Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Award-winning film Lamha set to release in Pakistan on September 20

The story of 'Lamha' revolves around a happy couple whose lives are changed forever after a devastating accident leaves them reeling for stability. Sheikh and Mirza, the lead actors, have have been heaped with generous accolades for the way they have depicted their painful journey. PHOTO: PUBLICITY
KARACHI: The multiple award-winning feature film Lamha (or Seedlings) will be released by The Platform at the Atrium Cinemas in Karachi on September 20, according to a press release.
The much-awaited film, which stars Aamina Sheikh, Mohib Mirza and Gohar Rasheed, won the ’Best Feature Film’ (People’s choice) awards and ‘Best Lead Actress’ awards for Aamina Sheikh both at its World Premiere in The New York City International Film Festival 2012 and the annual South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit’s film festival.
It also bagged the ‘Best Feature Film’ award at the DC South Asian Festival in Washington in May 2013.
Producer Meher Jaffri said, “We are so thrilled that we are able to finally show the film at home for the people it was made for. Due credit goes to the stellar cast and crew of our film and kudos to initiatives such as The Platform, leading the charge on the distribution and exhibition front, a segment of the industry that was previously under-developed.”
The story of Lamha revolves around a happy couple whose lives are changed forever after a devastating accident leaves them reeling for stability. Sheikh and Mirza, the lead actors, have have been heaped with generous accolades for the way they have depicted their painful journey.
While commenting on the film’s official release, Sheikh said, “The project getting international recognition and now the much-awaited release in Pakistan is surely a reflection of such unwavering commitment and dedication of all those who ‘literally lived every moment of Lamha.‘”
Lead actor Mohib Mirza remarked that it was “heartening to finally know the much-awaited release date” and that its release was “a major step towards the revival of Pakistani cinema.”

Sunday, 25 August 2013

At last… a 'Boom Boom' Pakistani Film!

It is always easy to pray for a revival of Pakistani films than actually do something for the revival. A lot of directors, actors, film producers and distributors have come in and gone by claiming that the revival is round the corner, but nothing of the sort happened because usually their movies tackled issues that were too hot for their frail minds, too big for them to grasp and too difficult for the viewers to understand. Some films like Chambaili did manage to do well because it was well made and was believably good, but the rest failed to impress. Thankfully, Humayun Saeed's Main Hoon Shahid Afridi manages to give you back your money's worth because it deals with a subject that is in every Pakistani's heart - cricket!

Instead of giving blazing guns (and sometimes firing axes even in the madcap tradition of Lollywood!), Main Hoon Shahid Afridi has blazing bats blasting runs; instead of unlimited ammunition, there is emotion that takes you along as the movie progresses; and instead of a careless script and mediocre acting that we expect from Pakistani movies, there is a well-crafted story, thought-out dialogues and loads of cricket action. The movie is easily the most expensive Pakistani film ever made and that shows on the celluloid where the craftsmanship of every individual - from the recently departed editor Azam Khan to the director Syed Ali Raza - is visible in every frame. I have continuously said that had this movie been released on Eid, it would have derailed Chennai Express on the very first day, because in front of the real Khan (Shahid Afridi), others always pale in comparison!

Why Main Hoon Shahid Afridi succeeds where others fail…

It doesn't look like a Pakistani film because it hasn't been made by people associated with Lollywood. It is time we should move away from Lahore where the gujjars have dominated the scene and polluted the minds of the audience. The film looks fresh because most of the actors are TV artists, newcomers or veterans who are no more part of the film scene. This is the first feature film by director Syed Ali Raza as well, and it seems that first-timers like him (Ismail Jilani of Chambaili, Bilal Lashari of Waar, Meena Gaur and Farjad Nabi of Zinda Bhaag) are more likely to herald the new era than those buddhay baabay (old fogeys)  who criticize the showing of Turkish plays on TV and screening of Bollywood flicks in cinema but don't seem to watch their own movies that are more pathetic than Tom and Jerry cartoons.

Let's play ball … Afridi style!

In the land of sports good - Sialkot - a talented cricketer Shahid Bhatti (Noman Habib) dreams to emulate his idol Shahid Afridi on the field. One thing leads to another and in no time, he and his friend are preparing for an Under-19 cricket tournament, they have to save their club from becoming a tabela, he has to help his family and above all, prove his mettle to the community that once a Shahid, always a Shahid! A tainted former cricketer Akbar Deen (Humayun Saeed) coaches the bunch of misfits for the clash of the titans and this is their story.

