Ziddi Gujjar (1994)
Cast: Sultan Rahi, Gori, Neeli, Mustafa Qureshi, Sabiha Khanam, Albela
Director: Younus Malik
Synopsis: yet another vendetta-based farce with garish costumes, loud confrontations, dubious sexual double entendres and weaves that would make Roxxxy Andrews turn green with envy.
Ziddi Gujjar kicks off with a man in a pink silk shalwar (who said men dressed drably in Pakistan?) calling out for help as two of his buffaloes have decided to have a violent clash which is threatening to spill into bloodshed rather than the milk that he farms for as a living. Soon enough Makhana (Butterfingers?) played by Sultan Rahi appears in a signature Polka Dot shalwar with stunningly contrasting singlet muffler thingy; a quite breathtaking attire and all in the finest shiny silk.
Makhna proceeds to thrash the buffalos into submission and separates them but then a saucy Billo (Neeli) sashays forward carrying her “matka” of milk which Makhna has some concerns about. The double entendres fly about “checking out her milk” and all of a sudden, a toad leaps out from the container causing her significant embarrassment but she takes it well in her stride and has a jibe to answer all his innuendos with and let’s fly with a stinger before sashaying away in style. He does let her have a lashing with his whip though which is just typical for the ghastly machismo that pervades the culture at large. Beating, whipping, thrashing women is all in a day’s work and just the norm in these parts and those who flinch or show any sort of shock are experiencing the depiction of Punjabi culture as it is and has been and continues to be alas.
Rahi has some fixing of his own to do and heads to Evernew Studios in Lahore as one of his uncles is complaining that the hero of his movie is refusing to give him dates and the film is thus stuck and he fears that his classic will be incomplete and not the money spinning hit that he hoped for. So Makhna heads for the studios and promptly bashes some heads together and that problem is quickly solved, but not before we are treated to some special appearance inserts of Javed Sheikh walking along a corridor for about three seconds and Anjuman for about a fraction of a second to lend star power to the production!
Also indicative of how the law enforcement is viewed at large (rightly or wrongly), Rahi thrashes a dozen cops to pulp and makes them stand with their heads between their legs, holding their ears; a common village idiot punishment. Turns out they are actors and not real cops and so they are let off! Clearly the police force is looked upon by the public and cinema viewers at large as being utterly pathetic parasites who only exist to exploit the public at any given situation in a society that is saturated in corruption. Comical but sadly, not far from the truth. Corruption is the way the wheel turns in Pakistan and though shown through farcical situations, it’s a telling portrayal. Same with politicians who are always depicted as parasites of the lowest form on humanity which is totally reflective of what the majority of them are; parasites.
The scene then
shifts to the city where a feisty babe is taking on a bunch of local hoods led
by another feisty number claiming to be from the Sanghar clan and they strut
around like Sultan Rahi clones bellowing threats at each other and dropping
names like bombshells. The hoods led by
Gori claims to be a top draw “Ghundi Run” (Baddest Bitch) who has come to evict
a bunch of school children and their teachers or relatives who are desperate to
cling on to their abode but all her defiance is deflated once Gori announces
that she has connections to the Gujjar clan.
Moments later we discover that the Sanghars and the Gujjars have a peace
pact and have sworn by the Quran to maintain peace at all cost and thus that
particular confrontation is a non-starter, while the pact is in place.
It soon transpires though that Gori is a professional con artist who goes around accumulating properties by posing as belonging to whichever clan that suits the situation but her luck is about to run out when she is sold a property by Albela who is out to expose her fraudulent ways. Soon enough when she tries to muscle in on the property she supposedly bought from Albela she is confronted by Makhna who thrashes her bunch of hockey stick carrying hoods to a pulp while his nephew pees on one of them to add to insult to injury and during the course of this humiliation Gori falls for Makhna as nothing works for a feisty Punjabi lass than being humiliated and degraded. Instantly she bursts into a rain drenched song to highlight her impressive bust, quits her job as a property tycoon as Makhna has “woken up the women within her” and thus she will now live only for her new love and all personal aspirations will be crushed for the better good.
Meanwhile, two buffoons Jaggoo and Bagggoo (Asad Bukhari and Mustafa Qureshi) emerge from Prison wearing the finest pastel silk suits and as is the norm in Pakistan, behaving as though they’ve been knighted for time in the slammer. In this culture being a criminal is the most sought-after acclaim and these two are glowing with pride as they stride out from jail, shouting imbecilic couplets as the they emerge. They are greeted with a full gunfire salute by a businessman from Karachi who has a lament about how politicians have destroyed his business and virtually ruined him, so they set off to Karachi and beat the living daylights of the said politicians and are rewarded with a flight back to Lahore in the businessman’s quite astonishing private jet which is wide bodied enough to contain a room where two chubby women perform a spectacular mujra with a chandelier dangling above them.
The jet which hurtles along at the speed of light dwarfs the Dreamliner making it look like a speck of dust with its glorious 10ft wide body and maybe something to do with its phenomenal performance is that some windows show the plane to be travelling forward while others show it to be heading backwards. Clearly a plane manufactured in Pakistan by the cleverest minds, it’s a magnificent slice of technology which illustrates just why the nation is exporting technology light years ahead of the rest of the world and all this business about being a banana republic and a failed state and in dept to the zillions is just Indian and Israeli propaganda stemming from deep rooted jealousy.
