Saturday, 21 April 2018

'Parwaaz Hai Junoon' teaser gives major 'Top Gun' vibes

KARACHI: Amid a plethora of film teasers releasing lately such as Azaadi, 7 Din Mohabbat In and many others, another one makes an entry. The teaser of the much-awaited, multi-starrer film Parwaaz Hai Junoon was just launched and it’s bound to make you feel patriotic. And who needs Top Gun’s Tom Cruise when you’ve got Hamza Ali Abbasi in the lead mixed with Shah Rukh Khan’s Major Ram Main Hoon Na-esque entrance.

Paying tribute to the Pakistan Air Force, the clip begins with pilots preparing themselves to take on an incoming mission. Control rooms and fighter jets flying fiercely in the sky prove that the film will have a lot of action in it – albeit airborne.

The casually-controversial Hamza appears on screen, looking like the boss he is, as he strikes another fighter jet. Addressing his co-star from the film, Shaz Khan, Hamza says, “Aik fighter pilot ki zindagi mein speed hi sab se important cheez hai (The most important thing in a fighter pilot’s life is speed).” Further making a powerful statement that there is no thrill without speed.

Landing back on the ground, the duo celebrate their victory in true military fashion while the Pakistan flag soars high – giving goosebumps of patriotism to the viewers.

The rest of the cast which includes names such as Hania Aamir, Kubra Khan and Ahad Raza Mir didn’t make it to this teaser, but we’re hoping that the best has been saved for the last and will only be released in the trailer.

The film is penned by ace-writer Farhat Ishtiaq and directed by Haseeb Hassan under the banner of Momina Duraid productions. Parwaaz Hai Junoon is expected to hit theatres on Eidul Fitr along with Mahira Khan’s 7 Din Mohabbat In. Are we also sensing a bit of a competition here?

Watch the teaser here:

Friday, 20 April 2018

Motorcycle Girl: Buy the ticket, take the ride!

KARACHI: Adnan Sarwar’s Motorcycle Girl reminds me of a line from the book On the Road by Jack Kerouac: “Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.”

The film is based on the life of Zenith Irfan (played by Sohai Ali Abro in the film), who became the first Pakistani female motorcyclist to embark upon a solo journey from Lahore to Khunjerab Pass in the northern areas of Pakistan. At the heart of Motorcycle Girl lies a similar idea of a girl who, in order to fulfill her father’s dream, defies norms and sets out on the road to bike through.

But Motorcycle Girl is not an adventure film. It’s a human story at its core, a classic underdog tale. It’s about the spirituality of a motorcycle ride, like a unique and personal prayer where the motorcycle and open road are the mediums of communication with the universe. It’s about fulfillment of lost dreams and keeping alive the memory of a deceased loved one.

Hence, it is a bit underwhelming to see that the film lacks a dedicated and complete exploration of precisely that idea. But it’s a surprise, at the same time, that it works quite well despite its faults.

Sarwar spends the first half of the film mostly showing Irfan’s struggles at work with her credit-hogging, mean-spirited, dead-eyed, corporate-puppeteer of a boss (brilliantly played by Sarmad Khoosat). While the writer-director carves out a pretty neat, fictional ‘how’ behind Irfan’s journey, he doesn’t fully explore her intense feeling of missing out on the father-daughter relation and the burning desire to fulfill his dream. His misplaced prioritisation of shaping the circumstances around Irfan’s journey, rather than keeping a balance between that and the journey itself, affects the film and its pacing.

Further, what should have been ‘dialogue’ turns into monologues that go on for a tad too long. Scenes stretch and characters linger on for more time than they should, and an odd brand integration dilutes an impactful scene.

Yet, Sarwar surprisingly manages to keep the film engaging enough so you won’t get bored until the action escalates. From then, you are taken for the ride of a lifetime that will not only make you teary-eyed but also you proud of the real Irfan. And the finale, no matter how formulaic it might be, works on a level that conveys the soul of the film. When you walk out of the cinema, you will remember it and cherish it for a long time.

As an audience, you take home the feeling of the climax of Motorcycle Girl. So while the ride may started out bumpy, it ends on a powerful note. And that’s important for any film, no matter what the genre or story.