Writer Vasay Chaudhary is the off-the-field star!

He may not be in the movie but Vasay Chaudhary is the real star of MHSA. The comedian-turned-script writer must be commended for bringing in freshness in the script. 'Udhar Deewar-e-Cheen mashoor hai, aur yahan Deewar-e-Teen!' 'Baray Mizaaj Hain', 'Puncture Hogaya' and 'Piyo Mera Hai Aur Ghairat Tujhe Aarahi Hai' are some of the one-liners one would have expected in a Bollywood flick, not in a film from this side of the Wagah. Furthermore, he must be credited for coming up with the names of the characters - Deewar-e-Teen, Michael Magnet, Kaleem Gum Sum and Kaali Aandhi.

Humayun Saeed leads, the rest follows!

He had been part of the hopeless Inteha 14 years ago, and the hapless No Paisa No Problem (as Shah Rukh Khan's lookalike, a few years later) but Humayun Saeed the film actor has come a long way by learning from his mistakes. Yes, some might say he donned a track suit like King Khan did in Chak De India but you can't coach a side in kurta shalwar, can you? One of the many celebrities at the premiere suggested that Humayun's beard reminded her of SRK and I wanted to inform that lady that most of the scenes from King Khan's flick were blatantly plagiarized from Kurt Russell's Miracle which was based on a true story! 

When Humayun Saeed delivered the speech, it was not in the dressing room or the dugout but at the mazaar of Quaid-e-Azam (a first for any Pakistani film), when he fought to save a member of his team, the punches and the kicks were not synced out (another first) and above all, when he was in the dugout, he looked every inch a coach, unlike Pakistan cricket team's head coach Dav Whatmore who 'high-fives' his team mates like a kid on beating teams like the West Indies!
Veteran actor Javed Shaikh as the antagonist is amazing as always because he makes you hate him every time he comes on screen. Nadeem sahib is his usual great self as Akbar Din's father, whereas the rest of the cast - especially Noman Habib (who plays the title role), Gohar Rasheed (Kashif), Asim Mehmood (Sheikh), Ainy Jaffri (Aleena) and Mikaal (Shehzad Sheikh) - do well on their respective film debuts. Ismail Tara keeps the audience laughing as always while Shafqat Cheema's Bhatti sahib has shades of both good and bad, and he makes his presence felt whenever he gets the chance.

There are friendly appearances by Aijazz Aslam, Ayesha Omer (as a wannabe Marilyn Monroe), Faisal Qureshi (he is everywhere, isn't he?), Saleem Mairaj (as Azhar Majeed) as well as many TV journalists but the most memorable character award goes to Hamza Ali Abbasi, who plays Moulvi Majeed. His portrayal of a fanatic Pathan was outstanding and the audience loved him for being natural. You may forget everything about the movie, but on exiting the theatre, you will not forget him and his lines!

There were a few standout 'Zara Hatt Kay' scenes!

'Cricket khelna hai, milaad thori parhna hai'. That's one of the lines by Sheikh to Moulvi who refuses to shake hands with the team's Christian wicket-keeper, terming him a kaafir. When the foreign coach of the opposition asks Humayun's character 'Where is your Allah?' a drop of water (followed by rain) answers it all. One must commend the director Syed Ali Raza for not copying Chak De India or Lagaan and the countless films one expected the movie to be 'inspired' from. The central idea resembled the one from Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story but that's not a bad choice. What's 'bad' is the wrap up after the final which seemed haphazard and the director's failure to overlook the fact that the 'deed' presented in 1998, was incidentally dated 2013 (Ooops!).
Forgettable songs, unforgettable dance!

When you can't dance, you shouldn't dance … that should have been the policy. In order to promote our very own Mahnoor Baloch as Pakistan's answer to Katrina Kaif (ours is far better actress!), she was made to dance on ‘Teri Hi Kami’. The problem is: While Katrina is beautiful and can dance, she can't act. Ms. Baloch is ravishing beauty and can act, but sorry to say, the dance of the cheerleaders in the movie seemed better than her rehearsed item song (shots plagiarized from the Race song 'Touch Me Touch Me' didn't help either!). Host and model Mathira seemed more in tune than Mahnoor Baloch but then again, she also can't act like Katrina. As for the rest of the songs, you will forget them when you exit the theatre. A better music director than Kami-Shani would surely have helped!

