Friday, 27 June 2014

Na Maloom Afraad theatrical trailer released

The film is supposed to be released in august. PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA
KARACHI: Filmwala pictures have released the first theatrical trailer for their upcoming feature film Na Maloom Afraad offering a sharp glimpse into what audiences can expect in their local cinemas come August 2014.
The 2:51 minutes long trailer sheds light on the lives of three struggling fellows (Javed Sheikh, Fahad Mustafa and Mohsin Abbass Haider) who hatch a plan to save their lives and the love of their lives.
Their plan, however, backfires bringing them face to face with Goggi (Salman Shahid), an underground mafia boss, who wants them to provide him with parcel.
The three have to run across city creating chaos to bring their second plan to success and get rid of the mafia boss.
The theatrical trailer, rather an extended teaser, is sharp and could possibly have included most of the gags and action sequences of the movie.
It looks similar to some recent Indian releases in the way it is coloured, shot and edited.
The veteran Javed Sheikh plays a stuttering old man with a penchant for saying “I told you so…”. Fahad Mustafa, who has been charming audiences on the small screen, can finally look forward to his silver screen debut, though a fuller assessment on his acting skills can only be made once the film is out.
Salman Shahid seems to be the anti-typical villain in the short sequence we see him in the trailer, though this is to be expected in a comedy film.
Model-cum-TV star Urwa Tul Wusqa is the female star cast of the film unveiled in the trailer.
For a film on the law and order situation, the trailer lets out a few bank robberies, shutter down strikes, guns blazing and burning cars. A scenario television news watchers and newspaper readers in the country are all to familiar with.
The film is directed by Nabeel Qureshi and produced by Fizza Ali Meerza under the banner of Filmwala pictures.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Lashari denies casting Gullu Butt, Noor for upcoming movie Maula Jatt

Bilal Lashari, director of box office hit Waar, has quashed rumours about casting Noor and vandal Gullu Butt for his upcoming release Maula Jatt.
“The cast of Maula Jatt is being finalised. Rumours of Noor and Gullu Butt being casted are not true,” Lashari told The Express Tribune.
The director also posted a tweet to end the speculation.
Lashari put the arms and ammunition of Pakistan army to stylistic use in Waar and will now be giving a new identity to gandasa films with a multi-million dollar remake of Maula Jatt.
“This will be my take on gandasa (a weapon made famous by Maula Jutt and its sequels), which are blamed for the death of Lollywood,” said Lashari.
“I think the gandasa genre was a missed opportunity for Pakistani cinema, and what better choice to utilise it then by paying homage to the cult classic Maula Jatt.”
Lashari has been waiting for the Waar hype to quiet down before disclosing his new venture since the rebooted version of Maula Jatt has been in the pre-production phase for the last seven months.
The film is a co-production with an American production house, the name of which he is not disclosing just yet, and will have a budget in the millions of dollars, according to the director.
From a war epic to a new brand of gandasa films; Lashari is taking some huge steps and even huger risks.

