Movie Review: Shah set to get standing ovations in every show !


Review by Arsalan Ali


After almost forty years, three Pakistani movies are going to release on Pakistan’s Independence Day (today). Moor by veteran video director Jami, Dekh Magar Pyaar Say by Asad ul Haq, who is also a well known face and Shah by Adnan Sarwar, a formula one racer turned musician and now a movie producer, director and actor. The experience of former two directors made it difficult for Shah to create much hype and expectation before release but guess what, the movie succeeded to get standing ovation in just twenty minutes of the first half during its premiere in Karachi.

Shah is a biopic of Olympian boxer Hussain Shah, who hailed from Lyari, Karachi and was the only Pakistani to win a medal at 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. Earlier, he won Asian boxing championship for five consecutive years. He was credited as the best Asian boxer in 80s. The government of Pakistan awarded him Sitara-i-Imtiaz medal in 1989 and announced reward of rupees 20,000 before on his retirement. On his protest, he was assured to be allotted two 60 yards plots, but only on papers. The Olympic winner Hussain Shah suffered financial crisis until he was called by authorities in Japan to train their boxers.

Shah The Film
Adnan Sarwar (director/actor) and Olympian Syed Hussain Shah get emotional after the premiere in Karachi.

“You cannot simply blame government, neighbors or anyone else, we all had forgotten him (Hussain Shah). This should not be happened after today,” told the emotional director Adnan Sarwar.

The sports biopic was the first in three parts series of films based on stories of forgotten Pakistani heroes. There is just a little to write against the movie and a lot in favor. So, I better start from little.

There are few technical errors which can easily be identified and could have been corrected but ignored during post production. There are few points where you observe that audio is coming before visuals; there is synchronization issue in some shots. Then, same news caster is shown in same style with same background wall reading Khabarnama (news bulletin) for five years. There are at least four words (slangs) which should have been censored but ignored, at least in premiere. And that’s it, everything else was perfect.

Adnan Sarwar, a Lahore based musician portrayed the role of Hussain Shah. He went on training for at least six months under the guidance of legendary boxer himself. “I lived and breathed boxing. I had to go through functional training and running in the morning and boxing drills in the evening with very little intake of food. It was tough,” told Sarwar during an interview. He proved his statement true with Shah. It was his directorial, production and acting debut yet he established himself and showed how things can be done if you have the right intentions. Apart from him, the child star also acted well and seemed our very own Karate Kid from Lyari. Gulab Chandio, the only known actor in the movie played the role of self proclaimed uncle of Hussain Shah.


There were at least five moments when I felt goosebumps, clapped and shout out loud for Shah. Shah punches on our faces and highlights the sorry state of our nation that how it forget stars after their retirements. It draws attentions to the sufferings of a common man living in Lyari and how and why he picks guns instead of pen and gloves.

There was not a single song in the movie but the background music composed by Adnan Sarwar himself and Veteran drummer and music producer Salman Albert. If I am not wrong, we now have first Pakistani movie without songs. Isn’t it interesting?

After the premiere show, Adnan Sarwar addressed the media, celebrities and bloggers. “You cannot simply blame government, neighbors or anyone else, we all forgotten this hero (Hussain Shah),” Sarwar told. “This should not be happened after today,” added the emotional director.


Acting: 4/5

Direction: 4/5

Post Production: 3.5/5

Story: 5/5

Emotions: 5/5

Overall: 4/5

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