Review: ‘The Long Night’

"The Long Night" is a Pakistani remake of Martin Scorsese's "After Hours," in which the respectable head of a Karachi computer software firm is drawn into a nightmare world by a mysterious woman. Tubthumped as Pakistan's first digital feature, pic was helmed by Hasan Zaidi, a director of Karachi's international film fest.

Long on local flavor while discernibly influenced by international cinema, “The Long Night” is a Pakistani remake of Martin Scorsese’s “After Hours,” in which the respectable head of a Karachi computer software firm is drawn into a nightmare world by a mysterious woman. Tubthumped as Pakistan’s first digital feature, pic was helmed by Hasan Zaidi, a director of Karachi’s international film fest. This well-written, surprisingly amusing title with social undertones should have a brisk run on the DVD market.

Waleed (Faisal Rehman) is a middle-class yuppie about to sign a multi-million dollar deal with Microsoft. His plans to work late are interrupted by a call from Fareeha (Nadia Jamil), a long-time telephone romance who has never before agreed to a meeting. Now she invites him over to a bad neighborhood on the city’s outskirts, without telling him she’s just poisoned her husband.

The set-up is good, and quickly leads to a slew of hair-raising encounters with angry mobs, gangsters, prostitutes and transvestites. Waleed emerges at dawn a tattered, exhausted, but better man. In a less adroitly handled subplot, two underpaid cops who are being fired can’t decide whether to capture the city’s most wanted murderer or to go lawless and steal what they can. The broad humor of stagy thesps Anwar Solangi and Naeem Sidiqui translates poorly compared with white-collar Rehman’s horrified attempts to get a handle on a night he’ll never forget.

Arif Hasan strikes a chord as a killer addicted to old Paki musicals, and Muneeza Kidwai is on key as a hard-talking hooker, reinforcing the comedy’s underlying social theme in the film’s second strong female role.

Lighting suffers from a hastily wrought, no-budget look.

The Long Night

Pakistan

Production

A Tamarin Pictures production. Produced by Hasan Zaidi. Executive producer, Aftab Manghi. Directed by Hasan Zaidi. Screenplay, Mohammed Hanif.

Crew

Camera (color, DV), Shakeel Adnan; editors, Maheen Zia, Hasan Addi; music, Aamir (SIC) Zaki; costume designer, Deepak Perwani; second unit director, Musadiq Sanwal. Reviewed at Dubai Film Festival (Cinema From the Subcontinent), Dec. 12, 2005. Running time: 94 MIN.

With

Waleed - Faisal Rehman Fareeha - Nadia Jamil Streetwalker - Muneeza Kidwai
With: Arif Hasan, Anwar Solangi, Naeem Sidiqui. (Urdu dialogue)
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