Saturday, 13 May 2017

Bilal Ashraf goes Hulk Bulk for 'Yalghaar'

I had to cut down to 9% body fat and gain muscle mass for my role: Bilal on his inspiring physical transformassion

We've always known actors have a tough job; after all they're required to become someone else through voice, makeup and character performances. But sometimes even that isn't enough. Some actors have to up their game and undergo extreme physical transformation for a particular role; and that my friends is the toughest of all.
You or I wouldn't actually be agreeable about losing or gaining even a single pound of weight for our jobs. But the actors, they continue to undergo transformations as per the demands of their character. We've heard about Amir Khan and Christian Bale as being two dedicated actors who never hesitate to undergo extreme transformations for their roles but now it seems like, someone on this side of the border is trying to follow in the footsteps of these legends.

Meet Bilal Ashraf; the handsome hunk, who challenged himself for his role as Captain Bilal in Yalghaar and physically metamorphosed into the character. So HIP got in touch with the cool dude to know how his journey has been.
"It was a transformation, especially for the role that required me to cut down my body fat percentage to 9% and gain muscle mass." Bilal told us during the telephonic conversation all the way from London, where he's busy with Yalghaar's post-production.
Cutting down to 9% as the body fat percentage, must have been tough, we asked. "Don't mention tough- this is going to be an understatement. I worked out, with a rigorous routine, twice a day, six days a week for two solid year. Seemed like I didn't have time to do anything else. being in and out of the gym, shoots, training to fire live ammo and drills with actual SSG commandos - that has been pretty much my life since I undertook this challenge for my role," Bilal confessed with a sigh.
So what changes was Bilal required to make in his usual routine that gave him the ultimate look he needed for the role? "I followed a very clean diet along with my strenuous workout routines for two long years. I was eating only boiled food, a very clean diet in fact - no burgers, pizzas, fries, drinks; nothing at all."
Ouch - tough is definitely an understatement. But why undergo such drastic changes for a role? Did the director ask Bilal he had to look like someone in particular or was it the character's demand? "We knew this was what we wanted after going through the script. In fact, Doc and I both wanted Captain Bilal to look a certain way and so we undertook this challenge," Bilal admitted.
We'd say what's good in an actor. if he/she cannot change themselves as required by the character they're supposed to play. There are only a handful of such committed actors in our industry who are ready to undergo such rigorous transformations to put in that element of reality in their performance and Bilal Ashraf deserves accolades for having made such a drastic change in his appearance for the role.
Before we signed off, we did ask Bilal if there was any memory or anything he'd like to share with us about his entire transformation journey; the Janaan star actually burst out laughing and candidly mentioned,"I'd tell you straight that the years have been brutal - like living in a cell (he laughed out loud) but trust me, they've been every bit worth it. I love the outcome and I hope it gets appreciated as well."

Dramas will always come before films for me: Shahroz Sabzwari

Shahroz Sabzwari's film debut, Chein Aye Na comes out on the 21st of July. A romantic-drama, the film is being helmed by the legendary Syed Noor and stars debutants Sarish Khan and Adil Murad, and veterans, Nadeem Baig, Atiqa Odho and Mustafa Qureshi alongside Sabzwari in titular roles, and we cannot wait to see the young star create havoc on the big screen to say the least!
HIP got a hold of Shahroz over a telephonic interview as he spills details about the film, how he balances work and personal life and his stunning wife, Syra Shahroz's film debut Chalay Thay Saath.

When asked about the storyline of his film, Shahroz could not share much at the given stage, "I'm playing a musician in the film and I'm hopelessly in the love with a girl. What makes this story a must-watch, you may ask? Well, their meeting is a miracle. They cannot meet, there is no chance. That's the mystery and that is exactly what is intriguing. Will they cross each other's paths? That’s the whole story.”
When we inquired about his co-stars, he seemed pretty content with his leading lady. “Sarish is very hard-working. She gives everything her fullest. It’s her first film, in fact, it’s her first time before the camera and you can't really tell because she puts so much effort into everything she does,” he shared.
Speaking of the film’s director, Sabzwari was all praises for the veteran filmmaker, “Syed Noor is everything. We are like his children. We are learning so much from him. He's so inspiring, so warm. We are nothing in front of him. He is such an amazing human being; it is undoubtedly an honor to work with him on my debut film.”
Knowing that Chein Aye Na marks Shahroz's cinematic debut of sorts (excluding a cameo appearance he made in Javed Sheikh’s Khulay Aasman Kay Neechay), we asked him how he finds dramas different from films. "They are pretty much the same. Both of them are work. You put in as much effort in serials as much effort you put in films. However, for me, dramas will always come before films,” he says staying true to his roots.
While sharing his filming experience, Shahroz seemed thrilled, "It was amazing. I enjoyed a lot. We mostly shot in Karachi and Lahore. I loved every part of the entire process."
We ended our delightful conversation with speaking of his flawless wife, Syra whose film debut, Chalay Thay Saath just hit theatres last month, and might we add how much he loved the film. Shahroz opened up about how he managed work and family during his Chein Na Aye shooting spells.
"We have learned and agreed to manage. When we got married, it was pre-decided that we will have to make do with each other's hectic schedule somehow. And after Nooreh (daughter), we are still going strong,” he responds. “It's tough, but it’s manageable. Nothing is impossible if you make an effort, and we're doing exactly that.'"