You can't lose it with cricket!

A decade back, Aamir Khan's Lagaan told the world that cricket is not just a game but also a dependable subject for a feature film, Main Hoon Shahid Afridi does exactly that in Pakistan and with success because to play with emotions, to keep people guessing, to play to win is something only the national cricket team of Pakistan is able to do. Now it's Humayun Saeed and his team's turn to play ball and win it for the Shaheens! And yes, a friendly appearance by Shahid Afridi himself will surely go a long way in promoting the movie, and in reviving the ailing Pakistan film industry. It's Boom Boom, all the way from here!

Saturday, 24 August 2013

The ‘Shaan’ Factor

As Pakistan gears up to release its crop of eclectic films in the coming months, Shaan seems to be the actor of choice for most film-makers.
KARACHI:  The year 2013 is threatening to be a big one for local cinema. For the first time in a long time, there is a new wave of film-makers who are not looking to make typical Lollywood films. We have trailers to prove that they exist — it’s not an ambiguous discussion anymore. This is a healthy sign. There are some heavy-duty films coming out and there’s a genuine effort to tell different stories. But what happens when one man is telling all the stories?
A case in point: Shaan Shahid
Don’t get me wrong. Shaan is a credible and intelligent actor. His choice of roles, over the years, may suggest otherwise, but the man is Pakistan’s biggest film star. His contribution to cinema — even in the form of wild gujjar films — is not small. He’s still here.
Shaan was the poster boy for the so-called ‘revival of cinema’ in 2007 when Shoaib Mansoor’sKhuda Kay Liye released. The film was a mammoth hit and Shaan put up a solid performance but it was a one-off. And there have been some fabulous looking films that Shaan has done since then including Zilay Shah and the recent Ishq Khuda. Yes, I’m smirking. No, I haven’t seen them. I have reluctantly watched the trailers and they paint a strange and horrifying picture.
Shoaib Mansoor’s second feature film, Bol, created a star out of Humaima Malick while Mahira Khan and Atif Aslam grabbed the youth’s attention. A bold effort by Mansoor had Pakistan feeling uncomfortable, talking about things we usually shove under the carpet, quietly. It made us think.
Now fast-forward to 2013 and you’re in for a surprise. Some prolific films are coming out in the upcoming weeks. One of the most-anticipated films of the year is Bilal Lashari’s stylistic debut feature, Waar. Bilal Lashari has our attention partially because of some superlative videos behind him such as Overload’s magnificent Dhamaal and the most credible Atif Aslam video to date, Hungami Halaat. Casting Meesha Shafi and Ali Azmat was a masterstroke because they will pull in urban audiences right alongside Shaan and his ‘mass’ appeal.
So, we’ve got Ishq Khuda and Waar featuring Shaan. Then there is Zeba Bakhtiar and son Azan Sami Khan’s Operation 021, co-produced with Jamshed Mahmood’s Azad Films, that also stars Shaan as a CIA agent. Finally, there is Nasir Tehrany’s Naach, a film revolving around the performing arts, also featuring Shaan — whether it’s a supporting role remains to be seen.
So, we’ve got two films inspired by the war on terror (or so it seems from the trailers) in addition to Khuda Kay Liye (another war on terror theme) and all of them star Shaan. Shaan is multi-faceted so he’s also going to be directing a film — and not for the first time — and it will, in all probability, star Humaima Malick and you guessed it, Shaan. The film is supposedly called Mission Allahuakbar. Shaan has also announced a remake of the timeless Mahesh Bhatt film, Arth. Preliminary media reports suggest that he is indeed planning on casting himself.
Numbers don’t lie
Maybe Shaan fits the bill for ‘all’ of these roles but it doesn’t change the fact that it feels like we have no other actor who can act in movies. It isn’t hard to analyse why Shaan was cast. He can act and he’s very popular with the masses.
Shoaib Mansoor took a leap of faith by casting Fawad Afzal Khan in Khuda Kay Liye. It paid off because one can’t imagine Ali Zafar bringing that same level of intensity to the role. Farjad Nabi and Meenu Gaur cast Amna Ilyas and Khurram Patras and in doing so, they managed to set their film apart from every other film. Zinda Bhaag managed to bag four awards at the Mosaic MISAFF festival in Toronto, including Best Picture by beating out prolific films like Mira Nair’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist.
Shameless flirting, falling in love, dreaming of foreign shores, illegal immigration, the ties of friendship are just some of the themes running through Zinda Bhaag. Khurram and Amna, meanwhile, make an interesting onscreen pair. With Naseeruddin Shah in a supporting role and a special appearance by Manzar Sehbai, the film looks unique.
n recent years, the success of television dramas like Humsafar and Zindagi Gulzar Hai has transformed an actor like Fawad Khan into a national heart-throb. Even a newcomer might do the trick. However, if every film-maker continues to run with Shaan, the excitement of ‘revival’ may just fizzle out or maybe it’s just one woman’s opinion.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Movie Review: Main Hoon Shahid Afridi

