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Current Year Is My Rebirth In The Industry



Ali Rehman Khan has become an A-list name when it comes to Pakistani television, film and theatre. Born to a Pashtun family in Islamabad, Ali is a post-graduate from University of London. But the passion of acting and performing arts inside him took Ali to the theatre scene from where he got into the field of film and in 2010 appeared in an independent film Slackistan, which was played at a number of festivals around the world. After two years, he did a comedy role in film ‘Goal Chakkar’, and after four years, played the role of Daniyal in a hit Janaan (2016). Ali also started working in dramas in between and got critical acclaim for his work in super hit drama serial ‘Diyare Dil’ (2015).  

From last year, Ali has become a regular star of our industry by doing dramas and films simultaneously. His last year’s comedy film ‘Parchi’ and drama serial ‘Mein Khayal Hoon Kisi Aur Ka’ both opposite to Harrem Farooq, were much appreciated. Always in search of new heights, Ali has become the talk of the town for his role of Ammar in drama serial ‘Khaas’. Along with this, Ali is much eager and optimistic about his upcoming feature film, ‘Heer Man Ja’ releasing on eid ul Azha.

Here is the chat with this guy about his present and future ventures.  

From the trailer, Heer Maan Ja, give a glimpse of Parchi. So are they bit similar as the cast and director and producer of both are same?  

No. Heer Maan Ja is totally different from Parchi. Parchi was a situational comedy while HMJ is a romantic comedy. This is first time that Hareem and I are coming in a romantic setting in a film.  HMJ has got a lot of Pakistani masala and a perfect balance dish for audience on eid as it is an all-out family entertainer with romance, comedy, action and drama. I am sure people will come out from theatres with light heart and happy mood after watching it. I think it is a complete piasa wasool film which will get pace by its word of mouth. 

You are working with the same team again for special reason?

I think there is no harm in working with a team in which you have developed a good chemistry and understanding.  Moreover, I was offered this role just after Parchi. I liked the script and just signed it. As the film took a bit longer to get complete, and unfortunately I could not sign any other project in between because of my schedule (though I was offered many). So, it seems like that we always work together as a team.

So, what is after this film?

Now I have started taking jobs more seriously and efficiently. You can say that 2019 is my rebirth on the industry as this year I am consistently spending my time doing many projects. Current year is the heaviest of all in my entire career. I could not accept more work as I was more out of country. Now, I have settled here as a full time actor, so will be seemed in more projects with different people.    

There are two other films coming on eid. So what do you think, will it be a close competition or will they benefit from each other’s footfall?  

I think it is a good trend that three films are coming on eid. There was a time when not a single film got released on eid. Public go out to cinema on eid, so there should be more variety for them. Yes, footfall will benefit each film like if people don’t get the ticket of the movie they want to watch, they will go to see another film. So it is true that apart from credible word of mouth, each film will get the benefit of other’s footfall. 

What do you think that why the producers wait for eid to release their films, why don’t they go for other days when there is a chance of less competition?

In Pakistan, we have only two proper holidays in a year that is eid. So, I think that eid is the season, when people have more time to go out with friends and family and spend money. Cinema is the one of those places, where they love to visit. So, producers want their product to be known by as many as possible.

How much you have danced in Heer Maan Ja?

I have danced in two songs; Addi Maar and the track. Both dance number have difficult steps but I hope people will like them. I must tell you that the music of the film is a big pull. Our tunes are very catchy and I think like Parchi, HMJ’s songs will also become popular choice on mehndi functions.  

In last, it is about your drama Khaas in which you are doing a kind of negative role, a narcissist, which has a very strong impact on audience. Have you ever thought about doing these kinds of roles in films as well as obviously film is much bigger medium than television.

As an actor, I always believe in innovation. I don’t think that I should do typical hero roles in every film. I would love to act difficult roles and character if there is a potential of performance in them. I signed for the role of Ammar in Khaas because it has a great margin of acting in it. Ammar is an anti-hero but this character is very relatable, which we don’t want to talk about. I never want to be stereotyped as a comedy or romantic hero; instead, I love to explore different roles in different genres’ films. I think whenever we start making films on different subjects; actors will also be able to get onto find diversified work. Till then we keep our search on. Let’s see where it takes us.   

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Raaz-e-Ulfat Very Well Relates to a Pakistani Girl Living in a Strict Household



Raaz-e-Ulfat is one of the latest dramas that has instantly struck a chord with masses owing to its relatable story-line and amazing performances by the remarkable cast. For the uninitiated, what exactly is the plot?

Putting it briefly, Mushk Iftikhar dreams of exploring the world outside her conservative house. She accomplishes her dream life to some extent when she comes across a friend in her university who introduces her to the colours of life. Though, little does Mushk know that Sehba secretly envies her simplicity and innocence and wishes to ruin her life.

Mushk’s life is somewhat a true depiction of most Pakistani girls belonging to strict households, and hence the show has become more interesting and connecting for the younger lot in Pakistan.