Motorcycle Girl gives you an emotional experience worthy of your time and money, with decent production value, sound design that won’t divert your attention from the action and convincing performances.

Shamim Hilaly (as Irfan’s grandmother), Samina Peerzada (the mother) and Ali Kazmi (as her fiancĂ©) do a wonderful job at evoking the required emotions out of the viewer. But, in all honesty, Motorcycle Girl is a one-woman-show. Abro exceeds expectations and carries the entire film on her shoulders without bulging. Her performance as Irfan encapsulates the vulnerability and insecurity of a young girl with too many responsibilities, with a natural gentleness in the face of social entrapments, and the eventual defiance in the name of dreams and breaking shackles. Abro embodies the timidity that comes with constant suppression of one’s identity and how upon breaking out of it, they feel liberated and free.

Here is an actor who is not conscious of looking ‘good’ and ‘pretty’ on screen, but concerns herself with her job: making you believe in her character. And that’s essentially why Motorcycle Girl succeeds as a film. It’s a win for Abro as much as it is for Sarwar because their hearts, and Irfan’s heart, are in the right place.

Verdict: As the late American journalist and author Hunter S Thompson once said, “Buy the ticket, take the ride.” You’ll enjoy it.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Friday, 6 April 2018

'Cake' takes a big bite of box office share

KARACHI: Not even a week into the release of Cake and the film is making waves already, running successfully to packed cinemas in Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore, stated a press release. On the first weekend, multiplexes such as Nueplex, Cinepax and Atrium Cinemas in Karachi and Cineplex Centaurus in Islamabad had sold out shows for three consecutive days

Cake opened to a weekend business of Rs30 million from Pakistan and selected international territories too. Given the word-of-mouth nature of the film, coupled with unanimously positive reviews from The Guardian and multiple local publications, the film is expected to hold strong in the coming days. The biggest win of all for director Asim Abbasi and the star cast of Aamina Sheikh, Sanam Saeed and Adnan Malik, is having audiences coming out of cinemas with raving reviews.

Some are calling Cake “authentic, impressive and worth watching.” Others confidently state, “This is just what Pakistani cinema needs,” adding Cake is “an emotional rollercoaster.” With much appreciation for the art direction, cinematography, script and direction, the film has just the right ingredients to make it a success. It also helps to firmly position Pakistani cinema on a global platform. The Cake cast has been going around Karachi cinemas and making surprise visits at different theatres to hear the audience reactions’ first hand.

Talking about the film’s response, Asim said, “We are overwhelmed by all the love and praises. This is exactly where we wanted to be. We have audience members who are deeply touched by our narrative and we have given Pakistani Cinema what we set out to give it – diversity.” Echoing Asim’s sentiments, producer Zulfiqar Bukhari said, “The response to Cake proves that Pakistan is ready for intelligent narratives executed to international standards. We wanted to showcase the power of authentic storytelling and bring fresh, new voices in cinema to the forefront.”

The success of the opening week has led to a clamour for the film across the world wherever there is a Pakistani diaspora. Having left its mark on the audiences in the UK, Australia and the Middle East, Cake is set to be screened across North America from April 13, 2018.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Cake becomes first Pakistani film to have a world premiere in London's Leicester Square

Tuesday night witnessed the premiere of upcoming Pakistani film Cake held in London, reported Metro. Actors Aamina Sheikh, Sanam Saeed, Adnan Malik, Beo Raana Zafar, along with the director Asim Abbasi and producer Syed Zulfikar Bukhari were in attendance.

Amongst the cast and crew of Cake, Leicester Square’s Vue Cinema also played host to many other attendees including activist Malala Yousafzai, actors Ainy Jaffri and Mahira Khan, and DJ Naughty Boy (Shahid Khan).

Cake is the first ever Pakistani film to premiere at Leicester Square and that too, with such wide media coverage. The film is all set to release in Pakistan on March 30.aa

Other than an interesting title which surely piques our interests, the film boasts of a fresh and realistic portrayal of family dynamics and relationships.

Speaking with The Express Tribune, the film’s director Asim Abbasi said the dominant theme in the film is time. “Time is the connecting thread… Absolutely. It’s time in terms of how people grow old, in terms of how we deal with the past and the regrets people have,” he shared.