For anyone vaguely interested in rolling along with Pakistani cinema’s new-blood revival would have given a smidgen of consideration to Main Hoon Shahid Afridi(MHSA), the ‘first’ Pakistani sports-flick dunked deep in family drama starring Humayun Saeed, Noman Habib, Javed Sheikh, Nadeem Baig, Ismail Tara, Shafqat Cheema – and about a gazillion cameos from anyone abstractedly linked to the industry.
Bearing in mind the bash of a premiere yesterday, think of the cameos as family-support for Mr. Saeedand Shahzad Nasib’s sure fire blockbuster; And, in case anyone forgets about either their or ARY Films’ – who distributes the movie along with Mandviwalla Entertainment – place in the industry, this is one extended family.
The love part from the industry is infectious, but it never seeps into the feature film; at least not directly. Mr. Saeed plays Akbar Deen, a pro-cricketer who’s the pride-and-joy of his familythat includes a mom, a pop (Mr. Baig), a wife (Mahnoor Baloch) and son. Akbar gets implicated with illegal drugs after he gets drunk by an orange juice drink and a (quite revealing) dance item by Mathira (the song is Masti Main Doobi by Neeti Wagh and Shani). It is – quite literally – a flash, which dumps Akbar in a jail cell and bats his career out of the cricket grounds.
Years later, Shahid (Noman Habib), an on-the-breadline prodigy youngster from Sialkot who works the cash register in a local restaurant, pushes the owner of his local cricket club (Ismail Tara, playing Malick Khalid) to try the team for a Pepsi-sponsored tournament. A few beats later, and rather vapidly, Akbar signs up as the team's coach.
Their rivals, silver spoons who reach the cricketing grounds by choppers, are employed by Mian Asif Qureishi (Mr. Sheikh senior), and includes Mikaal Qureishi (Shahzad Sheikh), Akbar’s son.
For those of us who are still biased to put MHSA along Chak De India, I have one thing to say: please don’t.
Mr. Saeed’s film written by Vasay Chaudhary, working from a scarred-underdog/least bet-team that wins the cup formula,devises enough deviations in its revved up pace to make the distinctions obvious. A few unresolved angles (the husband-wife split-up; the rich father-in-law vs. the cricketer son-in-law) do dig ruts within MHSA’s narrative. Nevertheless these are just minor botches that are easily swept under the rug by the speed of MHSA’s execution.
As performances go, I have a sincere advice for Mr. Saeed: stop acting for the small-screen.
Mr. Saeed, who mostly equips his acting arsenal with scowls and growls and a tear drop or two, kicks in some class nuances in unexpected nooks and crannies. And with 70% (maybe more) screen-time to his Akbar, Mr. Saeed becomes a central point of weight for MSHA.
Noman Habib, as the engaging rural Shahid Afridi, piles on the innocence, but more often than not his naiveté and unsophistication (acting wise) becomes rather apparent.Ms. Baloch is plastic, and like the most expensive kind is (unblinkingly) fixed in place. Ainy Jaffri, the big city girl with big,big eyes, who falls for Shahid is flimsy, because of the way she’s placed in the film – rather like Asym Mehmood, Ainan Arif and Gohar Rasheed, who are fairly good to average depending on the scale and cliché of their exposure.
Mr. Arif plays Michael Magnet, a Christian who makes way for some minor obligatory racial biasness.Like every conflict, the resolution is nippy if not shrewd (case in point: the estranged father-son dilemma between Mr. Baig and Mr. Saeed, which piles up, only to open a separate narrative track). Sometimes – for example, the climax and the cricket matches – the hastiness works against the anticipation.
Still, for a bulk of its entirety, MHSA swaps between characters one ends up rooting for: the roll-call includes Majeed Maulvi, the slightly racist, short-tempered Pathan played by Humza Ali Abbasi, Mr. Sheikh’s stereotypical villain Asif Qureishi and Mr. Cheema’s brilliantly played Bashir Bhatti, a worthless, gambling self-indulgent father to Shahid. The only other actor who stands up to Mr. Cheema’s vivid charisma and dexterity is Mr. Tara, whose presence even dominates Mr. Saeed in some scenes.
MHSA isn’t unblemished as far as technicality is concerned. A few issues with color grading (sometimes apparent within cuts in a continuous location), camera/resolution/sharpness issues in cricket matches (and no, we aren’t fooled into thinking we’re seeing a televised broadcast) pop up and fade away, oft times by the sheer aesthetic diligence of putting on the show. This aesthetic diligence includes three groovy songs by composers Shani & Kami – Jera Vee (Shafqat Amanat Ali, Shani),Angreja (Momin Durrani, Jabar Abbas) and Masti Mai Doobi; Malaal, the fourth song sung by Rahat Fateh Ali, is an adequate space filler.
Syed Ali Raza (aka Usama), coming from a television background, is proficient in setting up cinema-quality frames with a dastardly penchant to throw the BG out of focus in close-ups. He is also quite practiced in executing film-level performances from a bulk of his cast (of course, the expanded gamut and resolution of the RED camera helps here).
The problem with the industry is that no one wants to appreciate a good mainstream family movie – especially from people within the film fraternity. I could hear murmurs about art and intelligence, as soon as I ventured outside the screening. For these self-made connoisseurs of the medium, I only point to the deafening applause the film collected two or three times.
A film that looks good, keeps you engaged, lets you unwind and then coerces (some if not all) to wild-cheering is a product well-made – and as the tickets will tell – well-sold.