Boeing and Airbus and indeed Donald Trump would keel over and be on his famed negotiating table had he knowledge of the amazing scope of Pakistani development; the envy of the entire world. Upon reaching Lahore Baggoo and Jaggoo are displeased however to find that a pact exists between the Gujjar and Sanghar clans and are soon scheming to put an end to it so that they can entertain themselves by bringing their bedding into the middle of the city street (echoes of the London protest against Global Warming) and mete out justice to a couple of men who they accuse of pilfering their arms and giving them to the our enemy across the border. A crime for which they are set alight in broad daylight while their fans cheer them on. Justice Pakistani style. So, while Gori, the fraudulent property tycoon shimmies in the rain for her new beau Makhna, an ageing 60 year old with a bulging body in all the wrong places, the Quranic pact is increasingly under strain as the two psychopaths Jaggoo and Baggoo seemingly have no jobs other than beating up people and dressing up for the catwalk on RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Elsewhere another fashion forward woman is being held ransom by men who stole Arial Versace’s entire wig collection but soon Makhna arrives and beats the living daylights out of them, saving the day as he seems to do on a regular basis. This before Billo tries to seduce him by wriggling and twitching around and heaving her bosom quite violently as evidently a fish has leapt into her bra from a puddle nearby. Sadly, her tactics don’t achieve what she had hoped for. The film at the 50-minute mark has now laid down the framework for a whole lot of violence amidst a spectacular display of men wearing fabulous pastel suits auditioning for a spot on Drag Race season 12. A whole lot of Silky Nutmeg Ganache clones with boisterous voices who walk like He Men who need desperately to show that they are “He Men” who have enjoyed a few too many curries as their muscles are all concentrated in their guts. So far, scintillating stuff indeed and it comes as no surprise that the film has nearly hit 500,000 views on YouTube and will soon displace PewPew whathisface as the latest frontrunner. As they say in local parlance, a Supper Hit film through and through.
Soon enough Jaggoo and Baggoo’s blockade of the main Lahore road has Makhna riding along and when he comes across the obstacle the Quranic pact is stressed to breaking point just as the two of them wanted and sure enough mayhem unleashes itself in typically gruesome and comical Lollywood style. With the Pact broken, bloodshed and mayhem and loud posturing gets turnt up to unprecedented levels. But the trigger for the bloodbath is the first jumped up Bad Bitch who despite being thrashed brutally by Gori, maintains her make up and poise and swears to take the resurrected feud to a new level altogether while Makhna’s mother (Bahar, who else?) locks her son up in a room for being naughty and swears that he will not take any further revenge against those who broke the Quranic Peace pact. And thus, the stage is set for extensive fight scenes which resemble a retarded Pantomime show for an audience with a high tolerance for juvenile idiocy of the lowest level.
With an hour and a half of fights interspersed by the occasional saucy Madame Noor Jehan number, the film is as predictable as 99.9% of Punjabi Lollywood films, despite the brilliant decapitated head in the Biryani scene and just when you thought you had reached the giddiest of heights, another Sultan Rahi turns up to save the day which also means that neither Billo nor Gori will need to be jumping in front of a bullet or intercepting a bludgeoning dagger any time soon.
Just when you thought you had seen it all, the film steps up for a jaw dropping finale of such breathtaking brilliance that all that has come before is suddenly dwarfed into insignificance. The showdown between Gujjars and Sangars features double reanimated beheaded heads exchanging winks and jibes and taunting their executioner only then to be blown to smithereens. The last word in Sultan Rahi endings, and yet the film failed to fire at the box office once again showing how fickle the audience can be.
The film is pure delirium with Nasir Adeeb, regurgitating his formula once again. The legendary writer has basically made a living flogging his dead horse formula repeatedly with just a few words and scenarios changed here and there. Its yet another vendetta revenge remixed to death and brain-dead audiences still lap it up which speaks enormously for their resilience if not much else.
Gaudy, Loud, violent, ugly, belligerent, fashion-forward, with fat old men posturing in a demented manner and bulbous women (excluding the rather svelte Neeli) to add a little spice, this is a formula that has repeated in hundreds of films starring Sultan Rahi and has been on repeat remix mode for the decades. Some of these cinematic wonders click at the box office, others don’t but everything is on auto mode and it’s a pretty brain numbing experience and if you scratch below the surface, the depiction of women is indicative of a vile misogyny that most Pakistanis take as normal, indeed virtuous. Sickening on many levels but yet if you dumb yourself down to the level of a rather brainless 5-year-old or are inebriated enough, then it does have a certain perverse fun factor for sheer bold ridiculousness.
Sultan Rahi is on auto mode and had been in the same mode for decades, but once a fairly fit and smart man, here he is 60 plus and bulbously over weight and to have pretty young women throwing themselves at him, is a little stomach churning. Neeli appears only as eye candy while Gori who is Anjuman’s real sister had stepped into her sisters shoes once the latter had decided to tie the knot and head for England for a “normal life” but sadly that didn’t work out and she too had to return to Lollywood where she was laughed off screen for being too old. No such problems for men though and Sultan Rahi who had he not been murdered in 1996, would probably still be acting as a male romantic action hero with women 50 years younger than him.
Appalling, laughable, embarrassing but fascinating as a reflection Pakistani cinema and society. As our frenemies from across the British drawn border might say…” Mind-blowing”.