Sunday, 31 May 2015

Reham Khan reposes faith in film

It seems time doesn’t hang heavy for Reham Khan as she juggles between the multiple roles she has taken up, most recently, of a filmmaker. Setting foot in an industry where people have long tread carefully, she comes with the will to promote a positive image of Pashtun culture and Pakistan. With spirits high and wearing a 100-watt smile, she talks to The Express Tribune about her upcoming film Jaanan and aspirations.
Reham has teamed up with Imran Raza Kazmi to produce Jaanan, a romantic-comedy about a Pashtun family, slated to release on Eidul Fitr next year. Lack of funds and infrastructure didn’t stop a novice Kazmi from venturing into filmmaking, with his 2013 feature film Siyaah. Reham says she’s open to working with new talent, bringing out the best her country has to offer. On working with Kazmi, she states, “It gives me even more courage to stand tall and not allow any negativity to be a hindrance in way of what I want to achieve.”
Aiming at promoting an image of Pathans far from their myopic depiction in international media, Reham will take the audiences on a trip to the panoramic Chitral, Parachinar, Swat and Peshawar through her film. “The most important reason for me [to take up filmmaking] is to promote the peaceful image of the Pashtuns,” says Reham. “And being a Pathan myself, who can better share their hospitality, kind-heartedness, especially towards women, and courage, than me?” she adds.
Reham hopes to pay homage to Pakistani legends, such as Allama Iqbal, Abdul Khaliq and Khushal Khan Khattak, through biopics, so that people on a global level become acquainted with the trials and tribulations they went through to achieve their goals. “We’ve seen India’s tribute to Milkha Singh in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, but not many people know that he was beaten more than once in international races by Pakistani sprinter Abdul Khaliq, who has won 100 gold medals,” she states.
Married to politician Imran Khan, Reham clarifies her upcoming project has no political undertone. Reham says, “My intentions and conscience are clear. My aim is to contribute towards the improvement of our society.” She adds, “Filmmaking has two major advantages that contribute to my aim: it will help change the foreign media’s perception of Pakistan and be a source of relief and joy for locals.”
Reham feels filmmaking is a medium of communication, both nationally and internationally – one that can be used to promote Pakistan, its rich culture and society, and to tell the world about the unsung heroes, who have lived or are currently living in the country. “It’s a channel through which I can make a difference … however big or small,” she adds.

As a new wave of filmmakers continues to lend impetus to the local movie industry, Reham hopes to play her part in doing the same. “I’ve identified an opportunity where I can, within the position I’m in, help rebuild our film industry. I know there are always benefits and drawbacks associated with bringing about change, but I also know it’s always a struggle when one tries to leave a positive impact,” she notes. With the youth constituting a major segment of Pakistan’s population, Reham feels it plays a crucial role in shaping socio-political developments. She calls for setting a platform through which young talent can surface in the country.
Reham laments that gone are the days when people would acknowledge artists, especially those who became part of the industry at a young age and have invested their blood and sweat into it. “People, such as Madam Noor Jehan, Badar Munir, Waheed Murad and Muhammad Rafi, were not always the stars they’re remembered to be … they, too, struggled,” states Reham. “Times were different then when people were generally more courteous and respectful … I hope those days will come again and artists these days are given the same respect preceding ones were given.”
Reham feels Pakistanis have been accepting towards the role of media as a clarion call for a change in societal mindset. “We’ve seen how Bollywood and Hollywood have improved their standing in the international arena showcasing their stories, culture, particularly language,” she says. “Taking that as an example, we can show the brighter side of our country and, hopefully one day, we will outshine the negative propaganda we so often get trapped in.”
With an indomitable will and hope to receive support and love from the people of her country, she notes, “All I’m trying to do is take one step at a time towards the bigger goal I have in mind. I need the support and love from my own people to achieve something that’ll be beneficial for us as a nation.” She further says, “If you have something to contribute to this aim, then I welcome you to join us in making a difference. Nothing in this world is achieved without perseverance and a sense of unity along with cohesiveness and patience.”

