Monday, 28 December 2015

‘Bachaana’ likely to release in Feb 2016

KARACHI: 2016 is already shaping up to be a promising year for Pakistani cinema. With Ho Mann Jahaan ready to hit the screens on January 1, movies like Janaan, Hijrat and Revenge of The Worthless are set to follow suit.
However, cinemagoers can now add another film to the growing list with the Mohib Mirza and Sanam Saeed-starrer Bachaana all set to release in February next year. Speaking to The Express Tribune, director Nasir Khan said, “The film is basically about an Indian woman and a Pakistani man and how they meet in Mauritius and embark on a journey together.”
Describing the movie as a “light-hearted” film similar to other commercial movies that are being made these days, he explained his decision to cast Mohib and Sanam in the lead roles. “For Sanam’s character I wanted someone who had that Indian look whereas for Mohib’s role I wanted someone who was street-smart. Both fit the bill perfectly.” Nasir said with Bachaana the audiences will see Mohib in a new avatar. “He’d be doing comedy and action in a feature film for the very first time.”
The first trailer for the film is expected to be out in January. If everything goes according to plan and the movie does release in February, it may find itself in a box office tussle with Ashir Azeem’s Maalik. The music for Bachaana has been composed by Ali Sher and Symt.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Which hot onscreen couple will feature in Haissem Hussain's new film Balu Mahi?

When award-winning director Haissem Hussain and producer Sadia Jabbar announced they were making a film a few months ago, it generated a lot of excitement amongst the director’s legions of fans.
Although he was a smaller part of one of this year’s biggest movies, Bin Roye, he managed to leave his mark with the fabulous pre-interval climax. After making blockbusters like Dastaan , Aunn Zara, Kuch Pyaar, Aik Nayee Cinderella, Ishq Ghumshuda and cult classics such as Kuch Pyar Ka Pagalpanand Akbari Asghari, he has raised the audience's expectations of any film he makes.
Well, we're letting the secret out of the bag:
The word from the production house is that Haissam's film will be titled Balu Mahi, has a fresh young vibe and is geared to a young audience and families.
The question is who will be Balu and who will be Mahi?
Hussain has worked with crème de la crème of the Pakistani entertainment industry: Humayun Saeed, Imran Abbas, Mikaal Zulfikar , Ahsan Khan and Osman Khalid Butt. He has directed no less than three serials with Fawad Khan and his list of heroines is equally impressive, ranging from Sanam Baloch, Mahira Khan, Humaima Malik, Aamina Sheikh, Saba Qamar to Maya Ali .
Speculation was rife a year ago when popular actress Nadia Jamil announced she was writing a script with him for a cast that included Fawad Khan, Mahira Khan and Sanam Baloch. However, that project seems to be on the backburner and an announcement for Balu Mahi is imminent.
While a lot of fans are taking to Twitter to push for their favourite jodis like Osman Khalid Butt-Maya Ali, Fawad Khan-Sanam Baloch or Fawad-Mahira Khan or even Imran Abbas-Humaima Malick or Ali Zafar-Humaima Malick, the director remains tightlipped.
Insiders at the production company also suggested that Balu Mahi is a fun romantic comedy. It makes sense then that fans have been suggesting Mikaal Zulfikar-Sanam Saeed or Mikaal-Sanam Baloch, conjuring up images from the former jodi's highly successful UFone ads or the latter jodi’s superb chemistry in Kuch Pyar Ka Pagalpan.
While these super hot pairs are easy on the eyes, something a little new, a little different seems to be the order of the day.
While the production house keeps tantalizing fans with hints about shaking things up and a novel combination, we are waiting with baited breath to see what happens next.
The Pakistani film industry is booming, as everyone seems to be signing a film every other day. However, with time there will be an inevitable thinning of the herd as only the talented and lucky survive. It will be interesting to see what a proven director/producer duo like Haissem Hussain and Sadia Jabbar bring to the silver screen.

Friday, 25 December 2015

Which Pakistani film of 2015 was your favourite?

