Monday, 31 March 2014

New film distribution company hopes to help local film makers

Kamran says that distributing his film Bhai Log was difficult since the film’s team wasn’t able to get enough cinemas. PHOTOS: FILE
The face of Pakistani cinema is changing for the better. Whether it is the construction of new cinemas (estimates say around 100 cinemas will surface in the next year or two), or an increase in the number of film-makers, the future of the movie industry in the country looks promising.
In a recent development, the senior producer Chaudhry Kamran and local exhibitor Qaiser Sanaullah have launched a film distribution company by the name of 770 Media Entertainment with the intent of improving the distribution of local films.
The first film they will be distributing is Syed Faisal Bukhari’s Sultanat, which is slated to release on Eidul Fitr. The film is said to be one of the most expensive films made for Pakistan, and has been shot in four countries — Pakistan, Bangkok, Dubai and Egypt.
It has an estimated budget of Rs250 million. The film has been produced by Aslam Bhatti, a Dubai-based hotelier and CEO of AB productions.
The decision comes on the heels of a battle between producers and distributors for several years over screen space allocation for local film-makers. Major film importers had an upper hand till an agreement was signed between the variety of exhibitors and producers to balance the allocation of screen space.
Kamran claims that his family has been involved in the local distribution of films since 2005. Another thing that catalysed him to be a vocal opponent of the screening of Indian films in the country is the trouble he faced while distributing his film Bhai Log, which received considerable acclaim in the industry.
“My family has been associated with film distribution since the 60s. We imported and distributed local films. Distributing Bhai Log was difficult because we were not able to get cinemas. I think now [with the company’s launch], we are in a better position to revive cinema and provide [local] film-makers with the opportunity to get their films screened,” says Kamran.
The significance of the company is that it will encourage local film-makers who have been criticised at various times for not promoting globalised cinematic styles.
Kamran maintains that his intent will primarily be to help and invest in local film-makers who have found it hard to compete in the market. The company will also be looking towards importing films from several foreign markets.
“We make films and once we make them, we’re not going to screen them at home. We want them in the cinemas. I think we have to move forward with a compromise. There are so many new cinemas opening up. Even if a Pakistani film does a little less business, it should be given preference,” says Kamran.
“Because as the recoveries are increasing, people who once shied away from the industry are returning to the fold.”
Meanwhile, his partner Qaiser Sanaullah, who has produced several Pashto films with director Younis Malik, says that the company will also help local film-makers who have difficulties financing films.
“Typically, we have found many film-makers who in the final stretch of their films find it difficult to finish their project. So, we want to connect with those people who need our help. Distribution is a very important aspect because we have seen people who know how to make a film, but don’t know how to release one. So, this company will provide services in terms of release and publicity,” shares Sanaullah.
The company’s team is already in conversation with several film-makers to distribute their projects and it hopes to provide an alternative to traditional companies in the industry.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

The Allure of Shamoon Abbasi

With high ambitions and goals Shamoon Abbasi turned to acting and directing. Born and raised in Italy, actor gained fame owing to his strong villainous character in Pakistani blockbuster Waar. Abbasi’s main goal is to be the part that projects which could bring change to the stagnant Pakistani film industry. He has done major roles in a number of films and television dramas and has won the bronze award. Abbasi is a rare man among today’s breed of actors. A versatile actor, Abbasi looks forward to make his mark on Pakistani cinema by doing more good films. Sunday Plus had an exclusive chat with Shamoon Abbasi, who shared his views about entertainment industry, his career and all the joys in between. Let’s have a look:

You have been the part of TV industry for a long time, how has been your experience so far?

It has been different in different times. Honestly speaking, you can say that sometimes it’s really hard to achieve or cope up with the projects that are coming your way and sometimes you really love what you are doing. Overall I have enjoyed this whole journey and gained a lot.

What do you like and dislike about your profession?

What I like about this profession is that it keeps you committed; it keeps you on your toes. Everyday there is a new experience. What I don’t like about this profession is the craft of art in Pakistan which is not acknowledged the way it should be. The actors and directors related to this field are not appreciated the way they are in the other parts of the world. I feel that there is a little lack of assessment here.

Sometimes while performing, the actor drifts away from the actual script, not strictly adhering to what is on the paper. What is your comment on it?

It usually happens once in a blue moon but I never had any difficulty with such circumstances. I believe when you are on the set you can actually change the script a lot by your actions. While shooting you don’t have to just follow the script. You become an actor when people understand your presence and script can go through your presence. Many times scripts are not so much amazing but on screen few actors can make those simple lines interesting and in this way a project becomes a hit.

How would you describe your acting skills?

I am an observant person who observes the ascent and style of different acting genres. I don’t consider myself just one track hero means an actor who can just do one genre of acting. I can be a comedian, a villain or a lay man. I watch foreign movies to catch up with international trends. I read world literature and try to adapt it. I think I have this skill. I believe that people want to see natural acting and I make sure that I satisfy my viewers.

