‘We be different.’ Not the sake for it, not because my privilege allows me to be, not because I have a fall back plan. Different because there is no other way. Life is like that. Based on the life of Zenith Irfan, Adnan Sarwar has offered a beautiful narration of this tale of courage. It could have been a sweet little story about a girl traveling alone on a motorcycle. But it’s not. Rather, it’s a portrayal of how our society has different standards for males and females in whatever they do. The film touches on various different issues still never goes off road. Whether, displaying the hygiene levels at ‘Dhabas’ or how male van drivers harass females, it is always about the plot. No scene seems fixated with a certain idea, inserted simply to make a point.
Zenith Irfan or Chanda played by Sohai Ali Abro, is the ‘hero’ of the film. She laughs, cries, runs and falls all through the film. Her emotions are manifested through her nuanced acting. Dialogues given to her have wit, pain and eventual feeling of achievement. Many, especially women will relate to her struggles of getting to work, or bearing an unbearable boss, who thinks that the universe revolves around him. The boss is played by Sarmad Khoosat. He is your everyday snob of a boss.
There is Zafar, (Ali Kazmi). He is braggadocios on the scale of the Donald. You feel like chanting #notallmen but that little voice inside you says well, #mostmenonsomelevel. This is a 2nd layer of societal pressure, Zenith has to bear. Obviously, it is a package deal with the typical mother in law. The brother, Sultan (Hadi bin Arshad) is caring and compassionate. While Ayesha (Mehar Bano), has lots of advice for Zenith but her privilege kind off alienates her from Zenith’s struggles.
And there is her relationship with her father or dead father (as crudely put by Sultan in one scene). Unlike her brother, Zenith constantly imagines a world where her father is alive and is there to offer protection and guidance. She breaks down asking the question, why us, why me? It’s a pivotal moment in the film. The transformation of the girl, sobbing in her mom’s lap to someone who can break all societal norm to go through this incredible journey, is well presented. Adnan Sarwar, doesn’t make it every very obvious. He has created suspense, from the 1st scene of the film and kept it going till the very end.
There are commercial demands for such a time (which even doesn’t have a hero, imagine!!!). A telecom brand and an oil brand have seen daylight in the film a few times but it doesn’t feel like you are being shoved with advertisement. It has become part of the plot as such. Kudos to these brands on investing in such a different story. After Cake, this is another magnificent film. Motorcycle Girl will make us laugh & cringe a little at our own behavior. It’s a film Pakistan needs.