Monday, 23 September 2013

Film-maker hopes to change Lollywood clichés with The System

One scene of the movie illustrates a meet-up of mafia leaders organised by a police official. PHOTO: PUBLICITY
With Bol, Khuda Kay Liye and the recent Josh, our audience has seen an array of films on the injustice, corruption and moral conundrums that prevail in our society. These storylines have struck a chord with movie buffs as well as ordinary people as we can all relate to these issues on some level. In a similar vein, Norway-based Shehzad Ghafoor hopes to bring action-thriller The System — a movie that portrays how corruption affects the common man. The film’s shooting commenced about a week ago.
“A lot of films have been made in Lahore, so we are hoping to give these spaces different treatment,” says director Ghafoor, explaining how a scene was shot on top of the famed Panorama parking plaza on Mall Road along with other locations in order to provide a different viewpoint of the city. The System will be Ghafoor’s debut in feature films.
The first scene of the movie illustrates the film’s lead actor Shiraz Ghafoor (director’s brother) on the roof of the plaza, conducting a meet-up with the city’s mafia bosses. The huddle has been arranged by a corrupt senior police official played by Shafqat Cheema. “This location is unexposed and from the top of the plaza, you are able to get some top-shots — you get a feeling that you’re sitting on top of Lahore,” Ghafoor explains.
The System is all about changing the norms and clichés of the film industry — it’s what Lollywood stalwarts say will change the stigma around the dying business. The film gained attention as veteran director-cinematographer Syed Faisal Bukhari signed on as director of photography. Two songs have already been filmed in Norway and the team hopes to bring on set the expertise of Bollywood technicians.
Apart from Shiraz and Cheema, the cast also includes Nadeem Baig, Kashaf Ali (female lead) and a relatively less known actor Raees Patan. The latter has been a part of around 15 films but with the slight resurgence in the film industry, he admits his work has doubled. “It’s a nice change,” says Patan, who has normally been associated with regional films. “I think it’s the first time we have had the chance to work with the best technology and different storylines and ideas.”
“The time is of digital films now — we are talking about making films which have global relevance,” says Cheema, who has also been a part of  films like Bol, Chambaili and Main Hoon Shahid Afridi amongst other upcoming projects. “The time for small films is over. It’s now time for new talent to be given space. I think people will like Shiraz as a hero.”
Speaking about his role in the film, Cheema says the film allows him to explore a different type of character — one that is both negative and positive at the same time. “One who can leave his own spirit and get into a character that has been thought out for him — that is the sign of a good artist,” he explains.  “I am playing the role of a Station House Officer [SHO] who has a strong hold on the whole system. And through this control, he changes the system.”
Like his previous performances, Cheema feels the audience will appreciate the kind of role he is playing in The System, too.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Movie Review: Zinda Bhaag