We have seen you playing negative roles in my serials. Any specific reason for that?

It’s not me choosing this type of character; it’s how people want to cast me. You can say this is fortunate or unfortunate that in Pakistan many actors do not like to do negative role. They think their image will be ruined. Everyone wants a lead role in the project and then the slot of the negative role remains empty. I have done every genre of acting and by doing a negative role I have various times filled this empty slot.

Which of your work you have done so far you consider as your best project?

I can’t name any one project. I think I am still struggling for that. Up till now my work has not fulfilled my hunger and craving for doing more and working better. I wish to perform well enough to get an Oscar. I am a person who does not like to work at many places. I prefer to stay alone. I am not so much of a socialite. I like to focus on my work.

How do you carry yourself on set?

One of the major things that I always avoid is to be proud of my craft and skills or how good I can be on screen. This kind of attitude and these kinds of tantrums are used to kill all the energy that you have so you start intimidating the coworkers by the attitude that you are keeping on the set. People know me as a very friendly person. No matter who they are I always respect them. I believe in good acting and consider my co stars good actors too. We should let the audience decide who is performing well. You should not be the one to decide it by yourself that you are the best on screen. I respect my senior and juniors and make them feel that we are a family. I never try to humiliate my juniors. Being friendly is the way to stay in the heart of people or in field. You should always be friendly on set and you will gain a lot of respect. Faisal Qureshi is a brilliant actor and he is very friendly too and he wants people to understand everything. We are the institution for upcoming actors. If we will not teach them humbly then where will they learn from?

What is the thing that you know now and you wish you had known this before in the start of your career?

That is such a good question. I think I should have not got married in the start of my career. I could have worked more which I could not. I could have given more time to my industry which I could not because of the family. I don’t regret anything about work. I choose the work by myself whether it’s bad or good

How was the experience of working with Bilal Lahsari?

It was an awesome experience working with Bilal Lashri. It was like to be on a vacation with him. He is a very brilliant director. I would love to work with him in future as well.

Waar was a super hit film, but it also gained many critical reviews. What would you like to comment on it?

This is the system since the creation of the world. Everything has its positive and negative sides. Everyone has his own opinion and we should respect him. When a movie is not good and people criticize it, and this thing spreads like an infection. Consequently that movie will remain in its hometown. When three percent people out of hundered’s are giving their views in negative or criticizing the movie, then we should not stick at that small amount, we should look at its larger side. 97% of Pakistani and overseas have accepted Waar as a super hit. I know some people who watched this movie almost 18 times so we cannot ignore the love of the people for this movie. We respect their love and we will work for them in future too. If someone doesn’t like it we can’t challenge or change their opinion. I take all the criticism regarding this movie very positively.

What are your considerations while choosing a film?

A movie has a lot of different aspects. We have to see that what kind of business it will do. Like Waar, it has made business like never before. For a film I look up for character and its importance. I am not that kind of person who looks for a lead character. I just make sure that my presence is significant in the movie and what kind of money that movie will make because now it’s all about business you can’t work only for the sake of art. Once our cinemas made good projects but it’s now time to take our industry at international level. With good project Pakistani cinemas are on its revival and when our films will be watched globally people will know about Pakistan and its creative people. I waited to sign a movie like Waar, with which I can associate myself or it can be associated with me. I am a very patient person. I could have done Lollywood films and villian roles but I didn’t want to start my career like that. I might do ten movies in my life but I want to be an actor who can change something. I am so proud and thankful to God that my name will be written in the history of Pakistani cinema’s revival.

In which medium you feel you self more comfortable, drama or film?

It depends what is comfort to you and where you are putting your efforts. Comfort is nothing. I believe it’s the passion that drives you to face all the obstacles. When I did Waar, I did 3D stuns, fighting, doing action scenes and even I get hurt while shooting. It was very cold in Islamabad when I started shooting for the film and there were no heaters and I was shivering so comfort was not there, it was my passion that was keeping me there and its only passion that keep every actor up to the mark.

Do you think favoritism prevails in our industry or its all rumors?

Yes it does. Sycophants always take advantages.

How much of your stardom is a result of your personal life, as projected by the media. You know, besides your work and the hits you generate…

Honestly if you ask me as Shamoon Abbasi, my reputation has been ruined and crushed by woman very badly. My Ex wife acted like I am an enemy or a monster after divorce. Even many people said to me that I am opposite to that image which has been projected. Woman has more access to talk about anything. They go to beauty parlous, shoots. Male usually don’t think to talk about anything when they are on set. We don’t talk about our co stars or ex but a woman has habit of gossiping and makes stories. If I would be so bad then God would have punish me for that. I believe when you do something wrong you get punish for it in this world too. You can’t achieve anything then because God don’t like you. Thank to God I am standing where I wanted to be so now I don’t care what people say. My family, sibling, wife, cousins respect me that is more than enough for me. I have a very simple formula of life which is to do respect and get respect.

