Monday, 8 April 2013

Powerful voices and an item song – watch out for Ishq Khuda soundtrack!

Director Shehzad Rafique, whose latest project Ishq Khuda is still in production, feels grateful. “If any success comes out of this film, it’s because my team worked very hard – but if it fails, the blame will solely be mine to take,” he says in a fatherly tone.
The soundtrack of his upcoming film is making waves and the album includes the well-known and powerful voices of Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Shazia Manzoor and Sanam Marvi.
For his last project, Mohabbatein Sachiyyan, Rafique went all out and signed up some of India’s leading vocalists such as Sonu Nigam, Shreya Goshal, Sunidhi Chauhan and Richa Sharma. And now, for Ishq Khuda, Rafique has taken one of Lollywood’s oldest and renowned music directors, Wajahat Attray, on board.
“All the soundtracks I have directed over the years have included a tint of classical music,” Attray tells The Express Tribune. “I feel classical music is something which we just cannot ignore.” He admits that Rafique has gone the extra mile to make sure the audience gets to hear something fresh and new as far as the film’s music is concerned. “The option was there to return to India and produce the soundtrack,” he says, referring to the format ofMohabbatein Sachiyyan. “But we made a conscious decision to bring together a modern yet classical blend here.”
“Rafique puts a huge emphasis on his music, which has meant that no matter what type of film he is making the audience is receiving something fresh,” adds Attray.
The film maintains a classic Lollywood aesthetic and sound with high production value.  The shots are set in scenic mountainous locations, with Ahsan Khan seen in intimate scenes with co-stars Wiam Dhamani, Meera and Saima.
Most noticeable is the collaborative effort of Rahat and Manzoor for this film. For Manzoor,Ishq Khuda is her comeback into playback singing as it is her first soundtrack since she left the industry 12 years ago. The pairing is a dream combination for the composer, who gets to experiment with different somber and light moods. Incidentally, Manzoor’s return means a revisiting of the beginnings for Attray, who happened to be the first person to introduce her to film after she had made her big break on television.
“I met Shazia when she was starting out with a television show. I heard her voice and thought to myself, ‘here is someone that would definitely make an impact,’” says Attray. “The same year, I introduced her to film.” He also feels that her return is another sign that heralds better days for the local film industry.
Ishq Khuda’s soundtrack is definitely worth a listen, with tracks like Booaey Khol Bawan Deyand Do Nain Ghazali Marr Gaey standing out. The songs are aided by the capabilities of the two singers and showcase an innate competitiveness between them as they look to build on each other’s voices and reach for something memorable.
“People have asked why we have used only three artists, and my response to them is that these are songs that only Shazia and Rahat could have made worthwhile,” says Attray. “This is why we decided to use recording artists from here — talent here is the best in the world.”
Marvi’s only song on the album, Sauf  Supari Wala Paan, is something that fans should look out for. It is an item song, which stars Saima and features Shaan as well. “After a long time, we have an item song.  The way Sanam Marvi has handled it, the song will be a hit with the audiences,” says Attray.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Are things looking up for Lollywood?

