Motorcyle Girl Review: An uplifting feel-good movie with style and substance : 8.5/10
Motorcycle Girl is a biographical adventure drama film based on the life of motorcyclist Zenith Irfan who independently motorcycled from Lahore to Khunjerab Pass, in cinemas on 20th April. The film is directed, written and co-produced by Adnan Sarwar. Motorcycle Girl features the story of Zenith Irfan who travels to the northern areas of Pakistan via motorbike to fulfill her father’s dream. The film explores the many challenges she face as a precursor to, and during her journey to Khunjerab Pass. The role of Zenith Irfan in this biopic is played by Sohai Ali Abro. The supporting roles in this film are played by: Samina Peerzada, Ali Kazmi, Sarmad Khoosat and Shamim Hilaly.
What immediately stood out about this film was the outstanding cinematography. The excellent panoramic shots of Pakistan’s Northern areas offer the audience an immersive experience to experience the journey with Zenith. The iconic pictures of Zenith sitting and meditating on an empty road, her selfies with the geographical landmarks are all aptly represented in the movie. Through out the film there seems there seems an effort to remain authentic to the real story. Motorcycle Girl has, in essence, humanized Zenith, whereby she is not just a public figure who independently rode a motorcycle for women empowerment. The film explores the real motivation behind Zenith undertaking this pursuit – her father’s unfulfilled dream.
The Real Motorcycle Girl
In terms of direction, the casting for the movie was apt. Sohai’s versatility as an actor was highlighted by her performance as Zenith, displaying to the critics the bandwidth of her capabilities. Although there were small detailing errors, e.g. the poor punjabi accent of the van driver ‘Ashraf Bhai’ all in all the characters in the film were believable. The stand out feature in terms of direction was the non-linear sequence of events, flashbacks ranging from childhood to the near past were used simultaneously which ensured a sustained interest (especially for people with short attention snaps, like me). This film was not a mere narrate of the events preceding and during Zenith’s journey, it was a comprehensive exercise of engaging visual storytelling – peaking the curiosity of the viewers.
I feel the only potential weakness of the movie was the script writing. In many instances I feel the conversation didn’t transition and flow between the characters in a natural manner, but there was a constant emphasis on the specific words and phrases that emphasized the predominant issues being raised in the film such as reclaiming public spaces, right to mobility and the general stereotypic patriarchy in our society. The film did wonders in raising the issue of harassment in its many forms, exploring the many different types of harassment: invasion of proximity by the van driver, the derogatory behavior of a misogynistic boss and the role of women in the perpetuation of gender roles. Another very interesting part of the movie was how the director cleverly explored the pads issue and the shame attached to menstruation, especially after the blatant censorship of the movie “Pad Man”.
Motorcycle Girl presents a holistic view of Zenith’s struggle, watching this movie, I cannot say that this movie was skewed in its portrayal. The directors made sure to explore both the challenges and the successes faced by Zenith. What this film did was the explore the dichotomies present in our society in terms of: city vs. mountains, class and financial independence, patriarchy vs. equality – offering a more holistic and encompassing view.
The tone of the film was light, free and hopeful. The movie’s soundtracks Urr Chalay and Pahiya are motivational and uplifting much like the rest of the film. What stood out for me was that serious concerns were tempered in a positive and hopeful manner, leaving a viewer with the yearning to inspire change, not distraught ruminating about the problems plaguing our society. All in all, watching Motorcycle Girl was a very uplifting experience for me.
Although this film is mainly a biographical feature, it does not only focus of showing her backstory as she tackles daily hindrances, instead the film broadens the horizon by covering other imperative issues pertaining to women in a conventional and stereotypical set up.
Despite the urge of wanting to narrate the entire story – especially the excellent plot twist which I’m pretty sure no one in the entire cinema foresaw – I will restrain myself, laud the film-makers and urge each and every individual to watch this movie because of the sheer importance of the issues that were grappled with in this film.
Motorcycle Girl was released all over Pakistan today, April 20th