Atif Chaudhary (2002)
Cast: Moammar Rana, Saima, Naghma, Babar Ali, Saud, Nirma, Resham, S. Cheema
Director: Parvez Rana
Synopsis: Apparently based on fact, this violence laden epic was a surprise hit of 2002
The Atif Chaudhary who inspired this film was supposedly once a brilliant young student marked for greatness but sadly fate was to intervene cruelly and he was forced to shun his books and turn to a life of savagery and violence just to survive the mean city streets where only the fittest and the meanest pull through.
In the initial scenes, we are shown an elderly couple gushing over the achievements of their wonderful young cherub Atif. The couple played by ex-siren Naghma and some crinkled, Kala-Kola dyed chappie in a stiff crisp shalwar suit delight at the brilliance of their child – a genius at his school work but also absolutely fabulous at memorizing entire tracts from his Holy scriptures. Atif is just perfection itself – with the world at his feet, but we the audience know that it is only a matter of time before things start going pear shaped in a big way.
The fateful day arrives sooner than expected as the very next afternoon as Atif leaves the school having bid a respectful farewell to his teacher he notices a fellow student, a rather uncouth ruff sort taking a brazen piss on the school gate right in front of the horrified teachers gaze! Atif, feeling outraged, pummels the disrespectful lout mercilessly to a pulp but just then the police arrive and one of the cops is the father of the pissing and now profusely bleeding runt and they drag poor Atif away to the local thana to teach him a lesson. Later Atif’s parents are hauled into the thana where they are humiliated and insulted by the corrupt policemen. The seeds of doom are sown on this fateful day and by the time the sun sets, a young Atif has sworn to take up arms and set right the wrongs that he has had inflicted on him by the corrupt.
After a stint in prison Atif has made quite a name for himself as a ruthless gang leader and thus is perfect for being exploited by the local politicians who need student thugs as their “militant” party cadre. Atif’s mother is less than thrilled at seeing her cherubic son mutate into a hardened Sultan Rahi clone after his stint in jail and is even more shocked at his hardened criminal tendencies and his intake of liquor. However, through the tears she can still see that his struggle is one against wrongdoing even if it is a struggle that can only end in disaster and bloodshed. She warns her son of impending disaster and that she will one day perish due to her son’s Mafioso lifestyle.
As electioneering in the district picks up so does the related intimidation and gang violence with Atif Chaudhary and his cronies including Agha (Babar Ali) and Arbaz Khan and other muscle bound, strutting heavies on one side doing battle with the evil, snarling Babar Chaudhary (no, not a long-lost brother!) and his heavies including a scowling Saud and other mangy specimens. Time and again the audience is treated to posturing and swaggering showdowns between the two warring factions which usually end up with bullets flying and being comically dodged before the cops inevitably arrive in the shape of good pious cop Syed Shah (veteran Asad Bokhari) and bent cop Goshay (Shafqat Cheema). The wounded gangs disperse to lick their wounds only to bounce back a few moments later for another bout of swaggering, slanging and testosterone-charged bravado and posturing takes place……. followed by more comical automated mayhem, then good old Syed Shah arrives to spoil the party, if only momentarily.
In between the director has found time for some crowd-pleasing gyrations and pelvic thrusting dances by the three beauties on display namely Saima, Resham and Nirma. They all play three tarts with hearts but have barely any screen time at all and are only used to add a little lewd décor and necessary vulgarity to proceedings in order to keep their 100% male audience from nodding off. Saima remains in remarkable order considering her advancing years and though she has hardly screen time at all. Some consolation is that the one very tuneful song by Naseebo Lal (Jind Vech ke) has been choreographed on her rather than the other girls! Nirma looks as tawdry as ever and tries desperately hard to make sure at least some of the frontbenchers notice her twitching and thrusting antics because there is very little else to notice about her – acting or otherwise. Granted that the girl has a great sense of humour though, claiming in recent interviews that she was “the next Shabana Azmi”. Resham has least screen time of all which is a credit to Nirma’s PR charms if nothing else. Moammar Rana has won plaudits for his title role and is expected to walk away with numerous awards for his portrayal, truly excessive though it was. One wonders how many packs of lozenges he had to go through during the making of this shout-fest.
The film is in actuality a horribly strung together jumble of set pieces tacked together in sequence to give the viewer an illusion of cohesive continuity and plot. Miraculously it works in that the film does appear to have a beginning, middle and an end, even if they are largely indistinguishable from one another content-wise. This is also supposed to be a “message” movie, being that it is after all a true story. The message is supposedly to give up arms, but in actuality it simply glorifies violence and gangsters to extremes and offers no solutions other than those of violence and destruction. A film with a deranged, schizophrenic moral where its anti-violence message is totally obliterated by the kind of gratuitous orgy of bloodletting and demented logic displayed on screen. The “message” of exploitation of student leaders at the hands of cunning politicians is also sadly lost in the mayhem on screen.
Parvez Rana’s film is, in conclusion, a shamble; bereft of any iota of subtlety, artistry or even basic storytelling skill. The film is essentially one loud, bellicose posturing and swaggering bout repeated time and again with a cast of largely fat, loud, ugly men with jet black dyed hair behaving like utter morons, shouting very loudly indeed. This is a soulless, vile and ultimately rather disturbing film because perhaps the only thing it does succeed in doing is casting a chilling reflection back at us of a society that has totally fallen apart. Spare a thought for the audiences who have grown accustomed to digesting intellectually bankrupt garbage like this on a regular basis. Moral of the story: Look the other way when your class fellow decides to take a pee on the school gates!