Zinda Bhaag 2013 – the year when Pakistani film making industry is waking up from a long slumber (sorry but I refuse to use words like revival and arrival with regards to cinema in Pakistan!!) and post the wreckage it has suffered from the disaster called “Lollywood”
The nation has already seen Chambeli, loved Main Hoon Shahid Afridi and rejected Josh – and now it’s Zinda Bhaag’s turn.
In a nutshell, Zinda Bhaag talks of the “Pakistani Dream” of an average Pakistani youth – the one where he is willing to take any route to migrate from Pakistan – be it to Doobai, Amereeka, Europe or Englaand!! – where all his life’s problems will get solved, because that’s where his Pot of Gold is waiting.
The story of Zinda Bhaag is based in the heart of a lower-middle class neighborhood in Lahore, where 3 friends Khaldi (Khurram Patras), Taambi (Zohib) and Chitta (Salman Ahmed Khan) are waiting to achieve their “Pakistani Dream” – while they are enjoying life to a fullest.
From all fun & frolic in the first half (where the characters & setting is building and the story is going nowhere), Zinda Bhaag takes turn for serious and dark in the second half. It is here as Mohsin Sayeed aptly put, “the film leave(s) the viewers with many questions about the state of the country and dangerous black hole of inertia, vision and lack of opportunities for our youth that makes up about 63% of our population.”
Must mention here that if you don’t know Punjabi you are not going to understand the witty and well delivered dialogues – because Zinda Bhaag is over 80% in Punjabi not Urdu (beware: no subtitles either).
Personally feel the story is so any-town-of-Pakistan that the makers could have easily made the movie in Urdu – but Mazhar Zaidi (the producer) said, “making it in Urdu would have not kept the movie authentic to its setting!” Win for authenticity over mass appeal …
Zinda Bhaag – Performances
Performance wise, all the 3 boys are simply brilliant, and not for a minute did one feel that it’s a debut film for them. Amna Ilyas, playing the romantic lead and a budding entrepreneur, is decent in her performance – just wished she looked half as good as she does on the ramp or shoots!!
Naseeruddin Shah is a powerhouse actor and is just flawless in a character of an area don, which has been written with him in mind!
Zinda Bhaag – Music
Zinda Bhaag also boasts one of the best film soundtracks to come out from Pakistan in the recent times and if the movie was marketed properly – this album would already have been a massive hit!
Wish the makers had taken the learning from our neighboring film industry (aka Bollywood) and used the music more for promotional purposes and as adding depth to the narrative. The songs in the movie (while enjoyable) just came across as unnecessary deviation from the plot.
Zinda Bhaag – Technical
Full credit to Meenu Gaur & Farjad Nabi – the director/writer duo – who have not just gotten solid performances from three newcomers, but also for making one of the most technically sound Pakistani movie this year.
The cinematography captures both the soul of inner city Lahore and the essence of past in flashback sequences perfectly and even in styling and sets of Zinda Bhaag catches the kitschy, loud and garish soul of Punjab.
On the editing front felt the story could have definitely done with a snip of a few songs, a shorter first half and a few less scenes of Naseeruddin Shah – however the clever cutting of some of the shots, along with tight pacing in places still makes Zinda Bhaag a well-edited movie on the whole.
Zinda Bhaag – the final word
Have been noticing some shock from people on social media on how serious the story of Zinda Bhaag is – which they were not expecting I guess …
Zinda Bhaag is not your mainstream masala entertainment – it is a film with a message. The final scene of the movie will leave you with some very serious questions about where our nation is headed – and rightly so!!
Go prepared with your thinking hats on and if you don’t know Punjabi, with someone who can translate the dialogues for you …

