“Get out if you Can” is both the translation of the Zinda Bhaag and the credo its characters live by. Pakistan’s first official Oscar entry in 50 years is this surprisingly realistic slice-of-life depiction of life in Lahore. Three friends Khaldi, Chitta and Tambi literally beg, borrow, and steal to get by in their everyday lives while they look westward for something more than mere existence. The potential cost of this dream: Financial servitude, legal minefields, and very real emotional and physical danger.
Zinda Bhagg operates on multiple levels. It is a discourse on a crucial global topic, illegal immigration and human trafficking. Yet it is also a breath of fresh air with funky costumes, exaggerated yet marvelous acting, and sparkling comic dialogue. The film features remarkable performances by its non-professional actors, who were plucked from the obscurity of the Lahore streets. The actors’ own lives and personalities are reflected in the characters and the plot depicted in the film. Co-directors Meenu Gaur and Farjad Nabi love of South Asian films of 1960s through the 1980s is made manifest in their use of music in building poetic atmosphere and expressing unspeakable feelings.
Zinda Bhaag is the first official Oscar entry from Pakistan in over fifty years. Speaking of the nomination, a member from the Pakistani Academy Selection Committee summed it up best, “Zinda Bhaag is funny, natural, hip, and casually audacious-A real step forward for contemporary Pakistani Cinema and a pleasure to watch.”