Saturday, 28 December 2013

Yasir Jaswal offers first glimpse into his 'Jalaibee'

Jalaibee is the first Pakistani film to be directed with an ARRI Alexa HD camera. PHOTO: JALAIBEE FACEBOOK PAGE
KARACHI: The trailer for Pakistani film Jalaibee was released on Wednesday by its director Yasir M Jaswal
The film is being produced under the label of REDRUM Films in association with Jaswal Films and Sermad Films.
Jalaibee mostly features a cast of film-debutants including the likes of the versatile actorAdnan Jafar, Asal Din Khan, Ali Safina, Danish TaimoorUzair Jaswal, and VJ cum modelWiqar Ali KhanZhalay Sarhadi is the only one in the crew to have had past silver screen experience, from her role in Ramchand Pakistani.
The film’s promoters claimed that Jalaibee is the “first of its kind feature film,” being the first Pakistani film to be shot on the ARRI Alexa HD camera. The same camera was used to shoot recent blockbusters such as Gravity, Skyfall, and Ironman 3.
The film promises through its trailer a stylised eye-pleasing visuals, powerful sound design, engaging dialogue and contemporary music.
The 56 second trailer looks extremely promising as it demonstrates the integration between animation and live-action. The trailer also reveals the first ever usage of an American muscle car in a Pakistani film. The shot that starts off right on the horse emblem of the iconic Ford Mustang, promising some fast paced action sequences in the film.
Jalaibee’s soundtrack features about 10 tracks from artists such as Qayyas, Uzair Jaswal and Humaira Arshad, according to the film’s official Facebook page.
Jaswal’s film is about the stories of numerous characters and how they come together.
2013 was an iconic year for Pakistani cinema with productions like Zinda Bhaag getting a nod for Pakistan’s first movie to get the nod for the Oscars. Bilal Lashari’s record breaking film Waar. There were other notable movies like the the critically acclaimed Chambaili, Lamhaa (Seedlings), Josh and the commercial Main Hoon Shahid Afridi and Waar.
However, the trailer for Jalaibee promises that there is something more for Pakistani cinema-goers to look for in the summer of 2014.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Pakistani film 'Zinda Bhaag' out of Oscar race

Zinda Bhaag was the first Pakistani nomination for the Oscars in five-decades. PHOTO: FILE
LOS ANGELES: Zinda Bhaag’, the first Pakistani movie to be nominated for an Oscar, was left out of the best foreign language Oscar short list, but nine other movies made the cut, organisers announced on Friday.
Works by Palestinian, Danish and Hong Kong filmmakers were shortlisted for the best foreign language Oscar.
Along with Pakistan’s first entry in five decades, Saudi Arabia’s first ever candidate and an Oscar-winning Iranian director also failed to make the cut.
Films by Belgian, Bosnian, Cambodian, German, Hungarian and Italian directors are also on the shortlist.
The films were whittled down from a long list of 76 movies announced in October by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which organizes Hollywood’s biggest annual awards fest.
They will be reduced to five nominees next month, before nominations in all Oscar categories are announced on January 16. The 86th Academy Awards will be held on March 2.
The nine shortlisted foreign language films are:
- “The Broken Circle Breakdown,” Belgium, director Felix van Groeningen.
- “An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker,” Bosnia and Herzegovina, director Danis Tanovic.
- “The Missing Picture,” Cambodia, director Rithy Panh.
- “The Hunt,” Denmark, director Thomas Vinterberg.
-  “Two Lives,” Germany, director Georg Maas.
-  “The Grandmaster,” Hong Kong, director Wong Kar-wai.
-  “The Notebook,” Hungary, director Janos Szasz.
-  “The Great Beauty,” Italy, director Paolo Sorrentino.
- “Omar,” Palestine, director Hany Abu-Assad.
For Pakistan, “Zinda Bhaag” (“Flee Alive”) was the first Oscar entry for over 50 years. It is a comedy-thriller about three young men trying to escape the drudgery of their everyday lives through unconventional means.
The Saudi long-list candidate, “Wadjda” by Haifaa al-Mansour, is an avowedly feminist movie about a young girl’s quest to own a bicycle in the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom where women are deprived of many rights, among them driving.
Directed by Saudi Arabia’s first female filmmaker and shot entirely in the Gulf state, the film won best Arabic feature award at the Dubai Film Festival last year and picked up an award in Cannes in March.

