Operation 021 – not everyone’s cup of tea
A lot of people are going to be disappointed when I say that there is a disconnection between marketing & the real product. If you were expecting another ‘Waar’… I’d advise you to stay away from it as the film is entirely on a different spectrum. I entered with the expectations of watching Shaan blowing up brains of the evils with his one liners, but turned out to be a meditation about conflicting loyalties.
It is a totally different film as promoted on TV or anywhere else & require an even much better audience than Waar that is willing to be challenged. If you don’t know what it is about, you’ll be damned. It is the finest film Pakistan has ever made & shall remain as a cult classic in the history of Pakistani Cinema. There is absolutely nothing that I can tell you about the plot, but, there are 4 seperate point of views & their 4 different stories. And that is the best part.
You get to watch the film through each character’s perspective. The fragmented structure rather than usual linear narrative is mind blowing. It’s a film about people stuck in corruption of corporate agendas & politics about Afghan minerals that are accessed through the routes of Pakistan. The film is about an Afghan Nationalist (Ayub Khoso), Kashif aka Kash (Shaan) A Pakistani spy, CIA & a Microchip (which is a micro SD card) .The film isn’t about heroism or valory. It’s about giving up yourself to something bigger.
Never before I thought that a spy thriller can be made in Pakistan & if it did, what thing should it deal with & how would it be. Thankfully I was totally impressed by the whole package. Making films in English is one of the hottest favorite topic of every cinemagoer but there are films that are being made for those wanting to be mentally challenged (not in a bad way). The subtitles provides help for non English or non Pashto speakers. There is excessive use of Pushto & English than Urdu, but subtitles saves the day.
Each character is equal to the other. I mean I can’t call anyone the real hero of this film. Every single character here is a hero. That’s how complex it is. Though there have been some major flaws.
For example the CIA has got 3 people only. And they’re controlling the situation in both Afghanistan & Pakistan. That was something I couldn’t digest. Plus they showed the Capitol Building Of US Congress as CIA Headquarters. The pace of the film might seem a bit slow in first half which revolves around 3 or 4 people max. The actual fun begins in the second half & then it keeps going & reaches the climax on a high note.
This is probably the finest Pakistani film in terms of production values. Cinematography is top notch. VFX (again) much much better than what you see in crappy Bollywood masala action films.
There’s a bit of a problem with the Direction. Not that I’m calling it bad. It works great. Summer Nicks & Jami, both have done a commendable job but you can take a guess while watching the film when 1 director left & the other took the film to his shoulders. But both of these Directors took a step forward even miles if compared to Bilal Lashari’s work in ‘Waar’. Acting .. I guess when there’s Shaan, Ayub Khoso, Hameed Sheikh, Amna Sheikh & Shamoon Abbassi are carrying the film, you don’t ask how good they were. But I’d like to point out my favorite of the film which is the plot & that microchip. Others were all just the carriers.
A special mention to Shamoon Abbasi & Aamna Sheikh. They had much lesser screen time & yet they made their mark in such big names.
Visually the film is pretty dark, but the direction & production values somewhat made it possible to enjoy & understand what’s happening. Background score is amazing. Overall 021 is not a propaganda film at all, but the most intelligent we’ve ever made .Even Bollywood hasn’t done something like this.
But you have to be attentive, conscious & make efforts to not even blink your eye. It might even compel you to Google certain things when you leave the cinema .It’s a masterpiece that can be put anywhere with any spy thriller in the world.
And I’d say again…. it’s so intelligent, that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.