Speaking of the unconventional title, actor Adnan Malik said, “The title is a metaphor for all the layers that come together and how these layers define a family. It’s about the different ingredients that come together and make something that is often quite delicious, that is, a cake and in this case, a family.” He continued, “Also, cake is something very universal. In any part of the world, a cake is something that unites people – whether it’s a birthday or any other grand event – and signifies celebration.”

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Syra, Shahroz Sabzwari pair up for a coming-of-age love story

ISLAMABAD: One of Pakistan’s most cherished couples, Syra Shahroz and Shahroz Sabzwari undoubtedly feed off of each other’s energies – and having known the two for a while, they’re both diametrically the opposite, which probably makes them nothing but complement one another. Talk about the perfect match! In a compelling Valentine’s Day post on Instagram, the two very peculiarly posted a BTS from their untitled film together.

While Shahroz wrote “Sai” as his caption, Syra completed the couple’s name with “Roz”, announcing their first ever cinematic outing together. However, the film does, in fact, give re-birth to a project the two had signed onto nearly half a decade ago that had seemingly been shelved.

“I read the script five years ago and I thought it was a very interesting take on a love story. When I read it now, just recently, a lot had changed in it and for the better only,” Syra told The Express Tribune in an exclusive proclamation of sorts. “When I was reading it, I really got into it. The way it spoke to me was really appealing.”

“Also, I heard a song from the movie and I just knew I had to do it,” she bursts out into laughter, all praises for the film’s soundtrack composed by newcomer, Adrian David, who has worked with the likes of veteran Indian musicians A R Rahman and Salim-Suleman, and tracks comprising fresh vocals from Maria Unera, Sherry Khattak and Kashan Admani of former pop-rock band ‘Mizmaar’.

Syra continued with what truly made her pursue the feature, “Ultimately, the entire thing put together, with Shahroz in it with me, I thought it would be a good product for us to do together. I’d waited for a good script to come along for him and I – and I just knew deep down that this was it.”

Though Shahroz chose to remain tight-lipped about what the film revolved around, she spoke of having a natural camaraderie with her leading man-cum-husband, which would translate onto celluloid much more organically in a coming-of-age, love saga.

“We really enjoy being on-set together. Shahroz is really busy with his other projects every day and I don’t get to spend too much time with him, but working on this project together allows me to do that,” an ecstatic-Syra shares.

“Of course, there’s an extra level of comfort when you’re sharing the screen with your husband. I think he’s really evolved as an actor also, and it’s really great how spontaneously he channels every emotion the director asks him to. I think it’s all the more fun.”

Clueless of what took so long for the film to go on-floors, Syra did commend debutant director Omar Essa Khan, who has worked on television sitcoms previously, for truly giving the script his all. She speaks of how the screenplay and dialogues have blossomed since she went over its earliest version.

“The first time I heard about the film was when I read it back in the day,” she maintained, all praises for Khan. “I think the director probably needed more time, since he’s definitely somebody who knows what he wants now; he knows his movie shot-by-shot. To see somebody with that kind of confidence is phenomenal.”

As happening as last year was was in the ‘movie department’ for Syra, it was perhaps more harrowing. She received a lukewarm response from Chalay Thay Saath, whilst Project Ghazi was surprisingly pulled back at the night of its premiere. Just recently, she turned down a part in Jawani Phir Nahi Ani’s sequel for the lack of substance, which ultimately landed with Mawra Hocane, but seems content with being her instinctive self.

“If something doesn’t make sense to me, I can’t jump into it. If I’m not excited, I can’t bring myself to do anything at all for the heck of it. I only take up something if my gut tells me I’ve got to do it,” she clarifies of trusting her intuition blindly. “I look into the details later. I’m probably not going to do a film that gives me an iffy feeling. For me, it’s important to feel the character.

” The yet-to-be-named, ‘Sairoz’ film has flown in a French cinematographer who has studied under veteran Academy Award-winning DOP, Russell Carpenter of Titanic and The Terminator. Currently under production, the film went on-floors just last month and is aiming at wrapping up shooting by March.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Reasons to watch (and eat) 'Cake' this March

KARACHI : With an interesting film title as it is, the Sanam Saeed, Aamina Sheikh and Adnan Malik-starrer Cake sure has garnered all the puns one can make. The trailer of the film was released last night, and it has melted in everyone’s mouth like a Nutella chocolate cake.