Zinda Bhaag gets a red carpet premiere

KARACHI: Zinda Bhaag, a comedy thriller with debut performances by non-actors and featuring one of India’s finest actors Naseeruddin Shah, premiered at the Ocean Tower mall on Wednesday evening.
The Pakistani Academy Selection Committee has selected it as the first Pakistani film in over 50 years to be submitted for Oscar consideration in the Foreign Language Film Award category at the 86th Academy Awards.
Mazhar Zaidi, the film’s producer, said: “We are releasing our film on Sept 20 all over the country including cities such as Gujranwala, Faisalabad and Multan. Later, we plan to also release the film in Sialkot and Sargodha among other cities."
“Prior to the film’s release we did test screening with 50 viewers and we received a fantastic response. Hence, our expectations are quite high and some people have even said that Zinda Bhaag may set a new trend in film making.
“We are lucky that we made the film at a time when Pakistani cinema is coming of age,” said award-winning documentary filmmaker Farjad Nabi, the co-director of the film.
When asked if at any point the film had to be stalled due to lack of finances, Mr Nabi said: “It is interesting that I am being asked this question because I learnt while making the film that sometimes your writing can be determined by funding and vice-versa. Ours was a low-budget movie and the only way we did cost-cutting was by having the actors rehearse the script thoroughly before we shot their scenes.”
About choosing non-actors for his debut movie, Mr Nabi said the choice was deliberate as he and his co-director Meenu Gaur wanted actors who the audience could relate to.
All the three non-actors Salman Ahmed Khan, Zohaib Asghar and Khurram Patras were quite thrilled to be part of the movie and especially the fact that they got to work and interact with Mr Shah.
“It was a surprise for us for we had no idea that he was a part of the film. We were just so happy to be selected for the movie. The acting workshop that he conducted was a wonderful experience as he taught us acting tips in an affectionate manner,” said the three excited young actors.
Mr Patras, a salesman, and Mr Asghar, a mobile accessories dealer, said that they intended to continue acting after Zinda Bhaag.
According to Gaur, casting the female lead for the film was a challenge. “For male leads we were able to get at least 100 boys for auditions but for girls we barely got three. Our casting team even went as far as Multan to find girls for the role. Luckily, we found Amna Ilyas who we auditioned over Skype. She was just the kind of spunky female we were looking for.”
Ms Ilyas, a well-known model, said that initially she was hesitant to sign the movie but when Mr Zaidi, the film producer, said that he was going to tell her a secret which she could tell no one and that secret was that Mr Shah was going to be a part of the film.
“That was a clincher for me and I immediately agreed to do the movie,” said Ms Ilyas, who looked striking in a funky Fahad Hussayn sari.
About her future movie plans she said that she had already acted in another movie Good Morning Karachi, formerly known as Rafina, directed by Sabiha Sumar and awaiting its release in early 2014.
The movie’s music that has also won Best Music award at the Mosaic International South Asian Film Festival in Mississauga, Canada, has been generating a lot of buzz.
“Sahir Ali Bagga [of Cocktail fame], the film’s music composer, has created music that is warm and real. Mohammed Hanif, journalist and author of ‘A case of exploding mangoes’, has written the lyrics of song Dekhaingay and journalist Hasan Mujtaba has penned a qawwali that has been sung by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan,” said Ms Gaur.
The filmmakers said plans were under way to release the film internationally. “Zinda Bhaag’s release plans for the US and UK markets are at an advanced stage. In fact, by October the film will be released in the UK,” said Mr Nabi. “We have already spoken to a couple of distributors in India, so hopefully we shall release the film in India as well,” said Mr Zaidi.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Lamha finally being shown in local cinemas

KARACHI: After two years of circulating in the international film festival circuit, Pakistani film Lamha finally arrived here having its red carpet premiere at the Atrium cinema on Tuesday evening.
Directed by Mansoor Mujahid and produced by Meher Jaffri and Summer Nicks, many celebrities from the television, theatre and fashion fraternities showed up at the premiere to give their support to the film and the revival of the Pakistani film industry.
Ms Jaffri, explaining the reasons for the delay in getting the film here, said: “It has taken us quite long to get the film here because earlier we had a limited number of digital screens. And with those screens our films were competing for space with Hollywood and Bollywood movies. Now, in just over a year’s time we have had several multiplexes opening all over the country, making it conducive for films like ours to be showcased.”
She said that for now Lamha would be screened in Atrium in Karachi and later there will be staggered releases in other cities such as Islamabad and Lahore.
Aamina Sheikh, the leading female protagonist and winner of the Best Lead Actress award at the New York City International Film Festival 2012 for Lamha, was excited and relieved that the film was finally being released. “It was high time that the film was shown to our audiences. It took a while but I am glad it is here,” she said. She credited The Platform, a collective initiative taken by Mandviwalla Entertainment and ARY Digital Network, for providing opportunities to films such as Lamha to be released locally. Nadim Mandviwalla of Mandviwalla Entertainment said: “We are trying to do whatever is necessary.”
According to the press release, the story of Lamha revolves around a couple, enacted by real life couple Aamina Sheikh and Mohib Mirza, whose lives are changed after a devastating accident. The accident causes them to reevaluate their relationship and their individual selves.
When asked whether the audience would accept the real-life couple on film screen as they had done on television, Mr Mirza replied: “They have already accepted us.” He also said that it was wonderful that within a month two Pakistani films had been released, the other one being Main Hoon Shahid Afridi, whose main lead actor, Humayun Saeed, also made an appearance at the red carpet.
Gohar Rasheed, the other main character in the film, was especially ecstatic since he had an interesting role in the earlier released film Main Hoon Shahid Afridi and that has received box office success and now his other film belonging to a completely different genre was being premiered. “Main Hoon Shahid Afridi will always hold a special place in my heart as it was my first movie and Lamha is special because it garnered me my first nomination at the New York City International Film Festival 2012.” As for the working experience in both the films, Mr Rasheed said that because everyone involved was very keen that the film industry took off, everyone was hence cooperative and went out of the way to help others.
For any good venture to maintain its momentum, it is necessary to sustain it and from the looks of it, it seems to be happening especially for the revitalisation of the Pakistani film industry. “Another film is in the pipeline which I am doing with Zeba Bakhtiar and her son Azan Sami Khan. And as you know tomorrow another film is being released. So things are picking up for the film industry,” said Mr Rasheed.

