Gumm – Pakistan’s first release of 2019 in theatres – is an indie thriller-action project which has its fair share of drama and sometimes unnecessary romance. However, at its core it is a survival movie which depicts how the world is a jungle where survival is the only escape.
Gumm: In The Middle of Nowhere opens with a scene which lives up to the title at least. The protagonist Asad (Sami Khan) wakes up to find himself in a wrecked car, severely injured with two other dead men. Bewildered enough with the scenario, he soon realizes that he has millions in cash and no memory of his past. Just when the plot of the story was turning out to be interesting, an unseen creature (presumably a wolf) drags the man in the driving seat out of the vehicle; yes, ‘in the middle of nowhere’.
With Gumm, director duo Kanza Zia and Ammar Lasani attempts to explore a new genre for the big screen in Pakistan. The prospect is commendable but the execution is fairly disintegrated. As fear kicks in, Asad tries to make sense of the situation and here beings a redundant trail of flashbacks for the next 2 hours which are triggered by God-knows-what.
He starts remembering vivid memories of his life as a street thug who falls in love during a wusooli (pay off) with the daughter of a man who was in somebody’s debt. There is no common thread that links the two universes as we witness the protagonist’s cringe-worthy proposal, romantic ballads with his wife Dua (Shameen Khan), the birth of their daughter (no shaadi in the flashbacks), her fifth birthday celebration and then the little girl falling sick to leukemia. The entire above mentioned story unravels in strange and ill-timed flashback song sequences that will get on your nerves.
Interestingly, Asad should have made a run for his life but he didn’t. The only time the director made the most of the gritty environment of the jungle was when Asad struggles to get out of the car in the first half. Though I have a feeling that he could’ve jumped out of the broken window, but perhaps that’s not possible when you have a broken leg? Or maybe his leg was trapped in a twisted way. However, the film has many other visual inconsistencies: the wheel cap which dislocates in the beginning and then replaces itself miraculously in the end sequence, the all-over-the-place rainfalls, the digitally designed fire, night sky and wolves (or should I say blue eyes?).
You might be wondering what about Shamoon Abbasi? Well… his track in the film is as minuscule as it can get. Playing Haider Churra (Haider the dagger), Shamoon is a wasted talent here. The bulky man with a mean aura cannot seem to find his way out of this jungle (despite being a big time murderer who claims to have killed 11 men in first attempt) and then gets defeated by Sami Khan who has a broken leg, a broken arm and several stab wounds!
The camera is always rotating and the background scores with piano tunes and jhankar beats will definitely give you a headache. At one point Sami is sitting and talking to Shamoon who is standing tall, but both of the characters are looking in completely wrong directions (what’s up with the camera angles?!)
The story didn’t have much to offer so it was harder for Sami Khan and Shamoon Abbasi to save the film with their performances. Their attempts to salvage the film literally get lost in the jungle but we surely hope to see more directors exploring this genre with finesse and a better storyline.