The warm colours and the simple, mellow and romantic tone of the well-crafted trailer has gripped everyone, and the change of pace from Pakistani films’ usual too-loud-too-bright-too-colourful routine is noticeable (and welcome).

The visuals may possibly remind you of Richard Linklater’s Boyhood or Bollywood film Kapoor and Sons (Kapoor and Sisters?), but in a positive manner. It’s far from a rip-off and seems to have a unique touch to it. Here we list five reasons based on the trailer, why you should go watch Cake on March 30:

No item song

Item numbers are the biggest marketing tool local film-makers know, and they oftentimes exploit it to the fullest. As if the song in question is the only reason one should go watch the film. Director Asim Abbasi does not turn to it (of course, the film’s genre doesn’t require it, but then, when has that stopped our film-makers from putting in unnecessary songs) and the trailer turns out to be all the more better for it. This serving of Cake seems to be a different flavour from the usual.

Relatable issues

The trailer reveals the conflict between a family in which Saeed and Sheikh are sisters. While Saeed had left and moved away because of a reason unknown, her father’s deteriorating health brings her back. And a family member leaving and returning after some time always causes conflicts. Saeed is said to have left due to a ‘family emergency’ and soon, Sheikh is seen yelling about dreams and how it’s always her who is crushed between them. The unveiling of the hidden past, that dark secret is something to look forward to.

Beo Raana Zafar

Zafar plays Sheikh and Saeed’s mother in the film and it’s thanks to her that we get a bunch of laughs. Her antics are crazy and one-liners absolutely hilarious and memorable. She picks at her husband like that distant aunt in your family who you probably once met at a family wedding and she pinched your cheeks so hard they left a mark. Zafar’s character is that kind.

Sanam Saeed

Saeed’s character is evidently going to be the source of all drama in the film. While she has always delivered on-point performances, Cake seems to one more in the line. In the trailer, she is seen showing restricted emotions and a lot of pent up frustration over misunderstands (she is seen dragging Sheikh from her hair at one point). There is love. There is anger. There is drama. There is occasional laughter. What more could we need?

The surprise

According to the director, Adnan Malik’s character is supposed to be a surprise. While his relationship with the family might be unclear, he still poses a strong presence in the trailer. Even if we don’t know about the character, that mustache steals the show for now. And I believe, until March 30, we must revel in the mystery of the mustache (perhaps the next Sherlock episode title?) and the multi-flavoured Cake.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Review: 'Azad' gives big-budget local films a run for their money

KARACHI : In times when home-based network subscriptions are all the rage, you can randomly put on a film and not expect much from it. If it turns out to be great, it’ll be two-hours well spent; if not, we move on to the next. Not much harm done. There’s always more. It’s a different case, though, when you have to go all the way to the cinema, spend a few hundred rupees and watch a film that you probably might skip because there are no famous names attached to it. But do yourself a favour and go watch Azad. Rehan Sheikh’s directorial debut is a pleasant surprise amidst a bunch of mediocre films that crowd our cinemas most of the time. The film revolves around an RJ named Azad (played by Sheikh) who hosts a morning show and likes to believe he is free until an encounter with his past challenges his belief.

It’s one of those films whose trailer doesn’t do it complete justice. But you step into the theatre, sit tight in your seat and surrender yourself to the experience and it will engage you unlike any other local film that has come out this year so far. The first three minutes of the opening montage will hook you in and set up the film’s world with a clarity so rarely found in Pakistani films. Remember that Azad is not a big budget film and by no means, it tries to deceive you into thinking that it is grand and larger-than-life. Azad’s success is in understanding and being content with its place and it is exactly that which helps ground the viewer in the film’s reality.

With all the rage for making big-budget films and breaking records, here is a film which quietly does its work with limited resources and carves out a beautiful story which not only entertains for two-hours but resonates and lingers in your mind long after. The director understands and creatively tackles the financial limitations.