These past 12 months have seen the Pakistani entertainment industry flourish immensely, and the coming year looks just as promising. With box office clashes and back-to-back releases of over a dozen films, one can rightfully say that 2015 was a launch pad for Pakistani films that will see a major boom in forthcoming years.
Here is a list of the top five films that made it big this year:
5. Wrong No.
If Shoaib Mansoor’s Khuda Kay Liye encouraged Pakistani film-makers to make films then Nabeel Qureshi’s Na Maloom Afraad gave them the local recipe for a masala film.
A simple urban tale interwoven in the true Pakistani spirit of facing hardships with a smile, garnished with the right amount of romance and drama. Yasir Nawaz’s Wrong No. employed the same trick and succeeded to a certain extent.
Sallu (Danish Taimoor) belongs to a family of professional butchers who instead of adopting the family trade wants to become an actor. His father Hajji Abba (Javed Sheikh) wants his son to get a job and the friction between the father and son continues until Sallu runs away from home. What follows is an often funny and sometimes boring comedy of errors, layered forcefully with music and a plot that is well constructed but borrowed from various Bollywood films. The strength of Wrong No. lies in some of its very strong and engaging situations that surgically carve the humour out of everyday Pakistani life.
4. 3 Bahadur
Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s 3 Bahadur is an effort to give the children of today a chance to think and dream about local heroes. The movie is based in Roshan Basti where everything seems to be going fine 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 until Kamil (Hanzala Shahid), Saadi (Zuhab Khan) and Amna (Muneeba Yaseen) sneak into the tower where he lives. There, they are gifted with special powers by a flying object (not clearly identified in the film). Thus begins a war of good against evil and the old order versus the new.
Despite being a surface-level attempt at the art of animation, 3 Bahadur’s post-production team deserves credit for giving hope to Pakistani animation artists.
 3. Manto 
 Sarmad Khoosat’s biopic of the towering short story writer was one of the most talked-about films to come out this year.
The film follows troubled years of the late writer’s life wherein financial pressures, personal dilemmas, creative pursuits and socio-political happenings all coincide. Jamal Rahman’s music is of little help to the film’s narrative that otherwise fails to do justice to the genius of the writer.
It entails some very genuine casting and scripting issues along with a plethora of anachronisms. Sarmad playing the titular role along with Sania Saeed who plays the character of Safiya, the writer’s wife, at best keep the film together. It leaves a bad taste in the mouth for those who have lived with Manto’s fascinating world. For those who were introduced to the genius by the film, it was a winner all the way.
2. Jawani Phir Nahi Ani
 Whatever is said about the importance of art house cinema, it is paisa vasool entertainers like Jawani Phir Nahi Ani that are oxygen for the industry. The Humayun-Vasay duo provides exactly that, albeit with a few impurities and even pressure.
Saif (Hamza Ali Abbasi), BB (Ahmed Ali Butt) and Sheikh (Vasay Chaudhry) are longtime pals unduly tired of their wives and, in some cases, in-laws for being control freaks. One odd day, their filthy rich friend Sherry (Humayun Saeed) returns from the US and mocks them for surrendering to their wives. He paves the way for a getaway by putting together an all-boys trip. What follows is a joyride that keeps you glued to the seat for the most part.
1. Moor

Jami managed to pull off the seemingly impossible with Moor. He gave 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 highlighted the lost livelihood in Balochistan but also gave us hope that Pakistani cinema will not be an extension of Bollywood.
The film follows the story of Wahidullah (Hameed Sheikh), the station master of Khost railway station, who reluctantly agrees to sell off the railway infrastructure due to political pressure and promised financial benefits. But as his son Ahsanullah (Shaz Khan) moves to Karachi, he confronts the dilemma of letting go of what is his, in search for a better tomorrow. The simple yet thoughtful execution of this conflict makes it dark to the very core, making it a dense, emotional experience for the viewers. It is also 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.
Other special mentions from the year include:
Bin Roye
Dekh Magar Pyaar Say
Halla Gulla
Karachi Se Lahore
Do you agree with the list? Vote for your favourite film and mention in the comments section below if you feel we missed out on any.

Monday, 21 December 2015

'Hijrat' trailer promises romance, action and item numbers

Pakistani cinema’s success is hitting an all-time high with back-to-back blockbusters.
After Mahira Khan starrer Ho Mann Jahaan, Farooq Mengal’s Hijrat is also set to hit the silver screen next month.
The filmmakers took to social media to share the official trailer of the upcoming film. By the looks of it, Hijrat seems to deliver a complete package of romance and action.
The film marks the acting debut of renowned model Rabia Butt along with Asad Zaman, Rubab Ali, Nadeem Baig, Jamal Shah and Ayub Khoso in key roles. The film also features actress Sana in a sizzling item number.