Giving us some real couple goals, HIP has nothing but best wishes for Shahroz's upcoming Chein Aye Na and his second flick, Syed Noor’s sequel of the yesteryear blockbuster, Aaina that will also feature the original on-screen lovebirds, Nadeem Baig and Shabnum. Stay tuned to this space for more updates on this heartthrob’s much-awaited cinematic outings!

Ahmed Ali joins IRK Films' 'Parchi'

The makers horror-thriller, Siyaah and one of Pakistan’s highest grossing films till date, Janaan - Hareem Farooq and Imran Kazmi, the brains behind IRK Productions have gone on floors with their third feature film, a situational comedy titled Parchi.
Being helmed by Azfar Jafri, we already know that co-producer; Hareem Farooq will be taking the lead as an influential and dominating woman alongside Ali Rehman Khan and Usman Mukhtar. However, the newest addition to the stellar cast is none other than the Karachi Se Lahore famed Ahmed Ali.
While we got a hold of Ahmed from the sets of the film in Islamabad, he told us that what completely sold him was the script. Without delving into any minor details of his character in the film, he tells us that we’ll see him play a rather simple character compared to the roles we’ve seen him essay previously.
“I was always someone who enjoyed acting; I never knew I would take it up professionally though. It was only after Siyaah that my journey began,” he tells us of his association with IRK Productions. “Imran and I go a long way; we’ve been friends before he even found his own production house. We don’t talk finances or execution; we discuss content and the creative aspect.”
He continued his praises for producer, Kazmi by saying that he hopes he collaborates with the filmmaker on more feature films in the future.
Siyaah was just 2 days of shoot, but I see a fruitful relationship now that I’ve began shooting Parchi. I know I will benefit from him more then he will from me. In fact amongst the many reasons I signed Parchi was because Imran was the brain behind it,” he added.
In conversation with a leading daily recently, Hareem had revealed that the film revolves around three men who land themselves in trouble and seek help from the character we’ll see her play on-screen. While the title suggests the film might also have a political angle to it, Ali says the film is a feel-good comedy that will allow the viewers to take something or the other home.
While the first spell of the film is being shot in full swing, Parchi has left us intrigued to say the least. Most definitely topping our lists of 2017’s most anticipated local releases; stay tuned to HIP In Pakistan for more exclusive scoops!

Mohsin Abbas Haider Discusses 'Na Maloom Afraad 2'

After the success of Na Maloom Afraad, its sequel Na Maloom Afraad 2 started production. Having completed filming in Karachi, its shooting spell in Cape Town has also come to an end.

This is what we know so far,
The main cast, Fahad Mustafa, Urwa Hocane, Javed Sheikh and Mohsin Abbas Haider will be returning to the screen. Actor Nayyar Ejaz will be playing an Arab Sheikh in the sequel. Saleem Mairaj and Ashiq Ahmed will also be present in the film.
Mohsin shared his experience of shooting in Cape Town with HIP,
"It was actually my first experience of shooting in Cape Town and I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it. Our crew consisted of locals, and they were extremely professional. I also feel my camaraderie with Fahad and Javed Sahab has grown this time around. The weather may have been very unpredictable, but it was all worth it. In fact, I didn’t feel like I was working at all."

"Hania was a new addition to the Na Maloom Afraad clan. Nabeel and Fizza felt a new actress opposite me would do wonders, considering how successful Kubra has become (laughs). But jokes apart, I think Hania is very talented and an amazing actress to share space with. She is supportive and punctual, something I truly appreciate and I hope people will enjoy our chemistry on-screen."

So Hania Amir will be playing the leading lady in the film. She told a local leading daily, "My character is more of a happy person, but then she's also serious about what she wants. She's a go-getter." She will be shown romantically involved with one of the main cast members, who is brought up in South Africa.

After countless weepy, victimized female characters, Hania's role should be a breath of fresh air. "You'll see how this girl goes after what she wants and what she believes in. In the script, you'll see a lot of comments bashing women in general 'larki ye nahi karsakti', that sort of thing. But then you see this woman's journey, you'll see how she's gone through everything and achieved what she wants or at least tried to", Hania spoke of her character.

