Umro Ayyar Revitalizes Pakistani Sci-Fi and Fantasy with Usman Mukhtar’s New Superhero

Pakistani cinema is embarking on a thrilling journey with the release of "Umro Ayyar – A New Beginning," directed by Azfar Jafri. Usman Mukhtar stars as Amar, an awkward yet endearing college professor who moonlights as a superhero. This film marks a significant milestone in the country's science fiction and fantasy (SFF) genre, promising to revitalize and elevate it to new heights.

Set against a backdrop of medieval Persianate empires, "Umro Ayyar" introduces audiences to a world where heritage, generational wealth, and the quest for justice are intertwined. The titular character, Amar, discovers his destiny as the latest in a line of Ayyars—a class of warriors with superpowers. Inherited from his late father, Amar's armour becomes a symbol of his family's legacy and a unifying force for a persecuted community.

Usman Mukhtar's portrayal of Amar, a quantum physics professor by day, captures the essence of a superhero's transformation. His character's journey from a bumbling scientist to a formidable hero is both relatable and inspiring. Amar's world is turned upside down during a fateful night at the library, leading to an adrenaline-fueled adventure filled with jinns and Ayyars. Under the guidance of the legendary Guru, played by Manzar Sehbai, Amar learns to harness his powers to confront the sinister Laqqa, depicted by Faran Tahir with a blend of humor and menace.

The film's supporting cast adds depth and richness to the narrative. Sanam Saeed shines as Meena, a ‘knower’ with the extraordinary ability to access knowledge from other dimensions. Meena's role as a major figure in Amar's journey, without being reduced to a mere romantic interest, is refreshing. Sana Fakhar's portrayal of the sorceress Cheno is equally compelling, delivering a performance that is both restrained and impactful. Other notable performances include Ali Kazmi as the courageous warrior Maaz, Simi Raheel as Amar’s aunt Farhana, Daniyal Raheel as Babar, and Salman Shaukat as Azam. Hamza Ali Abbasi makes a memorable cameo as Idrees, the waggish guardian of Koh e Kaf.

"Umro Ayyar" sets a new standard for Pakistani cinema with its impressive production design, well-executed visual effects, and crisp editing. The film's cinematography and sound design create an immersive experience, capturing the essence of Amar and Laqqa's world. Swirling towers of smoke, clinker-brick flesh, and Amar’s tunnel vision when using his powers enhance the film's dark and foreboding atmosphere.

One of the film's greatest strengths lies in its script. Usman Mukhtar’s Amar is a well-written character whose heroism is a work in progress, filled with fear and confusion. His comedic timing and natural delivery make the character relatable and engaging. The film flows seamlessly, maintaining a fast pace that keeps audiences hooked until the very end, which hints at a sequel and a greater battle ahead.

Comparisons to Hollywood superheroes are inevitable, but "Umro Ayyar" stands on its own. While fans of Marvel and DC might find similarities, Jafri’s film offers a unique Pakistani perspective on the superhero genre. The rich cultural heritage and folklore that inspire the story set it apart from its Western counterparts.

The release of "Umro Ayyar" is a significant moment for Pakistani cinema, which has often neglected the SFF genre. The film's success could pave the way for more locally produced SFF content, reigniting interest in a genre that offers infinite possibilities for world-building and storytelling. Drawing from the rich literary tradition of Urdu retellings like "Tilism e Hoshruba" and classic films featuring supernatural heroes, "Umro Ayyar" reconnects Pakistani audiences with their own mythological and fantastical heritage.

"Umro Ayyar – A New Beginning" is more than a movie; it is a sign of a bright future for Pakistani films, bringing back the excitement of science fiction and fantasy to theaters.

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