Khalid (Riz Ahmed) is an aspiring actor in a popular Pakistani TV soap opera. But, with his debut in a Hollywood movie, he ends up in a vicious confrontation with the production manager of the film, who is involved in a very controversial affair with the director.
In this film, Khalid becomes a contestant in a star-studded dance competition which is being hosted by a Georgiaan Pakelean girl. But when his movie audition goes wrong and he comes in last among all the other contestants, he fears that he is not eligible for the coveted place. So he decides to join forces with the prodigal father of a girl who had been let out of the house due to financial problems. But when the newly elected president of the country, just back from his China trip, shows interest in the boy, Khalid finds himself a hostage of the state.
The film introduces us to the brilliant actors Riz Ahmed and Asiya Jhelia, as well as their characters – a Padmini, who is trying to escape from her husband while a Henna Tattoo and a Kenyaite Mandingo love interests. But this film delivers some great comedy scenes with Riz Ahmed as Khalid and Asiya Jhelia as his Padmini wife. Both actors make brilliant and hilarious performances.
In a nutshell, this film takes us from the simple to the complex scenario where the state is trying to reach the peak of its power and prominence. The state has used several means to promote its film industry including employing powerful villains, blackmailing the leading celebrities and inviting talented actors to its production unit to be trained there.
But if these techniques are successful, the leading actors end up duped into thinking that they are being brought down by unscrupulous tactics of the movie industry and also from the representatives of the film industry. It is at this point when the movie tries to tackle controversial issues like corruption, misuse of public funds and misuse of media by government institutions. However, none of these issues is really brought into light and some have been trivialized by the filmmakers.
The film’s tension lies in the fact that in an impersonal, mechanical and cookie-cutter approach, it is trying to communicate to the audience what exactly is wrong with our politics and social structure. In a modern society, you cannot be sure that everything is done legally, and this is exactly what makes this film uncomfortable to watch.
To say the least, the film is an attempt to create awareness about the state’s fiscal policy, as well as the rampant corruption that is present in Pakistan. The film does not hold back at all and even showcases the downside of state policies in detail. It is one of the best examples of populist art that is available in the world today.
The film has actually been a bit controversial since its release, because many people have criticized the movie and the directors for using a generic plot, setting and casting to fit in a certain demographic audience. But when we think about it logically, the story line and the overall tone of the film make the whole theme more viable and topical.