Hijrat is a love story that plays out in the foreground of an exodus that rendered millions homeless during the Afghan war. It touches upon the lives of those whose spirits were broken by the homes they lost and whose hearts were broken by the shelter they found.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Ho Mann Jahaan, Fawad cameo and Jimmy's cat: Mahira continues to keep it real

KARACHI: Even before the film’s much-anticipated release on the first day of 2016, we’re sold. Ho Mann Jahaan — and what we know about it so far — gives us some serious #SquadGoals and makes us want to break out in the Shakar Wandaan dance and that too in the Baarish.
But there’s an air of mystery surrounding the plot of HMJ. Sure, the trailers are out and the cast has been promoting the film widely, but what we know so far is pretty straightforward.
The movie revolves around the lives of three music-loving, college friends, played by Mahira Khan, Sheheryar Munawar and Adeel Husain. And when a film’s story line features three people, the safe assumption is that this always involves a love triangle. Well almost always.
A recent interaction with Sonya revealed the love triangle may in fact be a ‘square‘.
Whatever it may be, these non-platonic shapes almost always end up in camps. Are are you Team Edward or Team Jacob; Team Khirad or Team Sarah; Team Aniston or Team Jolie; Team Adeel or Team Shehryar?
One thing’s for certain, we’re Team Mahira.
The leading lady brushes off any sense of discreetness about the movie as she sits down with The Express Tribune in Karachi for an interview.
“I don’t know why you feel that way because I have been talking a lot about the characters and their journeys,” she replied when we asked if the HMJ team is being extra cautious in keeping the story under wraps.
“Obviously, we can’t give away the conflict which is important in any storyline. But I think from the trailer you can tell that it’s about three people who want to be musicians but their parents are not supportive. One parent says you can’t bring an artist home; the other says music is not good. So, you understand what’s happening,” she added.
Mahira says there are several themes in the film. “There’s opposition. Then their is friendship. But essentially, the film is about three friends and what happens in their lives during a year, year-and-a-half period.”
Talking about famed AD filmmaker Asim Raza, who will be making his feature film directorial debut, Mahira says she has known Asim since a long time as she had done her first commercial with him. Interestingly, Sonya, too, shot her first commercial with Asim. “A lot of people will tell you that. He belongs to that pool of talented ad filmmakers who need to make feature films. And thank God he has.”
She also reveals that Asim and her were, in fact, in talks for another film. “I hope we still do that movie because I was very excited about it. But somehow Ho Mann Jahaan came about. I really liked the script because I have been wanting to do something light and contemporary.”
 That would be quite a transformation, considering her character in Bin Roye. So, are her fans are in for a surprise? “If you’re a fan, you’re waiting for your favourite actor to do something else. You’re rooting for them. When they slip, you pray they make a comeback. When they do something different, you pray that it goes well. When they do something that they’re known for, you go with open arms. So, I am not worried for my fans because I know, if I have done a good job, they will like it.”
 HMJ’s music is exceptional, we all know that by now. And obviously, Mahira is a fan. “I love the music. I have to say, I am pretty lucky with the kind of music I have had in my dramas and movies. I liked the Bin Roye music immensely and now Ho Mann Jahaan is a great album too,” she said.
Mahira added that her favourite track is Baarish. “I wish it was picturised on me. I don’t want to be the girl in it, I want to sing it. In fact I feel it’s written for me. I even asked Jimmy but he said he wrote it for his cat,” she said jokingly.
Part of HMJ’s appeal is the string of cameo appearances by some top Pakistani actors — including Fawad Khan. Does that mean we will get to see the fan-favourite pair of Humsafar fame reuinite on the big screen?
“It’s not just Hamza [Ali Abbasi] and Fawad. There are a lot of interesting cameos. And no Fawad and I don’t share screen space,” Mahira disclosed.
In terms of future projects, Mahira says even though she is open to the idea of working in TV, she wants to do more films. And more importantly, she wants to do good work.
“I love what I do and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s the biggest joy to have this job.”

