Saturday, 30 April 2016

Neelam Muneer has her hands full

KARACHI: Known for her acting stints in TV serials such as Thoda Sa Aasmaan and Aankh Macholi, Pakistani star Neelam Munir will soon be seen playing the female lead in upcoming movie, Chuppan Chuppai. Talking to The Express Tribune the actor divulged details about the Mohsin Ali directorial.
“We have wrapped up shooting for Chuppan Chuppai but the songs have not been completed as yet and a lot of work still needs to be done,” said Neelam. Without giving away too much about her character, the actor shared that she thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the team. Singing praises about the writer and director, she stated “He really knows how to bring out the best in an actor.”
As of now, Neelam has two projects on hold. She has been offered another Pakistani film, but is unsure whether she will take up the project. She has even been offered a Bollywood film but has not been handed the script yet. Hence, she has no clue whether she will be venturing across the border any time soon.
This week, Neelam will be seen in singer Abrar Ul Haq’s new video song titled Ithe Rakh. “He will be performing at a grand concert in Lahore and will also releasing his new album after nine years.” Neelam will also be present at the concert.
“The video was shot in freezing Lahori winter about three months ago,” Neelam mentioned. Besides her, two other notable names included in the video are Jawad Bashir and Adeel Hashmi.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Quetta’s first multiplex to be inaugurated on May 6

About two months ago, news of Quetta gearing up for its first multiplex, the Weplex Pak Force Cinema, was rife among cinema-goers in the city. The official launch was said to be scheduled for March 4. However, after multiple delays — the project that is the brainchild of film distributor Jahanzaib Khan — will finally open doors to the public on May 6. And, the first film it will screen shall be Ashir Azeem’s Maalik.
“If everything goes according to plan, the facility will become functional from May 6 and we will start by screening the film Maalik,” Khan toldThe Express Tribune. This is, however, a soft opening. The multiplex will serve as a single-screen cinema for its first few weeks, until work on the other halls is completed. “The 3D cinema [Weplex’s largest hall] will be the first to begin screening movies whereas work on the Gold cinema — which is more of a luxury cinema — is still underway. It will hopefully be nearing completion in the next few weeks,” explained Khan.
Khan had earlier spoken about how he was approached by notable film-makers such as Jami and Nabeel Qureshi, who had requested that their films Moor and Na Maloom Afraad be the first ones screened at the cinema. However, despite their requests, Khan has decided to go ahead with the recently released Maalik. On the contrary, Azeem said his team has yet to be approached by Weplex’s management for his film’s Digital Cinema Package (DCP). But regardless, he is glad that a state-of-the-art cinema has finally opened in Quetta. “Since Quetta is my hometown, it is even more special for me because people in the city have been denied digital cinema for too long. However, Maalik recently also had the honour of being the first film to be projected in a newly-launched cinema in Sargodha as well,” shared the film-maker.
Azeem went on to lament the state of the film industry in both Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, noting how the lack of digital cinemas was denying potential audiences from good quality entertainment. “I keep getting messages from countless people and they tell me how they have to make six to 10 hour journeys just to be able to watch movies. Hopefully things can start improving with the inception of the Weplex in Quetta,” he proclaimed. Azeem believes that not only is the new cinema a great initiative for the city in terms of commerce but will also inspire a new generation of artistes. “In order to inspire artistes, you need to expose them to different mediums of art and initiatives such as Weplex Cinema will help encourage younger film-makers to pursue this craft,” he added.
Khan defended his decision to build a cinema valued at approximately Rs100 million in the city where security issues are such a major concern, claiming that there is more potential in Quetta than people think. “People consider the city to be a backward, mountaineous region. The truth is that life here has been moving on. Even the security situation has been showing gradual signs of improvement.”

