Art Film review

Verna – a suspense thriller by Shoaib Mansoor

It is a brilliant effort.


Ever since I saw this movie, a few hours ago I’ve been struck by the sheer brilliance of it. Yes, I’m bowled over. Though, I shouldn’t be  surprised. It is a Shoaib Mansoor film after all. What else did I expect?

The kind of articles I had read about this movie, made me wonder that perhaps it was below his usual standards. But when I saw it, I knew he is not only his usual but even better.

Now, after seeing the film I’m wondering how one can criticize such a work of art. The cinematography, direction, acting, sets, locations, are really good. I just wish there was A. R. Rehman’s music to it. But I suppose we can’t have it all, can we? Without A. R. Rehman,  the music was as good as it could be. Haroon Shahid the guitar-playing hero with the singing, makes his debut with Mahira Khan. That too, in a Shoaib Mansoor film. (I mean how lucky can you get? ) Of course he has done full justice to his role too, – playing the weak husband to perfection. Making that believable too, considering how spineless many men in our society can be.


There wasn’t a single moment when I felt it was a drag or in any way farfetched. I loved the movie. The protagonist Sara played by Mahira Khan exhibited a brilliant piece of acting throughout. Agreed, it is a rather difficult and different role for her, which would have stretched anyone’s acting skills to the limits. She did a great job of it. She even did justice to something that the script demanded which was unthinkable for any human being. But the failure of the ‘system’ made her go to these lengths. That is the point which is being missed by the critics.

Having been through several traumatic experiences, during last few years, I knew first hand how you can be completely devoid of fear because  the worst has already happened. You know, you are on your own. Now, its your call, or live by the stalemate all your life.


What people found hard was her unflinching will to avenge herself, knowing no one else would. She knew no one would or could help her. Not this spineless husband of hers, nor the more useless government officials, police, or the judicial system. Thankfully, she managed to convince her husband and sister-in-law to help in the end. Her relentless spirit and how she would fight back even when she was so badly hit every time. I particularly liked the way the character of the husband was handled. How his love overcame  his handicaps. The role of the female lawyer was executed well. This certainly was fiction. Real lawyers are not like that at all. But the character was needed to explain the legal aspects of this ‘judicial system’.

The dirty tricks played by the corrupt governor, officials and their advisers were all too familiar for me. The manner in which people want you to ‘take’ injustice was also typical. Being spineless themselves, they want you to be the same too. Yes, ‘the deepest part of hell will be reserved for the people who in times of crisis maintain their neutrality.’ – A very favorite quote of my husbands’ was seen here too.

The judge played by Shahid Mir acted well. With a personal experience of judges and courts for over four and half years, I can tell you, I wish there were actually judges like him around, who did take at least some personal interest in a case. Believe me. Even that doesn’t happen. The ones who do, get killed, as was in the case I witnessed.

The acting was deep, sensitive and had the full depth of feelings shown.

The locations in and around Islamabad;  Bahria Town and DHA were shown with great skill beautifully revealing this areas’  true beauty. The team of Shahbaz Shigri – 1st assistant director, art director Faiza Shah and editor Zohaib Mansoor, made each scene a work of art using the colors and angles of the lense in interesting ways.  The quality of equipment used  revealing the technical skills of the cinematographer. The editing was good too.

The subtle and powerful dialogues used in sorting out the mulla mentality – which is typical – was well handled. The popular attitude of always blaming the women for the man’s evil act and making her pay for something they have done, was highlighted well.

It was extremely heartening to see a writer take pains to show the pains of a woman in a country like Pakistan.  Here, even women do not sympathize with a woman put in trouble by a man for his fault! On top of it, to try to victimize the woman for his own evil acts, trying to make out that what he did was her fault! The women’s response by saying things like ‘Allah pay chor do.’ (‘Leave it to God.’) Meaning:  ‘no one is going to do anything for you.’

Why don’t they say, ‘Allah pay bharosa karo. Tum such ki taraf ho aur mein bhi tumharay saath hoon.’ (Have faith in God, you are truthful, and I am with you too.) – This you will seldom hear from them!

The girl was brave and fearless, and I can see why such people are hard to swallow by many men and women in our society. It makes them feel uncomfortable. They are only used to the easily beatable, scared, crying and whimpering female. That’s how they like her. Then they can say, ‘dekha bechari, kin logon say panga liya tha! Yeh to hona tha!’ (See? Poor thing, this was bound to happen when she took on such people.) That’s how they want to see her.

Things will change, and are changing already. There is going to be a stronger world built by braver women of Pakistan now. Men like Shoaib Mansoor and many others like him are there in this world, to stand by brave girls who stand up against cruelty and insanity of others.

But first she has to stand up against the odds, only then can she change the odds.

The dialogues written by Shoaib are appropriate and powerful. In this film he has touched upon important subjects like rape, polio drops, mulla-ism, cultural backing of women-bashing, corrupt politicians and voting power. He has held his ground due to his integrity, skill and passion for excellence.

The movie is a hit, you can say what you like, the cinema house was jam-packed. Even my daughter and I reached half-an-hour earlier, and we weren’t the only ones! This being the first time, since we mostly end up arriving late for the movies. This was one movie – we didn’t want to miss out on the beginning.


The subject was dealt without any abusive language – as is the norm in most English and Indian movies.  The grace with which such sensitive subjects were handled deserves all the praise.

Ladies and gentlemen – whether you all join me or not, I’m  congratulating Shoaib Mansoor for having made his hat trick!

Stay blessed my dear Reader. There is great hope for our country where such a movie can finally pass through the eyes of the Government censor board, and where the viewers can say what they like but are thronging to the cinemas to watch the movie. After all, it isn’t every day we get to see such a suspense thriller.

Note: All photographs and video taken from Google search images with thanks.

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  1. Such an amazing review could only be written by you. I was really looking forward to hearing about the movie and wow you expressed that well. I can’t wait to book my ticket now. Thanks.

    1. Thank you so much. Your comment is truly heartening. Stay blessed and protected.

  2. Kiran Naghman says:

    Amazing write up shireen. Now I am more anxious to see the movie

    1. Thank you Kiran Naghman, do let me know if you agree, afterwards.

  3. Dr Zeba Munzar says:

    An amazing review Shireen, even I was touched by the movie and still am, reading all the negative reviews before watching it actually made me reluctant to spend my precious three hours but I am glad I did…don’t even mind watching it again

    1. My dear Dr, Zeba Munzar, thank you for your comments. Exactly my feelings. I’d love to watch the movie again too. I’m glad you felt the same way. Being a gynecologist, you must be having information of real life cases of such nature. In this way, it was also very informative, for victims. It is a powerful subject which needed this sensitive approach. Stay blessed, and let us pray for a world without such threats …

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