Its All About Lollywood Films

Friday, 14 October 2016

Film on Kharotabad incident to finally release on Oct 21

After a prolonged delay, Abdullah – The Final Witness is set to release on October 21. Based on the Kharotabad incident that saw the deaths of five unarmed foreigners at an FC checkpoint in Quetta, the film had initially run into trouble with the censors who had termed its content “controversial”.
The film, which has been in works for the past three years, stars Hameed Sheikh, Imran Abbas and Sadia Khan. Talking to The Express Tribune, director Hashim Nadeem said, “The censors thought the film was too intense. They asked us to tone it down. Specifically, they asked for two cuts and to blur the climax scene. We could not just blur it as it would affect the film so we reshot the scene and now there are no more issues.”
Interestingly, he went on the praise our censor watchdogs. “They were very cooperative and I think it’s good for Pakistani cinema the way they handle films.”
The Kharotabad incident of 2011 had attracted attention from both local and international media. Asked how the film would portray it and how close it would be to the real-life events, Nadeem said, “The film actually revolves around Abdullah, who was the driver driving the foreigners, and how the incident affected his life. It shows the aftermath, the consequences of what happened. But, of course, the film’s backdrop is the incident.”
The director said through the film he aims to put the criticism against the paramilitary force to rest. “There has been a lot of negative reports and propaganda revolving around the incident. With this film, we have tried to clear that out and send a positive message,” he added.
Abbas, who plays Abdullah’s son, said he was happy that the film was finally releasing. “We worked on the film years ago and now it is good to see that it’s finally releasing. All the credit goes to Hashim Nadeem.” However, he clarified that he does not have a lead role in the film. “I have a very small role so I wouldn’t say it’s my film. The story revolves mainly around Abdullah so it can’t be said this is my debut film in Pakistan.”
Sheikh, whose films Operation 021 and Moor will be in cinemas very soon, said, “It’s not a mainstream film so you cannot expect a lot but I am happy that it’s finally releasing.”
Asked how he felt about the current situation that has brought back some of his previous silver screen outings to theatres, he said, “I’m very glad that three of my films are coming to cinemas soon. But what I really think is that we need more of the international cinema on our screens. I understand the situation with India, and until it’s sorted out, we must explore world cinema and bring, let’s say, Iranian films. Give people more variety, because we still don’t have a lot of good films to carry the business forward all year round.”

‘Chalay Thay Saath’ is very different from ‘Janaan’: Syra Yousuf

Despite criticism for being just another pretty face, actor Syra Yousuf has proved her mettle over time. She has walked as a showstopper, been the face of heavyweight fashion brands and experimented with both drama serials and telefilms. This year, she made her big screen debut with a cameo in Ho Mann Jahaan and is now essaying lead roles in two films slated for an early 2017 release.

In Chalay Thay Saath, Syra plays a doctor but that is not the only reason the film piqued our interest. Playing her love interest in the film is Kent S Leung, a Chinese actor who does not know a word of Urdu. “The film is about how love doesn’t need a language,” she tells The Express Tribune. “Kent and I became friends instantly. It was his first time in Pakistan and that too in the remote Northern areas of Pakistan, but it was great fun.”
The actor reveals that the film deals with various themes. “The film is about the different kind of relationships you deal with in life whether they are with family or friends.” The character she plays, Resham, has been written exclusively for her and that is what makes it special.
Chalay Thay Saath has also been compared to Janaan because the latter too has been shot in the northern areas of Pakistan. Speaking about this, Syra mentions, “It is similar to the film in that sense because Janaan was focused on the Pukhtun culture and this is on the Hunza culture but their storylines are completely different.”
Syra has been selective about the films she associates with, even previously rejecting a Hollywood production with Ben Kingsley. “Other films didn’t click and I’m a very picky actor so I thought if I’m going to do a film, it should check all the boxes. I liked the people, the storyline, the producer and director and their passion for it.”
Another point to note is that the Yousuf-Subzwari clan is one that has immersed itself fully into the industry. Syra and her husband Shehroz are actors, as well as Shehroz’s father Behroz Subzwari, who is  also starring in Chalay Thay Saath. Syra’s sister, Palwasha Yousaf was also roped in as the stylist. “Palwasha read through every character and designed individual looks for everyone,” shares Syra about her sister’s styling stint in the film.
While Chalay Thay Saath is slated for a February 2017 release, Project Ghazi will be released later next year. Touted as Pakistan’s first-ever superhero flick, the film is based on a mission and stars Humayun Saeed, Sheheryar Munawar and Syra in lead roles alongside Adnan Jaffar, Aamir Qureshi and Nusrat Hidayatullah.
Syra shares that the only thing in common between the two films is the progressive nature of the roles she is essaying. “They are completely different in their genre so I’ve been living a different character for 45 days and then coming home and completely snapping out of it.”
While she has always talked about her inclination towards directing, she discloses she has already written the rough draft of a story. “It’s a love story and what inspired me to write it was that my father was in aviation so all my life I’ve just seen him fly in and out.” Syra hopes that directing a film will be the next step of the career ladder that she continues to climb.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Tall claims: ‘After Meera, Pakistan produced no film heroine’

