Friday, 28 August 2015

ARY Films all set for its second production 'Dobara Phir Se'

Riddled with controversies which the majority is deeming another means of promotion, ARY Film's first production 'Jawana Phir Nahi Ani' isn't even out yet and the acclaimed film distribution company has already announced its second production which obviously is enough to excite the serious cinema goers across the nation.
Called 'Dobara Phir Se', the interestingly titled movie is directed by none other than the noted Pakistani filmmaker and television director Mehreen Jabbar, who is thrilled about being behind the lens for a movie after eight long years.
The talented powerhouse lately took to social media to inform her fans and friends alike about her next venture.
Starring megastars along the likes of Adeel Husain, Hareem Farooq, Sanam Saeed, Tooba Siddiqui, Ali Kazmi, Atiqa Odho, and Shaz Khan, the forthcoming movie is written by Bilal Sami and Jabbar says it’s a great story with strong characterizations.
A story about love, friendships, and growing up, 'Dobara Phir Se' will be shot entirely in New York and Karachi. The movie, which is expected to release in the first half of 2016, has already gone on floors with its first spell being in NYC.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Swaarangi delayed to September 11

KARACHI: With almost half a dozen local movies being presently screened in cinemas across Pakistan, producers of Swaarangi have decided to delay the release of their movie as a goodwill gesture to support local films.
The movie, which was initially slated to release on August 28, has now been pushed back to September 11, stated a press release. With a limited number of screens in the country, it would have been very difficult to accommodate Swaarangi in theaters on its initial release date.
Explaining the delay in the film’s release, producer Mazhar Abbas said,“As a gesture to support revival of Pakistani cinema, we are delaying the release of our movie by two weeks. This will help all movies being made in Pakistan to perform better at the box office. This is in the spirit of supporting Pakistani cinema.”
Swaarangi is an upcoming Pakistani movie starring Resham and Ayub Khosa in lead roles. The movie marks Resham’s return to the silver screen after a gap of seven years.
Filmed in distant locations near Kalabagh, Swaarangi is based on real-life events and has been directed by Fida Hussain.
The movie is being described as another product of Pakistan’s parallel cinema. In an earlier interview with The Express Tribune, the movie’s producer had told how they aimed to show the plight of drug addicts through this film. “When people watch the film, our goal is not to advocate a position or anything. We want to show how people who are drug addicts survive under those circumstances,” remarked Abbas.
Set for a September 11 release, the movie will now be in direct competition with Sarmad Sultan Khoosat’s biopic Manto.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Hiatus due to below-par films: Resham

LAHORE: Resham, who has been away from the local film scene since nearly a decade, cited substandard films that were being churned out at the time as the reason of the hiatus. “I distanced myself from Lollywood due to the below-par films that have been made in the past decades,” she said, reported Roznama Express.
But in the wake of the film industry’s revival, Resham will soon be seen in Swaarangi, a comeback she said she’s making on the audiences’ insistence. “Swaarangi is not a run-of-the-mill, commercial film. In recent times, filmmakers have been taking brave decisions and are making unique movies,” she noted.
Swaarangi has been directed by Fida Hussain and produced by Mazhar Abbas, with Mianwali as the filming location. It’s a youth-oriented film, which revolves around the theme of substance abuse. Also starring Ayub Khosa, Waseem Manzoor, Hamza Mushtaq and Shahzeb, the movie is expected to release on August 28.
During her time away from the silver screen, Resham starred in a string of Pakistani television serials, such as Banjar and Mann-o-Salwa. Having debuted in 1995 with Syed Noor’s film Jeeva, she went on Lollywood films, such as Inteha and Pehla Pehla Pyaar.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Does watching Pakistani films equal patriotism?