Introducing the muscle man

Shehraz’s fitness regime in preparation for his role has him working out thrice a day. PHOTO: FILE
Actor Shehraz is a man of few words. He is not your typical leading man, with conventional good looks. Instead, he is rugged and buff because of intense workouts.The System, a Lahore-based action thriller that released its teaser trailer last week, is bound to add to the growing hype surrounding the actor.
“I have always been interested in staying in shape, but for this film, I felt I had to transform myself,” says Shehraz. The trailer introduced the actor, who is making his debut.
Getting the perfect body has resulted in a rigorous diet and health regimen for Shehraz, who plays the lead role in the film, which is being directed by veteran Lollywood producer Ghafoor Butt’s son (and) Shehraz’s brother Shehzad Ghafoor. The film was first announced in the summer and began production in fall.
The trailer introduces Shehraz, a talented actor who, according to legendary actor Nadeem, along with other seniors connected to the film, grows in stature with every scene. Transforming his body meant developing a custom workout schedule, which began six months before the film’s shooting, and had Shehraz doing up to three workouts a day.
“My diet is very strict and I didn’t eat salts the last three months, so I would get quick and good results for my role.”
Set in Lahore, the film will explore how different forms of corruption at the local level permeate into everyday lives of middle-class families. The production team, which prides itself on being part of the revivalist cinema movement, looks to bring productions different from traditional Lahore-based ones that have been made in the past.
The film has been made with an approximate budget of Rs5 million and is shot with RED 2 cameras. Two songs have been shot in Norway and the film includes actors such as Shafqat Cheema, Nadeem Baig and Nayyer Ijaz. Three new female actors will be making their debut in the film.
This is not Shehraz’s first attempt at acting; he was previously seen in the film Khamosh Raho, which was produced by his father. The movie, unfortunately, was a cinematic failure — now known as the debut of Juggun Kazim in Lollywood. The film was directed by veteran director Altaf Hussain and featured Shehraz as the second lead behind Shaan.
“It was a learning process for me, which was important as I learnt a lot of things from that movie. I feel now, that as a newcomer, the role was maybe a wrong choice,” says Shehraz.
The experience has pushed him to work hard on his own acting skills and become more selective about the roles he chooses. “In the end, it gave me motivation to work much harder. I waited for a script that was different and suited my personality better,” says Shehraz.
“I am not really allowed to discuss my role, but it’s not a stereotypical or traditional role of a hero. The character is multi-dimensional and has to adapt to various situations in the film, which has made the character challenging to play.”
The film has finished its first cut and will be undergoing its final phase of production, including colour-grading, in India. The film’s associate director Awais Ahmed says the teaser trailer attempts to project a new feel when it comes to cinema from Lahore.
“We wanted to show that films can be made that are not dependent on one hero, so we have gone with new faces in the lead roles. Now, the question is whether the public will like it or not,” says Ahmed.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Waar hits the bullseye

