Cinema is one of the major businesses all over the world, which is completely at halt since the abrupt of Covid 19 pandemic. Pakistani cinema, which was already in deteriorating condition because of the ban on Bollywood films (after the Pulawam incident In February 2019) and scarcity of good quality Pakistani content, has become standstill with an uncertain future. Moreover, this is third eid falling in Covid and closure while this occasion is considered the bonus period for cinema in Sub Continent. In this disheartened situation, there are some who are still hopeful about the reopening and prosperity of cinema in Pakistan. One of them is renowned film maker and producer Hassan Zia, who has completed his film Ghabrana Nahin Hai starring Saba Qamar, Zahid Ahmed and Muhammad Jibran and planning to go on next soon. Hassan with his company Mastermind Production has produced hits like Wrong No, Mehrunisa V Lub U and Wrong No. 2. Paperazzi talked to this ambitious and confident filmmaker exclusively about his upcoming project and how is he foreseeing the future of cinema in Pakistan.
You completed your film ‘Ghabrana Nahin Hai’ in Covid times and now you are going for another while cinemas are closed. What are your plans?
My partner, chairperson of JB Films, Mirza Jamil Baig, (also owns Nueplex Cinemas) who is managing the finances of film as well was the one who asked me to resume the shoot when the wave was low. We started GNH on 2nd November 2020 and packed it on 15 January 2021.
Why we have started our next project (also with JB Films) at the beginning of this year, as cinemas had started to reopen in India, despite the higher rate of cases. So we were hopeful that the same will happen in Pakistan. Keeping this in view, we wanted something ready by our side to show. We had worked on many interesting concepts in lockdown last year
Do you have any idea or hope about reopening of cinemas in Pakistan?
To be honest, cinemas owners are ready to reopen their venues but unfortunately they don’t have any content to run. They need at least two to three films on their screens at a time to meet their running cost. Some Hollywood projects have been announced for this year. Let’s see what happens.
If cinema remains in its current situation for a longer period, would you go for any other option to screen your content?
The fact is that cinema is the only entertainment for metro cities in Pakistan like Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. I am sure cinemas will retain their position in next six months or so. As far as OTT platforms are concerned, people have had enough of them during lockdowns. Now, there is no more excitement for OTTs releases as what you experience in cinemas is matchless. It is like a journey, through which you immersed yourself in a totally different environment away from your everyday life.
How do you think cinemas can resume their operations with SOPs?
Our people are brave. If we announce to reopen cinemas today and place a good content, people will not even care of Covid and would fill them like before. I have travelled to other cities in Covid times and believe me, there was not a single seat empty in plane. We were just following SOPS for Covid. If we can do this in other businesses, I think we can follow them on cinema as well.
So, are you expecting to release it on Eid-ul-Adha if conditions are in favour?
Yes. Why not? JB was asking me to publicize a poster of film with the releasing date, ‘eid-ul-adha, 2021’. We might do it. It will give at least a hope to industry. There remains some dubbing and post production work on Ghabrana Nahin Hai, which will be finished by the end of June.
How do you foresee the general prosperity of cinema industry in Pakistan, when they resume operations after Covid?
I think for next two years all our producers, exhibitors and distributors should emphasize on making more films by trusting each other. Only this can bring us back to the position where we were before the closure.
Before Covid our cinema was already in a troubled state financially because of ban on Bollywood films (since February 2019). How do you think we would cover that loss?
In the year after Bollywood ban, there was a trend developed for Hollywood films in Pakistan. In December 2019, DC film Joker did a business of 90 million here. Moreover, if the Covid had not happened, many big films were planned for 2020 like Godzilla, Fast N Furious, and James Bond. All these films would have given a good business to cinema.
IMGC Announced Upcoming Film Under Its Banner
The renowned film distribution company of Pakistan, IMGC has recently announced the films going to be distributed in the last quarter of this year and the first quarter of next year under its banner.
Now when the cinemas all over the world are functioning fully after the closure of almost of 20 month after the closure of almost 20 month Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020, Pakistani film industry is currently relying on the backlogs of films which were supposed to be released in last two years.
The films which would be distributed by IMGC are films form the backlog have been made under the big banners and are waiting in line to be released at right time.
Here are the list of films that has been and announced to distributed by DC after the reopening of cinemas.
Kamli (3rd June 2022)
Kamli was released on 3rd June 2022, stars Saba Qamar, Sania Saeed and Nimra Bucha as leads. Directed by Sarmad Khoosat, the film is a story of the emotion and desires of a woman which she mostly keeps secrete in our society. The film did decent business in the genre of an art film when the flow in cinemas was low firstly because of its off season release and secondly the reluctance of people to come habitually to cinemas after lockdowns.