Saturday, 30 May 2015

‘Waar 2’ to hit the floors next month

KARACHI: Almost two years have passed since the release of Waar but the film seems to have left an indelible mark on the local movie industry. The film that hit the screens on Eidul Azha in 2013 is credited with having changed the landscape of Pakistani cinema. Now, Waar’s sequel, announced in December the year of its release, is set to begin filming next month in the United Kingdom.
Writer-director of the film’s sequel, Dr Hassan Waqar Rana, told The Express Tribune, “We will shoot the first spell for the film in London by June-end, prior to the release of [our film] Yalghaar.” Rana revealed that Shaan will reprise his role in Waar 2 and will star a host of foreign actors. He will also get assistance from international talent, including camera professionals, for the film.
Although the cast for the sequel is yet to be finalised, the filmmaker stated he was keen on roping in both new and established actors. “I will take actors, both new and old, for Waar 2, especially Ayub Khoso, Adnan Siddiqui and Humayun Saeed,” he stated. “Bilal Ashraf is on-board [with the film] as one of the new talents. Aleeze Nasser has also agreed to be part of the project.” he added. The movie will be shot in a number of locations, including Russia, Yugoslavia, the UK and Turkey.
In a story earlier published in The Express Tribune, Waar 2 was reported to be a collaborative project of Mindworks Media and ARY Films. This is not the only collaborative project between the two companies. Mindworks and ARY will also team up for another movie titled Delta Echo Foxtrot.
Waar, directed by Bilal Lashari and produced and written by Rana, became one of the highest-grossing films of Pakistani cinema and won several awards, including those for ‘Best Film’, ‘Best Director’ and ‘Best Actor’ at last year’s ARY Film Awards.

Friday, 29 May 2015


A one-of-its-kind movie for the new Pakistani cinema, Bin Roye – a Momina Duraid film is sure to exceed audiences’ expectations with its engaging script, picture-perfect direction, immaculate production and star-studded cast includingMahira Khan, Humayun Saeed, Armeena Rana Khan, Javed Sheikh, Zeba Bakhtiar, Adeel Hussain and Junaid Khan.

HUM Films organized a press conference and special meet and greet session with the star cast and crew of Pakistan’s most anticipated feature film Bin Roye, starring the stalwarts of Pakistan’s entertainment industry Mahira Khan along with the gorgeous Armeena Rana Khan and the evergreen Humayun Saeed in lead roles.
The movie is based on the bestselling socio-romantic novel Bin Roye Ansoo by the legendary playwright Farhat Ishtiaq, produced by the bigwig of Pakistan drama industry Momina Duraid and directed by Momina Duraid and Shahzad Kashmiri. With two of the movie songs directed by the talented Asim Raza and Sarmad Sultan, director of photography the talentedFarhan Alam, and a star-studded cast including the likes of Javed Sheikh, Zeba Bakhtiar, Azra Mansoor and with special appearances of the multi-talented Adeel Hussain, Junaid Khan, Faiza Hassan and Shireen Zahid, Bin Roye is sure to set Pakistan film industry on a new course.
The press conference, organized for select media personnel and bloggers not only gave audiences an insight into the movie but also provided the star cast an opportunity to share their experiences and memories created on the sets. Set to release this Eid, Bin Roye’s plot revolves around the three lead characters and their love triangle. With its many twists and turns, the story will keep the audiences engaged till the very last second. The film’s trailer, which is already receiving an overwhelming response from the audiences since its release, was also screened after which the floor was opened for questions and answers.

 Bin Roye has a lot of twists and surprises for the people who have already read the novel,” said Momina Duraid, producer and co-director of Bin Roye.
Well, they say Humayun Saeed is the Shahrukh Khan of Pakistan then Shahrukh Khan must be the Humayun Saeed of India,” said Mahira Khan while answering a question on who’s the better romantic hero. “I have been waiting for the release of this movie for the last two years; I have given everything to Bin Roye and am sure it will do well at the box office”, she added.