  • Shaan Shahid in a still from pakistrani movie waar
Bullseye: That is what I thought of Waar hitting the target as the credits rolled out at the end of my first viewing of a Pakistani film in Dubai. The hype surroundingWaar, starring Pakistani actor Shaan Shahid, had been building up a considerable extent long before the film premiered in Dubai last Thursday. Its record performance in Pakistan, surpassing even Shah Rukh Khan’s Chennai Express, had everyone flocking to the cinemas to see what had turned the tide. And so the legend of Waar was spun.
A packed house on a weeknight in the film’s opening week may not be the only barometer for how well it’s doing; what matters is the story, the satisfaction of seeing something worthwhile in those few hours assigned for the magic of living celluloid dreams in a darkened theatre, the emotions generated and of course the response of the audience while exiting. As for that, there were some very interesting comments to be heard. “Great job for a Pakistani film, good effort!” etc...
There was also the odd “too much violence, and bad language” comment drifting over the excited chatter of the moviegoers as they walked out but considering the subject being portrayed and the fact that violence and sex sell almost as much as a good plot, one could excuse the faint disapproval, which did come from two senior couples, to be honest.
So does Waar mark a turning point in Pakistani cinema, which has been struggling for survival, more so after the advent of cineplexes and the lure of the sirens from across the border? While Bol and Khuda Kay Liye (two movies I did have the pleasure of seeing at home, the latter also starring Shahid) may appeal more for their content and appeal to the intellect and for their ability to evoke awareness and empathy for issues that society has more or less swept under the carpet and failed to address, Waar strikes a different chord.
The turning point is that it comes in a very slick cinematic package raising the benchmark for subsequent films for Pakistan cinema. Yet, it’s not all gloss for it succeeds in delivering a core message that resonates among Pakistanis by visualising their suffering at the hands of terrorism — a fact that is now part of daily life and has affected a wide spectrum of society, whether civilians or security officials at the forefront.
Anti-state activities
While the Indian External Intelligence Research and Analysis Wing’s (RAW) role in hatching sinister plots, instigating terrorist acts and brainwashing children in madrassahs by funding the Taliban may sound far-fetched to even some sections of the Pakistani audience, it is not something that is incomprehensible. A patriotic movie in Pakistan about a terrorism plot is hardly going to show Martians or even the North Koreans sneaking in from across the very penetrable Line of Control to carry out their dark mission or funding anti-state activities. Naturally it had to be the Indians as is the case for myriad Indian films showing the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and Pakistani militant groups allegedly supported by the ISI carrying out their nefarious activities in India. Waar does not need to defend itself on that account. But it would have fared better to pace the plot to uncovering the terrorist attack for the climax as the police academy attack was dealt with.
Shahid’s role as a retired counter-terrorism specialist coming to grips with the loss of his family at the hands of the arch villain Rumal, played by Shamoon Abbasi, is convincing in the portrayal of the pain he goes through while reliving the incident. As an action hero he checks all the right boxes. The chemistry between him and Javeria (Ayesha Khan) could have been tapped into, surely lending a frisson of excitement to an otherwise all-action thriller. But keeping in mind his mission to foil Rumal’s plan to wreak havoc in the country and seek revenge for his family’s deaths, the budding romance was probably deliberately kept in check.
As for the other protagonists, one was left yearning to learn more of visionary politician Aijaz Khan’s (Ali Azmat of Junoon fame) relations with Laxmi, the RAW embed played by Meesha Shafi, the siren songstress who enthralled audiences with her rendition of Jugni and Dashte Tanhai in Coke Studio. She does play it raw with her earthy whispers and delight at witnessing the carnage orchestrated at her behest in the Police Academy, a bullet-pumping whiplash who can also tango with the devil (Rumal), a cold, ruthless player who has no qualms in disposing of her ex-lover Aijaz Khan and his pregnant wife.
Comic relief
Ali Azmat deserves more than a mention, playing the leader-with-a-vision convincingly, however his lack of remorse for cheating on his wife falls short in endearing him to the audience.
The Taliban are there, the good and the bad, and of course it is the bad who prevail over the good. But temporarily. The ruthless Mullah Siraj with his long locks and kohl-ed eyes inadvertently offers comic relief with his punchline “Ao Kana” (“Oh yeah!”) before aiming his gun at the counter-terrorist forces and his mockery of his father’s death. But he also chills. The ease with which terrorist acts are carried out and how the naked power struggle among the militants impacts the security situation is well-depicted, to say the least. The police academy attack in Lahore is a chilling reminder of the tenacity, capability and lethality of the terrorists. The only jarring factor was the women suicide bombers in the attack. Not that women have not factored in suicide attacks in Pakistan, but two things stood out that could have been avoided.
First, since when do two women, after having been handed their very thin muslin suicide vests and congratulated for their imminent ascension to heaven, calmly walk into the packed dining room of the all-male Police Academy and stand around with beatific expressions before blowing themselves up without being checked or questioned about what they are doing there in the first place? Second, the police trainees are sitting eating while a massacre is going on outside with gunfire loud enough to wake the dead from their eternal slumber!
But then this is, after all, a movie and one can excuse an oddity or two since even in the best of Hollywood thrillers the most unnatural happenings are shrugged at.
What could have been avoided and which has struck me, as a Pakistani, as odd is that the whole movie is in English with some scattered dialogues in Urdu. Why could it not have been predominantly in Urdu, even if it was aimed at an English audience — subtitles would have filled the gaps. The accents as well could have been done away with, why the highly Americanised English accents, the awful Pushto-accented Urdu by Mullah Siraj’s father, Siraj’s lack of a Pushto accent? But then the redemption came with Siraj’s “Ao Kana!”, my favourite line in the movie.
So how does Waar fare? Despite the shortfalls Waar deserves a big hand. A more balanced narrative would fine-tune the gaps, maybe a debate between the protagonists looking inward at Pakistan’s role and responsibility in allowing things to degenerate to this extent would have raised the film higher. But this is something hopefully future films will incorporate. Waar clearly stands out and sets a precedent for Pakistani films lending hope that one could expect some good films coming this way.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