Monday, 16 June 2014

3 Bahadur: Going where others fear to tread

3 Bahadur will be catering to the huge demand for entertainment for children in Pakistan. PHOTOS: FILE
After producing a number of award winning documentaries, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy (SOC) Films is all set for Pakistan’s first-ever full-length animated motion picture 3 Bahadur. With Academy Award winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy at its helm, the company seeks to introduce animated features to the Pakistan film industry.
“The movie, 3 Bahadur is not an initiative to join the film industry; it is the creation of a whole new industry altogether,” Chinoy tells The Express Tribune. While discussing the current status of the animation industry in Pakistan, the producer of the film speaks about the kind of talent and creative content similar ventures can produce. “It seeks to give the much-needed attention to our local animation industry that is incredibly talented, yet, undervalued. We want to prove that Pakistan can pull off such content and we hope that this film proves that there is a demand for it as well.”
The film is a work of fiction but it has a very relatable localised theme. Audiences will see streets and characters that look familiar — from graffiti to the crisscrossing wires that we see around local neighbourhoods.
“We have all our foundations in place; fresh skilled talent, an appreciation for the arts, a beautiful country that is bursting with stories,” says the 35-year-old. “With an audience that has grown familiar with the concept of going to the movies over the past five years, nothing can stop us, as long as we maintain this momentum and passion,” she adds.
Having specialised in producing content that highlights social issues, SOC Films has now taken an about turn, not only in terms of content but also in terms of their target audience. The film will be catering to the huge demand for entertainment for children in Pakistan.
“I want them to laugh with our characters, grieve with them, root for them and see themselves in our heroes,” says Chinoy.
Animation is a medium that pushes your imagination to new heights and compels you to escape into another world without hesitation. The film doesn’t promise anything less and will entertain the viewers, by giving them a colourful journey of textures, design and storytelling.
“The film seeks to entertain you; everything else is secondary,” says the producer.  “It will prove to be a pleasant change from the sort of serious content that we are used to seeing and I hope it triggers the production of many more animated films in the near future.”
SOC Films has partnered with ARY Films to create a new production house that will solely produce animated content. “We have our second project in the pipeline at the moment and we hope to expand the number of animated material that comes out of Pakistan,” reveals the international award winner.
Currently, the team is also working on Sound of Sachal, a documentary film about a jazz ensemble in Lahore, trying to revive classical music locally. In addition to that, Sharmeen toldThe Express Tribune that she in the final stages of completing Peacekeepers, a film about Bangladeshi policewomen who are serving as peace-keeping forces in Haiti with the help of the United Nations.
While the SOC team is optimistic about their upcoming film, the verdict whether 3 Bahadurwill have the desired impact on Pakistani cinema has yet to be witnessed. The animated film is expected to release in the summer of 2015.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Front seat: Inside job

In Shahzad Ghufoor’s directorial debut, the only way to ‘fix’ The System is to ‘join’ it
One of the newer films to hit local cinemas, The System is an action-thriller based on the corrupt ‘system’ prevalent in Pakistan — in which the affluent go scot-free after committing a crime while meting out ‘punishment’ to the innocent.
Haider Ali plays the character of Sheraz, a young man from the lower-middle class, son of a cleric (played by Nadeem) and in love with Sara (played by Shiza), the daughter of a corrupt government official. One fine day, on his way home from school, Sheraz is caught and detained by the police, along with his classmates, on bogus charges. The area SHO (played by Shafqat Cheema) beats him up and demands a heavy bribe for his release from his helpless father whom he humiliates by saying, “Yeh masjid nahin thana hai jahan mera hukam chalta hai!” The boy is released after his uncle, Abdul Hafeez, pays the bribe.
The incident leaves an impression on young Haider who is quite disturbed and takes it upon himself to fight this unjust system. He studies hard and qualifies in the CSS exams and eventually clinches the position of ASP. As fate would have it, he gets posted in the same SHO’s area and decides to teach him a lesson. However, instead of doing away with the system he wanted to fight, he becomes a part of it and demands his share of the bribes the SHO collects from the criminal gangs operating in his area.
Sheraz’s behaviour comes to the notice of the Chief Minister who decides to become involved, and at one point, even tries to teach Sheraz a lesson. Eventually, our hero’s conscience awakens and he realises that the whole system is wrong — it’s built in a way that even those who want to reform it, get sucked into it and adopt its corrupt practices. He then, in true James Bond style, defeats the forces of ‘evil’ and declares, “Iss system ko badlna hoga. Iss system ko ab mere saath chalna ho ga.”
The System has a good screenplay and musical score, promising new talent and employs the latest digital technology. The film does not feature any of the usual masala such as mujras, excessive blood and gore, etc. It is a ‘message-oriented’ film written keeping in mind the current socio-political scenario and highlights police brutality and a corrupt-to-the-core political hierarchy.
Although the film portrays Pakistan, it has been shot in Norway because of the fact that both the producer and director are based there. The young and talented director Shahzad Ghufoor has managed to capture the beautiful locales of Norway that add to the film’s visual appeal. He has received training in film direction from the US and is a distributor of Hindi movies in Norway.
Newcomers like Haider Ali are badly needed in our film industry to replace the old breed of actors such as Moammar Rana, Saud, Rambo etc. Having said that, Haider’s acting isn’t entirely up to the mark — he desperately needs to work on his expressions. Although Shiza’s role as Sara remains marginalised throughout the film, she’s proven that even when given a little space, she can deliver a good performance.
On the downside, the director unfortunately fails to realise that in order to cater to female audiences, a film must feature a generous dose of songs and romance. The director misses the mark here to a large extent. But then, this is a directorial debut, so some oversight can be forgiven.
Furthermore, it boggles the mind as to how a Chief Minister can be shown as helpless while dealing with an ASP, especially since he enjoys supreme power in the (dare we say) ‘system’? The film loses much of its weight in the scenes showing this. Having said that, with all of its faults, The System makes for a satisfying watch.