Monday, 19 August 2013

With Operation 021, dynamic mother-son duo explores new horizons

Zeba Bakhtiar feels it’s time senior members from the industry start promoting new talent. PHOTO: PUBLICITY
It’s a relief to see Pakistani film-makers finally open up to genres other than dancing-around-the-tree love sagas and jatt-fighting-feudal lord action dramas.
Joining the team of innovative producers is the mother-son duo Zeba Bakhtiar and her 19-year-old son Azan Sami Khan. Last week, the teaser of their film Operation 021, which was previously titled The Extortionist, was released online. The film is being hyped as being Pakistan’s first spy-action thriller.
Young and enthusiastic, Azan Sami Khan, who hails from a family of prolific film-makers, is attempting to introduce ‘next generation’ film-making to Lollywood along with his mother. This movie, however, is not a result of him being ‘privileged’ but rather his aim to bring something new to the table. “We should call a spade a spade — it goes both ways. Anything I do will be compared with my parents’ work,” he says.
Khan and his mother set up One Motion Productions with the sole intent of pushing the envelope of traditional film-making and changing the prevailing attitude towards local cinema. The result is an international espionage thriller that has been referred to as a cross between Hollywood flicks such Syriana and Bourne Identity.
The story is partly based on real life events including the bombing of Nato tanks in Afghanistan a few years back. It will feature Shaan as the main protagonist playing a CIA agent alongside Shamoon Abbasi, Aaminah Sheikh and Ayub Khoso.
It is directed by Australian director Summer Nicks and it was produced in collaboration with music director Jamshed Mahmood Ansari aka Jami’s company Azad Film. The whole team though has remained tight-lipped about the release of the film which is expected to be sometime around the end of this year.
Working with a veteran like his mother has been quite an interesting adventure for Khan — a unique combination of the well-experienced and the relatively new. When they get down to business, there is little space for slacking and both work rigorously on a shared vision.
“My mother knows that when we enter the office, she is not my mother and I am not her son. We know each other and have a clear understanding of what we are trying do, and she believes it’s time the younger generation takes the industry forward,” says Khan.
Despite supporting the youth in taking the initiative, Khan says that one cannot simply write-off the contribution of older industry professionals. “I think we are fortunate to have people like Syed Noor in the industry but we tend to be pseudo-intellectual and write them off. Even for us it was the veteran technician who knew how to push through when everyone else was tired,” he emphasises.
Zeba Bakhtiar, a veteran actor herself, has come on board simply to support new talent in the industry. “We are looking at an exciting period — the whole technical side, thought-process, story-telling is changing. This is more about clearing the way for a new creative style that caters to a new generation,” says Bakhtiar.
Having learned a lot from being part of the local industry, Bakhtiar recalls her personal experience and feels that it’s high time that senior members start promoting new talent. “I remember trying to direct a film in the late ‘90s on a 35mm camera — the technology was not up to par. We were using equipment from the late ‘60s,” says Bakhtiar.
“We have to move beyond the idea that this is a glamorous profession. We need serious film-makers who are willing to support so that the new generation of film-makers can come to the fore,” she adds.
Through this film, the duo is trying to give way to a new genre that hasn’t been experimented with seriously. Bakhtiar asserts that not many films have been made in the past 20 odd years that one could say a certain formula works in the industry.
“There really is no way of judging what formula works. There have only been a few films of consequence that have been released — right now the scene is open,” says Bakhtiar.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