UAE expats react to Pakistani action thriller 'Waar'

UAE expats talk to 7DAYS' Sarwat Nasir about controversial Pakistani film ‘Waar’
UAE expats talk to 7DAYS' Sarwat Nasir about controversial Pakistani film ‘Waar’

The highest-grossing film in Pakistan's history landed in UAE cinemas over the weekend and has had a mixed reaction from movie fans in the Emirates.

Since the release of ‘Waar’, the film has attracted both money and controversy. It premiered
in Pakistan on October 16 and has earned an estimated
$2 million to date at the Pakistani box office.
Directed by Bilal Lashari, the action-packed
film - which is mostly shot in English - illustrates Pakistan’s rocky relationship with neighbouring India and depicts the message that external aid is being provided to terrorist activities across nuclear-armed Pakistan.
One of the scenes from the movie shows Indian villains partnering with extremists to carry out attacks across Pakistan, but then Pakistani security forces save the day.
Pakistani business analyst Zaid Ahmed, 23, who lives in Dubai, said: “The movie is a bit biased against India. But I’m proud of Pakistan for reviving its film industry. I really enjoyed the movie.
But Indian Dubai resident Viraj Mehta, 24, said: “Movies like this will not be understood by south­eastern Asians in the UAE because Pakistanis and Indians grow up here together in a friendly manner.”
Indian filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma praised the film and confessed on Twitter that he watched the movie on a pirated DVD, as the film has not yet been released in India. He also tweeted: “Direc­tor Bilal Lashari should do a fav­our and send copies of 'Waar' to all us Indian filmmakers.”
Dubai resident Khadija Syed, from Pakistan, said: “It is the best movie Pakistan has ever shot, but movies like this create difficulties in maintaining peace between the countries. Bollywood has also made controversial films about India and Pakistan, but I don’t think it helps to resolve anything.”
The official facebook page of ‘Waar’, which means “strike”, has more than 200,000 likes and says the film is inspired by true events. Pakistani Dubai resident Farhan Chaudhry commented on the page: “Thanks Bilal Lashari for showing the reality behind some of the terrorist attacks in Pakistan and that the govern­ment is still reluctant to take the issue to UN.”
Dubai-based Pakistani expat Farhat Us Saba said the relationship between India and Pakistan is saddening.
“The governments are to blame. If you look at the Indians and Pakistanis living abroad, they are friendly with each other.
“I’m happy that the Pakistani film industry is improving, but I also hope the relations between these two countries improve too.”
‘Waar’ is screening now in UAE cinemas.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Pakistani film Waar looks at recent history from a different perspective

When it comes to films about contemporary events, Pakistan is not an unfamiliar name to audiences.

“In all the movies you watch – be it Iron Man or Thor or whatever else – there is always a mention of ­Pakistan,” says the Pakistani singer and actor Ali Azmat. “That mention is always in a negative capacity and that irritates me. I wanted to play a part in showing the world what our point of view is, as Pakistanis, and Waar has allowed me to do that.”
Azmat was speaking at a press conference preceding the Dubai International Film Festival screening of his latest film, Waar, on Thursday. The movie is currently playing in cinemas across the country.
The film, whose title can be translated as “strike” or “blow”, is ­Pakistan’s first English-language action thriller and looks at what is happening as the country is caught in the crossfire of an international war on terror.
“We live in confusing, interesting times. When Pakistan is depicted in a negative light, it’s not any one single country that does that, but it’s the war industry as a whole,” explains Azmat. “This is my chance to step up and show the audience why these games are being played.
“We need to have our narrative out in the world and show everyone that we are not just terrorists. We need to show them that we are a normal as any one in New York and that we have fears and hopes like other people do. We are hoping to get our narrative out to combat the established mindset about Pakistan.”
Breaking records
Azmat plays a politician in the film and shares the screen with the actors Shaan Shahid and Shamoon Abbasi, as well as newer talent including Meesah Shafi, Hamza Ali Abbasi and Ayesha Khan.
The film – directed by Bilal Lashari (who also acts in the film) and produced by Hassan Waqas Rana – received tremendous public support and financial success in its home country since its release on the first day of Eid Al Adha.
It broke the box office record for first-day collections, previously held by the recent Bollywood film Chennai Express. Today, with a total box office of almost Dh7 million, it is the highest-grossing Pakistani film of all time. Despite the commercial success, film critics in Pakistan have taken Waar to task by applauding its technical finesse but criticising its narrative.
“Waar is primarily a work of entertainment,” says the director Lashari. “You can choose to agree with the narrative or you can choose to disagree. The former will walk out happy and the latter will not. I never said this film will change your life. It’s not even intending to.”