Thursday, 17 December 2015

11 things you need to know about Ho Mann Jahaan

Are you all set for the first film of 2016?
Asim Raza's Ho Mann Jahaan stars Mahira Khan, Sheharyar Munawer Siddiqui and Adeel Husain in a story about young love and ambition.
While the film's release (on January 1, 2016) is a fortnight away, here are 11 fun facts you may not know about the film:
1) The 'college kids' look isn't as effortless to achieve as it seems!
Three look tests were conducted for Ho Mann Jahaan's main cast (Mahira Khan, Sheheryar Munawer Siddiqui, Adeel Husain and Sonya Jehan) before their final looks was locked in for the film. A photograph from the first look test was also used in the film as a college poster.
2) Mahira Khan grew her hair long(er) for the film.
3) While Mahira had the easier job of lip-synching, Adeel and Sheheryar had to learn how to play their instruments.
Adeel learned to play drums and Sheheryar learned to play the guitar. They were taught how to play their instruments by indie musician Daniel Arthur Panjwaaney.
4) There are three more celebrity cameo appearances in Ho Mann Jahaan, which are yet to be revealed.
Plus, there are two musician cameos in the film! (Hint: The soundtrack gives away one!)
5) The jewellery for the film has been custom-designed by Amber Sami, and designers Umar Sayeed, Feeha Jamshed and Ismail Farid designed the wardrobe for the film, keeping in mind the look of the characters.
6) Ho Mann Jahaan is the first Pakistani film for which Zoheb Hassan recorded a song.
7) The set of 'Shakar Wandaan Re' is one of the grandest and most expensive outdoor sets to have been constructed for a film in Pakistan
8) The same set was badly affected by an unexpected downpour in Karachi just six days prior to the shooting date. But the Ho Mann Jahaan team worked day and night to put the set back together in time so that the shoot wasn't delayed.
9) Director Asim Raza was so personally involved in the sets of Ho Mann Jahaan that he even helped the Art team paint a wall in Manizeh's (Mahira's) room
10) Ho Mann Jahaan is Sonya Jehan's first Pakistani film.
11) Sheheryar's real-life father Munawer Siddiqui is playing his on-screen father in the film. After tense scenes between the two, Sheheryar would actually go and apologise to his Dad!

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

The nascent world of Pakistani cinema

In May 1994, the Presidential Advisory Council on Science & Technology reported to South Korean President Kim Young-sam that profits from the film Jurassic Park equaled the revenue generated by 1.5 million Hyundai cars that the country exported that year.
This is testament to how film, as a part of the creative industry, has the ability to surpass any other sector. And the distribution of funds is relatively democratic — your creative capabilities define your role. It enriches the society both materially and intellectually, promoting creativity and adding to the intellectual pool of the country that enhances our ability to create and present narratives.
Those who feel cinema is about just money and entertainment completely miss the point. Indian politician Shashi Tharoor once said, “Today, it is not the size of the army or of the economy that matters, but the country that tells the better story. Components of India’s soft power are … all successfully exported through Bollywood across the world.” Furthermore, Sally Totman notes in How Hollywood Projects Foreign Policy, “The association between the change in Libyan status in US foreign policy and the changing role of Libya in US films is significant.”