There’s no such thing as bad publicity, they always say. Not long ago, model Rachel Khan shot to fame after news of cricketer Umar Akmal allegedly ‘harassing’ her came to the fore. Now that the furore has died down, Rachel is set to make her film debut and step into the mainstream.
Talking to The Express Tribune, the model-turned-actor said Pakistan did not produce any film heroines after Meera. “I am confident that I will one day achieve what she has achieved,” Rachel said.
Filming for Kabeer is already complete and the movie is currently in post-production. An RN Films production, the movie stars Ali Khan, Shamil Khan and other newcomers. Singer Asrar has sung two songs for its soundtrack that has majorly been prepared in India. “It is every model’s dream to become a film star,” she said. Rachel revealed that work on the film was under way for a year and most of the shooting has been carried out in the picturesque north of the country. “I had an offer from India as well but I chose Kabeer because it has a wonderful script.”
Rachel said there is a shortage of new actors in the industry. “In the past, there were directors known for introducing new heroines in the industry. Unfortunately, that is no more the case,” she said.
The actor was of the view that politics and art should be kept separate and that Indian films should be allowed in Pakistani cinemas. “We do love our country but we should not forget the ground realities of our industry.”

Mahira Khan talks about her new venture Verna

The man credited for the revival of Pakistani cinema is all set for a comeback, with yet another potential blockbuster Verna, written and directed by Shoaib Mansoor himself under his banner SHOMAN Productions.

The veteran writer, producer,  director and the recipient of Pride of Performance has helmed blockbusters like Khuda Ke Liye and Bol, both critically acclaimed and commercially successful movies that not only brought back the long lost culture of film viewing in Pakistan but put the Pakistani film industry on the global entertainment radar. His latest flick will feature Mahira Khan in the lead role.
Talking to The Express Tribune about her journey from being launched as a film star five years ago to becoming the face of Pakistani cinema, Mahira said, “Well, I think the whole journey now would be very very different. My part in Bol was small and also my first ever acting experience. I was nervous but I was carefree, enjoying my time on set with the kids who played my brother and sisters. When Shoaib Sb called me after five years this time and told me the story, I knew I’d be challenged as an actor.”
When asked if this film will feature socially taboo topics just like other Shoaib Mansoor films, the superstar shared saying, “His films always do revolve around a certain social issue/taboo, yes this film does the same.”
Commenting on Shoman bringing about what no other director can, Mahira said, “In Bol he wanted me to just be myself, I don’t think I’ll have it that easy this time! I hope he can manage to bring out the best in me and I am ready to give it all I’ve got. InshaAllah.”
Shoaib Mansoor shared, “This film has been written and directed by a man of Pakistan for the men of the world to listen to women. It is to encourage women to speak up. Khuda ke liye bol verna…
Sultana Siddiqui, President HUM Network stated, “We at HUM are very happy to have signed up as distributors for Shoaib Mansoor’s filmVerna. Shoaib’s films are commercial but at the same time focus on topics that carry a strong message. We are hopeful that this film will be even more successful than his previous ones.”
 is expected to further raise the bar of film making in Pakistan.

The movie is slated to release on Eid-ul-Fitr 2017.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Yasir Nawaz spends 2 crores on a set for Mehrunisa I Lub You

Yasir Nawaz is gearing up for his next movie titled Mehrunisa I Lub You starring the gorgeous Sana Javed and handsome Danish Taimoor. This will mark Javed's debut on the big screen after having walked out on Rangreza due to family issues. The movie's shooting is expected to begin soon and with the date coming close, the director along with his producer wife Nida Yasir is busy getting a massive set constructed - it is said to be one of the largest sets ever created in Pakistan's history and will cost a whopping Rs2 Crores!

According to Express News, the director is making original sets on real locations where he has created an entire neighborhood of Burns Road too - one of Karachi’s busiest areas - to give the movie a unique touch. For a while the need to get sets made for movies had been brushed aside but with Nawaz about to begin his shooting soon it seems the director is quite keen on bringing the old tradition back. Apart from the set, even the buildings which have been constructed have been made by thermopile and wood to give it a realistic feel.
It is the first time in the history of Pakistani cinema that a producer is willing to spend so much on one set considering there are more which need to be constructed too.
Yasir Nawaz's first film, Wrong No, was a romantic comedy which earned the title of a fullpaisa wasool film as it gave tough competition to the much hyped film, Bin Roye, and was one of the most popular films in the history of Pakistani cinema in terms of box office numbers.
Mehrunisa I Lub You is a romantic comedy too but with a very strong message and besides Danish Taimoor and Sana Javed, it will also have Javed Sheikh in the lead. The story has been written by Yasir Nawaz himself along with Saqib Sameer who has collaborated with him on the screenplay; production is of course by YNH which is a production company owned by Yasir Nawaz, Nida Yasir and Hassan Zia who also produced Wrong No.
With producers willing to invest heavily in making movie sets, a thought which comes to our mind is that hopefully the same attention will also be given to the production value as well as the story line because at the end of the day no matter how lavish your sets or exotic your locations are, it is the story content which makes a movie a hit or a flop. 

