O21 (film)

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Operation 021.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJami
and Summer Nicks
Produced byZeba Bakhtiar
Written by
Summer Nicks
Music byAlfonso González Aguilar
CinematographyMo Azmi
Edited byRizwan AQ
One Motion Pictures
Azad Film Company
Interactive Studios
Distributed byIMGC Global Entertainment
Release date
  • 6 October 2014 (2014-10-06)[1]
Running time
125 minutes
LanguageUrdu, English[2]
Box officeRs5.92 crore (US$0.59 million)[3]

O21 (or Operation 21 formerly The Extortionist[4]) is a 2014 Pakistani spy thriller film,[5][6] directed by Jami, and Summer Nicks[7] and produced by Zeba Bakhtiar and her son Azaan Sami Khan.[8] It is the first spy action thriller movie from Pakistan.[9]

The film, produced by One Motion Pictures,[10][11] is based on a screenplay by Summer Nicks. Zeba Bakhtiar is the film’s executive producer and the lead roles are played by Aamina Sheikh, winner of the best actress prize at the New York International Film Festival, the renowned actor Shaan Shahid who has received accolades through countless Pakistani blockbusters, most recently Waar. O21 is the 576th feature film of Shaan's career.[12]

Plot outline[edit]

Abdullah (Ayub Khoso), after 30 years of war in Afghanistan, wants to save his country from another 50 years of corporate warfare. He works with his Pakistani ally Kashif Siddiqui (Shaan Shahid) to save the two neighboring countries from further turmoil through a plan that could risk the lives of them and their families. A plan that has 21 hours to be executed.[13]



The filming began in Karachi in the first quarter of 2013 and over a course of 61 days of shooting spread over 3 spells was completed in the first quarter of 2014. Filming took place throughout Karachi, Lahore, Balochistan and the Afghan Border. O21 was primarily filmed on Red Epic Cameras with Cooke s4/i lenses however the ARRI Alexa XR was used in certain scenes as well. It is also the first Pakistani film to be mixed in Dolby Atmos.[17]


O21 music album cover.jpg
Soundtrack album
Released6 October 2014 (2014-10-06)
GenreFilm score
LabelOne Motion Pictures
ProducerAlfonso González Aguilar

The score was released on 6 October 2014, and the soundtrack The Kidnapping was released in September. The film score contains three tracks composed and conducted by producer Alfonso González Aguilar.[18]

Track listing[edit]

1."Kill Them All"Alfonso Gonzalez Aguilar2:06
2."Final Move"Alfonso Gonzalez Aguilar6:07
3."The Kidnapping"Alfonso Gonzalez Aguilar10:43



The first look teaser was released on 24 May 2014.[19] while the theatrical trailer was unveiled on 21 September 2014 in a press event held in Nueplex Cinemas Karachi.[20]The film was released on Eid Al-Adha 2014.[1][21]

Critical reception[edit]

Hala Syed of DAWN.com rated the film 4/5 and wrote "It does not glorify war but depicts it in a gritty realistic, thought provoking way. It's engaging, unflinching and unique in that it dares to tell the dark and intense stories in the shadows."[22]

Aayan Mirza of Galaxy Lollywood rated it 4 out of 5 and wrote "O21 is the most intelligent Pakistani cinema has ever been. It won’t spoon feed you everything, you have to make deliberate efforts to remain attentive, conscious and seriously into the film. You can’t miss to watch even an inch of the screen. O21 is absolutely not a propaganda film, but instead presents an intelligent case. It might compel you enough to Google certain things when you get back home. It is a masterpiece that can easily be put right there with any spy-thriller in the world."[23]

Zia Shahid of Sabz Irtiqa rated it 8 out of 10 and wrote "Jami’s direction can be explained in just one word “Stunning”, people who knows Jami for his previous work and have seen his music videos knew that O21 won’t be a straightforward film, Jami have certainly made the audience to put their thinking cap on while watching the movie or else they won’t understand the film. On the whole O21 is dark and mysterious and it has taken the Pakistani cinema to the new level, thank you Jami for proving that Pakistani cinema is not just about item numbers and Bollywood stereo types."[24]

Faria Syed of HiP wrote "The film is thrilling, visually stunning and well-acted with multiple layers of story. There are no songs to titillate, no simple solutions to facilitate those who would rather not think about what they are watching."[25]

Umer Ali of Skotato rated 4/5 and wrote "It is the best film ever produced in Pakistan in terms of brains and execution and it is a must watch if you are a spy thriller geek."[26]

Zeeshan Ahmed of The Express Tribune rated the film 3.5 out of 5 and given a verdict "It’s a dense film, one you wouldn’t want to watch again. But do watch it once to embrace the fact that even a Pakistani film can opt for a slow and steady approach towards storytelling."[27]

Afra Jamal of Daily Times wrote "Operation O21 is poised to be a game changer that challenges the palate and forges its own identity from a fragmented landscape. It’s a start."[28]

Box office[edit]

O21 made 5.9 million (US$42,000) on its first day of release.[29] At the end of Eid Week(Monday-Sunday) film collected huge 41.5 million (US$290,000) from all over Pakistan. But from next Monday onwards numbers started falling heavily which resulted in mere 7 million (US$50,000) over Weekdays taking Extended Week One of 11 Days to 48.5 million (US$340,000) which is 6th biggest of 2014 after Kick (2014 film), Na Maloom Afraad, Bang Bang!, Khoobsurat (2014 film) and Jai Ho (film).[30] After low weekdays of week one, movie dipped further in week two and collected mere 12.9 million (US$91,000) taking grand total to 61 million (US$430,000).[31]