Cinematic revival
The general reception of the film by Pakistanis in the UAE has so far been positive.
“The story is of absolute relevance, portraying the geopolitical situation Pakistan is currently facing, with Hollywood-style action sequences using real army gunships, which has never been done before, making Waar a must-watch for all action lovers,” says the Pakistani diplomatic consultant Mobisher Rabbani, a UAE resident.
“Pakistan is seeing a revival of its cinema, where young producers and directors who have learnt all the tricks of the trade abroad are returning to Pakistan to make movies.
“Ever-growing talent combined with the frustration that international media is not giving Pakistan its due [for its] sacrifices – in fact, is portraying it in a negative light – is bringing out such vocal movies and that is a good thing.”

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Poora Chand aims to transform art films in Pakistan

The film’s boasts an ensemble cast comprising Fahad Mustafa, Iman Ali, Manzar Sehbai and Sanam Saeed. PHOTO: PUBLICITY
The year 2013 has been an eventful one for the Pakistani film industry — it underwent a complete metamorphosis and outgrew the phase of Punjabi-centric cinema. With upcoming projects constantly being revealed, one cannot help but be excited about what the new year has in store for local cinema.
A recent announcement reveals that two veterans of the Pakistani entertainment industry — Khurram Rana and Badar Ikram — have come together to make an art film, titled Poora Chand.
Being produced under the banner of MiRaqsam Media, Poora Chand’s shooting is reported to conclude by January 2014 and concurrently start its round of post-production. The film’s cast boasts big names from the entertainment industry. TV actors Fahad Mustafa and Sanam Saeed will be making their film debuts, alongside model and actor Iman Ali, who has previously worked in Shoaib Mansoor’s films Khuda Kay Liye and Bol. Mustafa and Ali will be seen playing double roles in the film.
Defying the current trend of commercial cinema, the makers of Poora Chand have roped in famous playwright Sarmad Sehbai as script writer for the venture. “We have always looked up to Sarmad Sahib,” says Rana. For producers Ikram and Rana, the current state of cinema culture is one that is conducive for those seeking to experiment with film genres, hence their decision to make an art film. “The debate on commercial film versus art film does not really matter. Everything depends on the audience’s response — they either like a film or they don’t,” says Rana, former chairman of the United Producers Association.
A year ago, Rana along with Ikram, who was previously a senior executive with a major television channel, forayed into the cinema from the television industry. “I pushed Badar, saying that we should come up with an idea which is new and big. It was about time we formed our own production company, which catered to the kind of work we are interested in,” he explains. The film, which includes five songs, is currently being shot in Karachi wherePoora Chand’s team has constructed large studio sets in order to streamline the shooting process.
The film is directed by two-time Lux Style Award winner, Anjum Shehzad, known for making stellar television dramas before this. The film, which Sarmad wrote five years ago, draws inspiration from an 18th century poet but is set in the contemporary world. Sarmad’s brother, Manzar Sehbai, who was last seen in Bol, plays the antagonist in the film.
Ikram says that contemporary film audiences demand more complex themes and stories. “The film assumes that the audience is smarter than what is assumed in the industry generally. This film is brought forward with the belief that the audience will be able to digest its complex theme,” says Ikram. “Despite being an offbeat film, everyone participated in the project with the spirit of creating something very unique. As for the audience, they should be expecting a brave film.”
Although Pakistani cinema industry has been flourishing in recent years, Rana feels its identity is yet to be defined. He adds that there is still a massive divide between quality production teams and local talent, and that is the reason why he thought it was important to make something which can be considered a truly original Pakistani effort. “Any actor, designer or producer who is involved with cinema is looking at this as a long-term business investment. Right now it’s too early what genre or style will constitute Pakistan’s narrative.”
Seconding Rana’s statement, Ikram says, “The decision to produce a film like this was long overdue. I can’t say that India or Iran cannot make a film like Poora Chand, given that there are some extremely intelligent people in their respective film industries. But this is a film, we believe, that they will not [be able to] make, because it’s not their style, per se.”
Currently, the makers of the film are in talks with local distributors. Meanwhile, they are also deliberating to launch an official website and Facebook page for the film.