Star-studded Film 'Cake' Takes Over London

Award-winning filmmaker Asim Abbasi, will launch his directorial debut feature film titled ‘Cake’ in cinemas at the end of this year. Set in the present-day world of Karachi and London, ‘Cake’ offers a heartfelt look at the realities of life and death, of past and present, of choices and consequences.

The film unfolds a story about the passage of time seen through the eyes of one family member to another. The cast is led by leading Pakistani actors Aamina Sheikh, Adnan Malik and Sanam Saeed. Recently, Executive Producer of ‘Cake’, Sayed Zulfiqar Bukhari hosted the cast, crew and many members of the film and creative fraternity to celebrate the beginning of the film’s London shoot. He commented,
“I have been watching the evolution of Pakistani cinema over the years and am excited to be a part of this project to showcase Pakistani talent to an international audience."
Cake is a film about responsibility and choices.‘The story unravels layer by layer, as the characters confront past secrets and buried truths. Cake is directed by Asim Abbasi, with the screenplay also written by him. The Director of Photography is Mo Azmi and Aarij Hashimi is the Production Designer.

The film is being produced by UK production company Indus Talkies, with Mahnoor Amna Mahmood as the Associate Producer and Sayed Zulfiqar Bukhari as the Executive Producer. Cake will launch at the end of 2017.

Ali Zafar and Maya Ali Wrap Lahore Spell Of 'Teefa in Trouble'

Director Ahsan Rahim's much anticipated cinematic debut Teefa in Trouble has wrapped up its first spell of filming over 42 grueling days, across the historic city of Lahore. Now, the cast and crew will make their way across Europe, where the film's second spell is set to start.

The romantic action-comedy stars Ali Zafar as lead character 'Teefa' and Maya Ali as his leading lady, 'Anya'. The first shooting spell saw Ali Zafar in intense action scenes, shot across Lahore, where the superstar chose to perform each of his own, at times death defying, stunts. The spell also included filming of songs for the movie along with some hilarious comic moments.

Earlier in April, Ali Zafar and Maya Ali gave fans a sneak peek of their chemistry and Teefa-Anya coupling for their performance Ishq, at the Lux Style Awards.Teefa in Trouble is an action packed movie streaked with comedy. The feature film is being produced by Lightingale Productions. Indeed, director Rahim is critically acclaimed for his ground-breaking work across music videos and for defining a new style for advertising with his commercials.

Project Ghazi's teaser is a visual treat

Project Ghazi is Pakistan's first take on a live-action super hero film and seems like we're getting a glimpse of the action sooner than expected. Yes, the first look of the film is intriguing, with enough graphics and visuals that actually seem right out of a Hollywood flick.

"Ab tum sachai dekho gai, insaaniyat ki sachai"- this bone-chilling monologue makes it seem like Project Ghazi is going to give us great insight on how the world works, how good and evil prevails and how humanity is in need of help, to save them from themselves.
The first look of Project Ghazi certainly hits home. Expectations have risen, as the teaser manages to capture our attention right away. The certain hints at espionage and spy genre have gotten us excited about just how well our romance genre stars have done justice to superhero characters for the first time.
The thirty second teaser gives insight on the movie without giving much away. Syra Shehroze looks ethereal yet strong in the one shot that she has in the teaser, while Humayun and Shehryar look quite intense.

Kudos to the makers for creating an engaging feature film that has managed to stop us in our tracks with just its teaser. The Pakistani industry is certainly showing progress, especially with this teaser of and its high end visuals, enrapturing drama and effects like never before.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

How have Pakistani films fared in 2017 so far?

2017 has been an interesting year for Pakistani film industry so far. We bounced back from the ban on Indian films in an attempt to recover financially. Meanwhile, Pakistani film-makers continue to practice and improve their craft.

