Wajahat Rauf’s film Lahore Se Aagay released nationwide yesterday but we managed to watch it a day ahead of everyone else at a star-studded premiere in Karachi. While the film itself will be subjected to a full-fledged review later (watch this space; one has a lot to say and it’s not all good), we couldn’t help but draw immediate attention to the various cameos that intersperse the movie as generously as celebrities at a fashion show.
Warning: There may be spoilers ahead but then again, maybe there’s nothing you don’t already know!
1. Munib Nawaz makes a brief albeit strange appearance in which he’s addressed as ‘Nawaz Sharif?’ and then attacked for wearing an HSY jacket that is taken off his back. Munib gets another honourable mention when, in dire need of dancing clothes, a blue button-open sherwani is made available to him for ‘Kalabaaz Dil’.
2. Frieha Altaf makes her big screen debut as herself, as she is hosting a tribal party in the jungle and is screaming at everyone in characteristic Frieha Altaf style. People who have worked with Frieha or within the fashion industry will understand while the rest of the audience will wonder what the fuss is all about.
3. Hassan Rizvi, who’s quite popular for Body Beat and the Bollywood dances that he incorporates in his exercise regimes, turns up as a tribal savage, brought in to contest Moti (Yasir Hussain) in a dance off. Winning the dance-off will ensure that Tara (Saba Qamar) will not be boiled for yakhni, as she’s too skin-and-bone thin to make a chunky tikka. Rizvi obviously has the moves but the sequence is too long and too clichéd to have any impact; it ends in a united sing-a-long.
4. A contest (sponsored by film sponsor Bank Alfalah for Rising Talent) features at the end of the film and flashes cameos of Ali Haider, as a contestant, as well as Komal Rizvi, Shiraz Uppal and Gohar Mumtaz. At this point it feels that Wajahat Rauf asked every one he knew to make a cameo appearance in the film so that a buck or two could be saved on hiring professional actors.
5. Needless to say, Wajahat Rauf makes an appearance too and since he’s in costume like last time, we won’t tell you who he is or when in the film he turns up. His son Zeezoo gets a whole song and ‘KFC sequence’ in which he keeps telling Moti that he knows the plot because ‘meray baap ki film hai’. It convinces you that the film is indeed made for friends and family.
6. Atiqa Odho, as Shama Begum and madam of the colourful ‘Ronak Mahal,’ is one more character in this film of cameos. More than wondering why Atiqa Odho would reduce herself to this particular role, many people in the audience wondered whether the reference to ‘Ronak Mahal,’ a buzzing brothel, is a reference to high society.
7. Ali Zafar makes an endearing appearance right towards the end of the film. Turning up as himself, his brief encounter with Tara is one of the most natural moments in this comedy of errors (the term not to be perceived in a literary way). It leaves us hoping to see more of Ali Zee on the big screen in Pakistan.
8. The most inanimate cameo of all has to be the flash appearance(s) of Bank Alfalah and KFC, that sadly just cheapen the whole film watching experience. We get it guys, you all pitched in to make the film, but please don’t push products down our throats when we’re at a movie theatre for an artistic or entertaining experience. There is such a thing as ‘subtle branding’. Read up on it, please.
There may be other cameos that I have forgotten or overlooked; I’m sure someone or the other will point them out. Meanwhile, the Lahore Se Aagey journey gets by with the cameo connection and good, bad or unnecessary, it is actually what defines the film.