Director: Azfar JafriStarring: Usman Mukhtar, Faran Tahir, Sanam Saeed, Ali KazmiRating: 4.5 starsUmro Ayyar: A New Beginning, launching in theaters worldwide on Eid Al Adha, marks Pakistan's inaugural superhero film, boasting the largest budget ever for a Pakistani movie, and it certainly meets the expectations. The movie reinterprets the ancient Persian tale of Umro Ayyar, who commanded a group of 'tricksters' aiding the warrior-adventurer Amir Hamza in his missions. Together, they battled against witches, demons, jinns, and false gods. Originating as oral tales known as dastaans in Arabia and Persia from the seventh century, these stories became popular in India during the sixteenth century under the rule of Mughal emperor Akbar. They were eventually transcribed in Urdu during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by storytellers. To this day, numerous generations of South Asian children have been raised on these narratives. The film's major triumph is its cinematic portrayal of Indo-Islamic heritage, akin to top Hollywood superhero movies, which modern viewers can enjoy. In this adaptation, the timeless battle of good versus evil is perpetuated by the ayyars, disciples of Umro Ayyar, who possess special abilities that classify them as 'warriors', 'knowers', and 'leaders', aiming to establish justice and restore equilibrium in the world; meanwhile, the forces of darkness, headed by the sorcerer Laqqa and sorceress Cheno, depend on the occult and dark magic to dominate the world through their campaigns of violence and injustice. A stellar cast, backed by a robust script by Atif Siddique, excellent direction by Azfar Jafri, and breathtaking visual effects, brings this fantasy adventure to life. The transformation of Usman Mukhtar's character, Amar, from a shy yet brilliant quantum physics professor committed to his research into a sharp-witted, formidable superhero, who is a fitting successor to Umro Ayyar, is the film's highlight. Guided by 'Guru', played by the legendary actor Manzar Sehbai, Amar uncovers his unique superpowers, ultimately stepping into his destined role as leader of the ayyars. Mukhtar imbues the character with warmth, subtle humor, and vulnerability, undoubtedly his best performance yet. Meena, portrayed by the immensely talented Sanam Saeed, is a 'knower', capable of accessing knowledge from other dimensions and one of Amar's staunchest supporters. It was invigorating to witness a female lead in a significant role who is not the romantic interest of the male lead. Meena's character has the potential to be much more prominent in a sequel. Faran Tahir, as the antagonist Laqqa, captivated the audience with his performance, equally terrifying and comedic, a rare achievement. A poignant scene where he materializes in Amar's home and renders him powerless, enacted by Tahir and Mukhtar, moved many viewers to tears. Sana Fakhar, as the sorceress Cheno, sent shivers down our spines with her restrained yet powerful performance. Ali Kazmi, as the valiant Maaz, leader of the ayyar warriors, shone in every scene with his combat skills. Other notable performances included Adnan Siddiqi as Amar's father, Simi Raheel as his aunt, Daniyal Raheel as Babar, and Salman Shaukat as Azam, the humorous yet fiercely loyal and brave warrior. The audience also enjoyed actor Hamza Ali Abbasi's special appearance.