Rating: 2/5 Stars (Two stars)
Star Cast: Neelima Azim, Pawan Tiwari, Bhavna Pani
Director: Zaigham Imam
What’s Good: Zaigham Imam has an interesting story at hand, that truly is thought provoking on many levels.
What’s Bad: Amateurish direction and poor editing are the key reasons why the film fails to rise.
Loo Break: Yes! One would suffice.
Watch or Not?: Alif has an interesting story to tell but thanks to its mediocre treatment, it is a wasted opportunity. You can skip this one for a theater watch.
Alif revolves around the life of young Ali (Saud Mansuri) and how his education becomes a grave issue.
While he is earlier shown to be obtaining seminary education (at a Madarsa), his father soon realizes that in order to remain competent in this fast growing world, it is equally important for his son to learn English education.
After Ali’s father, Raza’s (Danish Hussain) estranged sister, Zehra (Neelima Azeem) visits from Pakistan, she insists on providing convent education to Ali, so as to secure his future as a doctor.
Thus begins Raza and Ali’s fight against the society that’s not very accepting towards this change.
Alif Review: Script Analysis
When it comes to the story, Alif has many strong points. It throws light on a highly neglected subject of how an orthodox approach can hamper the life of young ones, in this case especially those being the followers of Islam.
Zaigham rightly taps into the struggles of a child who has been brought up to love his religion, suddenly attend a school that expects him be fluent in English as a 12 year-old. Also, the hesitance faced by teachers, to accept a child who’s a former student of a Madarsa.
While this basic plot is interesting enough, the writers interconnect this story to a brother-sister being estranged during riots tale and kind of ruin the plot. Raza’s sister Zehra, visiting from Pakistan and the emotional turmoil between them, does not blend well here. Also, the sub-plot of Ali’s neighbor, Jamal (Aditya Om), blackmailing Raza over Zehra’s identity to bring back Ali to the Madarsa is slightly far fetched.
The dialogues are average and the ‘shayari’ bits are slightly off-putting for those who have a poor understanding of Urdu.
Overall, the script is good in parts and hence highly depends on the execution.
Alif Review: Star Performance
Saud Mansuri as Ali is likable. He pulls off the character of the innocent young lad caught up between the heavy worlds of religion, worship and education quite well.
Neelima Azim is seen on the silver screen after long. As Zehra, she is the lovable character and brings in a lot of affability in the film.
Danish Hussain does a decent job but mostly underplays his character. It could have been littler edgier.
Bhavna Pani as Ali’s mother does a good job.
Aditya Om, Pawan Tiwari are loud in their performances and fail to impress.
Alif Review: Direction, Music
The direction is one of the weakest links of this film. Zaigham Imam has a story at hand, that needed a treatment less dramatic and more impactful. What we get is, poor camera work instead.
The film flaws are evident in certain scenes such as a budding rooftop romance, where there is a confluence of poor performances and not-so-perfect vision of the director.
Also, the supposed powerful scene where Ali takes his Madarsa (Islam) flag to school on a Republic day is highly an unacceptable scene. Everyone in India, including those from the Islamic community are aware that an Indian flag is hoisted on that day. Also, Ali’s teacher abusing him with such hatred is overdone here.
The pace of the film gets extremely slow in the second half and the climax is stretched to play with your patience.
Editing is shoddy and certain scenes are abruptly cut and left without any continuation ahead.
Music too is unimpressive and it would have been helpful, had they worked on a good background score.
Alif Review: The Last Word
Alif has a strong message that loses its impact in a half baked script and poor execution. A 2/5 for this film.
Alif releases on 3rd feb, 2017.
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