Bilal Lashari's next project: A multi-million dollar remake of Maula Jatt

The director speaks exclusively with The Express Tribune about what he has in the works.
He came, he saw and he conquered. Bilal Lashari’s journey as a film maker has begun on as high note a note as it possibly could. While it’s clear that no one else can come close, one wonders whether even he will be able to top himself and fulfil the expectations associated with his next project. Now, Pakistan’s leading director is all set to surprise us again, not with box office returns but with the project that he has gotten his hands on.  Lashari earlier put the arms and ammunition of Pakistan army to stylistic use, and will now be giving a new identity to Gandasa films with a multi-million dollar remake of Maula Jatt. Lashari unveils his next venture in an exclusive interview with The Express Tribune
“This will be my take on Gandasa films which are blamed for the death of Lollywood” says Bilal Lashari. “I think the Gandasa genre was a missed opportunity for Pakistani cinema, and what better choice to utilise it then by paying homage to the cult classicMaula Jatt.”
This rebooted version of Maula Jatt has been in its pre production phase for the last seven months, and Lashari was waiting for the Waar hype to quiet down for the right moment to disclose his new film. The film is a co-production with an American production house, the name of which he is not disclosing just yet, and will have a budget in the millions of dollars, according to the director. From a war epic to a new brand of Gandasa films; Lashari is taking some huge steps and even huger risks. Traditional Gandasa films have been looked down upon by modern viewers due to a lack of content, but Lashari is not only aiming to stay true to the spirit of the originals, but he is also determined to make it palatable for contemporary audiences.
“The entire world has been exporting their own styles and versions of cinema outside their territory, but we have been silent,” Lashari says, concerned. “Hollywood sent us the old westerns or the cowboy films, the Japanese gave us Samurais. We have also had Ninjas, but I now feel it’s our time to tell the world what our Gandasa films are capable of,” Lashari stays determinedly.
His concerns are genuine, and the fact is that in the past few years many have spoken about revamping Maula Jatt but no one has actually successfully done so, making Lashari’s venture all the more interesting. Four different production teams have approached The Express Tribune in the past two years for potential coverage regarding their versions of Maula Jatt, and none have shown any progress or delivered a finished product thus far. Lashari has acquired the rights to the original cult classic starring Sultan Rahi, and one can’t help but be intrigued as to what his vision of the film is.
“My version of Maula Jatt will be a visual epic, with less dialogue and many captivating moments. It will be a dark but stylised take on Pakistan’s original film genre.”
While we can tell you that the new Maula Jatt will stay true to the original by being a Punjabi language film, the name of the script writer has not been disclosed as yet. The casting process has just begun and Lashari is looking for younger and fresher faces from Pakistan and is keeping his options open in terms of getting Bollywood stars on board. The shooting locations for the film have not been finalised and neither has the cast.
On the other hand, Mindworks Media and Ary Films have announced the making of Waar 2which surprisingly, will not be directed Bilal Lashari. This time around, Dr Hasan Waqas Rana will be calling the shots. This certainly doesn’t reduce Lashari’s love for his passion project, which became the highest grossing film in Pakistan. Apart from the fact that it made Lashari the most acclaimed film maker in the country, the film also raised the bar in terms of production value in Pakistani films. There are numerous reasons why Lashari is neither in favour of a sequel being made nor will be onboard as director.
Waar was something extraordinary for Pakistani cinema and it should just be left alone,” he chuckles.  “Personally Waar 2 would mean staying in my safe zone, and like any concerned artist I would rather challenge myself with every new project. If I took the helm for Waar 2, it would be more like taking one step ahead and five steps backwards.”
Ever since Waar was released, the rumour mill has been churning our news that Lashari had a major fall out with Rana, the producer/writer of the film who will now be directing Waar 2. Some said that the reason was based on the producer/director distribution of revenues, while others believed it was due to the criticism that the film was receiving on its script.
“The rumours are completely false, and I share a good relationship with the producer of the film, or I would not be in Dubai busy promoting Waar. Yes, the director-producer relationship is one where you have differences, but they certainly do not outweigh the good times,” Lashari says.
Partly excited and partly nervous, Lashari had to take a deep breath before giving a final message for his fans out there regarding the expectations from his next film.
Maula Jatt will be much bigger and better than Waar, and my fans should keep expectations as high as possible, because that’ll motivate me to meet them.”