Friday, 13 June 2014

'Tamanna' encourages all filmmakers to contribute to the industry's evolution

Camera, lights, action! Pakistani film ‘Tamanna’ has been in the making since 2010, so it’s been four years the concept had been trying to make its way to the cinemas and theatres, adding a cherry on top of the film industry’s evolution. Revival is a word I’ll abstain from using for the once illustrious Pakistani film industry as I believe, it never really died. Stalled, yes! But not died. So my dear readers, let’s give a huge round of applause to all those filmmakers who are participating and contributing with all their might, to the evolution of the film industry, giving the cinemagoers and theatre lovers something to indulge in since the past one year. 

With a litany of films that released last year, many winning both international and domestic acclaim, there was this one film, which had been creating quite a stir. The critics knew it was coming out, cinemagoers had been waiting anxiously and the censor board was looking out for the final ‘edit’. ‘Tamanna’ was still in post-production. Directed by British filmmaker Steven Moore and produced by Sarah Tareen of Concordia Productions, ‘Tamanna’ was released on Friday in Pakistan. Initially to have its premiere in Lahore on June 6 and in the UK on June 8, there was a brief change of plans, when the makers decided to hold the premiere in Lahore five days later. However, whilst being screened as planned in the UK, at the prestigious London Asian Film Festival (LAFF), ‘Tamanna’ was met with immense appreciation and critical acclaim. 

“I think for me, my hard work put in the film had already paid off when Dr Pushpinder Chowdhry, who is one of the founding directors of the LAFF said about the film that ‘Every scene looked like a photograph’. Me and the rest of the team have been working tirelessly to bring to the audience a film they would like to sit back and enjoy and eventually take memories of it back home and also be able tor recall it in good words. Hopefully, our hard work is there for everyone to see in the film,” Tareen said, while talking exclusively to Daily Times. “I had my sources telling me that many in the audience even compared the film to a Hollywood classic, dubbed in Urdu. All these interesting compliments and feedback all the way UK has been boosting my confidence and I’m excited for the official release in Pakistan now,” she maintained. 

‘Tamanna’, which is based on English playwright and screenwriter Anthony Shaffer of The Wicker Man and “Whodunnit” fame’s play “Sleuth”, is a dark, haunting and wickedly hilarious tale of a small-time actor (Rizwan Ahmed played by Omair Rana) in love with a rich filmmaker’s wife. He sets out to ask for her hand in marriage from her now separated husband (Mian Tariq Ali played by Salman Shahid) at a deserted mansion’s premises, only to find himself embroiled in a vicious and tricky situation, his beloved’s estranged husband puts him in. How the story unfolds from there is for everyone to see as ‘Tamanna’ proves once and for all how circumstances, which sometimes go out of our control, teach us lessons we otherwise fail to understand. ‘Tamanna’ quickly picks up pace, is sometimes relatable and otherwise entertaining. Starring Omair Rana and Salman Shahid in pivotal roles, Mehreen Raheal and Faryal Gohar are also seen in supporting roles. Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s song for the film “Dastak diye baghair” has already been deemed a super hit track, with Rahat winning the award for Best Music Talent at the LAFF. 

“Two of the things, which I absolutely love about the film amongst others is the fantastic chemistry shared by Salman and Omair. Also, the ending is beautifully written. Although, the film is male-dominated, Faryal Gohar’s role is integral to the film and people will realise that after watching it,” Tareen added. ‘Tamanna’ has been distributed by Summit Entertainment and ARY Films.