Even as an actor, Sheikh delivers a performance which makes you truly believes in his character – a man who likes to think he is free, but is in fact, like all of us, wearing shackles we are not even aware of. The supporting cast, which includes Salman Shahid (as radio station owner PK Sher), Sabreen Hisbani (Azad’s former lover Jiya), Sanam Saeed (colleague), Ajlal Shah (Billoo), and Zahid Ahmed (OJ), also deliver realistic performances. There is no rush or exaggeration to their characters. The film’s pace may be too slow and unconventional for some. The duration could have been 15 minutes shorter, but don’t let that discourage you from giving it a shot. Azad mesmerises you with its poetic, almost romantic flow. It’s sprinkled with classic songs like a chocolate cake with coconut powder.

Abbas Ali Khan’s melodious score, from beginning till the end, involves you further into the story. It stays mellow throughout and brings out the much-needed emotions in certain scenes. You will find yourself listening to the songs composed by Khan and Taimoor Mirza. Shumaila Hussain’s jazz flavour ‘Huzoor’ adds a fun, vintage feel to the film as well. Thereby, the film, on the whole, equals to a visual poem narration – put down your guard and trust the narrator to take you wherever he wants. You won’t be disappointed. The ride will make you laugh with a very Woody Allen and Jim Jarmusch-esque style of humour. It will make you think and reflect on your life. And by the end, it will make you cry.

Azad is a film which sets us free from a long list of underwhelming cinematic experiences. It is an important win for content-centric Pakistani cinema, which we definitely need more of. It’s important for the local cinema, in general, as it should ideally pave the way for more small-budget, story-centric films to follow. Simply, Azad is here to rescue Pakistani cinema from mediocrity. Verdict: Go watch with no preconceptions and let Azad pleasantly surprise you. Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Mahira Khan's 'Verna' to screen at women-centric UK Asian Film Fest

KARACHI : Mahira Khan’s political drama Verna is all set to screen UK Asian Film Fest which will be held from March 15 to March 25 this year.

The UK Asian Film Festival will be celebrating 20 years of championing independent South Asian cinema by hosting a 12-day season of film screenings and events in Edinburgh, Manchester, Leicester and London.

The organisers announced that the film fest will be screening women-centric movies, and the opening gala, will feature an awards presentation honouring heroines that have challenged stereotypes, pushed boundaries and broken barriers to make a difference.

The honourees will include Bollywood’s veteran Simi Garewal, who is also an acclaimed film-maker, producer and a famous talk show host.

Regarded as one of the most inimitable female figures of Indian and international film fraternities, Garewal deconstructed the basic female heroine in Indian cinema from her screen debut in the 60s, and has since proved a consistent game-changer in the industry as both an outsider and insider.

The actor will also lead a posthumous tribute to Indian actor Shashi Kapoor (1938–2017), with whom she starred in the controversial English language film, Siddhartha (1972), based on the novel by Hermann Hesse, in which she boldly featured in a nude scene – the first starlet in Bollywood to do so. The film predictably faced backlash and censorship issues at the time.

Khan, who happens to be one of the Pakistani actors, has a massive international fan base. The starlet made her cinematic debut with Shoaib Mansoor’s social drama, Bol, which starred Humaima Malick, Atif Aslam and many others and went on to becoming one of the highest grossing movie of all time. Khan rose to fame with her prominent role in a romantic drama serial, Humsafar alongside Fawad Khan.

The Ho Mann Jahaan starlet’s latest venture, Verna, fights taboos related to rape and honour. Synonymous with female-centric films that hold a mirror to the injustices of contemporary society, Mansoor’s latest feature boldly tackles the issues of rape, misogyny and the position of women in Pakistani society and culture.

The social drama is a powerful call to action for those wronged by the system and deprived of their right to justice. Due to its difficult yet deeply relevant subject matter, the film faced severe pushback from the Pakistani censor board prior to release.

 Khan will be conducting a question and answer segment with audiences at Phoenix Cinema, Leicester on March 15 and at Regent Street Cinema, London on March 16, following a screening of the movie.

Talking about the event, Dr Pushpinder Chowdhry, Festival Founding Director, said, “We are delighted to be celebrating the festival’s 20th anniversary by expanding nationally and giving audiences across the UK the opportunity of engaging with our programme of screenings, guest talks and events with a strong, feminist theme.

She went on to add, “From its inception, the festival has always championed gender equality in cinema, launching 20 years back at a time when there was but a handful of Asian women film-makers and the scope of female roles was restricted to women of a certain age, confined to certain archetypal parameters.”

