Bringing Slick Back: Operation O21


If there’s one thing Shaan Shahid does well it’s choosing slick films. First, Khuda Kay Liye, then, Waar, now, Operation O21. Do you see a pattern…?

Exactly. And the word that describes this pattern is SLICK!

Hollywood has long drawn upon the misunderstood-fugitive-field-agent, who takes upon a corrupt system and its prejudice single-handedly. A spate of movies come to mind, but hey, this isn’t about Hollywood!

Pakistan’s obsession with the lonesome trapper-jacker (I don’t know where I got that from!) is a fairly recent phenomenon. Perhaps, a testament to the volatile and often times dangerous socio-political situation in the homeland. With the Pakistani Taliban (TTP), America’s war on terror, and an uncertain border situation with Afghanistan and India, is it any wonder that homegrown movies draw upon current scenarios for entertaining the masses(?).

This boom in action-thrillers of the terrorist-secret agent kind are an outcome of our own troubled situation. Art imitates life, as they say, and this is true of war as well. When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, the Afghanis began making rugs that depicted scenes of war. Their visual culture was so thoroughly impacted by the guns and weaponry that it found pride of place in the weaving industry. Now, I know carpets are not the same as movies, but the principle remains the same. What we experience in everyday life becomes our reality, it becomes our prose and poetry, our art, and our entertainment.

Operation O21 gives us this reality, well at least for some of us, in a action-packed two hours.

Like Waar and Khuda Kay Liye, O21 straddles a harsh terrain. This is no love story for the faint-hearted nor is it an action film for the thrill seekers amongst us rather it is about having a “say” and  generating a (collective) “voice”, and I, for one, want to see what Pakistanis think of the war being waged in their background, I want to listen to their voices, and I hope they are heard. Even though this is only a preview of what we can expect in the movie, I’m concerned that in trying to answer larger questions the team might lose its vision.

Slated for an Independence Day premiere, I wonder if the timing is an apt representation of the story, but I guess we’ll find out in two months time.

Until then,

This is RB signing off.



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