Tareen’s Concordia Productions is “not just a production house. It aims to promote an independent voice of Pakistani cinema”. Under the same banner, two untitled films are also in the pipeline; one musical and the other is a drama film based in the inner city.
Cinema, film and theatre is here to stay for as long as the world will last, and I’m just glad Pakistan is running in the filmmaking race shoulder to shoulder with the others.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Did you know?: Na Maloom Afraad to reveal identities post-Ramazan

We have some ‘maloomat’ for you. Pakistani film Na Maloom Afraad will be released in the country in August 2014. A social comedy thriller, the film revolves around three protagonists and life’s paradoxes.
The cast includes film and television veterans Javed Sheikh and Salman Shahid along with actors Fahad Mustafa, Mohsin Abbass Haider, Urwa Hocaine and British actor Kubra Khan. According to a press release, the film features television sensation Mehwish Hayat in a dance number. Na Maloom Afraad has been directed and by Nabeel Qureshi and produced by Fizza Ali Meerza under the banner of Filmwala Pictures, who have also co-written its script.
“The storyline is close to the lives of people living in Pakistan, particularly Karachi and the film has mostly been shot in the old areas of the city,” said Qureshi. “The backbone of this film is the original script and content. The intervening plots and overlapping situations will gratify the audience in an amusing and humorous way,” he added.
Na Maloom Afraad is presently in its post-production phase and its trailers will soon grace television screens. The film claims to break new ground in the emergent Pakistani film industry. Both Qureshi and Meerza feel that there is untapped potential in the industry, which needs to be explored and brought to the forefront.
We hope that the film turns out to be a milestone in the budding Pakistani film industry.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Reboots with Operation 021

Although notorious for his anti-Bollywood statements, Shaan is more worried about the Karachi and Lahore industry divide. PHOTOS: PUBLICITY
“I don’t do this anymore,” says Shaan Shahid as he wears his Ray-Bans and walks away from the camera in a scene from Waar (2013).  It is a significant one-liner, not only for the storyline of the highest-grossing Pakistani film, but also to Shaan’s personal narrative as an actor, who does not sport the ‘gujjar’ look anymore.
From playing the eponymous hero in Moosa Khan (2001) to Major Mujtaba in Waar, Shaan has stood the test of time and his fans have remained loyal to him. As he gears up for the release of his much-anticipated film Operation 021, the actor looks back in time only to look forward.
“You just have to believe in Almighty, your own soil and people,” says Shaan, not sounding any different from the many patriotic characters that he has played over time. “How much you believe in them is going to reflect on how much they believe in you and that’s where success lies.”
With a multitude of hits and misses under his belt, the 43 year old justifies that his film choices have been driven by what the industry has had to offer at a given time. But for him, the roaring success of Waar has been a game changer. He feels that it is because of Waar that upcoming films have better prospects, not only at the box office but also in terms of representing Pakistani cinema on the global stage.
This is why Shaan hopes to share the true Pakistani narrative with the rest of the world rather than the one that international cinema likes to project about Pakistan. “We don’t need someone to come and make a Zero Dark Thirty for us, especially when it’s our story to tell and when we have the capability of telling better stories,” he says. “Pakistan is the ‘Ricodic’ of powerful stories. Just imagine the kind of romance, suspense, horror and tragedy [films] that can be churned out of a country that has undergone 20 years of war and is still fighting one.”
Patriotism and Shaan go side by side and that was also one of the main reasons behind the success of Waar. And from the wardrobe and styling of Shan in Operation 021, it seems that the film will take a similar course.
If Waar was about fight sequences and ballistics, Operation 021 is about mind games and revolves around the idea that it’s important to strive to save what you love. “There is a thin line between the characters one chooses to play in an action film because at the end of the day, it’s all about the hero getting off the bike while maintaining the crease of his pants,” comments Shaan. That is the kind of cinema that Shaan likes and also the kind he believes people want to watch: suspension of disbelief at its best.
“At present, we need more people to watch a film than like it,” he quips. For Shaan, Operation 021 was an opportunity to see the extent to which Pakistani filmmakers aspire to be as good as those in Hollywood. He has been pleasantly surprised by the way Zeba Bakhtiar, Jaami, Azan Sami Khan and Summer Nicks have made a film that is at par with any good-quality Hollywood film.
“Hollywood is the way to go and so are China and Turkey, not because I have something against Bollywood, but just because the rest are better storytellers,” clarifies Shaan and explains that this is how Indians made Bollywood an internationally recognised industry.
“The Yash Chopras and other bigwigs of Bollywood sent generations of filmmakers to all these places to learn and educate themselves in storytelling,” says Shaan. He believes that this is how the new wave of Indian filmmakers has surfaced. “[These are] the ones who rely less on mythology and more on original content and that is the only way to create and support Pakistan’s new wave of talent.”
Although notorious for his anti-Bollywood statements, the actor with the most number of films in Pakistan is more worried about the Karachi and Lahore industry divide than that between India and Pakistan.
He believes that ‘gujjar’-centric films were never owned by media practitioners in Karachi and Lahori artistes always felt alienated from the growing drama industry of Karachi. These discrepancies gave artistes someone to blame their shortcomings on and more so, put them in a comfort zone that they needed to be taken out from.
“The requirement of the television industry is 286 dramas in a year, which is great and also a well-paying avenue for artistes who want to make more money by repeating the same thing,” a concerned Shaan comments.
“But someone has to think big, not only in terms of an audience, but also in terms of the big screen because if we all play it safe, then who is going to take risks? Industries are made by risk takers and game changers, not followers.”
Operation 021 is slated for an August 14 release and will be the first Pakistani film ever to release in 22 countries simultaneously including the United Kingdom, the United States and the United Arab Emirates.