The greatest power in the world is the ability to influence the human mind. Film and television are prime mediums not only to reach out to the domestic population but also to international consumers. Countries use their media not just to maintain healthy discourse within their own societies but also to jealously guard themselves against foreign influence. Pakistan, unfortunately, does not rank among those countries. We have surrendered our population to foreign influence and destroyed our existing film and TV culture. Consequently, we are unable to present our narrative both at home and internationally.
These days, the rebirth of cinema in Pakistan is the talk of the town. We have 46 cinemas with 86 screens today as we aim at hitting an output target of 20 films per year. Back in the late 80s, we had roughly 750 cinemas and were churning out as many as 80 films a year. So, what exactly happened? Have we learnt anything from the past?
Hope is essential for all human endeavours. But being an analyst, I have this bad habit of asking questions. Is the current wave of a few overzealous producers, taking exorbitant risks with their time and money with an uncertainty of profits at hand, sustainable for the future? Is the growth of cinemas the same thing as the growth of the film industry? Do profits for cinema owners and distributors translate into profits for producers, actors and crew? Is the present revenue-sharing model between the producers, distributors and cinema owners optimal, equitable and sustainable? Is the cinema owner the industry’s lynchpin or the distributor or the film-maker?
The film-maker is essentially the industry’s live wire — he is the first mover. Unfortunately, a lack of regulatory framework is killing the very film-maker. Despite putting in all the hard work, financial risks and conceiving an excellent product, the film-maker is unable to break even.
The revenue division equation is simple. 50% of the money generated by the tickets is retained by the cinema owner. Almost 30% is raked in by the distributor and the media partner and the remnant falls in the hands of the film-maker. It is pertinent to note that this 20% too is released bit by bit to the film-maker months after the film is out. Can an industry survive in a situation like this? Where does hope help in all this?
The national legislature needs to devise a policy framework at the earliest. Most countries of the world use protectionist policies to safeguard their film industries during nascent years. The requirement for regulation is imperative for more than one reason. Can Hollywood and Bollywood survive without their respective domestic markets? Should a film not have a certain degree of guaranteed access to the local market?
The policy needs to incorporate the following provisions:
1. All exhibitors in Pakistan must display Pakistani films for at least 130 days in a year.
2. At least 33% of the films distributed annually by every Pakistani distributor should be made in Pakistan.
3. A complete tax holiday on film income, including film services, distribution and exhibition for at least 10 years, for films made in Pakistan.
Untapped outreach
The Pakistani vernacular ranks as part of the world’s second most spoken language. This can benefit us immensely in terms of both revenue and outreach. Pakistani films have a potential market in several areas of the world, such as the Middle East, India, Europe and North America, where a significant number of people speak and understand Urdu/Hindi. In addition to helping the economy, our films can help us extend our influence and soft power.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Box office analysis: Will the force awaken in Pakistan?

More than 10 years have lapsed since the last movie in theStar Wars saga hit cinema screens in Pakistan but a lot has changed from the time Episode III: Revenge of the Sith released in the country. With only a handful of multiplexes present and the now ripe cinema-going culture still finding ground at that time, the film was unable to translate its worldwide success in Pakistan. Looking ahead from the events of 2005, things seem to be shaping a little differently for the empire, as the release of the first instalment in the coveted space-opera’s sequel trilogy draws closer.
Unlike other countries, the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakenshas been pushed forward by almost a week in Pakistan, to accommodate two upcoming Bollywood releases, Bajirao Mastani and Dilwale. Speaking to The Express Tribune, Abid Rasheed, executive director of IMGC, explained the motive behind delaying the movie’s release. “The rights for Star Wars’ distribution in the region are held by Disney India and they always release the film a week after its international release,” he said.

This scheduled delay would also allow Indian distributors ample time to ensure that revenues of their local releases don’t suffer. Despite this, Rasheed remains confident that the decision wouldn’t have any bearing on the commercial prospects of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. “It’s actually releasing on a very good window, which is during winter break, and it should do well.”
Although the movie will hit theatres during holiday season in Pakistan, it will face pressure, releasing between two major film weekends. A week prior to its release, the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Dilwale and Deepika Padukone’s Bajirao Mastani will release in the country simultaneously. A week after the local premiere of Star Wars, Mahira Khan’s Ho Mann Jahaan is also slated to release.
Weighing in on the current scenario, cinema owner and film distributor Nadeem Mandviwalla argued that where previous Star Wars films have been unable to create magic in Pakistan, things may pan out differently if one of the two Bollywood releases fails to live up to its billing. “The demand for Dilwale is higher as compared to that of Bajirao Mastani.Star Wars will release on a holiday weekend [December 25], which may actually help it,” noted Mandviwalla.
On the other hand, the lengthy runtime of Ho Mann Jahaan may pose a problem for cinema owners, something which may in fact work in favour of the space-fantasy. “Owing to the long runtime of Ho Mann Jahaan, cinema owners may need to couple it with a movie with the shortest duration, from which Star Wars could stand to gain.” Where previous instalments of the Star Wars series have not fared well, including its 3D re-release in 2012, Mandviwalla feels such a film requires ample promotion to do well in the country.
With Star Wars: The Force Awakens yet to be censored, the exact number of screens it’s expected to release on remains unclear. Should Hindi-dubbed prints arrive on time, the movie will be screened across approximately 65 to 70 cinema screens, but a delay in that could possibly force the Distribution Club to bag only 50 to 55 screens.
Rasheed is hopeful about the box office draw for the movie, expecting it to earn around Rs100 million in local cinemas during its lifetime. According to Mandviwalla, the lion’s share of its box office earnings is most likely going to be generated through IMAX cinemas.