You can’t move a bone without your parent’s permission

Yes! Parent’s approval is mandatory in everything you do. You can’t study, sleep, eat, choose a career, go out, come late, etc. as per your own will. You can only breathe on your own… rest will depend on your parents’ will. Poor Mushk is in the same boat.

Privacy is a luxury you can never afford.

Mushk has got no private space in her house. She shares a room with her sister, like how it is usually in most households. Even when she is on a call with a friend, someone comes to inquire about the whereabouts of the caller. Privacy is indeed an out of the world thing for Mushk and others like her.

You have to be responsible like a grown-up, but you can never act like one.

Like Mushk, most Pakistani youth, particularly girls, are expected to grow up and take responsibilities but are not allowed to think that they have grown up in a literal way. Hence, you are always a bachi/ bacha who is bound to live by what your parents say.

Marriage is your ultimate goal in life

You dream about marriage and your khuwabon ka shehzada because that’s what your parents aim for you on completing your studies.


Modern Friends Are A Big No!

You cannot stay in touch with rich and modern friends as they are supposedly some spoilt kids who will definitely leave a bad influence on you.


 Dating someone is a big struggle!

Going out on a date is a real struggle yet you want to experience it despite knowing that if your parents find out, you are gone for life.


Since the very first episode, Raaz e Ulfat has turned every local TV drama trope on its head to offer a refreshingly new insight by subverting all the typical clichéd plot-lines of most local dramas, bringing forth such nuances that make the entire watching experience oh so relatable and befitting for people around us.


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Bunyad Foundation: Countering cerebral health issues with Mindcamp



Mental health, despite holding paramount significance, is largely ignored in third world countries. With societal progression, the rise of the middle class, and a certain ‘tilt’ or ‘shift’ towards westernization, issues associated with mental health have started to exacerbate. According to recent studies, one of the biggest reasons behind suicidal tendencies or suicide itself is mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD and other traumas, different phobias, bipolar disorder, personality disorder and other related disorders.

If we travel a few years back in time, mental health issues were unheard of in Pakistan, in fact, someone found complaining or discussing a mental health issue was either given a particular look or called out for being ‘overly-sensitive’. But over the past few years, things have changed drastically. Now, there are more and more people suffering from mental disorders and psychiatric consultations have increased considerably over time, but even now, a certain amount of people hesitate to seek psychiatric consultation.

The onslaught of Covid-19 has further aggravated the situation throughout the country, with people reporting severe cases of depression and anxiety amid continued lockdowns. It is pertinent to mention here that, although, the issues mentioned are usually associated with urban areas, but the situation in rural areas of Pakistan isn’t much different. Alarmingly, unlike popular opinion, that villages are happy-go-lucky people, even the village dwellers are unknowingly harnessing several mental disorders in this modern age.

In order to facilitate the underprivileged living in less developed, far-flung areas, the Bunyad Foundation in collaboration with Mind organization, has started organizing bi-monthly mind-camps in Hafizabad. The purpose of these camps is to provide free-of-cost facilities to underserved communities. Under these free camps, patients are provided free consultation, medicine and an intervention plan; that too free of cost.

Shaheen Attiq-ur-Rahman, Project Lead and founder of Mind Camp Bunyad, told us that, ‘rural folk suffers from the same mental disorders as more privileged people but often the intensity is greater. Most of the people do not have access to basic medication for relief. Since a lot of unhealed psychiatric disorders can lead to physical ill-health, rural folk face a double burden. At Mindcamp Bunyad, our mission is to give suffering villagers a chance at peace and to ease their task in life’.

It took some time, the involvement of Key Opinion leaders and sustained efforts to convince people to seek help for mental disorders and now there’s better awareness about these issues. In addition, the organization has been carrying out these activities for the past 9 years, by engaging experienced and trained mental health professionals, even in extreme weather, just for the betterment of the society. However, now, the number of mental health professionals offering services has dwindled, in fact, the patient-to-doctor/mental health professional ratio is discouraging.

In order for the unabated and unrestricted continuation of these services, and in order for better, sustained facility provision to the patients; financial backing is imminent, without which such a great initiative gradually might have to retreat. To facilitate the imperative service, Bunyad Foundation is playing a major role.

Get in touch with them to see how you can help.

For donations, please donate here.

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Quiet Women: on Surrealism, Beauty and the Female Voice



Lahore based poet, editor and columnist, Afshan Shafi launched her first full-length poetry collection, ‘Quiet Women’ last month. Stocked at Readings, the collection is a unique all-female collaboration featuring the illustrations of acclaimed artists, Samya Arif (Pakistan), Marjan Baniasadi (Iran) and Ishita Basu Mallik (India).

TS Eliot award nominee and winner of the Forward Prize for Poetry, Vahni Capildeo termed ‘Quiet Women’ as one of the ‘new poetries emerging in the twenty-first century which are characterized by a ferocity that spans yet exceeds love and outrage, involvement and observation’.



