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30 Mar

Haute Review: Cake – a bittersweet taste of reality


Something Haute rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

In the last few years in the Pakistani media industry, we’ve seen films release, create huge pomp with their promotions, and then fall flat after their premiere. Cake, is fortunately not such a film and has risen to expectations, pardon the pun.

Starring Sanam Saeed, Aamina Sheikh, and Adnan Malik in pivotal roles the film, directed by Asim Abbasi, explores the bittersweet – sometimes toxic relationships within families.

Set to a milieu of a contemporary Sindhi family living in Karachi, the film narrates the life of middle child, Zareen (Aamina Sheikh) – who lives with her parents (Beo Rana Zafar and Mohammad Ahmed), and her abroad-living siblings, youngest Zara (Sanam Saeed), and eldest Zain (Faris Khalid), who have a not-so-sweet reunion amidst a family emergency.



Cake’s Zara and Zareen break from the typical character arcs seen in Pakistani films.


Opening a Pandora’s Box of family secrets, sibling rivalries, and shattered dreams, Cake finds the Jamali siblings in a limbo when cracks between their family begin to show at the worst of times. From Zareen’s almost-obscure love for Romeo (Adnan Malik) to Zara’s failing marriage and chance reunion with her ex-flame Sheheryar (Mikaal Zulfikar), the story reveals the dark ethos that had been kept under wraps for years.

In its 2-hour length, Asim Abbasi does what many Pakistani filmmakers have failed to do – making narrative the king in its serpentine – yet never boring – journey.

Bringing all the fresh ingredients to the table, this Cake is anything but sweet. Mixed with dark moments and brimming emotions, the film essays real-life situations like parents growing old (shown beautifully via the bravura acting skills of both Beo Zafar and Mohammad Ahmed), family responsibilities becoming one’s own problems, and life moving a little too fast, on the silver screen – albeit not without some film escapism being sprinkled over it.

That being said, there are a few moments in the film which makes one realize even the most perfect of narratives have their flaws. Although like finding a needle in the haystack, the issue in Asim Abbasi’s film lies within the story arc. Bringing a few scenes later than they should ideally be, Cake loses some of its grip on the audience by being slow at points. Perhaps, that’s where tighter editing could have proved to be more helpful.

Overall, in an industry where the ratio of good films is still lower than the number of flawed narratives, Cake shines as a prime example of acting, cinematography (full points to Mo Azmi), great music, and impeccable direction assimilating into perfection on the silver screen.

Take a bow, Asim Abbasi and team Cake – you  are a game changer.





Shahjehan Saleem

The author is Contributing Editor at Something Haute as well as a professor in the Media Sciences department at SZABIST, Karachi. Socio-cultural theories and geography fill up the rest of his time.

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