Shikari Haseena (2002)
Cast: Shaan, Haseena, Babar Ali, Jan Rembo, Shafqat Cheema, Ghulam Mohiuddin, Jalal Haider, and Champu the Chimpanzee
Director: Iqbal Kashmiri
Nutshell: Infant heiress is left in the jungle to be brought up by animals and jungle folk but the scent of money soon has evil humans causing problems.
Quite odd that after the failure of Syed Noor’s Saima starrer Jungle Queen in 2000, less than two years later we have a second jungle adventure film introducing Haseena as a Jungle Beauty gracing our screens hoping to score better box office results. It boasts Shaan in a lead role supported by Babar Ali, Jan Rembo, Shafqat Cheema and Ghulam Mohiuddin in a bit role. Also starring is Jalal Haider, known for his martial arts skills as well as Champu the Chimpanzee.
The film starts with Shafqat Cheema arriving at his mother’s house from which he has been banished for being the evil one of her two sons. He demands part of the family inheritance but is sent packing yet has vengeance clearly burning in his eyes. Ghulam Mohiuddin, the good son is focused on his infant daughter as he has recently lost his wife and heads off to the jungle for a trip with his daughter despite the obvious dangers.
Misfortune strikes as their camp is attacked by some fearsome lions and Mohiuddin is killed while in the mass confusion his daughter is carried away into the thick of the forest where she is rescued from a potential snake bite by a kind and vigilant eagle and then guided by a friendly chimpanzee who leads her to a tribal gang led by a benevolent warrior queen who takes the child under her wing as her own and grooms her to be the future queen. Young Haseena soon learns the ways of the jungle and builds some strong bonds with the animals around her and a special bond with Champu, her companion.
Meanwhile back in the city, The Shikari Haseena’s grandmother, now desolate after losing her son Ghulam Mohiuddin yearns to find her poti and one fine day as she watches a TV program on wildlife, she recognizes a woman who is the spitting image of her daughter in law. She Realizes in an instant that it is indeed her lost granddaughter the heiress to the family fortunes. Hastily she summons the producers of the TV show and hires them to return to the jungle and bring her daughter back home safely. The TV show is produced by Babar Ali and Jan Rembo and before setting off for the dangers of the jungle they put together a team of Karate experts headed by Jalal Haider and three curvaceous black belts along with three dwarfs who serve as assistants and are named Samson, Hercules and King Kong!
The TV crew and Jalal’s Angels are busy making headway in their search for Haseena with numerous comic interludes and spliced footage of various wild life taken from random sources. We find that there is a large bridge building project going on which is under threat of closure as a man-eating lion has terrified all the workers who are set to quit work and flee the scene. Shaan as Sherdil tries to inspire them and lectures the petrified workers about the valiant “Mujahids” in Siachen and the fearless suicide bombers who throw themselves in front of enemy tanks and bullets for their cause. These dialogues come as no surprise from a man who had planned to film a eulogy to Osama Bin Laden not so long ago. He promises to get rid of the man eater which is borrowed literally from some scenes spliced in from The Ghost and the Darkness!
Brave warrior that Sherdil is, he kills the beast from another film and saves the day as well as the bridge project and heads home for some good loving from his gorgeous wife.
Shafqat Cheema, happy that his brother is dead and out of the way, now discovers that his path to the family inheritance is blocked by the emergence of a grand daughter living in the jungle and he too gathers his resources heading off for the jungle to eliminate the Shikari Haseena so he can claim all the wealth for himself.
Meanwhile, in the jungle Babar Ali is badly injured and rescued by Haseena who nurses him back to full health and love blossoms between them. Haseena doesn’t have communication issues as Saima as the Jungle Queen did as she is well versed in Urdu. The tribal folk have taught her the language and she is fairly socially adept.
In his hunt for Haseena Shafqat Cheema happens to come across Shaan’s jungle home and brutally rapes and murders his wife as the plot begins to thicken around the half way mark. Now, a devastated Shaan pursues his wife’s killer while the TV crew and Cheema are chasing after Shikari Haseena. Unknown to the TV Crew he arrived with, Babar Ali has already found Haseena but is keen on hanging out with her in the jungle with the tribal lot and not in any particular hurry to return her to the city and her grandmother.
And so, the film winds its way to its climax with some thrilling fight scenes thanks largely to Jalal Haider’s expertise in the martial arts department. There are a number of songs along the way, none of them particularly memorable but Champu surprises with his acting skills and it is indeed rare that a real animal has been employed rather than a man in an ape suit which is much more the usual thing.
Haseena cuts a striking image and is a lethal shot with her bow and arrow but sadly her film career didn’t really take off as the film tanked at the box office. Shaan is a bit heavy handed with his sermonising and better in the mute action sequences. Shafqat Cheema looks especially fetching in his blonde jungle wig and Jaan Rembo is rapid fire with his cheap innuendos and quips. The scene where he gropes the private parts of a jungle giant and passes out from penis envy is a bit of a shock to say the very least!
The bevvy of featured karate beauties perform their roles admirably along with the trio of dwarfs. The Jungle Tribe Queen is adequate in her role as is Babar Ali as Haseena’s romantic interest but the grandmother is uninteresting leaving Champu to steal the acting honours.
Nawab Saghar provides some decent make up effects and his blood fountain from the final fight sequence is noteworthy. The wildlife scenes are mostly footage taken from various nature shows and borrowed from other wildlife-oriented films and spliced crudely in which is the typical Lollywood method for jungle movies. The total lack of effort made to blend them in with the scenery gives the film a crudeness which is perfectly in keeping with the tone of the production in general; crude and shoddy.
Shikari Haseena was never going to be up for any awards for acting, nor for film making by a long stretch and yet it manages to amuse for a couple of hours and in comparison, to Jungle Queen from a couple of years before, it rates marginally higher for entertainment value.
The highlight of the film just might be Champu’s performance as well as the moral of the story which states very clearly that animals are way truer than humans. Something difficult to disagree with.