Friday, 6 June 2014

5 reasons to watch Jalaibee

Debutante director Yasir Jaswal’s much awaited film Jalaibee is ready for release. With star studded cast and technologically sound team it is expected to be a hit.
Here are our five reasons why you should watch this film.
 1. Watch it for boys
In director Yasir Jaswal’s own words, “watch the film for five amazing boys.” Jalaibee boys includes the charismatic Adnan Jaffar, energy power-house Ali Safina, television favorite hunk Danish Taimoor, theater actor and singing sensation Uzair Jaswal and girls heartthrob VJ turned actor Wiqar Ali Khan – do you really want any more reason to watch this awesome movie? Well, if so then there is a lot more to come out.
2. Zhalay in unseen avatar
Jalaibee features Zhalay Sarhadi’s sensational new look – for all the boys out there hold your hearts, Sarhadi as a sensuous Bano is coming to entertain you in a never-seen-avatar. Among all the debutantes Sarhadi is the only with silver screen experience – she was starred in Mehreen Jabbar’s Ramchand Pakistani.
3. Technology
One of easiest funda to attract cine goers is to lure them with an appealing screenplay. Yasir Jaswal has used state of the art equipment to make Jalaibee. It is first Pakistani film to be shot on the ARRI Alexa HD camera and they’re promoting it to their hearts content. The same camera was used to shoot recent blockbusters such as Gravity, Skyfall and Ironman 3.
By the way you also get to see the vintage Ford Mustang in the film  – it is Jaswal personal possession and he has used it for some great action sequences in the film. Are you excited for the tech savvy film?
4. Sabika Imam
With gorgeous Sabika Imam in the film you certainly can’t give it a miss.The recipient of British Asian Model of the year title started her film career with British Hindi romantic thriller 7 Welcome to London. She stole our hearts in her cameo appearance in Kangana Ranaut’s Queen. Stunning Imam will make her first Lollywood appearance with Jaswal’s Jalaibee. I am super excited to see the breathtaking beauty ruling our silver screen.
5. Yasir Jaswal – the man himself
Jalaibee’s main attraction is of course the director himself – Yasir Jaswal. The creative director is a born storyteller who turned his dreams of film making into reality with much awaited film of the year.
Call band former lead vocalist Jaswal tried his hands in different professions – singing, music video direction and ad making are some to mention here – before finally opting for film making. Watch the edgy action thrillerJalaiebi to witness the directorial expertise of the talented man.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