Zinda Bhaag: this deserves an Oscar nod

The movie beautifully captures the essence of Lahore, in ways that other productions have not. PHOTO: FILE
In one scene of the film, an illegal ‘immigration expert’ is surgically recreating a passport for a man who is desperate to get out. He meticulously uses tweezers to peel off one passport picture and then replaces it with another. His hands are steady; after all, the consequences of getting caught are too frightening. This single act encapsulates the theme of Zinda Bhaag — a depiction of the essence of the ‘Pakistani dream’ as we know it today.
In the heart of a lower-middle class neighbourhood in Lahore, friends Khaldi (Khurram Patras), Taambi (Zohib) and Chitta (Salman Ahmed Khan) are living life to the fullest; they eat, drink and make merry. They look for love, get their hearts broken, and tease each other like any tightly-knit group of old friends would. Naseerudin Shah as Pehlvan is less of the mohalla’s ‘social worker’, and more the Godfather figure. He is introduced to us when he walks into the funeral of Booba, one of the residents of the area, who had managed to escape to France by hiding in a container. He eventually started his own restaurant called La Booba, so he became an inspiration to youngsters in the mohalla. The scene shows the obsession the residents of the neighbourhood have with finding success in foreign lands.
In Zinda Bhaag, the film’s directors Meenu Gaur and Farjad Nabi manage to create a culturally accurate story world, while taking a limited amount of screen time. The naturally raw Lahori accent; the corny humour; a family’s obsession with Urdu soaps and the yearning of the boys to make an appearance at a funeral just to get a taste of free mutton qorma are examples of an apt cultural representation that Pakistani films fail to achieve.
A pleasant combination of traditional cinema shots and snappy cinematography captures both, the soul of Lahore and the essence of a neorealist saga.
The visuals are supported by a light hearted yet unsettling story with back to back powerful one-liners that keep you glued to your seats and leave you craving for more.
Shah as Pehlvan has a larger-than-life persona, but also relates the ghosts of his past. Despite donning funky pink kurtas and wearing multi-coloured rings, there is a menacing darkness to Pehlvan, without whose blessings, it seems you cannot make it big in the mohalla. His proficiency in Punjabi is as immaculate as his fluency in Urdu. Khaldi, Taambi and Chitta are newcomers turned method actors. Their comfort in the atmosphere created by ZB plays a seminal role in making them believable. Bringing in non-actors was a smart choice, and an even smarter one to edit their shots well-enough to prevent their naivety from being translated on screen. That shouldn’t, however, take away from the well-performed long takes. Editing is the backbone of any film but very few (especially in Pakistan) have used it effectively, and it’s the clever cutting of the shots, along with tight pacing that keeps the audience of ZB wanting more.
The songs are good, but they sometimes become a needless deviation from a very precise plot, preventing Zinda Bhaag from being considered perfect. One wonders whether the powerful words penned by Mohammad Hanif in Dekhainge deserved something better than a half-hearted retaliation and a whole-hearted celebratory dance by a bunch of socially suppressed waiters.
The problems for Zinda Bhaag start as soon as Khaldi meets his love interest Rubina (Amna Ilyas), a petite, animated girl who sells a homemade soap called Facelook. While the humour surrounding her character is refreshing, it has hardly any contribution to the narrative. She doesn’t serve the purpose of eye candy, nor is she a good actor. More than that, her dialogue delivery is monotonous and she has a limited range of expressions on screen. Shoots and the ramp, it seems, are better places for Amna.
All in all, Zinda Bhaag stylistically highlights one of the most central social issues faced by Pakistanis — the issue of survival. Those who can run away will, but only after accumulating adequate resources. Others dream of running away, even if it means putting all their resources at stake.
Verdict: Zinda Bhaag is a must watch. In its modest, yet ingenious approach towards storytelling, Zinda Bhaag easily becomes the best film to have come out of modern day Pakistani cinema.
Score: 4/5

