Verna’s trailer carries an empowering message
Karachi: Rape and revenge is not a new theme to be explored in TV plays or cinema worldwide and Pakistan is not new to the subject either. The issue has been taken up several times on television in plays like Sangat and Bay Khudi but there hasn’t been any film with a similar theme to come out of local cinema post revival. However, this will change with Shoaib Mansoor’s upcoming project, Verna that follows the story of a rape survivor, essayed by Mahira Khan.
The trailer of the film, scheduled for a November release, came out recently amidst much appreciation. With the lead pair, Mahira Khan and singer turned actor Haroon Shahid, in attendance, the evening was all about Shoaib Mansoor and how brilliant he is when it comes to making films. The man behind acclaimed films like Khuda Kay Liye and Bol has not only directed but has also written and produced Verna.
Moving on to the trailer, it was presented twice at the event held at Nueplex Cinemas, Karachi, on Tuesday. Starring Mahira Khan and Haroon Shahid as a sweet, loving couple married to each other, the trailer gets intense as it progresses while the characters also undergo major transitions. As reported earlier, the film tells the story of a rape survivor, Sara (essayed by Mahira Khan) whose relation with her husband weakens post the horrible incident and the two end up parting ways with each other. The chief antagonist, and perhaps the rapist, essayed by Zarrar Khan, is a powerful and possibly political figure. Mahira attempts to fight against the system and is eager to take revenge despite dissuasion from her family. Whether she is able to confront her assaulter and succeed in her plan, we will find out once the film releases on November 17.
The idea may not be new and the trailer may not have presented what we haven’t seen before, but it definitely carries an empowering message. It doesn’t just give voice to a woman, who goes through apparent sexual abuse, but also portrays her as an individual who has a separate identity irrespective of her relationships. The dialogue “Main sirf tumhari biwi nahi hun, tum se alag ek puri insan bhi hun” (I am not just your wife but a separate individual as well) sums it up. We believe, or so we hope, that this forms the crux of the story with Mahira’s character fighting her battle for justice and a sense of identity.
The trailer comes across as a complete package with romance, drama and suspense taking lead. It’s about rage, revenge and power game that reigns supreme in the narrative that also features courtroom drama. Coming to performances, they remain one of the major highlights of what we have seen. Mahira impresses as an aggressive, courageous woman, which is in sharp contrast with her roles in Humsafar, Bin Roye and Ho Mann Jahaan. Haroon, however, has a bit of a challenge ahead of him, given that he has an incredibly complex character as his first project as an actor.
Speaking to Instep on the sidelines of the event, he shared, “I have known Shoaib sahab since the time of Bol when he offered me a role. That didn’t materialize for some reason but I am glad to be associated with Verna that has been a great learning experience for me under his guidance and with Mahira as an amazing costar. I am honoured to have made my debut with Shoaib Mansoor’s film and alongside Mahira Khan. I hope the audience likes my work and the film. Do watch it.”
Shoaib Mansoor, who wasn’t present at the trailer launch, noted in a press statement, “My films reflect my beliefs and conscience. Things happening around me bother me and hence, I am forced by my inner self to take them on. My films reflect the anger that I feel on social injustice of all forms. So every time I am about to embark on a film it is my anger that controls my thoughts, not the hunger for success and money.”
Aside from Haroon Shahid, Mahira Khan and Zarrar Khan, Verna also stars Rasheed Naz and debutant Naimal Khawar who plays the role of Haroon’s sister. The film is all set to hit cinemas on November 17, this year.
A still from Verna’s trailer featuring the antagonist Zarrar Khan and Mahira Khan.
Mahira Khan and Haroon Shahid at the trailer launch of Verna in Karachi.