For those looking for a respite from the tedium of watching mind-DeDening stuff on TV, The Letters of Mikael Muhammad offers a much needed breath of fresh air. This short film, my friends, is an absolute gem!
Letters is produced by Tamasha, directed by Saim Sadiq and Imran Ahmad Khan, and stars Umer Naru, Rasti Farooq and Aan Asif Cheema. Well-scripted, brilliantly directed and fabulously acted, this one succeeds in saying in twenty minutes what 99.9% of our TV serials fail to convey in six to seven months. Written, shot, and edited in a span of over a month, this short film underscores the point that effective story-telling, the kind that touches the soul, has very little to do with huge budgets, technical wizardry, big name stars, glitzy locales, song and dance routines, and emotional atyachar.
There is nothing larger-than-life or heroic about Zoya and Mikael’s story, quite the contrary in fact. The pair is as everyday as can be and the basic story though well-written and compelling does not necessarily break new ground. What makes Letters a standout, though, is the directors’ fresh take on the age old boy-meets-girl plot and the deceptive simplicity with which this layered story is allowed to unfold. A lot happens in twenty minutes and the film offers plenty of food for thought, but there is a clarity of vision and the directors’ grip on the narrative is such that there are no unwanted diversions and side tracks, resulting in an evenly paced, coherent narrative.
Letters is an issue based film but what makes this one tick is that at the heart of it all it is Zoya and Mikael’s story. Umer Naru and Rasti Farooq share great chemistry and are pitch perfect as Mikael and Zoya. The two actors do a fabulous job humanizing their well-etched characters. Zoya’s increasing frustration is as real and relatable as Mikael’s hesitation and shyness is a palpable thing. Aan Asif Cheema is effective as the all too familiar baji; her presence might not seem to be quite as important at first glance, but on reflection it adds in a lot of grit and texture to the issue highlighted by this film.
In terms of shortcomings, there were some issues with sound quality, but at the end of the day I found this humble, short film to be a very welcome and refreshing change. The honest and unpretentious story-telling touched me, leaving me a little teary-eyed at the end, something a recent over-hyped Pakistani film failed at spectacularly. Infact so many of our drama and film makers would do well to take a leaf or two out of Team Letters‘ playbook.
All in all thoroughly enjoyed this one and am now looking forward to many more such gems from Tamasha Productions.
Written by SZ~