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In conversation with Ahad Raza Mir

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Ahad Raza Mir is a new sensation of our showbiz world. After stealing million hearts as Dr Asfandyar Ali Khan in drama serial ‘Yaqeen Ka Safar’, the foreign graduate in acting has also become the star of film industry as well. His debut film Parwaaz Hai Juoon’ is a success and has opened more doors to this young, shy and promising actor.
Here is a talk with Captain Saad of PHJ about his recipe of success and acting skills.

Where did you get the inspiration for the role of  a fighter pilot in PHJ?There was not any particular reference to follows for this role. When I came to know that we would shoot the film inside the base with real officers, I was a bit relieved. That made my work easier as inspiration came naturally from there. It is true that to portray and getting a psyche of a cadet or fighter pilot was not an easy task but I was fortunate that my references were authentic.

How was the experience of working with Hania Amir and Hamza Ali Abbasi as your co stars?PHJ was my first interaction with Hania as costar and it was a great experience working with her. Hamza is an experienced actor. He is the one to whom the actors of my age and experience look up and want to be like him. I have learned a lot from him especially how to carry yourself on sets.

You have a scene with your father Asif Raza Mir in PHJ. Was working at the same set with him a tense situation?Oh! I was very scared to work with him in beginning but when he entered on a set, he forgot that he was my baba and I was his son. It was interesting in a way because he was just an actor before me and was much in his character which easesd me to perform without any pressure of proving myself to him. Now I understand that why he is a legend. 

From dramas and film, which medium you prefer most?I think an actor cannot chose one between the two. Film is a big canvas and it has its feeling of pride and joy. Moreover, in films, you have little time to give your full and maximum efforts in every scene whereas drama is a medium in which you have ample time to explore a character and groomed it. The respect which I have got from dramas is very dear to me and I can’t say no to drama. I love both and it also depends up on mood.

You have studied theatre in United States. How much it did help you in acting here?Yes! a lot. I have a formal training in acting. But It is interesting that here I had to unlearned all that and adapt what is prevailed here. In creative sense, it was really an interesting experience.

What have you learned from your home as you belong to a showbiz family? Has your father ever scold at you?
My baba (Asif Raza Mir) is very professional and not always on my head. He wants me to learn everything myself but also guides me where he thinks he has to.

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Entertainment

Bidding farewell to Game of Thrones

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MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD, turn away while you can.

Yesterday was the beginning of the end, as HBO’s Game of Thrones came to an end after nine long years of tears, heartbreak, murder, scheming and DRAGONS! Fans all around the world waited anxiously for the series to air but every week there was an array of mixed feelings in the air. People were quick to jump to conclusions, various prophecies (that never came true) were being discussed and theories about how the show will end were surely driving everyone NUTS!

After nearly a decade of loving and losing our beloved actors, yesterdays episode was sure to put the nail in the coffin. Calling it bittersweet would be an understatement. The episode starts with images of the aftermath of episode 5, Tyrion, Jon and a handful of men walk around the city and see what is left of the carnage done by Danny and her last living dragon. Tyrion makes his way to the basement of the Red Keep and finds Jamie and Cersei buried in stones. Not only was it a powerful scene as he cries next to their bodies but it is almost poetic how they left the world just as they entered it. A little underwhelming yes, but the directors were clearly on a time crunch!

Danny flies back to the remains of a burnt down Kings Landing to address her army and claim her victory. As she walks out and Drogon spreads his wings and the align behind her, her victory becomes realer than ever. Just the intensity of those few seconds lays the mood for the rest of the episode. BUT – she makes it pretty obvious that she won’t be stopping here. Her version of breaking the wheel included burning thousands of innocent men, women and children in all the seven kingdoms to create a NEW WORLD….

Tyrion of course is arrested for colluding behind her back but he just never stops with the talking does he? When Jon goes to see him in his cell, Jon quotes the Master Aemon to Tyrion ‘Love is the death of duty’ while trying to justify the path of destruction Danny is on. As usual, the master of words, Tyrion responds ‘and sometimes, duty is the death of love..’ – and this, this is the moment we know our hearts are about to shatter into a million morbid pieces, but we still hope. ALAS, the moment all of Danaerys’ fans feared (Including me) – Jon follows his duty which is the end of his love. He begins to reason with her, but realizes soon that she is too far gone. His conversation with Tyrion earlier was bound to stir the wheels in motion, one might argue that Tyrion was the mastermind behind it all. 

As he tells her one last time ‘you will be my Queen, now and always’ , he kisses her one last time before stabbing her straight in the heart. JAW DROPS NOW* Crying and panting begins. 