Tum Hi Tou Ho to release in December 2016

Produced by film actor and director Sangeeta, Tum Hi Tou Ho was set to release on Eid this year alongside Sultan but was delayed due to some issues. The film marks her return as director following a hiatus, and stars Danish Taimoor, Mathira, Quratulain and Saim Ali. According to Sangeeta, Tum Hi Tou Ho is now set to release in December this year!

In an interview with HIP earlier, Taimoor revealed that he will essay the role of a guy who plays the love interest of a vamp (Mathira); he himself is in love with a librarian - a character played by Quratulain.

Shot entirely in Karachi, Lahore and Murree, the movie (which will be distributed by GEO) is expected to have six songs in its soundtrack. The story line has been written by Sooraj Baba who was also responsible for writing the Noor Bukhari directorial venture, Ishq Positive.

Sangeeta in the past has directed many successful feature films like Nikah but after releasing Tarap in 2006, which had Babrik Shah, Resham and Saud in the lead, the director decided to take a break. With the revival of cinema perhaps Sangeeta decided this was a good time for her to come back to what she loves doing most - directing movies.
Whether the movie manages to be a box office hit or not, only time will tell.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Distribution Club to release one Pakistani film every month

In wake of the self-imposed ban on Indian movies by film exhibitors, there is bound to be pressure on the local industry to multiply its output to stay in business. Amidst such crisis, IMGC Distribution Club has taken a step up.

The distribution company has announced it will release at least one Pakistani film every month. Starting with Abdullah: The Final Witnessreleasing on October 21, it will follow up with Sahir Lodhi’s debut film Raasta in November and Shahzad Rafique’s Salute on December 2.
Next year will see the release of Bhai Wanted, Two Plus Two, Price of Honour and Wajood.
According to reports, Abdullah: The Final Witness was initially banned in Pakistan but has now been okayed by the censor boards.
“Whether there is a ban on Indian films or not, we will continue to play our role for the growth of Pakistani cinema,” IMGC Global Chairperson Shaikh Amjad Rasheed told The Express Tribune.
Asked whether they are willing to give up-and-coming film-makers a chance to show their films as well, Rasheed said, “Absolutely. We are open to everyone who wants to showcase their films.”
However, he said IMGC will still release Indian films for which they have already signed the deal. “There is no official ban from the government and we have already made a deal so we will be screening films such as Ae Dil Hai Mushkil until there is an official word.”
The company has previously distributed some major Pakistani films such as Operation 021 and Karachi Se Lahore, along with Ishq Khudaand Blind Love. While it has also been the local distributor of many Bollywood films such as Sultan, with the situation at hand, it is looking to make the best of what we have.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Theatres to bring back best of Pakistani cinema

With a gap left by the ongoing ban on Bollywood films, local exhibitors have come up with an alternative to maintain footfall. As all we have left now is Hollywood and our local cinema to keep the cash flowing, cinema owners are in full preparation to bring back the best of Pakistani films to our screens.
Cinepax Cinemas took to Facebook page to make the announcement that it will be screening films like Moor, Manto, Mah-e-Mir and Bin Roye. “The schedule is not confirmed yet but it will obviously be after Ashura. We will announce it soon,” Cinepax Cinemas Assistant Marketing Manager Abid Ali Zaidi told The Express Tribune. Other films planned for reruns include Shah, Dukhtar, Bachaana and Zinda Bhaag.
Super Cinemas also has similar plans. “We are currently planning to do so but as of now, the three Eid releases are doing really well and we don’t want to affect their business. We will wait another week or so before we do it,” said Super Cinemas General Manager Khorem Gultasab. “We are already in talks with the producers of our popular films,” he added.
On the other hand, Atrium Cinemas Managing Director Nadeem Mandviwalla said he has no plans to rerun films currently as Janaan,Actor In Law and Zindagi Kitni Haseen Hay are doing well but he might consider doing so in the near future.
With Zinda Bhaag back in theatres, producer Mazhar Zaidi has a bittersweet response. “I’m happy to see that my film has been brought back to cinemas. It’s an encouraging step as people used to say they watched it at random screenings but not in cinemas,” he said. “However, at the same time, it’s a sad situation that we’ve ended up relying on reruns. This is obviously not a long-term solution since we depend heavily on Bollywood films for our revenue.”
It is interesting to note that four of the films being brought back – Moor,Zinda Bhaag, Mah-e-Mir and Dukhtar – have been Pakistan’s submissions for Academy Awards in recent years. Negotiations to rerun our first Oscar submission, Jago Hua Savera, are also under way.
The reruns come in the wake of exhibitors collectively deciding to ban Bollywood films in solidarity with Pakistani actors and the army, after the Indian Motion Picture Producers Association (IMPPA) decided to temporarily ban Pakistani artists from working in the neighbouring country.
In another interesting development, IMPPA member Rahul Aggarwal resigned over the ban. “With utmost respect and humility, I would like to resign from the executive body of IMPPA, following the ban on Pakistani artists in the Indian film industry,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “I strongly feel that art is above politics and as the custodians of this art, it is our responsibility to bring people together, rather than divide them.”
As local cinemas prepare to survive the turbulent months, it will be interesting to see how they affect the box office.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