“Hamza Ali Abbasi won’t have to update his status after watching Bin Roye,” quoted Humayun Saeed while answering a question if there’s any controversial scene or item number in the movie.
The special meet and greet session was attended by media personnel, bloggers and bigwigs of Pakistan’s entertainment industry including Junaid Khan, Hareem Farooq, Farhan Ali Agha, Javed Sheikh, Shahzad Kashmiri, Fizza Ali Meerza and others.

  Made under the banner of HUM Films and Momina Duraid Films, Bin Roye is an Eid gift from HUM Network to all its audiences and promises to raise the bar of filmmaking in Pakistan.

‘Pakistani audiences ready for all types of cinema’

A few years ago, the thought of an actor diverging from non-commercial to commercial cinema would’ve raised a few eyebrows. But ever since actors the likes of Christoph Waltz and Nawazuddin Siddiqui have tried their hand at and earned spurs in both, a growing list of artists seem to be exploring what it’s like to make such a transition. This brings us to our very own Mohib Mirza, an actor who has mainly starred in independent and art-house films, such as Josh, Dukhtarand Seedlings (Lamha). But with his upcoming film Bachaana, Mirza is set to channel his acting skills into commercial cinema.
Having maintained notable presence on TV due to his work, both as an actor and host of the first edition of music-reality show Pakistan Idol, Mohib says he has realised the importance of shifting between mediums. “Working in the same medium throughout your career is when monotony starts creeping into you,” he feels.
According to Mirza, his latest cinematic outing is unlike his previous attempts at film. “The movie is entirely different from the previous work I’ve done in Pakistani cinema, as it represents commercial cinema and is an entertaining film, which, I hope, people will enjoy,” he says. Of his preceding movies, he states they were “indie movies, shot primarily as drama films.” He adds, “They weren’t intended to be visual masterpieces as the story was more important in them. Movies, such as Lamha andJosh, focused more on social issues and everyday-life problems.”
Mirza, who will be seen opposite Sanam Saeed in Bachaana, shares how he was approached for the role. “I was working on the TV serial Firaaqalong with Sanam [Saeed] … she was finalised for the film before me and I think it was in a passing comment that she mentioned my name to the director,” he states. He then read the film’s script and signed up for the project. Without divulging details of his character, he says he will portray the role of a taxi driver in the film.
With a spate of comedy films expected to release later this year, including Halla Gulla, Wrong No and Jawani Phir Nahi Ani, it may be challenging for Bachaana to rivet the audiences, which seem to have a penchant for comedy films. But Mirza discredits the notion, claiming, “I think Pakistani audiences are ready for all types of cinema, whether it’s mystery, comedy or drama. The intellectual level of our audiences is at par with that of international audiences.”
Mirza rose to fame playing the eponymous character in the sitcom Ishrat Baji, and although he has gone on to perform more serious roles, he’s still remembered by audiences for his stint in the comedy genre. On whether he’ll consider appearing in a comedy film, he states, “It’s not like I don’t want to appear in comedies. If someone approaches me with a quality comedy script today and it appeals to me, then I’d most definitely pursue it.”
Bachaana, which stars Mirza and Saeed in lead roles, has been directed by Nasir Khan and produced under the banner Big Films Entertainment. Although no release date has been announced for the film yet, it’s expected to hit the screens later this year. Since Mirza made his acting debut on television, he has racked up a very diverse portfolio, with sitcoms and drama serials, such as Ishrat Baji, Shehre Zaat and Meray Dard Ko Jo Zubaan Miley, to his credit.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Voices behind ‘3 Bahadur’