O21 slated to release on Independence Day

Poster of Operation 021. PHOTO: FILE
The release date of the first spy theatrical film by One Motion Pictures and Azad Film Co has been confirmed. The much anticipated film is tentatively scheduled to release all across Pakistan on August 14 and is expected to be seen on 55-58 screens.
However, what could eventually be an achievement for Pakistani cinema is that this film may also get a simultaneous international release and that too in around 20 different countries.
Since August 14 is falling on a Thursday, the producers seem to be capitalising on the long weekend that will follow, to generate as much business as possible.  This will also save them from the Bollywood influx of big budget Eid releases and give Operation 021 clear running cinemas across its release circuits.
Even though it is too early to make box office predictions, given the long weekend and the Shaan factor, the film may give Waar a tough time at the box office. So far, Waar holds the position of the highest grossing Pakistani film with a total business of Rs 230 million and Bollywood film Dhoom 3 is the highest earning film ever in Pakistan with a total business of around Rs 240 million.
Zeba Bakhtiar and her son Azaan Sami Khan’s latest venture is based on real life political events in Pakistan, including the bombing of Nato tanks in Afghanistan. It is an attempt to establish this new genre in the Pakistan film industry and to experiment with it on a broader and serious platform. In order to meet international standards, latest technology and gadgets have been used in the making of this film. The film was previously titled The Extortionist.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Tamanna to be finally ‘fulfilled’ on June 13

The title track of the film, which was unveiled at the music launch, has been sung by Amanat Ali, composed by Afzal Hussain and arranged by Hassan Abbas. PHOTOS: PUBLICITY
Monday night at the Royal Palm saw the music launch of Pakistani filmTamanna, which will finally hit theatres across Pakistan on June 13, four years after being announced. The film’s release is timely, as it surfaces when the local film industry has taken on a new significance.
The film’s soundtrack has been backed by the Tradition Plus team, which includes music heavyweights Sahir Ali Bagga, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and cultural icon Yousuf Salahuddin. With fresh melodies and lyrics, the songs are pleasing to the ears.
The film’s British director Steven Moore says, “The unique thing about the film’s music is that it doesn’t just comprise Bollywood-inspired songs and dance numbers. The music [extends meaning] to the film.”
Moore, who was teaching film-related courses at the South Asian Media School in Lahore, has been avidly interested in the Pakistan’s culture. He has referred to the city as his home and has worked towards maintaining the entertainment quotient of the film while not succumbing to the normative, commercial content of local films.
“Artistes churn out different tunes all the time, which is why we don’t impose the kind of music we want on them. We simply give them some sort of inspiration and let them do their job,” Moore explains. “This is because if you tell artistes to make music for something specific, such as a film, then they tend to interpret it as an ‘assignment’, thus losing sight of creating something unique.”
The music album comprises three tracks, out of which two were unveiled at the launch: the title track, which has been sung by Amanat Ali, composed by Afzal Hussain and arranged by Hassan Abbas; and Chal Oye, sung by Ali Azmat and composed by Sahir Ali Bagga.
The film’s soundtrack has already received acknowledgment overseas; it has won an award at the London South Asian Film Festival for the track Koi Dil Mein, which Khan has lent vocals to.
The neo-noir film will be a test for independent filmmakers who are looking to make an impact through non-traditional stories. Despite limited resources and delays, Tamanna aspires to bring something new to the table, as it diverges from issue-based and thriller films that are commonly being made in the industry.
Another interesting aspect of the music is the way in which the music videos have been shot. The director of photography for the film Malcolm Hutcheson has been an avid collector of old film cameras, which he used for stills. For filming purposes, he found a way of using the classic wind-up camera, which had been used predominantly in the past for passport photographs and has now become obsolete.
“There were plenty of these cameras available in Lahore 20 years ago,” says Hutcheson. “Since I am interested in photography, I started to speak to local photographers, who were throwing these cameras away. I thought that it would be better to get hold of these cameras than disposing them. Now, at least these cameras are safe and with them the social history of Pakistan is preserved.”
He shares that despite constraints such as load-shedding in Pakistan, completion of the film was only made possible due to an innovative and hands-on approach to filmmaking. These handicaps even led the team to experiment with unusual aesthetic choices, so that they could efficiently utilise the production phase of the film.
It is fitting to see that the much-awaited Tamanna will finally be making it to the cinemas. However, one wonders why the discussed constraints were an impediment for the producers, considering that others in the industry are also faced with similar problems.