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Shaan’s Waar against critics: Pakistan has a right to patriotic films

Shaan feels that Waar accurately depicts issues that plague contemporary Pakistan. PHOTO: FILE
After facing constant criticism for his film Waar, actor Shaan Shahid has finally spoken up. In an interview with the Gulf News, the actor cleared the air about the film, saying that Pakistan, like India, has a right to patriotic films.
Snubbing critics who termed Waar as an anti-India venture, he said, “I don’t think it’s an India-bashing film. It is based on the issues that people [in Pakistan] are facing right now.” Shaan is currently in the United Arab Emirates for the international premiere of his action thriller.
Shaan plays a retired military official in Waar, directed by Bilal Lashari. He has been called to foil a terror bid strategised by a Taliban outfit funded by India. Waar is, by far, the biggest budgeted film in Pakistan. It has also become the highest-grossing film of the country, beating the 1998 box office smash hit, Choorian.
“Every person has a right to be patriotic about his country,” says Shaan, defending the subject matter of the film. “With all due respect, as far as India is concerned, they have been making films bashing Pakistan left, right and centre anytime they want to. As an actor, I feel it is okay, because they are being patriotic Indians. For once, when a Pakistani wants to be patriotic, the whole world has a problem with it.”
Shaan’s cinematic career boasts a total of 475 films, but Waar has taken his fame to another level. “If a film is made in Pakistan, we are going to give our views and we are going to say what we think is right,” he said emphatically. The actor clarifies that the ‘waar’ (strike, in Urdu) that the film is not against India, but those that cause conflict within Pakistan. “That is one problem we are facing right now. It is a proxy war and there has to be some hand behind it, and we can nominate anybody [as responsible for it].”
With the upfront criticism hurled Waar’s way, Shaan is still hopeful that the film will get a theatrical release in India. “India should play a bigger brother and support our cause of cinema,” he said.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

“Waar 2” and “Delta Echo Foxtrot” set to release in joint venture

KARACHI: In another of the headline grabbing motion picture associations to hit the domestic cinema market in under a month, media giant ARY Films has entered into a joint venture agreement with Mind Works Media to produce “hi-octane” Pakistani movies.
The joint venture, which was held at ARY’s Medina City Mall offices, launched “Delta Echo Foxtrot”, an actioner of “courage, sacrifice, passion and patriotism” set to release in 2014, and “Waar 2” the sequel of the immensely successful “Waar”.
“Waar 2” will be helmed by “Waar’s” producer and writer Hasan Rana, and is set to be shot in Pakistan, U.K., Russian, Turkey and Yugoslavia with “national and international superstars”.
At the occasion Mr. Salman Iqbal, President and Founder, ARY Digital Network said “After the super success of Waar and the sound relationship that we have developed with Mind Works Media, it is natural for both companies to bring their expertise together for even bigger and better movies. The fans of Pakistani cinema have proved that if we make a good film, they will watch and appreciate it”.
Commenting on the occasion Dr. Hasan Rana said that “We want all projects to be game changers and we want to push ourselves to the very edge of what is possible. We hope that we can come up to the expectations which the people of Pakistan have with us”.
This is the third association ARY Films has cemented in the last year, making it one of the biggest and the most versatile Pakistani cinema game changers in the last decade. The company’s other associations includes a collaboration with Mandviwalla Entertainment focusing on tent-pole commercial feature films, an indie unit “The Platform”, and the recent partnership with Riaz Shahid Films to produce a slate of four motion pictures, including an official sequel to Mahesh Bhatt’s “Arth”.
ARY Films (including “The Platform”) has so far released Josh – Against the Grain,Main Hoon Shahid Afridi, Lamha, Zinda Bhaag and Waar.

