The Armed Forces of Pakistan are one of the best in the region, and their history is even better. Fifty years back, Pakistan Navy became the first Naval force in the world to record the first submarine kill after World War II which remained the only such achievement until 1982.
The submarine that achieved that kill was PNS Hangor, and its achievement was finally brought to the screen by iDream Entertainment. The telefilm revolving around PNS Hangor was aired last Sunday, a few days after the Golden Jubilee of the accomplishment was celebrated in Karachi. The telefilm managed to do well and was loved by all, for various reasons. Let’s try to find out what the reasons were that made the telefilm on Hangor a not-to-be-missed affair.
1-It brings a historic battle to your screen
The generation that grew up in the 80s and the 90s had the honor of watching the Nishan-e-Haider series on TV, but since the turn of the millennium, telefilms revolving around the military have decreased. Hopefully, the success of Hangor might encourage others to start searching for a similar adventure in history books and bring it to the screen sooner than later.
PNS Hangor’s accomplishment was limited to just record books and navy magazines as far as the general public is concerned; with this telefilm, it is now out in the open and makes every Pakistani’s heart filled with pride. The way the action sequences were captured was mind-blowing, especially the scenes where a torpedo was shown going into the direction of its intended target.
2-It has an ensemble cast to die for
Who would miss a play, a telefilm, or a film featuring Saba Qamar, the most sought-after actress Pakistan has produced in this century? Not me, especially when she is paired with her frequent co-star Zahid Ahmed, as well as favorite actors of the new generation Shehzad Sheikh, Dure Fishan, Affan Waheed, Haris Waheed, and Arez Ahmed. Add to that the evergreen Javed Sheikh as Chief of Naval Staff and you have an ensemble cast to die for.
Zahid Ahmed plays Commander Tasnim who was the Commanding Officer at Hangor, and who decided to take the Indian warship down, to save Karachi from destruction. Saba Qamar plays his wife who helped the wives in the absence of their husbands and looked good in her scenes with her on-screen husband. The young cast members also don’t disappoint despite having less screen time than the lead pair of Saba - Zahid in the flashbacks, and Dure Fishan - Shehzad in the present.
3-Saji Gul outdoes himself with a wonderful script
It is always more difficult to write something that isn’t considered mainstream, yet Saji Gul rose up to the challenge and came up with a perfect script for a perfect occasion. He wrote Hangor after meeting with the real-life members of the submarine force including the 86-year-old Vice Admiral Ahmed Tasnim recently and incorporated his notes in his final draft.
How he manages to maintain a balance between a Naval officer’s personal and professional conduct is something only a good playwright could have done. He also gives equal importance to the female cast members and shows that indeed there is always a strong woman behind a successful man. The scenes where Affan Waheed’s character delivers the morale boosting speech or the one where the Captain decides against firing first, each scene has been written like someone who has spent time in a submarine, and understood the stress that men are in while serving underwater.
4-It’s a breath of fresh air for fans of action films
One must commend the vision of producer Abdullah Seja and director Saqib Khan for going out of the way to deliver a project that would be seen as a benchmark in the near future. The action sequences were better than any the audience have seen on local TV, while the language used inside the submarine seemed interesting and genuine. The selection of actors, the 1970s feel, and the wardrobe styling were spot on, and one must commend Asma Sohail for the look. Add to that the submarine scenes – both interior and exterior – and you will fall in love with the Pakistan Navy all over again.
The narrow passages, the crowded rooms, and above all, the scenes without the air conditioning showed the viewers the difficult conditions in which the men in white spend their time defending their motherland. The way every character was given importance including the kitchen staff, the torpedo crew, the navigators et al shows that the navy doesn’t differentiate between its men. The makeup team must be commended for giving the perfect 70s look to the cast, whereas the makeover Zahid Ahmed got, in the end, was so believable that it took me some time to realize that it was Zahid Ahmed behind all that. Zahid Ahmed seemed to use all his theatre experience to look in his 80s while being in his 30s, and his final salute will make you feel proud of being a Pakistani.