Stories about Pakistani films

Great performances and a powerful message, yet ‘Saawan’ will fail terribly at the box office

It is next to impossible to produce an experimental film in Pakistan, mainly because the distributors do not support the venture unless it comprises of a star-studded cast. Director Farhan Alam and Kalakar Films deserve appreciation for breaking barriers with their new film, Saawan. The film is written by Mashood Qadri and features Syed Karam Hussain, Imran Aslam, Najiba Faiz and Saleem Mairaj in pivotal roles. The film revolves around Saawan (Syed Karam Hussain), a physically challenged young boy who suffers from polio and lives in a valley in Balochistan. His father is frustrated, depressed and hopeless because of his son’s disability and does not treat ...

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How Bollywood’s curtain call became a blessing in disguise for Pakistan

This has been a year of reformation and introspection for Pakistan’s entertainment industry. After India closed its doors to Pakistani artists in the wake of the Uri attack last year, Pakistani artistes – who were minting a heavy buck from the biggest culture industry in Asia, Bollywood – were forced to come up with a plan B. Nothing can compare to the attention and recognition a successful project in India can bring. In fact, a lot of Pakistani artistes still bank on that one short role (that nobody remembers) to enhance their portfolio. But as Junoon said in their song, “khwaab ...

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Nothing and no one could have saved ‘Chain Aye Na’ from its unfortunate fate

In 1998, Syed Noor was on a high; his film Choorian had just released and went on to be one of the longest running Pakistani films showcased at a single screen cinema. He went on to become one of the few acclaimed directors in the Pakistani film industry. It makes you wonder then, how the same director, who delivered cinema greats like Larki Punjaban and Majajan, could stoop to releasing a film like Chain Aye Na. I don’t understand how the movie went so wrong, even though it had big names like Nadeem Baig and Atiqa Odho in the cast. Mustafa Qureshi or even the relations of Behroze Sabzwari, ...

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Is ‘Punjab Nahi Jaungi’ a little too similar to B-town’s ‘Namaste London’?

Okay, I give up! A lot of people do not agree with my hyper-critical approach when it comes to reviewing movies. I’ve been called an eternal cynic, a tag which is probably the most publishable amongst various other labels I have had the pleasure of hearing. Bearing that in mind, I have decided to radically alter my ways with this piece and tried to analyse a cinematic work purely based on how the majority would tend to receive it. The dubious honour for this novel experiment goes out to the first full length trailer of the upcoming Pakistani romantic comedy, Punjab Nahi Jaungi. What makes Punjab Nahi ...

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Chalay Thay Saath: Refreshing, scenic, and lots of eye candy

The most endearing element of Chalay Thay Saath’s teaser is its originality. Refreshing, different and low key, the trailer advertises a film that seems to be very different from all the other Pakistani films so far and borrows little, if anything, from Bollywood movies. The trailer features a number of scenic views of Northern Pakistan, shot prudently with both confidence and skill. Hunza forms the backdrop of the coming-of-age story of six young friends who embark on what ends up becoming a journey of self-discovery, liberation, growing up, intellectual awareness, and spiritual awakening. The film features the brewing of romance between a young, adventurous Pakistani doctor, Resham ...

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If you thought Lollywood was booming, let 2016 remind you why it’s not

Compiling a list of the worst Pakistani movies of 2016 is a daunting task, and not only because it is guaranteed to increase the number of one’s enemies in show business. It is a real challenge because keeping the list down to 10 items is a formidable task when the number of the year’s bad films is much larger. Much, much larger. A total of about 30Urdu films were released in 2016. A few, such as Mah-e-Mir, Ho Mann Jahaan and Actor-in-Law, were actually good but the vast majority failed to deliver on the promise of the resurgent Pakistani film industry, whose revival is the subject ...

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Ek Thi Marium – this is what empowerment looks like

Steering away from the melodramatic genre of our drama industry – which continually encircles around the ‘bechari aurat’ (oppressed woman) – projects like Ek Thi Marium attempt to bring about a much needed change showcasing the true meaning of the commonly misused term: woman empowerment. The project is a biopic of the first Pakistani woman fighter pilot, Marium Mukhtar, who was martyred whilst in the line of duty. The gripping narrative, crisp direction, and deep dialogues have made this telefilm both moving and inspirational; two qualities which our monotonous sagas continually lack. Pakistani woman fighter pilot, Marium MukhtarPhoto: Reuters Ek thi Marium narrates the story ...

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11 things we learnt from Ho Mann Jahaan

“Ho Mann Jahaan”, apparently among Pakistan’s most anticipated films, released recently to packed houses and rave reviews. While there’s enough in the film to keep you glued to the seats, Pakistan has definitely seen better films lately. An amazing soundtrack, a boisterous star-cast, decent acting, ample use of flashy colours, spectacular cinematography and some great locales are some of the film’s strong points. However, there’s more to the film; and far more shades of grey that go well in one flick. So here’s a round-up of the deeper meanings and greater life lessons from “Ho Mann Jahaan”. No spoilers ...

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Rajinder Singh Bedi: Film-making is not child’s play

September 1st marks the birth centenary of Rajinder Singh Bedi, one of the most gifted and greatest fiction writers of the 20th century, completing the quartet whose membership also extends to Saadat Hasan Manto, Krishan Chander, and Ismat Chughtai. Bedi was a son of Punjab, born in Lahore. While his output was not as prodigious as his three aforementioned contemporaries, his stories are memorable, chastising ancient beliefs and superstitions which keep the ordinary person ignorant and the women oppressed. He was not a doctrinaire blinded by ideology as many of his contemporaries were, but rather than giving us the heady slogans of revolution, he preferred ...

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The Pakistani film industry in its ‘survival’ phase

Well into my interview with Afia Nathaniel, the Dukhtar movie director puts me on the spot. I am meeting her at the May Fair Hotel in London, right before the European premiere of her first film. Until now, I have had the opportunity to get in a couple of good questions, but now she has taken over. She is wearing what appears to be a red-coloured, gold-patterned cotton kurta and black specs. She starts asking me the questions now, which is my professional nightmare come alive. The filmmaker has become the journalist.  “How many films can you count on your fingers that have ...

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