Stars of Pak blockbuster 'Waar' coming to Dubai to meet fans

 The star cast of ‘Waar’, Pakistan’s biggest blockbuster and highest ever grossing film will be coming to Dubai to meet their fans in the UAE.

The actors will greet their fans on Thursday 12 at Dubai's Global Village. A local FM radio station, Suno 102.4 FM,  will be hosting the event on stage from 8:30pm.

Fans from Pakistan can interact with the cast of the film around the same time. 

The film, which has seen great success in Pakistan, received a lot of attention from critics overseas for its special effects, cinematography, and sound design as well as the story line.

‘Waar’- which means ‘to strike’ in English - is currently the highest grossing film of all time in Pakistan and the first film from the country that is planning an international release.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Gidh: Shamoon Abbasi’s take on metaphorical vultures

Following the commercial success of Waar, the budget of Gidh has been revised and increased. PHOTO: FILE
Before shooting for Waar began, or Hamyun Saeed had started work on Mein Hoon Shahid Afridi and Hamza Ali Abbasi was simply a theatre-talent trying to make it as an independent film director, Shamoon Abbasi had started working on Gidh; his latest film which is set to begin shooting in February.  
Shamoon Abbasi has never been one to take a back seat, or take a break. Any time he completes a project, he is already looking forward and thinking about how he can make an impact. One main aspect of his multi-dimensional career has been his desire to direct.
“I have never wanted to just be a stagnant actor, directing has always been my plan. I’ve always felt it was my responsibility to stand-up, produce and deliver,” says Abbasi. The actor has come a long way since he first entered the industry. While the success of Waar may have made him a famous face, he has always made sure to have control over the types of projects he works on.
“When I started out I had to struggle. I didn’t have money or projects, I was trying to survive. That is what my journey has mainly been about,” says Abbasi.
His directorial debut is something that he wants to undertake on a large scale. Gidh (which mean vultures in Urdu) is an attempt at making a commercial Pakistani film that maintains the sub-continent aesthetic of glamour, music and scale. The film will be produced by Six Sigma productions, which also produced Mein Hoon Shahid Afridi.
“The idea is to make a commercial film, not necessarily in the monetary sense but visually. We have a lot of action films which have touched upon issues of war and fundamentalism. The idea with Gidh is to tackle a serious subject and replace that desire to produce Bollywood-style films,” says Abbasi. “This will be totally Pakistani, and have a commercial look with its glamorised feel.”
Gidh has been described as a film about a well-known celebrity, who struggles with society at-large, through the media, police and public. The theme will explore how one man is tested by the challenges aiming to drag him down.
“I can’t really discuss the plot in detail, but it’s about vultures in our society, and how a superstar is brought down by people whose intents are dangerous,” says Abbasi.
Following the success of Waar, Gidh has expanded its budget and will look to begin production by February. “I think it’s a good thing that the release has been pushed because it has allowed us to get an idea of what this new market is like, and gauge the reaction of the people,” says Abbasi.
Shamoon has assembled an outstanding cast for the project, including Mumbai-based actor Sara Loren, Humayun Saeed, Hamza Ali Abbasi, himself, and two new female actors Sadia Khan and Kiran Tanveer. While the film had originally been slated for an earlier release, it was delayed as Abbasi and Humayun Saeed got caught up with other projects. Shamoon had also interestingly tabbed Hamza Ali Abbasi to write the film before he became famous, by complete chance.
The film will have an array of songs by different directors such as Kamran Akhtar, who is known for his work with Mahesh Bhatt in Bollywood. The film will be shot in Islamabad and Lahore, with songs being shot in various scenic locations all over Pakistan. The background score will be done by Amir Munawar and Hasil Qureshi, who also have Waar in their repertoire.
Gidh will not have a lengthy production process; the plan is to release the film by August 2014, meaning that the film will be complete, from beginning to end, in eight months. Abbasi said he felt it was important that film productions did not lag because of the hindered output of the overall industry.