Intezaar (19th August 2022)
Intezaar was thefilm, which actually cancelled its already announced plan of release because of lockdown in March 2020. It was finally released on 19th August 2022. Intezaar stars Samina Ahmad, Khalid Ahmad and Kaif Ghaznavi in major roles. Intezaar is directorial debut of veteran actress of Pakistan Sakina Samo. The film as the name suggest is tale of wait for something good and happy in the life of every character in the film.
Zarrar (25th November 2022)
The first date of the release of the film was announced 23 September 2022 but due to the emergency situations all over the country after recent floods, Shaan Shahid the lead cast and the writer and director of the film delay the release for one week. Now it will be in cinemas on 25th of November 2022.
The film is produced by Ejaz Shahid and Adnan Butt under the banner of Jehan Films. Zarrar is an action thriller about the patriotism and love of mother land. Shaan in the titular role of Zarrar is a secret agent, who is on a mission to solve the seemingly endless cycle of threats against his homeland of Pakistan.
Other cast of the film includes Kiran Malik, Nadeem Baig, Natyyar Ejaz and Shafqat Cheema in supporting characters.
Development of Zarrar started in 2016 when behind the scene shots of the film were shared by Shaan himself.
Neelofar (23 December 2022)
Neelofar would be the second film of Fawad Khan and third film of Mahira Khan this year. Both would have The Legend Of Maula Jatt releasing on 13 October on their credits, while Mahira who starred in Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad opposite Fahad Mustafa on eid-ul-fitr would celebrate Neelofar as her third film released in 2022.
The film is written and directed by debutant Ammar Rasool and a co-produced by Fawad Khan and IMGC.
The film lovers would also witness pair of Mahira and Fawad Khan on screen together third time after Hamsafar (2011) and The Legend Of Maula Jatt (October 2022), though this pair often appears together in many television commercials and fashion shoots.
Mahira Khan is playing a role of a blind girl in the movie. The principal shooting for Neelofar was completed in December 2020.
Aasman Bolay Ga (January 2023)
The final release date of the film has not yet been confirmed, but according to IMGC, it would most likely to be released in the first month of the next year.
ABG is written, directed and produced by veteran Shoaib Mansoor, under his company Shoman Films. Mansoor has given us block buster like Khuda Ke Liye (2007), Bol (2011), and Verna (2017). The film also seems to be the last instalment of his series which started in 2007 with KKL. According to Amjad Rasheed, all four instalments link each other as far as their names are concerned i.e. Khuda Ke Liye, Bol, Verna, Aasman Bolay Ga. All films highlighted the political and social issues of our society.
ABG stars Maya Ali and Emmad Irfani in lead roles. The title teaser of the film was released a couple of months ago by Shoiab Mansoor on his social media. In an interview to Dutche Welle last year Maya Ali revealed that she would be playing the role of a journalist in ABG.
Money Back Gurantee (21st April 2023)
Money Back Guarantee is a multi-starrer heavy budget Pakistani film produced by Zain Farooqi. The film, which has already created lot of buzz around the film circles, is directed by versatile Faisal Qureshi, who has released the first poster of the film digitally on his social media. Teaser of film will be released on 9th September and movie will hit the screens on 21 April in 2023, which would fall on the days of eid-ul-fitr.
The film which is under post production at the moment claims to be based on a novel concept, which covers a theme full of humour and suspense. The star cast of the film includes the leading stars of current era including Fawad Khan, Ayesha Omar, Mikaal Zulfiqar, John Rambo, Javed Sheikh, Hina Dilpazer, Mirza Gohar Rashid, Shayan Khan, Mani, Kiran Malik, Ali Safina, Shafaat Ali in important roles. Another surprise of the movie is the presence Sultan of Swing legendary cricketer Wasim Akram and his wife Shaniera Akram as actors.
The film was scheduled to release on 22 May 2020 (eid-ul-fitr); however, due to Covid-19 pandemic, the release of the movie was postponed.
Started as Distribution Club (Pvt) limited in 1953 by late Sheikh Abdul Rasheed, the company, since then has cascaded numerous (about 450) Pakistani and international films in country. Rasheed also established Independent AR Films in 1964 extending the operations of company.
The legacy continued when his son Shiekh Amjad Rasheed took charge of the affairs as the chairman after his father and established the group of company IMGC in 1985 with increased functions and a turnover of approximately 200 million US dollar. For last four decades Amjad Rasheed has been in a thriving business of film production and distribution and has the privilege of heading the Film Producers Association as Chairman two times to date.