'Zinda Bhaag' receives an exceptional response in Toronto

TORONTO: Pakistani film Zinda Bhaag held it's world premiere at Canada's largest South Asian Festival, Mosaic 2013 which is visited by around 70,000 people from all over Canada each year.

“We are so proud to have hosted the World Premiere of Zinda Bhaag, I have seen nothing as good as this film from all of South Asia in a very long time.”
said Arshad Khan, festival director.

“Such films come around only once in a lifetime.”
Zinda Bhaag was the first choice from amongst hundreds of entries to be the Opening Night film of the prestigious festival.
The show was sold out in a record time and played to a jam packed house at the grand Empire Cinema in Mississauga, Toronto.
“The reaction from the audience has been incredible”, said Mazhar Zaidi, the producer of the film.
“The entire hall was responding to each and every dialogue of the film. It’s an experience every filmmaker dreams of.”
Addressing the audience after the screening, Shireen Pasha, Pakistan’s renowned filmmaker said,

“I just want to tell everyone that we have taken part in the making of history, because the film we have just witnessed shall be given credit for changing the course of Pakistani cinema.”
The audience reactions seemed to echo this.
“I laughed, I cried, what can I say, the film completely blew me away”, said Maria, a student.
“Naseerudin Shah is great as a Punjabi speaking thug”, said Amir, an audience member, “The performances are so natural that after a while I forgot I was watching a film.”
“The music is out of this world, I loved Rahat Fateh’s Qawwali the most”, gushed Arun, who had come to watch the film with his entire family, “I’m going to get the whole album from iTunes.”
Speaking on a phone from Karachi, Zinda Bhaag’s director duo Meenu & Farjad said, “The overwhelming response of Canadian audiences has given us immense confidence. The World Premiere is dedicated to Team Zinda Bhaag who worked day and night for the success of this film.”

Zinda Bhaag revives 'Pani da Bulbula'

The approaching bilingual Pakistani film 'Zinda Bhaag' released its first music teaser today with a new age rendition of the first rap hit from Pakistan, 'Pani da Bulbula' or 'Bubble of Water'.
The classic song, originally sung by Yaqub Atif Bulbula, became a massive hit amongst youth in the 60s when it was used in TV dramas by producer Arif Waqar, who also went on to write its English version.

"I used to sing other people's songs and I used to copy them very well. Then one day a famous singer got offended that I had sung his song. After that I prayed that may Allah give me a special talent so that I have a unique style of singing which is my own."
"Since then, I have written and sung my own songs only. I have received so much recognition for my song that now I'm popularly known as 'Bulbula ji''. — Yaqub Atif

Revolving around the lives of three young men and their urge to cut through from their daily life struggles, Zinda Bhaag is expected to weave new records in the local box office.
The people behind this film are Farjad Nabi, Meenu Gaur and Mazhar Zaidi.
Q: Why did you decide to remake this song for the movie?
Meenu Gaur:

"The wisdom of the song that life is just a 'pani da bulbula' fits wonderfully with the story of our film. The lyrics draw out how this world is made up of people's desires, aspirations; consumerism is transient like a bubble of water."
Farjad Nabi:
"We chose this song because it is quintessentially Pakistani. Its references are all local and therefore it is unique. Listen to the lyrics, he's singing about 'Roti, kapra, makaan' which was the PPP slogan in the 70s. Then there is mention of the TV show 'Taakra' hosted by the late Dildar Pervez Bhatti. These are all symbols and references which only local listeners can enjoy".
Q: How do you think it's unique ?
Meenu Gaur:

"Have you heard anything like it before?
A lot of people call it the first Punjabi rap song but I don't think it's 'rap' really. It's got this element of nonsense rhyme but which, as a totality is full of wisdom about everyday living. It has a simplicity and sweetness that really appealed to me."