“We are finally seeing a shift in this, as women continue to create a space for themselves in South Asian cinema, redefining and expanding their roles both in front of and behind the camera and on their own terms. We continue to celebrate those achievements with a rich showcase that represents the ever-evolving contributions and representations of women to cinema,” she added.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Box office: Gluco Allahyar and The Legend of Markhor breaks all time single day records for an animated movie

The weekend saw the release of not one but three local made movies namely the romantic Maan Jao Na, a horror flick called Pari and the animated delight Allahyar and The Legend of Markhor. Now where the other two have not succeeded in creating any storm at the box office, it comes as a surprise that an animated movie has made waves in the market. Ever since its release on Friday, kids and adults all alike are busy rushing over to their cinema houses to see the animated wonder which has left everyone in awe.

With the story based on a fun spirited boy called Allahyar (Anum Zaidi) who teams up with a Markhor (Natasha Humera Ejaz), a snow leopard named Chakku (Abdul Nabi Jamali) and one of the most interesting character in the entire movie, a chakor called Hero whose voice over has been done brilliantly by Azfar Jafri. Together they pair up to save Markhors in Sia Koh from the cruel hunter Mani (Ali Noor) and his at times feeble minded right hand Bablu Chacha(Arieb Azhar).

Gluco Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor, boasts not only of quality animations but amazing music as well. The truth is that the movie is spectacular and worth watching on the big screen as according to Box Office detail, the film has already reached the 2 crore mark approximately. The break up of the days since the film's release is as follows:

 Friday ... Rs 35 lacs Saturday....Rs 55 lacs Sunday ...Rs .68 lacs Monday...Rs 60 lacs

Making it a total of ....Rs 2.18 crore .

Gluco Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor has broken all time single day records for an animated movie. The film collected 68 lacs on Sunday which broke the previous single day record held by the second part of 3 Bahadur by roughly around 7% - 8 %.

But with the extended weekend over, lets see whether it manages to out run the numbers created by the 3 Bahadur series or not in the coming days

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Maan Jao Naa Day One Business Pakistan

Maan Jao Naa has raked in 30lacs approx on day one which is a fair result and if film manage to show growth from here then it might end up with respectable total by end of the Weekend.

Film got hit by Padmaavat which is holding extremely well in it's second Weekend too.. Maan Jao Naa performed best in Karachi and Lahore but numbers remained on lower side in Rwp/Isl.

Film has good potential of growth today and must show that growth to have respectable total by end of the Weekend.

Film's numbers have stayed lower than Allahyar at most places but Maan Jao Naa had more shows compared to Allahyar! There was another new release Pari but that film recorded extremely low numbers and will be updated at the end of the Weekend.

 February has few good movies lined up in coming days but it looks like biggest opening day record of month of February of Bachaana will stay safe!

Allahyar Day One Business Pakistan - Good

Allahyar is the new animated release and despite no holiday season film has led on day one among all new releases that too with big margin.

Film has raked in 35lacs approx on day one which is more than combined day one total of the other two new releases i.e. Maan Jao Naa and Pari.

Film has even beaten previous animated releases of Pakistan which is excellent result as film has come in non holiday season which is not good time to release animated film.

Film has taken very good start in Karachi and Rwp/Isl and film will see massive pick today as animated films usually see big trend over the Weekend.

Today's reports are very good as it has opened to houseful board at many places and advance for coming shows at leading plexes is very good. Film is looking to go over 1.5cr for the Weekend which would be excellent result for an animated film despite not a good release time!!

Below are day one numbers of animated films of Pakistan.

Allahyar.. 35lacs
3 Bahadur 2.. 30lacs
3 Bahadur.. 32lacs

'Maan Jao Naa': A predictable past-time - Review

KARACHI: With romance, comedy, lots of colour, drama, and some really good music, Maan Jao Na has all the ingredients that make for a good, light-hearted entertainer. It’s a predictable watch, though, and a little agonisingly so at that.

The plot of the film revolves around a strong-willed young woman named Rania (played by Elnaz Nourozi), who’s an only child raised in urban Karachi. Rania’s immediate family includes her father and a paternal aunt to whom she’s quite attached. This aunt is also a survivor of domestic violence – something that adds to her stance against the institution of marriage.