A couple of years ago, it would have been hard to think of the revival of the 1970s’ cinema-going culture in our lifetime, but it has happened. Modern multiplexes are growing in almost all the major cities of Pakistan. Latest movies are hitting the local market, fresh and crisp. Cinema is back in a big way and, as an avid movie-buff, a few things give me more pleasure than to see a spate of Pakistani productions gracing the screens. Another thing that gives me even greater pleasure is the positive response they’ve received the box office. We are witnessing the resurrection of Pakistani cinema and need to support it. Because if you don’t, would that be ‘unpatriotic’? Obviously not.
Over the last few months, I have come across some interesting assertions on the social media: ‘Support Pakistani cinema, it’s a lot better than the Bollywood and Hollywood crap’, ’Ban Indian films so Pakistani films can do well’, and my favourite, ‘Be patriotic and watch Bin Roye’. I hated that film. But does that make me unpatriotic? Please, no. Let’s not make watching Pakistani movies the new barometer of your love for the motherland.
We live in an age where the consumer of every product is knowledgeable and quality-conscious. People want to get the maximum return out of their spending. This free market competition pushes every manufacturer and producer to make a good quality product for their target market. The ones with the bigger budget spend more on branding, marketing and packaging. The ones who cannot invest big bucks in extravagant packaging and marketing try to give acceptable quality by creating a niche. Our local filmmakers also need to learn from the latter.
An average visit to the cinema costs more than Rs1,000, all things included. Multiply this amount by your family members. This is quite a serious entertainment expense one is dishing out and, as a cinema-goer, it is my right to get my money’s worth. I don’t want to be short-changed. In order to support the Pakistani cinema of the recent past, most of us purchased cinema tickets and might continue to do so, but the filmmakers need to bear in mind that we have almost reached the point where people will choose what’s the best return for their investment.
It is still okay to go and watch a bad film if you want to support Pakistani cinema, but at least be tolerant of the people giving healthy criticism. If we keep calling mediocre stuff classic, that eventually will become the benchmark and few would want to better their craft. The ingredients of a good quality  film have always been a good script, direction and acting, and a case in point is the films made by neighbouring Iran.
These low-budget films can be compared to any international production. As for the exhibition of Indian films, go back a few years when there were no Indian movies being released on local screens, and among the Hollywood films, released months after their original release dates, only a few were international hits. The cinemas started to shut down and the structures paved the way for shopping plazas. The poor quality of our local films kept the crowd away. If it were not for the release of Indian films, which subsequently resulted in hundreds of new screens, where would our current crop of educated filmmakers be exhibiting their productions? The answer is simple: there would have been no revival of the Pakistani film industry without the new multiplexes. Healthy competition always makes the competitors raise their game and the consumer is the ultimate winner.
When I go to a cinema, I do not think like a philanthropist or a soldier. Spending time and money on a cinema outing should be worth your while. If I had to spend money to express my patriotism, there are many worthy charity organisations deserving our support. Cinema is entertainment and that’s the only way it should be treated.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

‘Waar 2’ begins filming at K2 base camp

KARACHI: Hassan Waqas Rana’s movies are turning out to be a battle against the elements for the actors. After having shot both aerial and ground sequences, the director decided to put his cast and crew under the test as he filmed an action sequence at the base camp of K2.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, the director of Waar 2 talked about his 20-day experience on the base camp alongside his cast and crew. “The shoot itself lasted around four days while the remaining days were accounted by travel,” he said.
Already serving as the director and producer of the movie, Rana has taken up additional responsibility as Director of Photography (DP) for this spell. Of this decision, he said, “Having already served as DP forYalghaar, I had gathered enough experience so I decided to film the scenes myself.”
Despite serving as the DP at the K2 base camp shoot, Rana clarified he will hand over the reins to someone else once they begin filming in London. “I might shoot the ground sequences, but someone else will shoot the aerial and underwater scenes, as filming such parts is a completely different skill altogether,” he added.
Without divulging details about the nature of the scenes that were shot at the K2 base camp, he revealed that it’s essentially an action sequence involving four foreign actors, who were also professional climbers. “We needed them specifically to film the high-altitude action sequence.”
Waar 2’s trailer is expected to release alongside Yalghaar later this year. Even though filming for Waar 2 will not be finished by the time its trailer is released, Rana said they will make use of the scenes they have shot up till that point.
In a previous interview, Rana had mentioned how he wanted the cast for the sequel of Waar to be a mix of the old and the new guard. “I will take actors, both new and old, for Waar 2, especially Ayub Khoso, Adnan Siddiqui and Humayun Saeed.”

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Reham’s ‘Janaan’ to go on floors