The first four months of the year have passed and we have seen five film releases so far: Thora Jee Le, Balu Mahi, Whistle, Raasta and the latest Chalay Thay Saath.
The Express Tribune spoke with exhibitors in order to find out the success-failure ratio of these films and whether the business situation has improved since the ban on Bollywood films was lifted.
“There hasn’t been a successful Pakistani film so far in 2017,” noted Cinepax General Manager Marketing Mohsin Yaseen. “Thora Jee le and Whistle didn’t do anything. Raasta, as everyone knows, bombed as well. Balu Mahi was a visually better film but it didn’t work either. Chalay Thay Saath is also doing just okay.”
Atrium Cinemas managing director Nadeem Mandviwalla agreed on Chalay Thay Saath doing slightly better. However, he said, “But things haven’t changed much business-wise from last year. The ban took such a toll on cinemas that we have yet to recover.” With all local films failing to gather significant business at the box office, only recent foreign films like Fast 8 have contributed in helping the financial situation of cinemas.
Yaseen said while the local films have slightly improved, there is a long way to go. “We have to understand what makes a quality film. Pakistani films are becoming visually better, but they still lack in storytelling.”
Super Cinemas general manager Khorem Gultasab echoed the sentiment that locals films are not yet up to the mark. But he said he saw improvement in the quality of films this year. “We have to understand the psyche of the masses. They like item numbers but we have to entertain and educate them about quality films. If they knew films like Chalay Thay Saath, which is a feel-good film and shows our culture beautifully, would perform much better.”
He noted that we were currently going through a transition phase. “It’s not a revolution; it’s an evolution in process. We should encourage new writers and storytellers, who would tell great stories, keeping in mind and remaining within our social fiber.”
But while the first third of 2017 has been disappointing, exhibitors are hoping things would pick up sooner than later. Yaseen said he was hoping big things from Eid releases such as Yalghaar. Mandviwalla felt the same regarding Eid releases. Gultasab anticipated Shoaib Mansoor’s comeback film Verna.
It’s to be noted that Out of five, there have been only two significant films, Chalay Thay Saath and Balu Mahi, to come out in 2017 so far. But even they have not been able pick up the momentum, although they had the star power of Osman Khalid Butt, Sadaf Kanwal (Balu Mahi) and Syra Shehroz (Chalay Thay Saath). It’s safe to say that the ban on Bollywood massively affected the momentum and even films which could’ve done well earlier have been affected by it.
But with Eidul Fitr only a couple of months away and films such as Hassan Rana’s Yalghaar (which boasts of a star-studded cast of Shaan, Humayun Saeed, Ayesha Omar and others) and Yasir Nawaz’s Mehrunnisa We Lub You planned for release, exhibitors are hoping the rest of the year will definitely bring back the biz to cinemas.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Sana Javed & Danish Taimour Shine In 'Mehrunisa V Lub U' Teaser

The one movie we've been eagerly wanting to see is Mehrunisa V Lub U, mainly because it marks the debut of Sana Javed on the big screen and has Danish Taimoor playing the lead. Directed by Yasir Nawaz, the man behind the hit movie Wrong No, the trailer for the film dropped today, but what we saw confused us. The filmmakers claimed the film was going to be a romantic comedy, but the trailer suggests it's high on action and drama!

A product of YNH Films, what's impressive about the trailer is the superb job by the director. The location shots take your breath away, and although dupatta flying scenes have been done too often, it looks nice in this trailer, since it has been picturised on Sana Javed and Danish Taimoor.
Where all is going smoothly, one is caught off guard by a scene where Taimoor is confronted by a guy dressed as a woman. We're wondering whether that was needed in such a well made trailer, as it sort of disrupts the tempo, which was romantic up until that point.

What sounds good is the music. The lyrics have been penned down by Gulzar saheb, therefore the songs are bound to be ultimate hits. If we talk about the story, it seems to be a mix of family feuds, action and possibly everything in-between. But what caught our attention was the last line "Jo Zameen Kay Nahi Woh Kahin Kay Nahi, Yeh Rawayat Badlo Zara."
Seems like a message in disguise.

Danish Taimoor once again, dons the romantic hero role pretty well and so we look forward to watching Mehrunisa V Lub U on Eid-ul-Fitr.

Sohai Ali Abro to play 'The Motorcycle Girl' in Adnan Sarwar's new film

Sohai Ali Abro has been signed to play Zenith Irfan aka The Motorcycle Girl in the upcoming biopic by director Adnan Sarwar. The film will be an independent production made under the banner of Logos Films, the company behind the 2015 Pakistani biopic Shah.

The film is based on the boundary-breaking journeys of Zenith Irfan who, at 20 years of age, is thought to be the first Pakistani female to have made a solo motorcycle journey through the northern regions of the country.
Irfan’s multiple bike journeys through regions of the country “where it’s taboo for women to venture out unaccompanied, let alone riding solo on two wheels”, have attracted worldwide attention and have been covered by publications such as CNN, New York Times and Vice etc.

To prepare for her role, Sohai will be learning how to ride a motorcycle and will making the same journey from Lahore to the majestic Khanjarab Pass that Zenith Irfan undertook in 2015.
“I feel that Adnan is such a sensitive and intelligent filmmaker and I truly believe in the kind of cinema he wants to create. When I saw Shah I just knew that I had to work with him someday and here I am”, said Sohai.
Irfan’s multiple bike journeys through regions of the country “where it’s taboo for women to venture out unaccompanied, let alone riding solo on two wheels”, have attracted worldwide attention and have been covered by publications such as CNN, New York Times and Vice etc.

To prepare for her role, Sohai will be learning how to ride a motorcycle and will making the same journey from Lahore to the majestic Khanjarab Pass that Zenith Irfan undertook in 2015.
“I feel that Adnan is such a sensitive and intelligent filmmaker and I truly believe in the kind of cinema he wants to create. When I saw Shah I just knew that I had to work with him someday and here I am”, said Sohai.