Shoaib Mansoor is back at it again with another bold film in the form of “Verna”. The talented writer, producer, and director has played a vital role in reviving Pakistani cinema by giving us films like “Khuda Kay Liye” and “Bol”. Mansoor is known for creating films that raise awareness regarding social issues which are otherwise considered taboo in our society. He has never been afraid to put a spotlight on subjects that others don’t have the courage to talk about.
Verna is yet another such film that talks about a taboo topic like rape and a woman’s struggle to avenge herself from the shackles of political authority. Mahira Khan is the leading lady portraying the victim. Despite Mansoor’s past track record, “Verna” fails to capture the imagination of the audiences when compared to the director’s previous ventures.
Unfortunately, the film, even before it was released, created a lot of negative buzz due to the many controversies revolving around its subject and what was being portrayed. The censor board of Pakistan put a lot of restrictions on its release claiming that the film does not fulfill the requirements of the censor board. Maryam Aurangzeb, Information Minister of Pakistan, gave a statement on the matter saying that the film will be granted permission to release after going through the proper procedure of the censor board.
After much anticipation, Verna has been released in movie theatres across Pakistan but so far the film has failed to appeal to the audiences. People who have seen the film have mixed reviews about it with most of them tilting towards negative. Some of the most common criticisms revolved around the inconsistency in the screenplay to the script itself. Likewise, the audiences were also unimpressed with the dialogues and the score of the movie. The general consensus of the cinema-goers and critics was that the film failed to live up to its hype.
Despite the fact that there are some obvious flaws in the film, a major reason why the film has failed to click is due to the subject it tackles. People of Pakistan are still not ready to be exposed to a taboo like this and shedding light on it isn’t considered positive nor is it appreciated. They would rather like to watch films that are light, romantic or humorous. This is clearly evident in the fact that films like “Punjab Nahi Jaungi” and “Na Maloom Afraad 2” have done great business and garnered great responses from the viewers even though some similar problems were present in the script and the soundtrack of the respective films.
At the end of the day, “Verna” is far from perfect. The film has obviously failed to deliver on expectations. While it can be argued that a strong script and direction would have helped the film to fare better in the eyes of the audiences; there are very few people who can sit through a traumatic drama and come out loving it and the creators of Verna probably miscalculated these numbers. “Bol” and “Khuda Kay Liye” still managed to reach a wide audience but we have yet to see how far “Verna” goes in the eyes of the critics and audiences. Till now, irrespective of the reason, “Verna” hasn’t managed to live up to its promise.