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The Lamha arrives, grainy but strong

While Aaminah Sheikh delivers an outstanding performance, the audio-visuals demonstrate lack of technical expertise. PHOTO: FILE
It makes for a sad story; Lamha director’s involvement in a murder case, the tragedy that befalls its lead characters and the audio-visual quality of the film itself are all unfortunate. But amidst the darkness, there are moments that can take your breath away.
Photographer Raza (Mohib Mirza) and painter Maliha (Aaminah Sheikh) are a husband and wife fraught by the difficulties of dealing with a disaster — the death of their seven-year-old boy. In the course of recovery, the two abandon their careers and become estranged. On the other end of the spectrum, is the culprit, rickshaw driver Anil (Gohar Rasheed), who looks for better financial opportunities to support his pregnant wife.
Tackling complicated psychological issues amidst a rather anti-climatic narrative is not easy. It is even tougher when a Pandora’s Box of narrative threads is unraveled. But as a debutant director, Mujahid shows a lot of promise by bringing forward one of the sharpest and most immaculately-performed illustrations of story-telling.
While the movie’s foremost aim is to focus on the overwhelming feeling of failure to get over a major loss, the loss itself ends up taking dominance over the complexities of psychological issues at hand. This is where a rather traditional and risk-free approach by cinematographer Faraz Iqbal comes in handy. He creates a cathartic experience, by using better-framed TV shots in film, for an audience that is accustomed to TV. The closing shot, where the camera tracks out of a garden, is by far one of the most consequential closing shots we have seen in Pakistani cinema, as you actually feel the process of being relieved from a rather discomforting life of a wounded couple. The multiple narratives may seem unresolved at places, but are joined together well on the editing table. The pace of the film, as a whole, is disturbingly bumpy and things do happen against your expectations but there is no shock value to them. That is probably the reason why a predictable story like Lamha appears flatter as time passes by. If we had watched the film before Bollywood’s Talaash, which has a similar story base, the impact would have been much greater.
Aaminah Sheikh’s performance is her best in cinema thus far.  As Maliha, she is so powerful that she often overshadows her husband. The other characters, too, add to Maliha’s agony. As Anil, the talented Gohar Rasheed, who we recently saw in Main Hoon Shahid Afridi, is consistent, raw and plays his character inside out. He is by far the only actor who balances out Aaminah’s strength when he shares limited screen time with her. Hira Tareen, sadly, is not the right choice for her character. Despite the fact that her role was small, she was unable to expose the depth given to her character.
Apart from these performances, the appropriate use of a ghazal is another win for Lamha. Mehdi Hasan’s Gulon Mein Rang Bhare comes near the end of the film and enhances the overall grand and piercing sound design of the film.
Having said this, your Lamha experience may be interrupted the poor quality of the film with respect to audio-visuals. It is a flaw that could have been easily avoided, but powerful and moving scenes are undermined by occasional grainy visuals (especially in night scenes) and awkward sound balancing.
Still, the beauty of Lamha, unlike contemporary narratives, is that it doesn’t set very high ambitions for change. It’s a film that goes for a controlled psychological study of two people instead of a larger-than-life story. What is even more refreshing is that for the first time, a Pakistani movie is not solely about the country and its done-to-death challenges.