From the very beginning, we see Rania trying to reason with her friends and family about the patriarchal expectations surrounding marriage and how she doesn’t want to be tied down. But throughout the course of Maan Jao Naa, we see Rania’s loved ones manipulating her into abandoning her ideals, and well, eventually getting married. She caves, as most women do, and that’s all the entire film is about.

While Rania’ rebellion was heart-warming to watch, it was an ending I knew was coming but was certainly hoping it didn’t.

Ayaz Samoo was great in his acting, as always. He plays a young man named Asim who is a common friend of Rania and Faris’ (the male lead played by Adeel Chaudhry). Samoo’s character and his love interest Sara (played by Hajra Yamin) do a really good job with their roles. Emoting well on screen – with variations in their expressions and dialogue delivery — is a tough challenge but the duo does it effortlessly.

Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about their co-stars, most of whom failed to make much of a statement despite playing the leads.

Shuja Haider did the music for Maan Jao Naa and once again, managed to remind us that there’s no dearth of talent in Pakistan. The choreography and editing of the song sequences came out all on point. It kept me riveted to the big screen and made me dance a little in my seat.

The cinematography and set design was done well too. Be it Karachi or Kot Diji Fort in Khairpur, it was all really well-executed.

Though I did not appreciate how the emotional manipulation of the Elnaz’s character was normalised, if you’re able to put your criticial and analytical self aside, you’ll have fun. Maan Jao Naa is visually pleasing and demands very little of your mental energy.

Verdict: If you want a relaxed evening with friends and family, I’d recommend you head over to the movies this weekend.

 Rating: 3.5 out 5 stars

Friday, 2 February 2018

Urwa Hocane replaces Sohai Ali Abro in 'Kaaf Kangana'

It was only a while back that Khalil ur Rehman Qamar, the maestro behind a million heart touching stories on Pakistan television and films, confirmed his own production and directorial venture, Kaaf Kangana. The plot, as revealed by Khalil Sahab, revolved around a love story between a boy from Pakistan and a girl from India. Khalil Sahab also mentioned that this particular film would be blunt in answering every little blame and every little misconception that India had put upon Pakistan.

Earlier, it was model Anoushey Mughal who was roped in as the main lead of the film, however things couldn't work out and then Sohai Ali Abro was signed on to play the female protagonist opposite Sami Khan. However, it seems there has been a change in the casting and now Urwa Hocane will be replacing Sohai Ali Abro in Kaaf Kangana.

The news was confirmed to HIP, by Khalil ur Rehman Qamar himself, who mentions things couldn't work out further and now Urwa Hocane will now be playing the female lead for his film. Khalil Sahab wishes Sohai all the very best and hope there can be more projects in the future.

Cameras for the film have already rolled. Where Sami Khan is playing the male lead, Ghana Ali plays the third angle of the love triangle that will now star Urwa Hocane and Sami Khan. Sahir Ali Bagga will be doing the music for Kaaf Kangana, whereas the film will feature top singers including Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Shafqat Amanat Ali, Atif Aslam and Arif Lohar as the main singing leads. The film will be a joint production venture by ISPR and KRQ Films.

Is Mehwish Hayat's next project a biopic on Benazir Bhutto?

Mehwish Hayat is undoubtedly one of the finest actors Pakistan has in the revived era of Lollywood. Her last movie, Punjab Nahi Jaungi became the highest grossing Pakistani movie, with a box office of whopping Rs 50 crore.

While Hayat’s acting prowess has always made her a brilliant star, we wonder if she fit the shoes for a biopic we all have been anxiously waiting for!

It all started with an Instagram post.

One fine day, Hayat took to Instagram to share a screenshot of a local publication’s article, in which the writer suggested Hayat to play the slain PPP leader and former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto.

The news of Hayat starring in a Bhutto biopic went viral on social media. The starlet shared a picture and wrote, “Benazir is a true hero of mine, a real powerful woman and a inspiration for many millions around the world. Would be a privilege and honour to play her on screen and bring her wonderful journey, her inspirational story to the world!”

However, there is no confirmation about a project in the making on Bhutto’s biopic.

We do see the resemblance between Hayat and BB, and definitely wish to see her portray the ferocious leader with the same elegance and grace she had.