The most-awaited film to release this Eid-ul-Fitr, Faisal Qureshi’s directorial debut, Money Back Guarantee, promised all that a great movie should entail – an ensemble cast, an exciting trailer, and commercial viability.
When it premiered, we were all thrilled to finally watch a Pakistani comedy/thriller. One thing rings true – too many cooks do spoil the broth. It is difficult to decide who will take the spotlight – Fawad Khan, Mikaal Zulfikar, Wasim Akram, Javed Sheikh, Faisal Qureshi, Ayesha Omar? Read on to find out what went down as we watched for the drama to unfold onscreen!
In A Nutshell
The star-studded cast features Fawad Khan, Hina Dilpazeer, Gohar Rasheed, Javed Sheikh, Salman Saquib (Mani), Mikaal Zulfiqar, Jan Rambo, Shayan Khan, Ali Safina, Marhoom Ahmed Bilal, Shafaat Ali, Aqdas Waseem Kiran Malik, Adnan Jafar, Ayesha Omar, alongside debut actors Wasim Akram, Shaniera Akram, Muniba Mazari and George Fulton. MBG is produced by ZASHKO Films in collaboration with Gameover Productions & Distribution Club and written & directed by Faisal Qureshi.
The first 30 mins moved sluggishly, however, if you are a true Fawad Khan fan and would love to sit through it, for the sake of him, you will. The movie picked up pace soon after as the plot moves forward. The scenes oscillate between Pak Bank, the jail, and dilapidated streets, while the underlying themes of the movie were corruption and capitalism, theft and injustice, social commentary, political criticism, class and ethnic divide, and increasing income disparity – all of which have been historical problems of Pakistan, peppered with witty humor, dry satire, and crass wordplay.
A team of degenerates comprising various ethnicities of Pakistan (Muhajir, Punjabi, Christian, Kashmiri, Pathaan, etc.) decide to rob a bank, Pak Bank, on the premise that they have been wronged by the elites owing to the capitalist nature of the system and corrupt intentions of those who run the system. The bank is said to strictly secure the wealth of the many politicians of Pakistan. Its architecture represents the map of the country. Intermittently, these ethnicities were amusingly stereotyped such as Punjabis being foodies, Pushtoons being dumb, Christians being slurry, and many more.
Many a true word is spoken in jest?
While we are all in the midst of reducing these divides and stereotypes, this movie highlights more of these.
It is important to realize that the technicalities – a strong script, impactful dialogue delivery, with skillful acting makes for a successful recipe for a film. Every actor, with his/her strong presence, takes away from the story and the social message with little or no takeaway for the cinema-goer, as the audience is too entranced by the glamourizing cast and their presence, of course, and rightly so. This does not in any way mean that they did not perform well. It only means that the viewers don’t get to focus on a few and their attention is divided among many – leaving both sides of the screen (actors and audiences) high and dry. Moreover, while it has addressed many of the relatable issues Pakistan is riddled with, the movie had more room for improvement in terms of execution and scripting.
The crew manages to break through the stringent security and access the lockers yet seems to fail every time for some reason or the other. The painting of The Last Supper is symbolic of the greed of Pakistani politicians, as the latter eat away the wealth of the poor. I wish Trump’s makeup was worked upon a lot more. The depiction of Hina Rabbani Khar (played by Kiran) with her pearls and Hermes bag, and Altaf Hussain’s portrayal were truly hilarious and relatable. The Trump accessories peppered around the set as penholder, brooms, and the like were an amusing breather. While the crew works together against the common enemy, each robber also intertwines his/her own motives in the larger scheme of things, signifying the true nature of Pakistanis – hopeful yet divided. Which is exactly what we, as a nation, need to work on.
There were scenes that could’ve been skipped and there were some that could’ve been cut short – for instance, the opening and closing shots. Perhaps, some tough decisions during the editing phase would’ve done the job of making the movie tighter and crisper.
Having been a fan of Teen Bata Teen, I was very well aware of Qureishi’s comical sensibility and was expecting a lot more than what MBG touted and advertised. The hype was a tad bit overrated. Again, it relied heavily on the bankability of an established cast than the storyline or script. Some humor was meant to be hilarious; it was largely all over the place in terms of underlying themes.
Although I am a true Fawad Khan fan, and his role as boot-licking bank manager (Bux) listening to the high and mighty was played with realistic perfection, for me. Mikaal was a full-fledged treat as his hard work spoke for itself in his acting craft and accented dialogue delivery. And of course, he walked away with the film with his dancing stunt to remember (struggling not to give spoilers). Hands down!
Money Back Guarantee tries to do too many things (with a lot of characters) for a focused movie. An ambitious movie – and all the ambitions are worth fighting for: capitalism, corruption, income and social disparity, racism, economic disaster, ethnic divide… And while we are all aware of the moral and worthy causes, it downplays the central story and the characters. If asked to summarize the film, it would be a pain point as it is difficult to put a finger on what may have gone wrong, mainly because it tries to do too many things. And when one is not focused, what follows is everything done mediocrely, a mess of messages.