At the music launch of Ishq Khuda, film-makers talk about the industry’s comeback.
It’s about time film-makers got serious about Pakistani films. The Chairman of Pakistan Producers’ Association, Syed Noor, has been hounded by the question of how to revive Pakistani cinema for years. He is fixated on the idea that the influx of Indian cinema in Pakistan has been the biggest hindrance in the revival of Lollywood.
At the music launch of upcoming film Ishq Khuda, Noor, one of the best directors of Lollywood, embraced a different tone with regards to the country’s film industry. “I have said some harsh things about Amjad Rasheed [chairman of IMGC Global Entertainment],” Noor said. “I have said that he, as distributor, has done nothing but harm to the film industry in Pakistan.” Due to lack of space and support given to Pakistani cinema, veteran directors and advocates of Lollywood have been at odds with distributors and exhibitors. But at the launch, Noor shed light on the two major factors revolving around the film. “A distributor [IMGC] is supporting the film and the manager of PAF cinema [Nadir Minhas] announced that they will play one Pakistani film every week,” he said. “To hear about these developments is definitely a positive sign.”
Directed by Shehzad Rafique, the romantic Sufi-centric film Ishq Khuda stars Ahsan Khan, Meera, Wiam Dhamani, Kinza Malik, and has special appearances by Shaan and Saima. Rafique has always been business savvy to make sure his films receive maximum attention. His previous film, Mohabbtaan Sachiyaan, went to the South Asian film festival and the Muscat International Film Festival.
His new film intrinsically seems to be a Lollywood product, but is said to include better production value. It is produced by Shafquat Chaudhry, Arshad Mehmood and Shehzad Rafique. Saleem Zubairi and Pervaiz Kaleem have written the film.
At the launch, Shaan said a change was taking place within the industry. “We have to look at standing up on our feet first rather than depending on the government for finances,” said the actor. “Instead of begging for money, we must ask the government to make policies that encourage our film industry.”
Shaan added that there are several corporate funded projects in the pipeline, which would benefit and help revive Lollywood. He elaborated by saying that he would be participating in the remake of Aaina, which is being supported by the brand Tarang.
“It’s a form of corporate social responsibility, the way some multi-national companies and private corporations are getting involved with the film industry,” he continued.
Veteran television actor Rashed Mehmood, who has a supporting role in the film, agreed that Lollywood had a negative approach to competitive film-making.
“I think there has been a tendency of the old lot to get intimidated by some of the changes that have taken place,” said Mehmood. “We never really wanted to compete; we just wanted to ban Indian films to help our cause. But we are now looking at a way to compete.” He also said that the film proved there is still a role for existing talent in the new cinema that is being created in Pakistan.
Ishq Khuda will be distributed nationwide and has been supported by several multi-national brands — something which would have been unfathomable a couple of years ago. The film will be released on Eidul Fitr.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Sahiba: ‘I have missed the big screen’

After a near decade-long career in the film industry, Lollywood actor Sahiba Afzal, daughter of 70s film actor Nisho went on a hiatus for 12 years. Though she explains that her exit from showbiz had a lot to do with the poor quality and output of the industry, the real reason, it seems, is her marriage to long-time co-star Jan Rambo.
“My husband doesn’t allow me to do films anymore,” Sahiba says frankly. “I don’t blame him — which husband would want his wife performing on screen with other men?”
In an almost robotic, emotionless tone, she continues, “Don’t all women just want a man who will take care of them?” implying that the trade-off works in her favour as she is settled and has a family. “This is the quality of a Pakistani woman, isn’t it?”
She further justifies what she prefers to call “her decision” to quit, by saying that most stars have left the industry, and that it no longer makes sense to join.
She also says that, after obtaining permission from her husband, she will be starring in the lead role of an upcoming movie Saya-e-Zuljilal. Permission was granted only after actor-director Shaan approached her husband for his approval.
“Acting is still my passion; and it will always remain my passion,” says Sahiba, clearly excited about her upcoming project. “I have missed the big screen.”
Sahiba stepped into the film industry in 1992 and was able to make a prolific career as an actor by performing lead roles in several major films like Hero, Mamla Garbar Hai and Ishq Rehna Sada. “There were only a few platforms where you could learn acting,” she says. “When I started out, there weren’t any schools where one could hone their acting skills,” says Sahiba.
She feels that television has made things easier as people are constantly around acting, and people who support it. “There are so many channels that people are watching,” she says. “From an early age, children are learning awareness [in acting]. But on a broader level there are formal trainings given for people who want to join the media.”
Not disappearing from the limelight completely , Sahiba and her husband are seen on television hosting a morning show titled Rambo Sahiba Aur Aap. Her film career has been put on the back burner, and she now focuses predominately on her husband and their two children.
“We had a love marriage,” says Sahiba. “After that, I decided to do little work so we could spend more time together. And I am comfortable doing this much.” She says, however, that she can never leave the film industry. “Showbiz is my family profession,” she says. “The big screen is always something that I have cherished.”
Surrounded by actors at home, Sahiba says it’s a way to improve her acting skills and to receive honest criticism of her performance.
“The public will always appreciate entertainment,” says Sahiba, who feels that she is given honest feedback at home. “I feel that when you criticise each other’s performances at home, you can overcome the weak points,” she adds.
Having found success in their breakfast morning show, Sahiba says the team for Rambo Sahiba Aur Aap plans lighter subjects for the audience. The experience has been fulfilling for her and she feels like the show is entertaining without getting into any controversies.
“We have been pretty successful because of the support we have received,” she says. “I think the new thing was the way we have got audiences involved. By ‘you’, we mean we want to include you as a strong part of the show, the public interaction and involvement is very nice.”