Visuals Impress in Umro Ayyar, But Plot Leaves Much to Be Desired

Azfar Jaffri’s latest film, Umro Ayyar: A New Beginning, was anticipated as a potential game-changer. Drawing from the rich folklore of Hamzanama, the story of a cunning thief armed with a magical bag promised a thrilling narrative. With a star-studded cast including Usman Mukhtar, Sanam Saeed, Sana Fakhar, Ali Kazmi, Faran Tahir, Manzar Sehbai, Adnan Siddiqui, and Hamza Ali Abbasi, expectations were high. However, the film's release has sparked mixed reactions.

The film revolves around Amar, a young science professor unaware of his heritage as the last descendant of Umro Ayyar. His mundane life is turned upside down when he becomes the target of the malevolent Laqqa. Saved by supernatural beings, Amar is introduced to his rich legacy and trained by a Guru, alongside companions Maaz and Meena, to fight against evil forces. The narrative follows Amar's journey of self-discovery and his battle against dark entities.

The ambition to create a Pakistani cinematic universe akin to Marvel is commendable. The visual effects are undeniably the film’s strong suit, presenting some breathtaking scenes. However, beyond the visual spectacle, the film falters. The storyline lacks coherence, and the script does not do justice to the potential of its source material.

Usman Mukhtar, portraying Amar, fails to leave a lasting impression. His character's transformation from a skeptic to a leader of ‘ayyars’ feels rushed and unconvincing. The supporting cast, despite their talent, struggle to shine through the weak script. Faran Tahir’s Laqqa shows promise, but his performance is undermined by poorly written dialogues that fail to give his character the depth it needs. There is another supreme evil power who Laqqa reports to, but the devil is not introduced in this movie but his references are found in the post-interval and in the climax.

Manzar Sehbai, a seasoned actor, performs his part well, with a few scenes standing out. His portrayal of the Guru revealing Amar’s lineage and emphasizing his importance is well-executed, but his final scene could have been handled better. Sanam Saeed looks the part but is let down by weak dialogues. Despite her talent, the script does not allow her to shine. Ali Kazmi impresses with his presence but is also limited by the script. His motivational speech to the army of ayyars falls flat.

Hamza Ali Abbasi’s cameo, heavily promoted in the film's marketing, becomes a focal point for viewers. Known for his memorable roles in Waar and The Legend of Maula Jatt, his portrayal of Amr Ayyar is over-the-top. His fans may appreciate his performance, but it may not resonate with all viewers. Sana Fakhar’s role is also underutilized, despite her strong screen presence.

The film's greatest weakness is its lack of a solid story. The plot is disjointed and fails to connect with the audience. Key elements of the Umro Ayyar folklore, such as the famous ‘Zambeel,’ are missing or underexplored. The script feels mediocre, making it difficult for the audience to empathize with Amar’s journey or accept his rapid transformation into a leader.

The training sequence, where Amar discovers his inner powers, is handled too conveniently. It seems too easy for Amar to become a skilled ayyar simply by following his mentors' instructions.

Umro Ayyar: A New Beginning stands as an ambitious attempt with strong visual appeal but lacks the substance needed to make a lasting impact. The film's reliance on VFX over a coherent script and engaging character arcs leaves it wanting. Despite its shortcomings, the film is a commendable effort and a step forward for Pakistani sci-fi, but it has a long way to go in balancing visual spectacle with storytelling depth. The run time of the movie is two hours and five minutes yet it does not impress in a way that people bring back scenes from the movie.

There is potential for prequels or sequels exploring other characters like the original Umro Ayyar (Hamza Ali Abbasi) or Amar’s father (Adnan Siddiqui), but whether the film will generate enough interest to warrant such follow-ups remains uncertain. Its success will depend on its box office performance and its ability to captivate audiences.

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