Friday, 13 September 2013

“Zinda Bhaag” nominated for Oscar consideration

The Pakistani Academy Selection Committee has selected “Zinda Bhaag” as the first Pakistani film in over fifty years to be submitted for Oscar consideration in the 'Foreign Language Film Award’ category at the 86th Academy Awards.
The film has already bagged four awards in three categories at the Mosaic MISAFF festival held in August this year in Toronto.
Apart from ZInda Bhaag, three other films were submitted to the committee for Oscar consideration including Chambeli, Josh and Lamha (Seedlings). The movie was selected by means of a ballot concluded by the Committee members.
Films selected by each country's Academy selection committee are then submitted for screening, shortlisting and voting with the official Oscar nominees announced at a later date.

“Zindaa Bhaag took a risk in telling a different kind of story and did it in a very innovative way.
It also stayed true to its content and approach and that I feel is a very welcome contribution to the revival of cinema in Pakistan", speaking of the nomination, Committee member Mehreen Jabbar said.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will choose the final nominees for all award categories including Best Foreign Language Film by 8th January 2014.
The complete and final list of Oscar nominees will be announced on 16th January 2014 with a presentation show for the 86th Academy Awards scheduled to take place on 2nd March 2014.
Around 71 films were submitted for Oscar consideration in the Best Foreign Language Film category alone, at the 85th Academy Awards held in 2012. The number of internationally submitted films for this category is expected to be even greater this year.
Well, only time will tell if Zinda Bhaag will make it - Although it’s exciting to see Pakistani movies again strive for an identity after all these years we have seen a number of local releases and many more to look forward to this year.
Speaking about the selection of Zinda Bhaag, Chairperson of the Committee Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy said,

“Pakistan will finally have a film in contention this year at the Academy Awards and I feel proud that today we are taking a small step towards recognizing our own filmmakers.
Zinda Bhaag is proof of the fact that sheer will, passion and talent can achieve incredible feats, and I would like to congratulate the team behind the film on a compelling and cinematic film”.
Zinda Bhaag is a comedy/thriller about three young men trying to escape the reality of their everyday lives through unconventional methods. The journey unfolds tales of circumstances that an average Pakistani's finds themselves in on a daily basis and their desire to set free.
Speaking of the nomination, Committee member Mohsin Hamid said,

"Zinda Bhaag is funny, natural, hip, and casually audacious - A real step forward for contemporary Pakistani cinema and a pleasure to watch”.
“Zinda bhaag is a great film about the price you pay for dreaming dreams, it is painful but true.” added Samina Pirzada who is also a committee member.
Directed and written by Meenu Gaur and Farjad Nabi, produced by Mazhar Zaidi the film features Bollywood legend Naseeruddin Shah, Amna Ilyas and Khurram Patras in leading roles.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Did you know?: Ishq Khuda to be screened at Norway film festival