Friday, 15 April 2016

‘Maalik’ collects Rs20m in six days

KARACHI: Ashir Azeem’s return to the Pakistani entertainment industry does not seem to have turned out the way he would have ideally wanted. His directorial debut feature film, Maalik, has done below average business by earning only Rs20 million during its first six days.
Talking to The Express Tribune, a representative of the film’s distributor, FootPrint (Pvt) Ltd, said “While Maalik managed to earn Rs15 million [during the first three days], there was a dip in performance over the next three days with the film only earning Rs0.5 million.”
Released on only 40 screens across the country, the movie saw a relatively tough start at the local box office. Although there are several notable releases expected in the coming few days, the representative who requested anonymity, remained hopeful that Maalik will hold up. “There are a few major films releasing during the coming few weeks but we’re counting on Maalik to sustain itself during that period,” stated the official.
Aside from the record-breaking run of Fast & Furious 7 last year, not many local or international releases have managed to fare well during April. The official said so far Maalik has managed to perform well in Karachi and Islamabad, amongst other regions.
Directed by Azeem, Maalik features an ensemble cast comprising Hassan Niazi, Adnan Shah Tipu, Sajid Hassan and Farhan Ally Agha in lead roles. Released on April 8, the film follows the story of an SSG officer, who after undergoing a personal tragedy decides to start a private security company along with his retired colleagues in Karachi. Together, they aim to free the society of the evils surrounding it.
Despite the film pulling in modest numbers, other representatives of FootPrint (Pvt) Ltd are positive that Maalik will cross the Rs40 million-mark during its lifetime.
Maalik marks Azeem’s comeback to the industry after a gap of over two decades with his last notable work being the cult TV series, Dhuaan.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Review: ‘Maalik’ shines through the scratches

To say the least, Maalik is an unpolished film. It lacks coherence, makes aesthetic compromises on the stylistic side and tests the bladder’s optimum resistance. Yet you don’t feel like leaving the cinema.
While Ashir Azeem’s cinematic debut is a master class on how not to pace a film and how extended melodramatic scenes can cross the line between film and TV, it also manages to stand out from the league of extraordinarily-bad Pakistani films by getting two things right: having a soul and staying true to its purpose.
The core of the film lies in jingoistic propaganda but the fusion with human drama is what forms its essence; something we have longed for with preachy films, off late.
The skeleton however is deformed. As deformed as that of a man who after writing and starring in the country’s most popular crime drama, goes into slumber and wakes up for some action after 22 years. Unlike the passage of his film, Ashir himself has aged gracefully and sports white stubble with Asad, a retired army commando who runs a private security agency along with his father, General sahab (Sajid Hasan), an ex-army kingpin. Their team, like any other squad of heroes, has an angry bad guy, usually found in the interrogation room, a hot female officer (Tatmain Ul Qulb) who charms her way into situations and kicks her way out, and a bunch of ex-servicemen still very much in service. Together they form an untitled company that either charges hefty sums for services or does them for free if they feel it’s the right thing to do. Then one odd day, Asad tells his father that he is “going to do it” and goes to the police station to make a confession. So begins the story.
A presentation of PTV Quetta centre, Dhuwan had a huge cultural impact during the 90s. It was a moving picture of brotherhood, an echoing plea of loss, which made people laugh and cry, quite literally.  With Maalik, Ashir tries to invoke similar feelings but he only succeeds partially. Not that the dramatic tension within the film isn’t high enough; sub-plots such as the journey of the Afghan family are heart-wrenching and brutally honest, but perhaps the better days of our society have also passed and now it really takes a genocide to tickle the nerves that are so numb.
Whatever the case may be, the audience can’t be blamed and certainly not for the scenes where actors are forced to talk in English, a language they were not comfortable communicating in, at all. As much as a certain chunk of our society has become bilingual, speaking in a different language on the big screen requires a lot of fluency, finesse and more so, a situation to keep it natural and all of that was missing. One wonders why this trend started by Waar was consistent with another film with guns and C-130s; I guess love for the country sounds better in English.
Although Ashir manages to resolve most of the major sub-plots in an otherwise non-linear narrative, it is the pacing and duration of the smaller stories that make the film into a complete mishmash of ideas. While the smaller stories are complete and interesting on their own, the director takes too long to connect them with the central storyline which the audience forgets by this time.
Maalik is a film that stands out for its flashes and sparks that otherwise fail to put up a great show. Despite all its bruises and rusty weaponry, it survives like the soldier who has lost the battle but is surviving to tell the story. Maalik manages to create a sense of ownership amongst the audience while not sacrificing on attention-to-detail and sociopolitical history of this land.
Verdict: ‘Maalik’ is not a masterpiece yet isn’t something that should be missed. Watch it without any expectations and you might as well be surprise.