Telefilm Hangor: Realistic, relatable and emotional

A rainy Karachi afternoon, a warm cup of tea and Hangor turned out to be the perfect way to spend a Monday


By Farheen Abdullah

KARACHI: As the war of 1971 reached its 50 year mark, the topic has been a popular choice for local writers and directors throughout the year. Saji Gul and Saqib Khan’s telefilm Hangor set out to address the same topic but approached the matter in a more positive and heartwarming way. While the incidents of 1971 are nothing less than heartbreaking, ARY Digital’s telefilm narrated the role of Pakistan Navy and, in particular, the story of the submarine Hangor.

 

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PNS Hangor continues to be remembered and celebrated by Pakistan for being the first submarine since World War II to drown one of its enemy’s warships and damage another. December 9 is observed as Hangor Day to pay tribute to the Navy officers who risked their lives back in 1971 to safeguard the country against India. While the telefilm definitely was meant to applaud local Naval forces and reiterate the heroic story of submarine Hangor, the way in which the film was written and directed gives it a very natural and realistic feel. Of course, the narrative is pro-Pakistan but it never feels forced, nor does it go out of the way to make India look like the bad guys.

What adds to the relatability factor of the film is the fact that it begins in 2021, as we witness Haadi (played by Shahzad Sheikh) express his passion for the Pakistan Navy while juggling his personal relationships alongside. Dur-e-Fishan plays the role of Samira, Haadi’s love interest, someone who has to be convinced about why joining the Navy is worth the risk and sacrifices that follow. The storyline gives enough time for each of the protagonists to present their point of views without losing sight of the main subject at hand.

 

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Samira and Haadi’s relationship is not the only one that adds an emotional element to the plot. As audiences are taken back to 1971, we are introduced to the families of the officers before we are introduced to their uniforms. Saba Qamar immediately stands out with the grace and poise with which she delivers her character. In her, we not only see the wife of a Captain but also a woman who stays patient and composed during tough times. She proves to be a ray of hope not just for her daughters but other women around her. Zahid Ahmed brilliantly fulfills the role of her husband and the Commanding Officer Hangor. His character, Tasneem, encapsulates the responsibility that comes with donning the uniform but also the amount of self control and discipline it takes to be in that position.

 

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The casting team behind Hangor deserves to be appreciated for getting a cast on board that complements one another. While industry giants like Saba Qamar and Zahid Ahmed are given prominent roles, the likes of Affan Waheed, Hammad Shoaib, Arez Ahmed, Haris Waheed and Paras Masroor are given as much importance. Each character displays how team work leads to victory and how every individual is important in their own capacity be it the leading Commander or the kitchen staff. Once inside the submarine, Saqib Khan’s direction brings the warship to life. Amidst narrow passages, crowded rooms and darkness, we witness how Navy officers function. We feel the passion of the men on board, rejoice with them as Hangor takes its enemies down and fear for their lives once India begins to counter attack. However, the ability of the writer to add humour in between the intense scenes realistically depicts how such encounters are a part of officers’ routines and how planning for the future is what keeps them going.

Playing with the sea, specially in the dark is no easy task but team Hangor nails the audio and visual elements. At no point do viewers feel disoriented or the screen too dark to comprehend what is happening. The film involves just enough action without making the sequences look overexaggerated.

Just when one thinks the film has almost ended and has little room to impress, the team surprises us with an older version of Tasneem. Often times when a young actor is made to play an older character, the transition is not the smoothest one. Grey hair and glasses is the go-to costume for characters that age. Zahid Ahmed, however, appears in a look that looks nothing like the actor himself. His make up may not be perfectly blended and the cracks on his skin visible but the makeup team deserves to be commended for experimenting with a look that seems believable. Ahmed, being the professional that he is, aptly changes the depth of his voice to suit the age of his character while his body language completes the look.

Telefilm Hangor beautifully maintains a balance between the personal and the professional. It lets men take centre stage without putting women on the backseat. The narrative allows for acceptance, friendship and nationalism without forcing it down their audience’s throats. In case you’re looking for a good local movie to watch, Hangor should probably be on your list.

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