‘Quiet Women’ is an exploration of form and linguistic artistry, propelled by a sense of creative freedom espoused by the surrealists and abstract artists. Inspired by the creations of both Eastern and Western female artists and writers this book is a tribute to women and the power of their collective voices. Afshan Shafi has studied English Literature and International Relations at The University of Buckingham and Webster Graduate School London. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, Blackbox Manifold, Poetry Wales, Flag + Void, Luna Luna, Clinic, 3 am magazine, Ala Champ Magazine, and others. Her poems have also appeared in the anthologies, Smear (edited by Greta Bellamacina), The New River Press Yearbook and Halal if you hear me ( edited by Fatima Asghar and Salma Elhilo). Her debut chapbook of poems ‘Odd Circles’ was published by Readings (Pakistan) in 2014. For her work as a poet, she has been interviewed by Arte Tv (France) and Words Without Borders. As part of the Jane Austen Society of Pakistan she has appeared on BBC (World), The Times (UK), and in The Economist’s culture magazine. She has also served as a poetry editor for “The Missing Slate” and is currently a senior contributing editor at Pakistan’s leading literary journal “The Aleph Review”. She also serves as an editor-in-chief for the online Pandemonium Journal, which is a platform for emerging creatives from Pakistan and abroad.


Inspiration to write this book: 

This is my first full-length collection and is a tribute to the panoply of female artists that continue to inspire me. From the creations of Iranian artist Farideh Lashai to the work of lesser-known poets like Veronica Forrest, there is a rich engagement with the work of these female trailblazers in ‘Quiet Women’. What makes the book different is its collaborative nature. Each artist I have collaborated with in ‘Quiet Women’ possesses something unique to their perspective. Samya Arif’s illustrations are defined by their bold and stylized detail. She thinks in an opulent manner. Marjan Baniasadi, hails from Iran and has studied at the NCA and her paintings are elegant, deeply intelligent and beautiful. Ishita Basu who lives in Calcutta, India, is a poet as well as an artist and there is such a yearning and melancholy to her creations. Their art complements my writing seamlessly in the book.



On how ‘Quiet Women’ came together


‘Quiet Women came together over a period of two years, where my poems were being frequently accepted by European magazines for publication. I decided to put together a collection of these poems with some newer verses with the intention to collaborate with artists for the final product. The titular poem of the collection ‘Quiet Women’ deals with the notion of female silence and the policing of a women’s language and her personal choices. For one reason or the other, this notion of ‘quietude’ had been drilled into me from an early age, and as I grew as a writer I started questioning all kinds of enforced silences, which in turn led me to critically examining all kinds of oppressive practices aimed at ‘containing’ the very agency of a woman. ‘Quiet Women’ as a book, functions for me as a bridge across a myriad number of fears; these verses are bridges across patriarchal structures, restrictive artistic ideologies, and perhaps purely existential concerns


On the collaboration with artists for ‘Quiet Women’


I would say that I have been a student of the Surrealists my whole life, as I have often been drawn to the interplay of artist mediums, in which they reveled. Surreal output has always been concerned with juxtapositions and techniques like ‘collage’ and ‘frottage’, and indulgence in hybridity. For example, Surrealist collaborations include films based on poems, in the way that the filmmaker Man Ray adapted poems by Robert Desnos to his medium. Since my poems are often initiated by visual ephemera, and my imaginative focus is on delineating these visuals (triggered of course by emotion or artistic curiosity), I found collaboration with these artists to be a natural progression. Each artist was sent the poem to illustrate without any instructions, the idea was for there to be a fluidity of connection, one derived purely by imaginative means, and for the artworks to be instinctual and primal.


Creative influences and the impact of Surrealism on my work


Each poem in ‘Quiet Women’ is a tribute to the marginalised, whether that figure be that of a woman or an artist or poet. Each poem aims to counter reality with the dream and to re-engineer the accepted image of the creative as ‘outlier’. Whether in terms of stylistic experimentation, influence or tribute, this book aims to upset normative modes of thought and glorify one’s creative faculty. The founder of Surrealism, Andre Breton, spoke much of how the imagination is seen as a threat to all dimensions of order, similarly, much of my work is concerned with consistently upending language, mass-perspective and received ideas.


On why I enjoy poetry as a genre and as my chosen form


A poet often writes a poem as a postscript to an emotion. ‘High tragedy’ or ‘wondrous joy’ need not compel the writing of verse, it could be a retained sense of childlike wonder for say an owl or the precise engineering of a pistol. I feel that I write primarily to escape a powerful inborn reticence. In that vein these words by the great James Joyce encapsulate perfectly the retaliatory bent of my mind as it stitches a sentence together; ‘poetry even when apparently most fantastic is always a revolt against artifice, a revolt, in a sense, against actuality’.

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