No animated movie in the history of Pakistan has been as anticipated as The Donkey King. The hype was increased by the excellent marketing campaign of the Geo TV network, giving in to the which, we decided to give it a go and are really glad that we did. Here’s a short review for those who are still contemplating the idea of watching it.
We have some of the best (not to mention underrated) actors in the subcontinent. Credit goes to the casting director to sift through these gems and match the best suitable actors to their animated counterparts. Hina Dilpazeer as the cunning fox named Ms. Fitna (and a few minor roles), Afzal Khan as the simpleton but ambitious Mangu, Ghulam Mohiuddin as the deep-voiced Badshah Khan, Adil Hashmi as the burger prince Shehzada Khan, Ismail Taara as the not-so-lenient mentor Pehelawan Chacha and the veteran actor Irfan Khoosat as Jamhoora, all excel in their respective roles. They even made use of Maani’s slight lisp for the chameleon Rangeela. For me, the unsung hero was Shafaat Ali who provided occasional Easter-egg parodies throughout the movie adding a layer of delight to it.
The story is somewhat simple, a coming-of-age story of a looked-down upon creature (that’s right, a donkey) of the fictional Azaad Nagar when fate makes him the king of all. Hardly believing his luck, he bathes in the glory, forgetting the responsibilities coming with the throne and becomes an easy prey for the cunning fox’s treachery. The story starts at a fast-pace but somewhat drags in the middle. The climax, though, makes up for the lost charm.
Relevance to the Current Affairs (5/5)
I wish I could give six out of five in this category. The movie came at a time when the country had just gone through general elections and was on the verge of nation-wide by-elections. The relevance to the current affairs is undeniable. Whatever the producers say, there is an uncanny resemblance of the characters to the current (ahem) scenario. Although, we were happy to find that they have tried to make a neutral ground for all the key players (except perhaps the fox and the Ring Master, hmm…. wonder who could that be…). Anyways, whichever political party you may support, you will find the representing character(s) justified in their actions and good in their intentions.
The movie is absolutely hilarious. And what’s more, it somehow manages to appeal to children and adults alike. Some of the one-liners and puns come out of nowhere to crack you up. Of all the characters, I found Mangu and Shehzada to be the funniest. The occasional appearance of the side-character Panoti the zebra was hilarious too (keep working in other movies Panoti!). The satire is there for those reading between the lines and the jokes would make the children root for their beloved characters.
The best animation we had seen so far from a Pakistani Studio was of Allahyaar and the Legend of Markhor. I would say that the Donkey King is a tad bit behind it in terms of CGI but it is definitely a great attempt on its own. When the movie was announce, people started comparing Mangu with donkey of the Shrek series but Mangu has his own separate personality and features (which is lovable, gullible and hilarious at the same time). The lip-syncing of the characters in particular was amazing. The best character in terms of presentation was The Ring Master. He was frightening and mysterious even to an adult like me.
The movie has four tracks, two of which are absolute hits. Inky Pinky Ponky and Donkey Raja are melodious and catchy. The proof is the millions of views attained by these two tracks. One can go as far as to compare Inky Pinky Ponky to Coco’s Poco Loco song in terms of cuteness, humor and delight (and that is saying something).
Overall Impression (4.5/5)
All in all, the movie is pure, clean, family entertainment. It is a mark of this that we went on a weekday afternoon to watch it, still the house was full. The movie also gives a message that a true ruler is the one who is chosen by the people and who knows how to assign duties to his people based on their strengths and weaknesses. There are some stories circulating around The Donkey King that it is a conspiracy venture to brain-wash the kids against the current premier, but I would still recommended that you should go and watch it for your own. It would definitely surprise you in many terms and you would leave the cinema house as happy and entertained as we were.