In the wake of criticism, it was recently clarified that Reham Khan will neither contest elections on a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf ticket nor will she attend any party gathering. But despite cutting back on her political contribution, it seems she still won’t have any free time on her hands. This is so because Reham and IRK Films’ upcoming film Janaan is expected to go on the floors on August 21, with the first production spell scheduled for Islamabad.
No stranger to the craft of filmmaking, Imran Raza Kazmi, who previously produced the horror film Siyaah, spoke to The Express Tribune about his latest venture. Describing Janaan as a romantic-comedy in the vein of Jab We Met, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge andKuch Kuch Hota Hai, Kazmi said the prime aim of the movie is to promote Pashtun culture in the country. “We want to project Pashtun culture and tradition through our movie, and show that they’re just as normal as us,” he shared.
The movie, to be shot in Islamabad and Swat, tells the story of three brothers based there and in Canada. It further focuses on their children, all of whom gather for a family wedding in the northern areas of Pakistan. According to Kazmi, Reham has been involved in the entire filmmaking process. “From the story to casting, Reham was involved in every aspect of the process. She even helped in developing the story forJanaan, which was later adapted into a screenplay by Osman Khalid Butt.” He added that since Reham hails from Swat, she was able to incorporate unique elements about the area into the story.
Janaan features young actors, such as Armeena Khan, Bilal Ashraf and Ali Rehman Khan, who were all casted following interviews and screen tests. Without divulging details about their roles, Kazmi shared that Armeena would depict the role of a Canadian girl of Pakistani origin in the film.  Interestingly, the film reunites the team behind Siyaah, with Kazmi returning as producer, Azfar Jafri as director and Butt as writer.
For Kazmi, this was an easy decision, not only because of the chemistry the trio shares but also because of the success Siyaah proved to be. “We made Siyaah with a small budget and limited resources, and the way [Jafri and Butt] capitalised on them was remarkable. Imagine what they can do with a greater budget and resources.”
The soundtrack for the movie will feature a string of local artists, such as Ataullah Khan, with the filmmakers also attempting to rope in Bollywood musicians for the project. Kazmi is hopeful that the movie will do well no matter when it releases and may also benefit from Reham’s growing popularity. “This will be a major factor because a lot of people know Reham, but the reason why she’s doing this movie is to promote our local culture.” The film is so far slated for a 2016 release.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Mah-e-Meer headed for November release

Still basking in the success of the comedy Na Maloom Afraad, actor Fahad Mustafa is set to take a completely different turn onscreen with his soon to be released movie Mah-e-Meer.
According to producer Badar Ikram the movie is expected to release in the first week of November. Speaking to The Express Tribune he revealed that, “No date has yet been finalised for Mah-e-Meer but it would most likely release some time at the start of November.”
With the filmmakers eyeing a November 6 release due to an extended weekend with a public holiday being observed on Monday, November 9 in remembrance of Allama Iqbal – this decision may benefit the movie’s box office collection.
The movie which is based on the life and work of poet Mir Taqi Mir, will follow the struggle of a contemporary poet and how his own journey parallels that of the legendary poet.
Mah-e-Meer features an ensemble cast with actors Sanam Saeed, Iman Ali, Manzar Sehbai, Alyy Khan also playing integral roles.
In an earlier interview, director Anjum Shehzad had praised the performance of the entire cast terming Iman Ali’s performance in the film, as one to watch out for. “She has delivered a memorable performance. This will be a landmark film in her career, a movie which shall be appreciated by cinemagoers,” he said.
The first trailer for the movie was released in mid-2014 and a final release date for the movie is expected to be announced soon.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Pat on the back for Shah

Making a biopic is like adapting a classic novel on screen, you can never do justice to 700 pages of elaborate details by writing two hundred pages of screenplay.  That is perhaps why writing biopics demands immense command on storytelling and a thorough understanding of the cinematic canvas and its ability to increase the emotional quotient of any situation.
But when you have a real-life rags-to-riches plot than the least you can do is put the story across in a remotely engaging manner and that’s exactly what Shah is: a film that bleeds passion, sweats honesty but doesn’t have life as a whole.
Directed by Adnan Sarwar and based on the life of Pakistani Olympian boxer Hussain Shah, the film begins with an interview. Played by Sarwar himself, Shah sits in front of the camera, clad in a shalwar Kameez and waist coat and recollects his journey from the slums of Lyari to being the king of the boxing ring.
And so it begins, Syed Hussain Shah is found in the slums of Lyari by Chacha (Gulab Chandio) who adopts him and gets him work to do. As time passes by, Shah realises that his true potential lies in his ability to knock out people and get knocked out and that’s when he joins a local boxing club. From here on begins the struggle of a boxer, in fact let me say a Pakistani boxer. There is also a female journalist in the story played by Kiran Choudhry but her existence in the story is as pointless as her mention in the end of this paragraph.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that Shah is a bad experience. For a country that has never seen an inspirational story on the big screen,Shah is a welcome respite. Through the life of a champ that was never celebrated, it brings forward what Jung would call the ego and the shadow of our society — what we want others to know about ourselves and who we really are. And how things can change for good if we find a balance between the two — this quintessential reality check is whereShah makes a stand.
However, the greatness is only restricted to the theme and flashes of brilliance on the stylistic front, beyond that it’s just an amateur attempt at making a feature film. And despite the entire Hullabaloo about the film being made in a very “limited budget”, none of these problems are related to the budget.
The script literally has nothing to offer to the actors, who often deliver dialogues without any clear motivation. Any film that showcases an epic inspirational journey is bound to have a few one-liners that stay with you for the rest of the life but this sadly doesn’t have any of those. And even legendary performers such as Chandio are wasted despite a consistent effort by him to somehow fuel up the screen. Sarwar himself tries his level best to adapt the Balochi accent but in managing to do so he loses on the emotion of his character.
The grand and power packed score by Salman Albert and Sarwar keeps the film alive but no melody can suffice, if the jabs and punches in a boxing match have been dragged to the point of looking boring.
As a whole, the film does seem like a wasted opportunity; maybe someone with a better understanding of aesthetics of filmmaking would have pulled it off in a better way. But, no one even thought about putting time and attention into the life of an unsung Pakistani hero, who doesn’t live in Pakistan anymore.
Verdict: Shah is a tad over-ambitious but sincere effort to tell a story that needed to be told, and Sarwar deserves to be commended for that.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Review: Moor power to Pakistani cinema