Q: Tell us something about your recent and future projects.

There are many upcoming projects. I did an action thriller operation 021 which is produced by Zeba Bakhtiar, a feature film ‘Gidh’ written by Zubair Abbasi and directed by me and it is expected to be released this August. I did one more horror and action feature film which is ‘Kunhar Ghaati’

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Veteran Pakistani star confident about new actors

 KARACHI: Pakistan film industry’s veteran actor Nadeem Baig has shown great confidence on the new generation actors and directors, reported.
While praising the work of new lot he said, “The new comers are doing a great job and I can foresee that very soon Pakistan’s cinema industry will see its long lost boom again.” He said that the new generation actors and directors have proven themselves nationally and internationally, their work is being appreciated by leading minds of showbiz industry.
He continued saying that the Pakistani drama has proved itself once again and one such proof of their achievement is that many actors who got fame through television are receiving amazing offers from other countries.
He encouraged that the new bees are not jumping uninformed just for the sake of fun but are actually considering this profession seriously. He said it is overwhelming to see that they are getting education and training from Bollywood and Hollywood and practicing it in their own country.
He said the success of Pakistani movies within and outside country has given a new standard to Lollywood. He said that there are many interesting projects in the pipeline and to get full benefit of the talent we need to use latest technology and equipment to bring back Pakistani viewers to cinema.
He also reminisced his time and said, “I spent my era gracefully. Undoubtedly that was the golden era of our industry. I wish that Pakistani cinema again reach such heights.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

No office space available for Zeba Ali

 Renowned film actress Zeba Begum elected as the chairperson of Punjab Film Censor Board chairperson on October 1st, 2013 but till now she has not been provided with an official sitting place where she could resolve the matters prevailing in our Lollywood industry. According to media reports, Zeba Ali has been struggling to get an office of her own for the last six months, but her efforts have not borne fruit till now.
She is widely regarded as one of the top stars in the 1960s and the early 1970s. She made her screen debut in Chiragh Jalta Raha in 1962. During a career that spanned almost three decades, Zeba appeared in numerous commercially successful as well as critically appreciated films, many of which featured her alongside actor and husband Mohammad Ali. She also starred in the 1966 film Arman which was produced by actor and producer Waheed Murad, Pakistan’s first Platinum Jubilee film.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Saeed Rizvi steps up his game in film-making

The film-maker says that the government has sadly never realised the actual potential of the film industry in our country. PHOTO COURTESY: EXPRESS NEWS
KARACHI: Saeed Rizvi, director of the 1989 Lollywood film Shanee, is all set to up his game in the film industry by gaining insight into the evolving art of film-making from Hollywood. He shared the news with the press at Karachi Press Club on Monday afternoon.
“The Government of Pakistan needs to promote the film industry by setting up a Film Authority and Finance Corporation, so that we may be able to compete in the international market,” he suggests.
He is soon to visit the United States (US), a visit that is meant to fulfil his wish of learning and mastering new film-making tricks from the Hollywood industry, including digital effects.
He promises that his new venture will revolutionise the Pakistan film industry. Without disclosing the name of the film, he shared, “The new film project will be based on fiction, suspense and horror.”
The last time he went to the US, he learnt about Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI). Now, he plans on taking his learning process ahead by acquainting himself with other techniques to generate technical effects.
He is of the view that “Today, we have better cineplexes across town. However, we need to improve our films, so that we can develop better foreign exchange in this market.”
About his forthcoming trip, he says he plans on learning from Hollywood by participating in workshops. “My venture this time [comprises] delving into innovative plans, for which I will be visiting Los Angeles and New York.”
He praised Zulfikar Ali Bhutto for establishing the National Film Development Corporation (NAFDEC) in 1972, but said [the organisation] “breathed its last due to bureaucratic mismanagement and after that, the government failed to play its role in supporting the film industry. It didn’t even accept the fact that we were the ones who paid huge amounts of money in taxes… Sadly, the government has never realised the actual potential of the film industry in our country.”