'Best' Pakistani films to play across cinemas till Bollywood remains banned

With the entertainment industry relying heavily on Indian content for a steady flow of income it was a foregone conclusion that the industry would be affected by the Bollywood ban.
However, Pakistan’s largest network of cinemas, Cinepax, has decided to feature only Pakistani content in October, as per a statement on theirFacebook page.
“Cinepax believes art transcends boundaries and that Pakistani artists should not be held hostage to political events. To support our artists and the defenders of the nation. we are only exhibiting the best of Pakistani content,” part of the statement read.
Cinepax will be celebrating Pakistani Cinema in partnership with the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) to promote local cinema whereby they will be featuring the best of Pakistani films in cinemas till Bollywood is banned.
The post ends on a peaceful note condemning the uncalled for ban on Pakistani artists due to political tensions between the two countries.
The movement will be held in the month of October throughout which the cinema owners will play all the hit content including Bol, Jawani Phir Nahin Ani, Bin Roye and other best Pakistani movies.
Earlier, Indian Motion Picture Producers Association (IMPPA) banned all Pakistani artists from working in film projects in India following the Uri attack.
Consequently, the Pakistani cinema Nueplex posted on social media its decision to ban Indian films with Cinepax following suit after film exhibitors took a mutual decision to ban Indian movies.
“I have not heard anything confirmed as yet, but if exhibitors do ban Indian films, then of course we will go ahead with it,” said Cinepax General Manager Marketing Mohsin Yaseen told The Express Tribune.
All other cinema houses are planning to follow the idea in days to come.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Post-ban: Cinemas fail to take notice of ‘Maalik’

Despite being given a green light by Lahore High Court,Maalik has failed to ride along the controversy at the box office. The political thriller has been given just one show each in Lahore’s Super Cinemas at Hussain Chowk and Fortress Stadium.
It has been facing stiff competition from local Eid releases such as Actor in Law, Janaan and Zindagi Kitni Haseen Hay, as well as international films such as Baar Baar Dekho and the upcoming Raaz Reboot.
“It is true that Maalik is not being screened in some of the biggest cities of Punjab, such as Sialkot, Faisalabad and Gujranwala. In Lahore, it has been given only two shows. What can I do when cinema-owners are unwilling to pay more attention to my film?” Azeem told The Express Tribune. “I do humbly request them to increase the number of shows being given to Maalik. In the meantime, I am glad that my work is getting a very positive response, in spite of the limited number of shows,” he added.
According to Azeem, Maalik has also been doing well in Sindh. The soaring popularity is surely a breath of fresh air for the film-maker, who had been struggling against the government to have the film released in the first place. Maalik previously opened back in April but was banned soon after.
However the ban on the film was revoked ahead of Eid, a time when a slew of big-budget local and international films were already headed to the cinemas. “The reason for Maalik not getting ample screen time is that we already have super hit Pakistani films playing at the cinemas,” explained Super Cinemas Public Relations Officer Waryam Iqbal. “Local competition has cut the number of Maalik screenings. Right now, nearly 80% of film-goers are coming to watch films other than Maalik.”
A film distributor seeking anonymity echoed Iqbal’s sentiments by highlighting the entire life cycle of Maalik. “When the film was released back in April, it was generating maximum footfall and the reason behind that was a lack of other good Pakistani content. Naturally, any film will have to face competition if more films are releasing around the same time,” he explained.
Even the Katrina Kaif and Sidharth Malhotra-starrer Baar Baar Dekhois now experiencing a tough time due to the negative responses it has received from the audience. “Viewers are intelligent. When they have a choice, they will always opt for the quality films and naturally, cinema-owners will give shows to only those that will generate good business,” he said.