Celebrated Pakistani photographer Kohi Marri once said, “Such beautiful is the landscape of Balochistan that we can shoot an entire Lord of the Rings here”.  Though Jami was not present when we discussed it, but maybe he was, in another dimension.  And the visual magnum opus that Moor has turned out to be is more or less, the culmination of Marri’s account. The only difference is that Frodo Baggins was aided by the fellowship and Wahidullah Khan (Hameed Sheikh) only has a fragile family by his side.
Wahidullah, the station master of Khost railway station reluctantly agrees to sell off the railway infrastructure due to political pressure and promised financial benefits. But as his son Ahsanullah Khan (Shaz Khan) moves to Karachi,  he finds himself entwined in the dilemma of not letting go of what is inherently his (the railways) and embracing the hope of a better tomorrow. The simple yet thoughtful execution of this conflict makes it dark-to-the-core but apparently an ethereally white story — a dense emotional experience. The rest of the film is an engaging collection of non-linear sub-plots that meet for a definite purpose while enticing you with enough twists and turns to keep you fastened to your seats.  Surprise! You have the first ever complete Pakistani film of the year.
It was evident from the baffled response to Operation 021 that Jami has a habit of over-complicating things. He does not refrain from that inMoor — as a result, it might take you some time and talking to  fellow cinemagoers to decipher the connection of subsequent deaths in the first half. And those deaths are significant theme elements, as well as imperative to the plot detail, so a little clarity would have helped convey the foundation of the film.
However, the deep understanding of the social issue, coupled by powerful performances make up for the complications as the film progresses. Hameed Sheikh‘s journey from complete sanity to neurosis is not only reflected through his swift aging post-crises, but also the subtle brilliance with which his mannerisms become more timid with time.
Shaz Khan adapts the Pushtoon accent fluently and effortlessly while maintaining his composure —almost comparable to a dead volcano — whenever he did erupt on screen, you knew from within all your being that he means business.  Abdul Qadir as Baggu Baba turns out to be the highlight of the film.
Bagoo generally preserves a very goofy attitude towards things but doesn’t let the viewer confuse him for a clown. He, in many ways represents the true essence of a native, one who would kill or get killed for his soil. The most exceptional part of Qadir’s portrayal of Bagoo is that he actually serves as the moral compass of the story but never asserts it. Kudos to Jami for crafting such unique characters and more so, directing them in a way that they get their fair share of impact.
Stylistically speaking, there are plenty of beauty shots in the film — offering the Pushtoon belt of Balochistan as a possible tourist spot for the rest of the world. But the shots do get a tad more claustrophobic in the interior scenes of Muslim Baagh. It could have been intentional, but a little more breathing space would have emphasised the attention-to-detail in the art direction.
The soundtrack of the film when listened to in isolation seems something out of the Strings’ Coke Studio but provides a spine-chilling experience when teamed with snowcapped mountains. Gul Bashri by Rahim Shah in particular, hits you like a cold breeze cuts through your muffler on a dark winter night — it’s haunting but hopeful. The often wall-to-wall use of the score, however, does get a bit vexing at times.
All in all, Jami manages to pull off the impossible with Moor. He grants us a true Pakistani film sans being pretentious or preachy and makes the much rural and suburban concept of ‘love for your motherland’ moving for urban audiences. This breathtaking emotional journey not only highlights the lost livelihood in Balochistan but also gives us hope that Pakistani cinema will not only be taken as an extension of Bollywood. Way to go, team Moor!