Lollywood seems to be on a roll. Recently released commercial film Ishq Khuda — which fared well at singe-screen cinemas in the country — will be screened at the Bollywood Film Festival in Norway on September 11.
The admiration this movie has received from across the border will definitely boost the confidence of other film-makers in Pakistan, says film’s director Shahzad Rafique. The star-studded cast includes Shaan, Meera, Ahsan Khan and Wiam Dhamani.
“This is a premier film festival which has been known to screen top films from South Asia,” film’s assistant director Hasnat Afridi tells The Express Tribune. He reveals that Ishq Khuda is the only Punjabi film which has been selected for screening alongside popular Bollywood movies such as Kai Po Che! and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani.
Festival’s director Nasrullah Qureshi invited Ishq Khuda’s team and decided to screen the movie due to the media attention the film has received in Pakistan and other countries. The festival has developed a strong fan following amongst Bollywood buffs and according to Afridi, getting an invite was an achievement in itself. Due to short notice however, it is still unknown if members of the cast and crew will be able to attend it. “We are waiting on the visa but I think it might be too late,” Afridi adds.

Shabistan, Prince cinemas rechristened with modern technology

                   Cinema                LAHORE - Shabistan and Prince cinemas located on Lahore’s historical Abbot Road have been revived and revitalised with a complete refurbishment of all its facilities.

‘One Film’ was premiered on Friday as a part of a soft launch and was attended by several media personnel and prominent film lovers.
Both cinemas possess a seating capacity for more than 800 with exclusive boxes, an esteemed gallery area and formidable halls. The facilities will be operating under the banner of the ‘Super Cinema Shabistan and Prince’ and shall be an interesting mix, with a fusion of a modern outlook and the retention of all the grand aspects of a single screen cinema.
From the technical angle, the sound speakers are state-of-the-art while the 3D installed is as good as the IMAX. A silver screen has replaced the massive old 60-foot screen. Other manifold features include a fully air-conditioned theatre, extremely comfortable cinema seats, the visual magic of 3D digital screens and a food court that will add to the delight of the customers.
The cinema’s management will try to revive the former glory of these theatre halls. The cinemas will no longer be relics of the golden days; instead everything about them will represent quality and state-of-the-art technology. Movie goers visiting these places will find the experience breathtaking yet nostalgic.
For the convenience of the young and old alike, there will be multiple shows for providing different options to different groups of customers. It is important to highlight the price mechanism which is quite competitive and affordable. For pre-3pm shows the ticket range is between Rs 150 and 250. Furthermore, the choice of English movies will also be available at these cinemas. The cinemas’ parking will accommodate about 100 cars and new entrance gates have been created to ease the in/out flow of traffic.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Resham to make a comeback in Lollywood with `Swaarangi'

 Actress Resham says after a very long time she got a different and a promising script.

Actress Resham is making a comeback in Lollywood after seven years in deglamorized protagonist role in an offbeat feature film titled "Swaarangi".
It is being produced by a new team led by debutante director Phida Hussain and producer Mazhar Abbas.
Talking to representative of media in Lahore‚ producer of the film‚ Mazhar Abbas said the film has been picturized at rural and mountainous areas of Mianwali district. He said the film would be presented to the viewers on the occasion of Eid-ul-Azha. The producer said the story of the film targeted at a woman's struggle in surviving in poverty with a drug addict husband.
Actress Resham said after a very long time she got a different and a promising script because of which she took up the role of Salma in Swaarangi.
She blamed the recent decay of the local film industry on stories not related to our society and said that revival of cinema depends on strong stories touching real issues of the society and Swaarangi was a good effort in this regard.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Cinema Wars: Karachi’s best spots for a movie night