If acting isn’t a piece of cake, then voiceovers are certainly not a cakewalk. Imagine this. Your body is tied up and you have to project the required emotions just with your voice. That’s how many artists describe the art of doing voiceovers. As the country’s first animated feature film 3 Bahadur gains recognition across Pakistan, The Express Tribune talks to artists who breathed life into the characters of Deenu, Mangu, Chapta, Pateeli and Baba Balaam.
Veteran actor Behroze Sabzwari is no stranger to the art of voiceover, as he previously lent his voice to Dirtoo’s spy Ghunsunna in Commander Safeguard. According to him, “a lot of hard work and effort goes into” this form of acting, which is harder than acting in person.
He says a major reason why dubbing for an animated-adventure film is more strenuous because of the on-screen characters’ facial expressions. “Animated characters are different from real-life ones. So, you have to adapt to that a little bit,” says Sabzwari, who is the voice behindchowkidar Deenu in the movie.
Contrarily, stage and television actor Khaled Ahmed, the voice of the older version of Mangu, holds that both acting and doing voiceover have their own set of challenges. “In my opinion, it [voiceover] is difficult but not more difficult than [acting], as you can’t use your body gestures to communicate the required emotions,” he says. Ahmed, who teaches voice-related courses at the National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa), states that voiceover artists are trained enough to ease into the character after seeing it. They get an idea of what sort of voice would complement the character and adapt accordingly.
 In the wake of the release of 3 Bahadur, chances are others will follow suit. Instead of being overly optimistic about the future of the animated film industry in the country, the voice artists choose not to look ahead in the future for now. They feel they need to iron out a few kinks, such as writing scripts for animated series, for the industry to progress to its full potential. “What is promising and heartening for me is that some entertainment for children is being done. As for the future, we would have to see how this movie pans out, but I’m hopeful that we would have more animators from our country, who would make such movies,” says Ahmed.

Friday, 22 May 2015

A bahadur attempt

Filmain shilmain chaltee theen, hum ganay shanay gaatay thay, woh raatain ab kahan gayeen, jab pal bhar main so jatay thay …” These lines of a song by Shahvaar Ali Khan epitomise the childhood parents today reminisce about.
This was when iPads hadn’t replaced BMX cycles, going to the circus was a matter of celebration, not concern, maachis bombs were the only explosives kids knew about, and when Captain Planet and Ainak Wala Jin, and not Chota Bheem, were post-homework TV options. Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy’s 3 Bahadur is an effort to give the children of today a chance to think and dream about local heroes, so that even they have something to reminisce about when they grow up.

Although an animated film is no solution to the bigger socio-political problems we are laden with, it is still a development that children will probably remember… other than the black day when Zayn Malik left One Direction. 3 Bahadur is a step in the right direction and on the right screen; it exceeds our expectations for Pakistan’s first animated feature film, but doesn’t give us anything iconic.
The movie is based in Roshan Basti, a make-believe place where you’ll see Rio and Gluco biscuits and Commander Safeguard plastered on every other wall and billboard. The film starts to seem like a biscuit advertisement in places, especially when one of the three children with super powers sports a Rio cap, but that’s also when some genuinely funny moments save the day. The point where the fattest goon (Pateela) performs a mix of kathak and Bharatnatyam in his free time is humorously depicted. Kudos to Bassam Shazli for smoothly fusing terror and stupidity in Pateela’s character through his voice.

Everything seems to be going fine in Roshan Basti until Mangu (Ally Khan) meets Baba Balaam (Nadir Siddiqui), who disappears after giving Mangu the key to evil powers.  Mangu starts using those powers against the innocent dwellers of the town till Kamil (Hanzala Shahid), Zuhab Khan (Saadi) and Muneeba Hasan sneak into the tower where he lives. There, they are gifted with special powers by a flying object (not clearly identified in the film), and those powers help them make their way through the tower. Thus begins a war of good-versus-evil, adults-versus-children, and the old-order-versus-new-order, with uncle Imran, the fairest of all characters, being the only voice of reason in the basti. Ha, that’s one way of politically enlightening children.
Although the film is well-paced and Shiraz Uppal’s music gives you a delightful entry and memorable exit from the cinema, it is the screenwriting and pacing in general that bite 3 Bahadur in the back. The first major fight sequence in the film is so dramatic and action-packed that it kills your appetite for another one and the culmination of events adds nothing new to the plot. It seems like a repetition of whatever happened in the first half, just with a little more detail and less drama.
The reason why the film fails to give us anything iconic lays in the superficial and ordinary characters of the protagonists.  Although all three characters, Kamil, Amna and Saadi, have clear motivation for what they do, they lack the detail and oomph that’d make them superheroes, those that a child would look up to. On the other hand, the villains are vicious ad more dedicated; this is not only because of them being older than the protagonists and better voice acting, especially Khalid Ahmad’s, but also because they have been written and conceived more comprehensively.
Despite being a surface-level attempt at the art of animation, 3 Bahadur’s post-production team deserves credit for creating a guinea pig that is going to test the courage of other animation houses in Pakistan.
Verdict: 3 Bahadur has funny and frightening moments for children. The use of Urdu language may be the only saviour if they enter expecting something similar to Madagascar or Rio.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

