I watched Zinda Bhaag at its World Premier in Toronto, incidentally on August 14, 2013 – Pakistan’s Independence Day. After a successful ten day run, followed by many reviews, and nominated for Pakistan’s official entry to the Oscars in the Best Foreign Language Film category, I thought I’d write my personal review of the film.
Using cricket lingo, Zinda Bhaag is not a Shahid Afridi sixer, or a T-20 slog. Instead, it is a technically perfect and faultless double hundred by a maestro like Javed Miandad, with its due share of sixers and boundaries. Like any double hundred, Zinda Bhaag not only gives a winning position to the team, it also plays a catalytic role in the popularity and promotion of the game, that is, the film industry in Pakistan.
My earlier reference to Shahid Afridi’s sixers and T-20 slogs was simply to explain that his sixers are part impulse, part response to public demand, and part reflex action, whose comprehension follows rather than precedes the act; whereas, Zinda Bhaag is neither. Although it has its fair share of adrenaline pumping shots and tense situations, it is a well-timed, well-planned, and well-executed game changer.
What makes a great film, you ask?
I have a formula which contains seven elements that all new directors must strive to achieve. The film’s directors, Meenu Gaur and Farjad Nabi, have adhered to it in their own way. The acronym of my formula is S.A.V.E.S.M.E. The first five letters denote elements intrinsic to a film, and the last two, in a way, are extraneous to the film. S.A.V.E.S stands for Script, Acting, Visuals, Editing and Soundtrack – and once the movie is made – M.E. stands for Marketing and Exhibition.
In my humble opinion, any film must score a minimum of B+ on the first five elements to be considered a serious attempt at film-making. I gave Zinda Bhaag an A+ on script, editing and sound track; while the acting of main characters oscillates between A+ and B+.
Although the budget constraints for its marketing and promotion are obvious, I still gave it a healthy B+ on its marketing since the intelligent use of social media and personal networks of the film-makers seem to be filling the gaps quite adequately.
Now, what exactly was so great about this film?