Mah e Mir (Movie Review)

Suhail Umrani

Mah e Mir is a 2016 biographical film starring Fahad Mustafa a 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 new era whose life is survived by 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. Story goes parallel to the present day to past when Jamal imagines himself to be Mir Taqi Mir, who once went through 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 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 is known for his Urdu poetry since his college days. He has written a story which is both inspirational and emotional and 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 truly terrific scenes which deserve special mention; as in a scene, Jamal (Fahad Mustafa) argues with another lady-poet Naina Kanwal (Sanam Saeed) of his time. Jamal is angry for one of his unpublished column in newspaper and say to her that do you consider it journalism?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’s 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 don’t know but your column was not dropped by the editor” but I did it because column was critically written against my poetry and was an attempt to defame my popularity among masses.

In another landscape which would leave you provoked, where Dr. Kaleem (Manzar Sehbai) describes before Jamal when he insist and ask Kaleem Saab’s opinion about classical and traditional poetry. Without any hesitation, Dr. Saab revels that “So you think the classical and the traditional are different things”? No, this is not the case and “Tradition is the mimicry of the classics. One is a continuation, the other is mimesis”. “That’s the reason why Urdu poetry after Mir and Ghalib is a tedious affair of repetition of the same symbols of rose and nightingale”. Or in another example he utters “Mona Lisa’s smile is as intriguing today as it was the first day”. So; “We don’t say ‘Ghalib said’ or ‘Mir said’ we say ‘Ghalib says’, and ‘Mir says’. While watching this scene I was mesmerized.

This scene is also amazing which is adopted in 18th century and is filled up 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 own 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 next favorite scene set in the publisher’s office where editor of the agency offers a deal before Jamal and say him that “I can only offer my advice. Write something on spirituality, romance, a thriller or a biography of a famous figure”. And in addition editor says, “I am an illiterate fellow. I look at the covers (books) but don’t read them”. Really; an indeed statement of the media where content doesn’t value than TRP. Masses want ‘Masala’ than critic, wisdom and investigative journalism!
There are many and beautiful frames which 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 same scene he says, “Poetry is a pilgrimage to empty spaces”. In a scene Mir Taqi Mir denies to be servant of court and say to his companions that, “I am a fakir. While my poetry is lauded by the aristocracy, I always address the common folk”. And “I am not a fakir of the court of Nawabs but the court of Allah”. There are many dialogues and 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”. There is a scene which portrays denial of being a puppet poet of ‘Shahi Darbar, this is also a classical piece itself, in this scene Nawab Saab (Alyy Khan) try 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’ in love with Mir Taqi Mir. So; in 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 the 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”. Ahead Nawab Saab proposes Mahtab but she reminds him that she is just ‘Dasi’ and cannot take throne of princes. Now, she is forced to attend court for singing and dancing to make king happy. She comes and recites the lyrics of Mir. “On the 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 least scene of this story which inspired me most when two giants meets 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 say; “I cannot relax. I only want to ask you that you have written 50 pages on Mir’s”. And; asks have you ever gone through ‘Wahshat’, he annunciate, “This Wahshat grapple with us and we fear to confront it”. These are some best scenes I liked most among all scenes of the movie, by the way all frames are beautifully filmed.

Fahad Mustafa and Manzar Sehbai in special mention deserve national and international awards because they both have given brilliant performances of their lives so far. Fahad has delivered very different 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 great actor and he excellently bridges between Jamal and Mir Taqi Mir. Honestly; he is mind-blowing while describing ‘Wahshat’, a marvelous scene of the movie. Iman Ali, Sanam Saeed, Huma Nawab, and Paras Masroor they all look good in their roles and Alyy Khan who could get a little in the film but did well and inspired with his acting skills.

Anjum Shahzad who is the captain of the ship and he has depicted this piece of art in Pakistan cinema that will be remembered with flying words and is to be praised in 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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