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Shabana Azmi wants to work in a Pakistani film

Shabana Azmi wants to work in a Pakistani film

She feels Pakistan and India should try to have more joint ventures in filmmaking as this will benefit both nations

Karachi: Veteran Indian actress Shabana Azmi says she would definitely think about working in a Pakistani film if a good script came her way. The 63-year-old actress is in the city to attend the ongoing Sindh Festival on a special invite from Bilawal Bhutto, the Chairperson of the Pakistan Peoples Party.
Azmi said being a professional actor she is ready to work anywhere as long as the script and subject is strong. "I am happy to be back in Karachi as it is always good to visit Pakistan because there is a lot in common between the people of both the countries," Azmi said.
"The good thing is that the people are always in contact with each other and we like so many things about each other and also have lot in common in arts and culture," she added. Azmi also felt that Pakistan and India should try to have
more joint ventures in filmmaking as this would benefit both countries.
The 'Arth' star is due to attend some main events and closing ceremony of the festival.
Veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah, Azmi's co-star in many Shyam Benegal movies, has worked in popular Pakistani films 'Khuda Ke Liye' and 'Zinda Bhaag', which was the country's entry to the Oscars this year.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Lollywood’s loving maa

From being a leading lady in the industry for ten years to a loving ‘maa’ (mother) on the reel, Begum has 35 glorious years in acting to her credit. PHOTOS: ASHRAF MEMON/EXPRESS
“Do I still need an introduction?” quips Bahar Begum at a meet with the media on Sunday at the Karachi Press Club. And she rightly questions so. If you are familiar with Lollywood when it was in its heyday, Bahar Begum is a name that will certainly need no introduction.
From maintaining a potent presence as a leading lady in the industry for ten years to transforming into the role of a loving ‘maa’ (mother) on the reel, Begum has 35 glorious years in acting to her credit.
“You all have truly honoured me today by hosting a reception for me,” says the humble Begum to the media community. “My comments will not be political. They will only highlight the sheer regard I have for the Pakistani film industry after [a long association with it].”
Many artistes in the older age bracket are assumed to have retired or expected to retire soon. “Artistes don’t retire,” says Begum. “I have worked here for so long, yet people question an artiste like me if I have retired or have plans to retire.”
The veteran actor, who rarely graces the film screen now, states, “I have stopped working because I feel that good work isn’t being produced. I don’t feel like working anymore.”
Reminiscing about the days when she was active in the film industry, Begum shares that her memories of  lollywood are still vivid and unforgettable. “Lollywood was a place where work mattered and one never felt the need to go home,” she says.
She laments over the inclination towards material gains that have become central in Lollywood. “Money was not everything earlier; it was a secondary concern. People wanted work and lots of work. Things have become more commercial now,” she says.
Begum admits that “ups and down are part of every industry and so is the case in Lollywood. But what aggravated the situation in Lollywood was that from 1975 onwards, only action films got produced.”
“They were being made in Hollywood and Bollywood also, but we got stuck in the gandasa(poleaxe) culture. So much so that it affected our performances and other genres were ignored altogether,” she says.
Commenting on present-day entertainment industry glitches, she says, “Nowadays, many girls performing in television plays only say to their directors, ‘Take karain jee’ (let’s film the scene) without even knowing their dialogues. They don’t know the trick of the trade, the essence of rehearsals.”
On obscenity and lewd behaviour in many films today, Begum feels, “In our time, there used to songs and dance in films like there are today, but no nude scenes as nudity wasn’t accepted.”
She states that during her time in film, “directors and producers were educated. Today, what we have are pure financiers, who make someone write a script and someone else direct it.”
Admitting that she isn’t much of a reader, she says that she is unaware of the talked-about resurrection of cinema in Karachi. “I don’t see the revival of industry taking place anytime soon,” she affirms.
Recalling the good times, she spent with fellow acting veteran Sultan Rahi on the silver screen, she says that he “was a man who was too loyal to his work.”
She also shares what she thinks about some of the leading actors of today. She honestly proclaims about Shaan, “He has a major attitude problem. He needs to show respect to me as he shows it to his mother.”
About Meera, Veena Malik and Humaima Malik performing in India, she says, “They have contacts with the likes of film-maker Mahesh Bhatt. That’s why they are getting to perform there. But don’t forget they were first recognised here, in Pakistan.”
She comments on her deep friendship based on mutual love and respect with actors Nayyar Sultana and Shamim Ara. “We never had rivalry amongst us. We never felt we had to be a part of the rat race. However, each one of us made sure that people love our performances.”
Their association started with the film Saheli and continued to bloom till Sultana died in 1992 and Shamim Ara slipped into a state of comatose four years ago.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Never refused to work in Pakistani movies, Sara Loren

Pakistani drama actress Sara Lore (Mona Liza) who is now working in Indian film industry said that she never refused to work in Pakistan film industry.
Sara Loren is busy in screening her new movie Barkha in Himachal Pradesh.
She said she made her name in Bollywood after the success of Kajra Re and Murder 3.
“I make my position in Bollywood on the basis of my handwork. I want to do powerful characters in different movies. New movie Barkha is a love story whose music composer is Amjad Nadeem. Getting success in Bollywood is my big achievement; I want to get more successes in my future for a stronger career.
She reiterated that, I have never refused to work in Pakistani movies, if anyone offers me a good and strong character then I will surely perform.