On 7 October (second day of film release) a story was reported that O21 got booed off the screens from two of the single screen cinemas in Karachi; Bambino and Capri. It got replaced in all its shows by Bang Bang! and Na Maloom Afraad, as people started protesting and throwing bottles on screen as the film did not exactly live up to their expectation.[32] Aayan Mirza of Galaxy Lollywood investigated the case by talking with industry insiders and blamed it on film's distributor Distribution Club and wrote "They don’t care whether the film is Pakistani or not, they are merely concerned with their business, so what they do is that the moment they suspect that their Pakistani release might not be as successful on a particular cinema as they had previously thought it to be, they would reach out to the management of that cinema and will have it replaced there completely with one of their own Indian films. To them, it is no money lost, and to cinemas it is healthy occupancy." Further added "This isn’t the first time it has happened, and Distribution Club has been doing it for long. They did the same with Ishq Khuda, with Sultanat and now O21."[33]

On 13 October 2014 film's production team gathered at the Karachi Press Club to address the "injustice" meted out to them by cinema owners of Bambino, Capri and Dreamland for taking down O21 after 25 minutes of screening. On the situation, Muhammad Rizwan of Distribution Club said "The events at Capri, Bambino and Dreamland have not only damaged the film business but our reputation as a distribution company; and therefore not only will we be taking legal action against these cinema owners but we will also stop providing films to these cinemas."[34]


Distributor Date announced Category Recipient Result Reference
Lux Style Awards
16 July 2015
Best Film
Nominated [35]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Operation 021 makers confirm Oct release". DAWN.com. Mahjabeen Mankani. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  2. ^ OPERATION 021 - BBFC. BBFC.
  3. ^ http://boxofficedetail.com/yearly-report-card-pakistan-na-maloom-afraad-rescues/
  4. ^ Nimra Alam (12 November 2013). "Operation 021, (a.[k.a The Extortionist) Trailer Released". NewsMedia247. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
  5. ^ "Pakistan's first spy thriller". The Express Tribune. Anwer Mooraj. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  6. ^ Rafay Mahmood (23 March 2013). "Brace yourselves for this Pakistani spy movie". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
  7. ^ "He came, he saw and he never left". The News. Mariam Mushtaq. Retrieved 23 September 2014.
  8. ^ Sher Khan (19 August 2013). "With Operation 021, dynamic mother-son duo explores new horizons". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
  9. ^ "'OPERATION 021' to be Pakistan's first spy Action Thriller movie". Retrieved September 2013. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  10. ^ Aqsa Ishtiaq (22 March 2013). "The Extortionist: Pakistan's First Spy Action Thriller". AAJ News. Retrieved 4 February 2014.
  11. ^ "Pakistan's first spy action thriller 'The Extortionist' under production". MAG The Weekly. Retrieved 4 February 2014.
  12. ^ "O21 will be Shaan's 576th film!". The Express Tribune. Hassan Ansari. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
  13. ^ "Preview: Speed dial O21". DAWN.com. Samra Muslim. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
  14. ^ "Reboots with Operation 021". The Express Tribune. Rafay Mahmood. 9 June 2014.
  15. ^ "Hottie of the week: Shaan". The Express Tribune. 14 May 2013. Retrieved 3 March 2014.
  16. ^ "Ayub Khosa to be seen in Operation 021". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  17. ^ "Did you know? Operation 021 will be the first Pakistani film released on Dolby Atmos". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 6 September 2014.
  18. ^ "O21 soundtrack album". Pakium. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  19. ^ "Operation 21: First theatrical trailer released". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 25 May 2014.
  20. ^ "O21: A new mission, ready for release". The News Magazine. Nida Ameen. Retrieved 23 September 2014.
  21. ^ "Zeba Bakhtiar's 'Operation 21' set to release this year". DAWN.com. 23 May 2014. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
  22. ^ "Review: Operation 021 – not perfect, but beautiful in ambition". DAWN.com. Hala Syed. Retrieved 9 October 2014.
  23. ^ "O21 (Review)". Galaxy Lollywood. Aayan Mirza. Retrieved 9 October 2014.
  24. ^ "O21 is dark intense and a visual treat". Sabz Irtiqa. Zia Shahid. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
  25. ^ "021 is better than its promos lead us to believe". HiP. Faria Syed. Retrieved 9 October 2014.
  26. ^ "Operation O21 - film review". Skotato. Umer Ali. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
  27. ^ "Operation 021: It's worth your patience". The Express Tribune. Zeeshan Ahmad. Retrieved 12 October 2014.
  28. ^ "'Operation O21' in the house!". Daily Times. Afra Jamal. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  29. ^ "Box office banged". The Express Tribune. Hassan Ansari. Retrieved 12 October 2014.
  30. ^ "O21 Extended Week One Business". BoxOfficeDetail. Retrieved 18 October 2014.
  31. ^ "O21 2nd Weekend Business". BoxOfficeDetail. Retrieved 21 October 2014.
  32. ^ "Operation 021 booed off the screens in Karachi". The Express Tribune. Rafay Mahmood. Retrieved 13 October 2014.
  33. ^ "Investigating the 'O21 booed off' stor". Galaxy Lollywood. Aayan Mirza. Retrieved 13 October 2014.
  34. ^ "Operation 021 team speaks up against Capri, Bambino and Dreamland". The Express Tribune. Hassan Ansari. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  35. ^ "Lux Style Awards 2015 nominees announced". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 18 July 2015.

External links[edit]