they head out for revenge. Their journey is adventurous and peril-filled thanks to the wild ferocious animals and poachers – Mani and Bablu (Voiced by Ali Noor and Arieb Azhar).
Fortunately, the biggest positive in the film comes in the shape of its music and animation. Whether it’s Ali Noor or Natasha Humera Ejaz, both have done wonders when it comes to their musical contribution to the film. Natasha’s ode to Nazia Hassan with ‘Muskuraye Ja’ looks beautiful on the big screen.
In all honesty, Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor is a definite victory when it comes to bringing solid entertainment for children in Pakistan; it is localised content that aims at raising awareness about local fauna and flora. However, can it hold the attention of children? We’d love to know. In the end, however, one must applaud the effort made by the team, and take this as yet another step to making animation and children’s entertainment in Pakistan stronger.