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I Am Here to Act Not To Be A Star: Bilal Ashraf

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Bilal Ashraf is one of a few actors of Pakistan who claimed their fame from films. Unlike his fellow artists, who first established them from television and then came into films when film industry started to revive again after a long hiatus, Ashraf is the only one who enjoys the status of a film star at the moment.

Apart from his acting skills, he also possesses a distinct style whether they are his dimples appears with his full smile or his physique for which he is always very concerned about. Recently he got the Hum Style award for ‘Most Stylish Actor film –Male’ award.

Before coming into acting, Bilal Ashraf worked as visual effects director. He pursued his career in acting with a brief appearance in the 2014 thriller O21. He then starred in the commercially successful romantic drama Janaan (2016), the acclaimed war eulogy Yalghaar (2017) and the blockbuster musical romance Superstar (2019).

This star with pleasant personality and amicable gestures talked to Daily Paperazzi and opened his heart out about many things which are dear to him professionally and personally.  

What do you think you get this style award for; the charming dimples or your proper physique?

I think dimples are natural. My parents should be credited for them more. As far as my physique is concerned, I was a fitness freak from my childhood which I always try to maintain.

Did you have any idea of getting this award?

No. I didn’t have any idea of this. In fact I was curious and doubtful about what if I don’t get the award. I am truly thankful and humbled for all those who voted for me and made it possible. 

What is style for you?

To me style is one’s personal statement. It is whatever one is comfortable with or in. Some people like dressing up a lot while some wants to look very casual to seem natural. I think whatever you have and carry it off makes your complete style statement.

A lot of controversy has been created after the event of Hum Style Awards 2021. What do you say?

I think the social media has created a lot of controversy around the event. Before this people didn’t have any platform to give their opinion (good or bad) on certain things. I believe that everyone keeps a right to comment (like or dislike) on anything but it should always be thoughtful enough that a comment (positive or negative) have an impact on others. Some people are very strong mentally while others we don’t know are going through a lot of problems. They get adverse effects from these comments which can lead to the mental disorders. Everyone has a journey and struggle with them and have a family and loved ones behind. So please next time criticize constructively like on their work and professional being, and do positive comments as well not always negative.

The clothing of female actors and models participated in the show were also criticized negatively. How would you defy it?

They were style awards where everyone had their own style statements. The same people who are criticizing our celebrities’ clothing, when watch a Hollywood or Bollywood stars as same, in a movie or show, appreciate them. They accept their own stars in desi attires but if any of star has worn something with her will and any designer has given his/her style statement, out-rightly reject them. Don’t take anything personally and if someone is wearing something by his/her will, then please have some courage to accept it. We shouldn’t have double standards and need to be a little careful about that.

Your couple with Maya Ali has become very popular among fans though you both have done a very little work together. Is this a teaser for any big thing happening in future?

Oh. The reality is that Maya and I are very good friends. I have a great respect for her. We discuss a lot about work together. It is true that we have done a very little work together like just a music video and fashion shoot but I wish to do a big project with Maya and learn from her. She is a very hardworking individual and a powerful performer. Whatever project she comes in, it shines.

You have come a bit late in films. Why?

I never wanted to be an actor. I have said it before that I have not come in this field to become a typical hero and to compete with others. Actually film making was a dream of my late sister Sadia but film industry was very limited at that time in Pakistan. Unfortunately she lost her life battling with cancer. So I am here to fulfil the dream of my sister; the film making. Whenever I am acting, I feel her around me.

So now you have joined the field of acting; where do you find yourself standing?

I think we have already very fantastic actors as heroes in our industry. If I have been successful to make some name and fame among them, I feel humble. Now, I will constantly remain standing here till the end to accomplish the dream of my sister.

Cinemas are closed because of Covid and film making is also at standard still. So what alternates you find for acting?

I think it’s time to move towards television dramas. Finally! I think I am the only actor in Pakistan who has just worked in films. When I go abroad, people came for selfies not with Bilal Ashraf but Pakistani cinema. That was a great feeling. But I believe that television is a great platform to learn. You continue to learn in acting as it is a very vast field. So I would love to work in dramas and television and improve my skills by learning more about the trait from the bests in the business. So yes television is next.

How is the journey from Janaan to Superstar, after which when you are literally called the super star of Pakistan?

Honestly speaking, I still don’t consider myself a star. I am an actor who is doing his job and stardom is part of that job. I believe one should accept this fame gracefully as it is a whole baggage where positive and negative comments from people come at the same time.

As far as my journey is concerned, I did Janaan as a fun experience. I had never thought it would be a hit.  The second one Rangreza though was a flop but it actually was an eye opener, as you learn more from a failure than success in life. I think a good film is team work which comprised of its producers, director, and actors.  

After Rangreza, I revisited the acting. I went to UK and inducted myself in some acting courses there. I became more careful in choosing scripts then. Finally I was lucky to have found the ideal producer Momina Duraid, best director Muhammad Ehteshamuddin and wonderful co-star Mahira Khan for Superstar. Moreover, Momina Bhabi and Ehtesham Bhai also asked me to have some acting courses in NAPA where I really learned a lot. I was the same Bilal but the difference was that I had a very professional team with me. I actually enjoyed this journey.

You have worked with almost all female film actors of Pakistan. Who you wish to work with in Hollywood or Bollywood?

I really admire Sophia Lauren, though she is much senior and not working in films anymore. I also have a dream to work with Maryl Streep.

What are your plans now exactly?

I think films, television and Web series all are in pipeline. Moreover, I am producing many things as well. I would like to mention here that I have launched a production company/production house ‘Beehive Transmedia’ with my mentor (and captain as I call him) Muhammad Ehteshamuddin, for which I am really thankful to him. We work on commercials and feature films, concepts and scripts. It is a one stop creative shop.

Do you believe in dreams?

One thing I would must mention here that believe in your dreams because if you hold it in your head, you can hold it in your hands. Don’t lose believing in you even if something seems impossible because nothing is impossible. Keep on striving for the best.

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IMGC Announced Upcoming Film Under Its Banner

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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. 

About IMGC

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.

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A Solo Bridal Show By Kashee’s in Karachi

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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

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REHBRA: Tale Of Two Soulmates

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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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