‘Abdullah The Final Witness’ to Premiere at Cannes Film Festival

Imran Abbas Naqvi is quiet excited as his upcoming Pakistan film ‘Abdullah: The Final Witness’ will be premiering at Cannes Film festival. The talented actor will be travelling with the team to attend the premiere and this would be his first visit to the prestigious film festival.
The Pakistani drama written, produced and directed by Hashim Nadeem focuses on the Kharotabad incident in which five innocent Russian citizens were killed, allegedly by a suicide bombers of Frontier Constabulary (FC), at the Kharotabad check post. The incident was filmed by a journalist and some of the videos were aired. Commenting on the same Imran who plays Abdullah’s son says, "The script moved me and the shoot strengthened my belief that terrorism is an evil that needs to be exterminated."
The actor is also planning to catch many films there and meet some Bollywood friends: "This is my first visit to Cannes and going with a film I'm a part of is a dream come true." He added. Imran would next be seen Muzaffar Ali’s next ‘Jaanisaar’.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Sanam Saeed to play an Indian in upcoming Pakistani film

Pakistani actress and model Sanam Saeed, who found popularity in India with her TV show Zindagi Gulzar Hai, is now going to play an Indian girl in Nasir Khan’s romantic thriller film Bachaana.
Bachaana is a journey of a sweet and bubbly Indian girl Aalia, played by Sanam, who undergoes a series of unfortunate events and is forced to place her faith in a man she hardly knows. That man, Vicky (Mohib Mirza), is a Pakistani driving a taxi in Mauritius.
The film, set to hit screens both in India and Pakistan, follows the couple’s adventurous journey of love.
Sanam says that through this movie, she is trying to bridge the gap between both the countries.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the script and Aalia’s character. She was very unlike the roles I had played before. All of us, in whatever way we can, are wanting to and trying to bridge the gaps and differences between India and Pakistan,” she said in a statement.
“We have been die-hard fans of their (Indian) movies for decades, and now they are enjoying our storytelling through the small screen. Our actors are crossing borders and so are our stories now. And that is what I saw in Bachaana. The film is light and easy. I was really enjoying getting into Aalia’s character with the mannerisms, clothes and diction,” she added.
Sanam also says that she had references and advice on Indian girls from the team they were working with.
“At the end of the day though, Aalia is a south Asian girl that I am very familiar with – whether she be Indian or Pakistani. This is a contemporary, easy, breezy, feel good rom-com. I’m sure audiences for India and Pakistan will both enjoy this fun zesty story,” she said.
Bachaana, produced by Rizwan Saeed, is the first feature film of Nasir Khan as a director; he gained prominence at the Mumbai International Film Festival for his documentary Made in Pakistan.
With cast and crew from both Pakistan and India, the film is said to have captured cross-border relations on and off screen. Filmed in Mauritius, the production team conducted a large talent hunt to find actors in the neutral landscape.
“From the script to the actual shoot in Mauritius, it truly has been an adventure and if I were to sum up the film in one line, I would use the following dialogue from the movie “Ladki Hindustani ho ya Pakistani, ladki ladki hoti hai (A girl is a girl, whether she’s an Indian or Pakistani,” said director Nasir Khan.