DC also has its esteemed clients and partners both locally and globally like EROS, Yashraj, YTV, FOX, Zee, Red Chillies, Madhu, Balaji, Grand Showbiz, T-Series, Disney, Reliance, Shree International, Mahesh Bhatt, Rhythm Boy and White Hill etc.
A Solo Bridal Show By Kashee’s in Karachi
After receiving overwhelming response for his debut bridal collection at the 18th edition of HUM Bridal Couture Week, makeup expert and bridal wear designer Kashif Aslam of Kashee’s presented his latest collection titled ‘Bridal Festive 2022’ in a grand solo showcase in Karachi.
Keeping in mind the wedding festivities of the subcontinent, the showcase was divided into four parts, featuring a wide range of designs for Mayoon, Mehndi, Baraat and Valima. The collection was an ode to our rich culture and traditions designed and embedded with floral motifs in Zari and Swaroaski crystals and traditional embroidery work. The pieces were a combination of traditional sensibility, cut and tailored with a modern edge. The colour palette shuffled between vibrant tones of wedding festivities and the classical red.
Kashee’s solo show had a fabolous line-up of celebrities swaying down the catwalk. Film star Sana Fakhar opened the show while TikTok star Rebecca, Madiha, Saba Faisal and Sarwat Gillani closed the Mayoon. Shagufta Ejaz, Benita David, Nadia Hussain and Sehar walked as show-stoppers in the Mehndi segment, whereas Saba Faisal, Rebecca and Neelam Muneer graced the ramp in the Baraat segment. The final segment of the show was Valima, opened by Dr Shaista Lodhi, whereas Suneeta Marshal, Sana Fakhar and Benita also graced the catwalk. The show came to an end as the ever gorgeous Reema Khan walked down the ramp in thunderous applause by the attendees.
The event was organized by HUM Special Projects & Events. The stage and catwalk for Kashee’s solo showcase were opulent and grand in scale like other big shows of Hum Network. The set theme was in sync with the collection of pieces showcased, which added and enhanced the overall catwalk experience.
Photography of the show was done by Ahsan Qureshy and Haris Usmani while all the bridal wear and hair and makeup was done by Kashee’s
REHBRA: Tale Of Two Soulmates
REHBRA, the Pakistani rom-com action packed film, directed by Amin Iqbal and produced by Saira Afzal has been released in cinemas on June 24 across Pakistan.
The film stars Ayesha Omar, Ahsan Khan as lead and Saba Faisal, Sohail Sameer, Sarish Khan, Adnan Hyder and Ghulam Mohiuddin in pivotal roles. It also includes a special dance number by Rimmal. The trailer of Rehbara promises romance, action, drama, and comedy, in one pack.
The title song of the film is sung by Asim Azhar, and composed by Simab Sen, was picturised across select locales of Pakistan.
Rehbara’s director, the veteran Amin Iqbal terms his film a rom-com action flick with a social message that is bound to be appreciated by audiences. He said that Rehbra had been a labour of love and as much a journey of self-discovery for the protagonists.
Iqbal further explained his film, a story that revolves around a journey of love, hatred, adventure and discovery of a soul mate where least expected, “Rehbra highlights that love is not a destination but a journey.”
Talking about the social message in the film, he elaborated, “In the film we see how when situations change in life, so does our thinking, but when we act on our thoughts and perceptions, life does not change accordingly. Like the antagonist in the film says, ‘When a situation is as bad as this, one wishes more for death than life!’.”
The film is film is backed by the debutant US-based Pakistani producer, Saira Afzal, who has done courses in production management from NYC. She has also worked with various theatres including Lambs, WPA and American Theatre. She is hopeful about the project as her team have invested a lot of time, money and hard work in the movie, “My passion for film-making led me to this unique journey, a first for any Pakistani woman settled abroad with no prior connection to the film industry. It is a gamble that I am hopeful will bear fruits for us all.”
Afzal believes that her experience will also be enjoyed by the audience when it would come on silver screens.
The leads of Rehbara, Ahsan Khan and Ayesha Omar, are acting together for the first time in this film. They have hosted shows earlier.
Khan was excited yet hopeful about his pairing up with Ayesha Omar and admitted that he enjoyed the whole experience if working with her and regarded her as a great friend.
He also recalls the experience, he and Omar had while shooting the film but specially the title song which was shot in some beautiful lands but difficult weather conditions.
Ayesha Omar shared the poster of the film on her social media and called Ahsan Khan her “Rehbra”. Omar stated, “This baby of ours is a labour of extreme hard work, patience, perseverance and love.”
Ahsan Khan also expressed his emotions via social media where he shared the trailer of the film stating: “Expect the unexpected; life is full of wonderful things just waiting to surprise you!”
An SA Entertainment film, Rehbara has been distributed by Mandviwalla Entertainment.
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