Mah e Mir (Movie Review)

Mah-e-Mir (Movie Review)
By: Suhail Umrani (Raj)

Mah e Mir is a 2016 biographical film starring Fahad Mustafa, the finest actor of Pakistani cinema alongside Iman Ali and Manzar Sehbai. The movie’s plot revolves around the life of Jamal, played by Mustafa, a poet of a new era whose life is survived by the struggle for the bread and butter and assumes resemblance to the 18th century’s renowned poet Mir Taqi Mir the famous poet who is contemporary of Mirza Ghalib. The story goes parallel to the present day to past when Jamal imagines himself to be Mir Taqi Mir, who once went through the same consequences in ‘Lukhnow Darbar.’

When it comes to story writing like Mah e Mir, then, this type of screenwriting could be expected from a person who himself is a poet and critic who understands the depth of Mir’s penned lines and his soul. Yes, without consuming more time, I must ink his name, Sarmad Sehbai, who wrote this unique story; he has been known for his Urdu poetry since his college days. He has written a story that is both inspirational and emotional. It keeps viewers fully involved and engaged without eye blinked. The hardships faced by Jamal/Mir in the drama goes through, leave one shattered with numbed eyes.

Some are my best and genuinely terrific scenes that deserve special mention, as in a location, Jamal (Fahad Mustafa) argues with another lady-poet Naina Kanwal (Sanam Saeed) of his time. Jamal is angry about one of his unpublished columns in the newspaper. He says to her, do you consider it journalism? No, “this is not journalism, this is whoring”! “And you call this circus the media,” a little ahead he utters that “it is run by an empty-headed publisher, a retarded editor, and a moth-eaten professor”! Then Ms. Kanwal reveals the truth before him that “Your column can appear in every paper in this country” if you follow the same dirty media. “You do not know, but the editor did not drop your column.” However, I did it because the column was critically written against my poetry and attempted to defame my popularity among the masses.

In another landscape that would leave you provoked, Dr. Kaleem (Manzar Sehbai) describes before Jamal when he insists and asks Kaleem Saab’s opinion about classical and traditional poetry. Without any hesitation, Dr. Saab reveals that “So you think the classical and the traditional are different things”? It is not the case, and “Tradition is the mimicry of the classics. One is a continuation, the other is mimesis”. “That is the reason why Urdu poetry after Mir and Ghalib is a tedious affair of repetition of the same symbols of rose and nightingale.” Alternatively, in another example, he utters, “Mona Lisa’s smile is as intriguing today as it was the first day.” So; “We do not say ‘Ghalib said’ or ‘Mir said’ we say ‘Ghalib says,’ and ‘Mir says.’ While watching this scene, I was mesmerized.

Another scene is excellent, which is adopted in the 18th century and is filled with the poetry of Mir Taqi Mir, where his temptation for his love could not be avoided. Mir recites his poems for Mahtab (Iman Ali).

“You are absorbed in your reflection; how do I tell you about my inexpressible desire.” (Mir Taqi Mir); after these lines, he says Mir can write a thousand pages on each move of your body. Mir holds Mahtab’s hand firmly and drowns in her eyes ocean then touches her cheeks and comb her hairs and recites,

“I am no more than a shadow; and, yet I am unbearable to the lightness of your being”! (Mir Taqi Mir)

Here in the next favorite scene set in the publisher’s office where the agency editor offers a deal before Jamal and says to him that “I can only offer my advice. Write something on spirituality, romance, a thriller or a biography of a famous figure”. Moreover, the editor also says, “I am an illiterate fellow. I look at the covers (books) but do not read them”. Really; an indeed statement of the media where content does not value than TRP. Masses want ‘Masala’ than critic, wisdom, and investigative journalism!

Many beautiful frames are breathtaking and thought-provoking lines in this drama, as in a scene Dr. Kaleem says to Jamal, “Rebellion against tradition can certainly produce modern works,” or in another line of the same set, he says, “Poetry is a pilgrimage to empty spaces.” In a scene, Mir Taqi Mir denies being a servant of court and says to his companions that, “I am a fakir. While the aristocracy lauds my poetry, I always address the common folk”. Furthermore, “I am not a fakir of the court of Nawabs but the court of Allah.” There are many dialogues. All are praise able and could not be avoided, such as Jamal says, “What does one do about that? What about all the bookstores overstuffed with crass poetry? Or in a dialogue, Dr. Kaleem responses to Jamal, that “They call it property porn these days.”

A scene portrays denial of being a puppet poet of ‘Shahi Darbar; this is also a classical piece. In this scene, Nawab Saab (Alyy Khan) tries to orders Mir to be obedient before the kingdom of his ancestors and utters that, “Such arrogance suits aristocrats and dandies, and not poets.” Actually, all this is in jealousy cause ‘Mahtab’ is in love with Mir Taqi Mir. So; in the very next scene, after observing Mir’s crystal clear refusal to his petty commands, he tries to take revenge and visits Mahtabs’ and tell her all ignorance done by Mir, he revels before her that “When we invite him to the court, he goes to sit on the steps of the ‘Jama Masjid instead.”

Nawab Saab proposes Mahtab, but she reminds him that she is just ‘Dasi’ and cannot take the throne of princes. Now, she is forced to attend court for singing and dancing to make the king happy. She comes and recites the lyrics of Mir. “On a festive morning, everyone was drinking.” She sings, and Nawab feels ashamed in the crowd in the presence of Mir Taqi Mir.

The last but not the most miniature scene of this story inspired me most when two giants meet in the whirlpool situation when they are most broken and lost; here, Manzar Sehbai has showcased his best, I must say. Jamal is curious and puzzled, puts a query, and says, “I cannot relax. I only want to ask you that you have written 50 pages on Mir’s”. Moreover, he asks have ever gone through ‘Wahshat,’ he annunciates, “This Wahshat grapples with us, and we fear to confront it.” These are some of best scenes I liked most among all locations of the movie, by the way, all frames are beautifully filmed.

In special mention, Fahad Mustafa and Manzar Sehbai deserve national and international awards because they both have given brilliant performances of their lives so far. Fahad has delivered very differently this time and did justice with the role by his entire look and style of talking. Manzar Sehbai also fits in best critic and poet’s avatar; his accent and body language justify his capabilities of being a great actor. He excellently bridges between Jamal and Mir Taqi Mir. Honestly, he is mind-blowing while describing ‘Wahshat,’ a great scene of the movie. Iman Ali, Sanam Saeed, Huma Nawab, and Paras Masroor all look good in their roles. Alyy Khan, who could get a little in the film but did well and was inspired with his acting skills.

Anjum Shahzad, the captain of the ship, has depicted this piece of art in Pakistan cinema that will be remembered with flying words and praised by critics and masses for a long time. On the whole, Mah e Mir is a worthy film to watch along with family and friends.

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