Farjad Nabi:
"We've been listening to Pani da Bulbula since childhood and it never leaves your mind. There's another special connection to it through our dear friend Arif Waqar. When Arif sahib was producer for PTV in the 70s it was him who gave Yaqub Atif his big break and the song was a runaway success on PTV. It was also featured in the classic serial Waris. Arif sahib is also credited with writing the English lyrics to this song."
Q: What made you choose Abrar ul Haq to sing this song?
Meenu Gaur:
"Well we needed somebody who could match Yaqoob Bulbula saheb's energy and therefore Sahir Ali Bagga suggested Abrar."
Farjad Nabi:

"He's got a folk sensibility to his music in which humour and wisdom go hand in hand."
Q: How is Pakistani music different from other film music?
Meenu Gaur:
"It's very rich and diverse. So in this one film we have a folk song by Arif Lohar, a qawwali by Rahet Fateh Ali Khan, a bhangra number by Sahir Ali Bagga, a melodious duet by Amanat and Iqra. We are also introducing Saleema Khwaja in a song. When you listen to her voice which we found right next door to us literally is when one realises how high the bar is in terms of music in Pakistan is."
Farjad Nabi:
"I guess the industry is so small therefore the artists are much less pressured. There seems to be more space somehow. We have a groundswell of untapped talent which is very raw. I think this puts Pakistani music in a unique place."

Friday, 16 August 2013

Box office report: Small victories for local cinema

The Eid weekend remained exciting for cinema-goers despite the uncertainty surrounding the release of some films and banning of others. Eventually, the hyped Main Hoon Shahid Afridi backed out of the race and Chennai Express made its way to local theatres. The final competition was between a Punjabi film, an independent local project and a Bollywood superstar sensation.
Local films like Ishq Khuda and Josh have fared moderately well. While audiences at the multiplexes had an obvious preference for the Shahrukh Khan blockbuster, single screen cinemas saw local films being appreciated.
Parveen Bilal’s independent film released over nine screens only and did not manage to compete well with other contenders despite having received international acclaim. Minhas said that the film had the potential to be as successful as Bol but due to a limited marketing budget and inability to provide 35 mm prints, they missed out on a major chunk of the market.
According to sources at Atrium Cinemas, halls playing Josh remained 80% to 90% full throughout the week. The film grossed Rs1.6 million so far. “We were successful in what we wanted to do with it. We did not want exhibitors to discourage such an independent film which is why we didn’t ask them for too many shows either. Exhibitors should be given credit for allowing Josh in their cinemas and this will set an example for other films that will be released through The Platform,” says Nadeem Mandviwalla, managing director of Mandviwalla Entertainment.
Ishq Khuda
The Punjabi Shaan and Meera-starrer was another blow in the face for Lollywood thanks to the poor quality of production and acting. The movie failed to deliver at multiplexes. Nadir Minhas, exhibitor of PAF Cinema, asserted that it was an utter tragedy that such a regional film was offered to cinemas. “It was very disturbing that the best that we had to offer wasIshq Khuda, and it failed miserably,” says Minhas.
However, the film has managed to succeed at single-screen cinemas among the masses. “We are very happy with the success of the film, it’s a lot better than I had imagined,” says Shehzad Rafique, director of the film. “We were never competing with Chennai Express. People have liked the film and they are going to the cinemas to watch it, that’s what matters,” he adds. According to box-office reports, Ishq Khuda has done business of Rs10.15 million in its first week. It is expected to gross a total of Rs20 million.
Pashto Films
The Eid weekend was far more promising for Pashto cinema than Lollywood. The films released included Arshad Khan’s Loafer, Muzafar Khan’s Shart and the first HD film Zama Arman. Also shown were Sheikh Akram’s Qurbaani and Joni Malik’s Bangi Lalai, a Punjabi movie dubbed in Pashto. Out of all the releases, Loafer was the most successful securing over Rs6 million in its first week even though it was screened at only one cinema in Peshawar. While everyone thought that Zama Arman would fare well considering it was the first HD Pashto film, it wasn’t so successful. “Producers of the film have invested their blood and tears to make this film happen. Huge amounts of money have been spent on its publicity but the outcome was not satisfactory,” says Khalid Khan, the manager of Shama Cinema. Akram’sQurbaani was declared a flop.
The total box office return of films released on Eid is Rs100 million.