How the city’s four premium cinemas compare and which offers the best night out. PHOTO: PUBLICITY
KARACHI: Fancy a night out at the movies? The cinema has become one of Karachi’s favourite past-times in recent years. With the opening of Nueplex in Phase 8, Karachi now has four family-friendly premium cinemas. But how do they compare and which offers the best experience to movie-goers?
The first premium family cinema in Karachi, Cineplex, opened in 2005. However, it is now in  dire need of refurbishment. One cinema-goer described the experience as being like going to see a movie in someone’s basement home theatre.
Location: Seaview, Defence near The Village Restaurant
No. of Screens: 5
Ticket Price: Rs400
Convenient for Clifton and Defence, Cineplex is not that busy. The more popular cinemas have a higher turnover of movies, shunting even popular films to bizarre screening times very quickly. Cineplex is good for catching films that you’ve missed elsewhere.
The seats are poky and the screens are fairly small — you’ve had it if someone tall sits in front of you. Cineplex has no 3D screens and apparently, also periodically has electricity problems. It also has only one exit and no cell signals, which isn’t great from a security point of view.
Verdict: Only worth going if you’ve exhausted all other options, and maybe not even then..
Atrium Cinema
Location: At Atrium Mall in Saddar, close to Zainab Market
No. of Screens: 3 
Ticket Price:
Rs350 Cinemas A&B (Rs450 for 3D)
Rs450 Cinema D (Rs550 for 3D)
The first 3D Cinema in Karachi, Atrium, has been a runaway success ever since it opened. Despite a less than ideal location and a sometimes dodgy crowd, Atrium is most people’s first choice in premium cinema.
Atrium has roomy seats and large screens. It has excellent 3D, a great ambience and clean bathrooms. Last but not least, it has the best popcorn in town.
Atrium’s biggest downside is its terrible location. While convenient for both Defence/Clifton and the KDA side of town, Atrium has minimal parking and awful valet service. The mall and cinema attracts a very mixed crowd, and women by themselves are prone to getting ogled at by packs of young men. Atrium is also a victim of its own success. It has only three screens and limited capacity, so getting seats is difficult and can involve repeated trips to the mall. The telephone booking system tends to get inundated quickly and hence, is unreliable.
Verdict: The best overall movie experience in town, but location and limited capacity are both issues.
Located in Clifton, Cinepax is convenient for the Defence/Clifton crowd. Smaller than Atrium and Nueplex, Cinepax aims for a more luxurious experience with premium screens, recliner seats and quality snacks.
Location: At Ocean Mall, Clifton near 2 Talwar
No. of Screens: 3
Ticket Price: 
Silver Screen Rs450 (Rs600 for 3D)
Gold Screen Rs750
Platinum Screen Rs1,000 (Rs1,200 for 3D)
Cinepax has a great location and huge snack selection including burgers and fries. It offers recliner seats and blankets to counter the chill factor in the premium screens. It has lovely bathrooms and is the only cinema to offer online booking. It’s perfect for a girls’ night out due to location and crowd quality.
Screens sizes aren’t huge and the 3D, while good, is not as great as Atrium and Nueplex. The seats in the silver screen are not very comfortable. The escalators to the cinema are not conveniently placed, which is annoying as the lift service is sporadic. You can sometimes hear movies in adjoining cinema halls, and low capacity means it’s difficult to get seats. Crucially, many people have complained the popcorn is always stale.
Verdict: Great location, but silver screen should be better. The premium screens offer a better experience but are pricey if you go the movies often. Thankfully, Cinepax say they’ve fixed the popcorn — stale popcorn ruins movie night.
Nueplex is part of The Place, a dedicated entertainment complex that has just opened in Phase 8. It has a huge capacity and state-of-the-art equipment.
Location: Phase 8, Defence
No. of Screens: 5
Ticket Price:
Rs500 Cinema 1-4 (Rs600 for 3D)
Rs1,000 Royal Screen (Rs1,250 for 3D)
Nueplex has huge screens, a good 3D system, efficient telephone bookers and an attractive ambience. The royal theatre offers food service, a dedicated waiting area and recliner seats. The popcorn is delicious.
The bathrooms are clean but very small. Nueplex is the priciest of the cinemas, for everything from tickets to snacks. It is very far for those not living in Defence, and is in a quite unpopulated area. The standard cinema seats are just a tad less comfy than Atrium.
Verdict: It is a little far for those who don’t live in Defence, but in terms of screen size and overall cinematic experience, it is only rivaled by Atrium.