Wrong No. all set to release in India

India has found comfort and entertainment in Pakistani television, but it seems that our films have impressed them as well. Efforts to release Pakistani films in India have been going on and finally the hard work is paying off.
The recently released local film Bin Roye is currently running in Indian cinemas and so far it has received a positive response from the audience. Due to its huge success, Yasir Nawaz’s directorial Wrong No. will also be seen playing in India soon.
Wrong No. producer Hassan Zia met prominent personalities of the Bollywood fraternity during his recent visit to the neighbouring country, reported Express News. The film will be releasing sometime this month.
Apart from Wrong No., upcoming films Halla Gulla, Dekh Magar Pyar Se and Jawani Phir Nahi Ani are also in talks to be released in India.
It is important to note that members of both film industries are trying to strengthen ties between India and Pakistan by releasing films across the border over the past few years.
With recent releases more opportunities will open for artists to promote their talent through joint efforts.   

Pakistan Zindabad! Battle for box office azadi

The second half of 2015 has shaped up very nicely for Pakistani cinema. Having gathered momentum following the release of multiple Pakistani films — Wrong No. and Bin Roye – on Eidul-Fitr, the box office seems to be ‘choo-chooing’ in at full steam towards the local box office.
It is difficult to remember a time when Pakistani cinema owners were spoilt for choice. The 2015 Independence day not only marks the country’s 68th birthday but also the first time in almost 40 years that three local films — Dekh Magar Pyaar Say, Shah and Moor — would be releasing simultaneously.
But unlike previous holiday weekends, of Eid, none of these movies are bound to leave a dent at the local box; but can be a real ‘tour de force’ when combined.
Given that there will be a total of 11 movies, the upcoming holiday weekend has a Royal Rumble-esque sense to it with movies of all genres competing against each other.
With cinemas still reeling from the Eidul Fitr hangover as previously released Pakistani films — Wrong No, Bin Roye and Karachi Se Lahore— still churning out decent numbers, exhibitors will be in a real fix regarding scheduling.
Single-screen and multiplex cinema owners have already termed Dekh Magar Pyaar Say as the movie-to-beat but the film faces an uphill task if it is to come out on top.
Exhibitors have also shown a desire to promote local content over Bollywood, such as the Akshay Kumar-starrer Brothers, which they thought was unlikely to have the same impact as Bajrangi Bhaijaan.
Here are our box office predictions:
Dekh Magar Pyaar Say: the favourite
No of Screens: More than 70
According to several exhibitors, the movie has all the ingredients to lure audiences. Already, multiplexes and single-screen cinemas across Pakistan, have shown a readiness to screen the movie.
Director Capri Cinema Farrukh Rauf, expressed his confidence over the film and said, “If the film performs as per expectations than the three-day gross for the long weekend is expected to touch around Rs2 million at Capri only.”
Primarily shot in Lahore, audiences in Punjab are more likely to relate to the movie and with more screens in the region, it is expected to generate a lot of revenue from Punjab. Khorem Goltasab, the general manager of Super Cinemas in Lahore, believes that despite getting many things right, the movie’s performance in multiplexes is expected to be better than in single screens.
“The movie would do great because it already has a large female fan following. Also people want to watch light (comedy) films, they don’t want to see serious dramas,” Goltasab told The Express Tribune.
Shah: the dark horse
No of Screens: 30 cinema sites (Approximately 60 screens)
Until the release of the movie’s trailer not many people knew about the film, but the film’s journey shares a lot of similarities to its rags-to-riches plot and has enough potential to do an upset at the box-office.
Given its swift rise through the ranks cinema owners believe that the movie would benefit greatly from the “patriotic factor”. Exhibitors and distributors feel that the story of the movie is such that it can “unite the audiences under the flag of the nation.”
Despite this, the general belief is that the movie is going to generate a major share of its earnings from multiplexes rather than single-screen cinemas.
Moor: slow and steady
No of Screens: 25 cinema sites
(45 plus screens)
Of all the movies to release this year none have had the kind of hype like more that of Moor. But it has been delayed for so long that all of the excitement and buzz seems to have toned down.
According to Nadeem Mandviwalla, the producer of Moor, they would not be aiming the movie at all audiences due to its serious content. “It is serious cinema and might not do so well in single-screen locations,” he told The Express Tribune.
Made on a budget of approximately Rs50 million, the movie (like all other Pakistani releases) would bank heavily on word-of-mouth. He added that, “None of the movies that are being screened right now are exceptional in terms of face value, but if they do well, they will gradually pick up in terms of business through positive word of mouth.”
With previous movie releases — both local and international — still performing impressively, it is very unlikely that any of these movies will do exceptional business but collectively we might be in for a record-breaking weekend.