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20 Apr

Haute Review: Motorcycle Girl quashes stereotypes under her wheels

Motorcycle girl

Something Haute Rating4 out of 5 stars

The first few months of 2018 have proven to be a game-changer for the Pakistani film industry! The success of Cake may have been thought as a stroke of luck, but now, Sohai Ali Abro’s big return to the silver screen, Motorcycle Girl, has proven its brilliance as well!

Directed by Adnan Sarwar, the film exploring the real-life story of Zenith Irfan (essayed by Sohai Ali Abro), focuses on her mission to fulfill her dad’s dream of going to the Khunjerab Pass on a motorcycle, as it takes the audience on a kaleidoscopic journey through Punjab and the Northern Areas.

Making her way through the serpentine roads overlooking flowing rivers and gorges to get to her mission, the story too meanders through bits and pieces of her life in Lahore.

In the approximately one-and-a-half-hour film, the audience is introduced to Zenith’s day-to-day problems with conveyance in the metropolis, an unfulfilling job with a draconian boss (played brilliantly by Sarmad Khoosat), and a looming marriage proposal to an abroad-living, narcissistic man (played to the tee by the bravura acting skills of Ali Kazmi). Sohai Ali Abro, who essays the Motorcycle Girl, proves her acting skills as she fits into the character like a glove, leaving Zoya from JPNA really far behind. It’s the actors skills and the director’s confidence in those skills that help her break the stereotype often associated with young and pretty starlets. There is more to them.

And there is much, much more to the Motorcycle Girl.

Leaving all the film gimmicks, additions and necessities of the plot aside, the underlying point is quite simple – why is the freedom of movement for women such an anomaly in Pakistan? Why exactly is a motorcycle almost unthinkable for a woman to ride?

This is where Adnan Sarwar is able to answer those questions perfectly with his brilliance in directing and narrative. In a country where the representation of the metropolis is often equated with representing the whole nation, the film reveals an undocumented side to Pakistan via Hunza, where women do work hand-in-hand with men, without any conflict.

In a small yet echoing message, the idea of the film is to show that it isn’t the history of the last 30 years which matters, but that of 3000+ years, where women of this region have been powerful figures with a freedom to their movement.

However, Motorcycle Girl does suffer at a few places. Where it’s extremely balanced in its script, it falters in its editing. Sometimes the monologues end up being over-excessive. This is where perhaps, a bit of compact storytelling would have gone a long way.

That being said, it still is one of the strongest films to come out of Pakistan; it does away with clichéd stories and even worse cookie-cutter problems of the nation.

Truly, Motorcycle Girl has done what many others have failed to do. It has proven that a female-centric film can and does work brilliantly if it’s done right.

Do you really need to watch this film? The answer is a thousand times, yes.

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.