Cast: Mussarat Nazir, Darpan, Mohammad Ali, Zamurrad, Nasira, Lehri, Nazar, Panna, Zeenat, Bahadur (dog)
Director: Munawar Rasheed
Nutshell: Royal intrigue, wild beasts, girl-power, dog-power…good old fashioned fun.
Bahadur is a film that made me sigh for a number reasons. Firstly, it harkens back to an era when Pakistan was unrecognizable from the land it is today. It’s not that the buildings are taller or that the roads are wider but that we as people have become so much smaller and our minds so much narrower than they used to be not so long ago. This movie boasts a story line that celebrates female power and if that wasn’t enough, the main “hero” of the movie is a beautiful German Shepherd Dog who is capably supported by a horse as well as Nazar, Lollywood’s ever willing sidekick and the charmingly glib Lehri.
Mussarat Nazir towers over the film playing a Zorro like role where she is forced to go undercover to fight the false accusations made against her father, a trusted servant of the royal court who has fallen on hard times having been accused of plotting to usurp masses of wealth from the Kingdom. The fact is an evil scheming Politician (The Prime Minister, no less) has plotted poor Shamsher’s downfall so that he can become all powerful and seize control of neighbouring lands and wealth. In this endeavor he falsely blames Shamsher for various misdeeds and has him arrested and locked up in a torture chamber where the Ministers jiyalas (goons?!) perform the torture duties.
Now happy go lucky, nature and animal loving Mussarat must take on the burden of clearing her father’s name and in order to do this she rustles up a group of her closest allies; an unlikely crew of Nazar, Lehri and Lappu the GSD. Together they set off to the adjacent lands ruled by a benevolent Queen who has sadly been manipulated by the Prime Minister with a series of vicious lies and deception. With the Queen believing every word of his evil falsehoods, the Prime Minister is well set to amass all the power that he needs, its just the obstinate Shamsher who has the code to the safe deposits and refuses to give them up who remains an obstacle in his path to fame, fortune and glory.
Mussarat now assumes the alias of a strapping young lad named “Bahadur” (The Brave) and starts her quest to rescue her father and reclaim his lost honour. Leading the quest is the quite wonderful GSD Lappu; tremendously brave and fearless and utterly loyal to his master. Time and again Lappu leads from the front in the fight against injustice and you find yourself cheering for this lovable crew as they bumble their way and get closer to their objective of freeing Shamsher and exposing the Prime Minister as the evil, power-lusting creep that he is.
It’s all good old-fashioned light-hearted fun and a joy to visit an era where animals were treated with love and affection and there is no mention of “being contaminated” by the dog which sadly is the way so many presently believe. The women in the film are presented as gullible (in the case of the Queen) but also as decisive, independent and fiercely brave and capable but also loving and caring as daughter, a friend and as a person who will fight to stop animals from being needlessly harmed. Thanks to some judiciously inserted footage, there are plenty of scintillating shots of various wild beasts romping around the forest.
Mussarat Nazir carries the film along with able support from Bahadur (The Dog), Nazar and Lehri as the madcap dynamic duo Aklam and Paklam, or is Uplam and Jhaplam? There is also Darpan making a somewhat abbreviated appearance as well as Mohammad Ali in a negative role. The villain is suitably slimy but nowhere in the class of future Super Villains Mustafa Qureshi and the glorious Aslam Parvez. A lightweight family friendly entertainer, the film moves along merrily and reaches its fairly predictable conclusion without much fuss.
A film that depressingly highlights the fact that the Pakistani mindset has most definitely taken a “Wrong Turn” somewhere along the road with tolerance systematically being ripped apart bit by bit by bit. The 1960’s had their fare share of problems and issues too no doubt, but compared to today…it was arguably a far better place than where we find ourselves today. Nice to see that even the crocs enjoyed a succulent meal in the end even if we didn’t get to hear the delightful sounds of them chewing.