Shoaib Mansoor’s Verna has finally hit the screens in Lahore after a short-lived yet intense controversy it faced due to reports of the movie being banned emerged following the review by the censor boards.
But the film was eventually allowed to be screened in Lahore’s cinemas on Thursday after an intense mainstream and social media debate that had been sparked by reservations made by members of the censor board.
Verna’s story revolves around a woman and her loved ones facing a trauma that challenges them all and you can see each character reacting to it on a very different level. The story aimed at a “sensitive” topic that stirred a lot of controversy even prior to its screening. Shoaib Mansoor’s storyline centered on the struggle of a rape victim and slowly builds it up from there. The most important aspect of the entire film was how well written and bold the dialogues were.
Verna’s story revolves around a woman and her loved ones facing a trauma that challenges them all and you can see each character reacting to it on a very different level. Photo: Film’s promotional poster
So much so the dialogues were also praised in the cinema by the audiences as the cinema broke into applause at various scenes.
It is a challenging aspect to add music and songs in between the narration of the story but Shoaib Mansoor seems to have pulled it off well by adding songs like Power Di Game, Khushi ki Baat, Sambhal Sambhal – which apart from being a melodious track also had some brilliant shots.
Locations and the cinematography were outstanding throughout the movie, especially scenes which were shot in Islamabad resulting in an amazing cinematic experience. Kudos to the cinematographer and the team behind costumes!
Verna’s cinematography had some beautiful shots of Islamabad. Photo: YouTube Screengrab
However, the film’s main issue was how it became a cocktail of so many social issues, all crammed into an almost two-and-a-half-hour film leaving the viewer wondering whether it was based on a social issue or whether it was a thriller/mystery. The messy additions into the plot along with how it was summed up in the end failed to connect with the story-line.
While it is commendable what Shoaib Mansoor was trying to portray in the movie, he couldn’t do it well enough. Based on how the diverse elements of the Pakistani society were reflected and combined in the end, it failed to give a justified conclusion.
The story line could have been simplified, but instead it went a bit too far from the basics, leaving the viewer confused.
Mahira’s character ‘Sara’, a rape survivor, couldn’t completely reflect a person who went through a serious traumatic experience. Although you can sense a bit of aggression in her, but there was a missing element that failed to echo her grief aptly.
Still, Mahira excelled it by portraying ‘Sara’ as a strong minded woman, who not only has to take some tough decisions in Verna, but also has to face the consequences of those decisions.
Mahira excelled it by portraying ‘Sara’ as a strong minded woman, who not only has to take some tough decisions in Verna, but also has to face the consequences of those decisions. Photo: YouTube Screengrab
The film missed one grand character - a supporting character and you can see Sara’s struggle to cling on to someone for support. The family seemed aloof in most of the film and there was no sense of connection between anyone.
Zarrar Khan captivated most of the audiences with his portrayal of a spoiled son.
Apart from Khan’s work was Iram Rehman’s character who gave a very memorable performance as a lawyer.
Despite portraying a negative character, Zarar Khan aced Sultan’s character in Verna. Photo:YouTube Screengrab
Haroon Shahid’s debut is much discussed apart from Mahira’s brilliant acting. Despite Aami’s layered character, Shahid brilliantly performed the character’s transition through the film.
In contrast to all the negative comments, I would really want everyone to go and watch this film for many reasons. First of all the story is meant to spread awareness regarding rape survivors, the social issues associated with rape and how in the name of honour many women cannot go to courts to seek justice.
Verna is a reflection of ‘let’s talk openly about the cracks in our society, and let’s fix it’. Despite the flaws, the film openly received praise during the movie, with claps and admirations especially by male audiences being heard during Mahira’s dialogues.
In my view the ending could have been more grounded instead of just being an imaginary conclusion drawn as far away from reality as possible.