It felt almost disrespectful to give Danny a death so quick (Literally dies in under ten seconds). Years of conquering and fighting for the truth, breaker of chains, all lost in a matter of minutes behind a madness that she supposedly inherited from her ‘Mad King’ father. The predictability factor on how she’d die was too high, it’s like the writers were rushing through trying to end a series that changed the course of television, without realizing the magnitude of the affect it’d have on its audience. For most of the season it felt like they forgot to write any dialogue in the script. It left things unanswered, how could it not? There is only so much fans can presume by facial expressions – WE NEED MORE. The fans expected longer episodes yet we were met with long, boring and dragged silence in every episode of the final season.

The top moment for me at least was how Drogon reacted to Danny’s death. The way he nods her lifeless body and squeals, it truly makes you feel real emotion for a CGI dragon. Alas! He burns down the Iron Throne till it’s completely melted, so no one may sit on it ever again. The beauty of the moment lies in how we realize Drogon was always more than just a fire breathing monster, he was real, he understood it all and he burnt the very thing that led to this, in sheer agony. He then delicately takes her into his claw and flies away with the Mother of Dragons, one last time. However, I could argue an alternative ending here. Burning Jon instead would have made complete sense! Imagine Jon surviving the fire, since he is a true born Targayrean, the Unsullied and Dothraki see him emerge from the fires and bow down to their new king, the TRUE king! However, if there is one thing we have all learnt from George R.R Martin’s writing, seldom do our beloved characters get their happy endings.

The new council is formed and Tyrion’s fate is left to them. Greyworm demands his head of course, but even shackled in chains, Tyrion manages to convince the council to elect a new king. Behold the twist – instead of nominating the man he practically manipulated into killing the Queen because he is indeed the rightful heir, he nominate *DRUM ROLL* – Bran Stark, the three eyed raven. As a friend once predicted this to me nearly a decade ago, Bran the Broken, who sees all, cannot walk but has flown, was made king of the six kingdoms. Yes, six – Sansa Stark has made her fair share of mistakes and hasty decisions but managed to convince Bran that Winterfell would remain an independent kingdoms like it had been always. QUEEN IN THE NORTH AYE! Arya Stark was off to explore the rest of the world, beyond the point where all maps end. My question still holds, is she the prince that was promised? Was she Azhor Ahai? What was the scene with the white horse, was it really an uber from Bran? Another thing we won’t know because THERE WERE NO DIALOGUES, just the incineration of beloved characters wasting away in scenes of the vaguest nature.

Despite Bran becoming King, Jon is not pardoned for all the times he saved humanity from the brink of extinction, instead is banished back to the Nights Watch where he may never take a wife, father a child or own any land. This was the worst thing they could have to Jons fans, we were devastated. His journey was long, painful and selfless yet he was tossed to the end of the world to remain guarding the realms of the very men who were ungrateful towards all his sacrifices. In the end we see Jon lead the wildings into the forest – don’t worry, Ghost was right next to him. Since dialogue was again the least of the writers concerns, what we assume at the end is that plants are growing out of under the snow, meaning winter is ending, and Jon is migrating his new people to other lands beyond the wall. Maybe that is where he’ll live at peace, with people who look up to him for guidance and leadership, somewhere he is appreciated. The end was too open leaving us with an abundance of possibilities and theories. The story felt rushed, if only there were four more episodes if not a whole season. The actors, the story, the cast and crew deserved that, and so did the audience. Instead of ending in due time, it felt almost as if eights years of buildup was snatched away abruptly in a handful of episodes. Fans all over the world were left disgruntled, they felt cheated but if you ask me, some of that anger is definitely misplaced. I think we’re all furious because something we loved has come to an end, characters that felt like family have been lost indefinitely to another universe and we’ll never know more or see them again. That in itself is bittersweet for me, but then what end isn’t?

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John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

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We’re thinking he’s back, John Wick returns to the big screen with his third installment of the franchise. A journey which began in 2014, cementing Keanu Reeves as one of the best action heroes recent times, reignites a spark within us once again, as our beloved movie character comes out with a bang.

Starting off shortly after the event of John Wick: Chapter 2, the movie focuses on John’s journey on the run as he has been marked for death by the High Table, and a bounty placed on his head. Not much more about the movie can be revealed without spoiling it, however what can be said is that John Wick’s latest installment takes him to new heights, along the way we get to see some familiar faces, such as the enigmatic Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne playing the bowery king, new additions to the cast include the lovely Halle Berry, Asia Kate Dillon and Mark Dacascos.

We’re given a deeper look at the mysterious world of assassins that the previous two movies set up, a look at its inner workings and its hierarchy. Along with John Wick’s famous stylistic fighting scenes, stunts and gunfights, the movie just outdoes the two prior installments in this department. If that doesn’t get you interested, maybe the fact that you’ll get to witness John Wick fighting on a horse will. The movie is simply enjoyable and worth the money, there’s not a moment in it when you’ll feel your mind drifting off towards some other thoughts. Baba Yaga captivates our attention and delivers fully, this is evident by the fact that John Wick Chapter 3 ended Avengers Endgame’s reign on the box-office. Definitely a worthy successor within the franchise, and if you haven’t seen it already, time to get your wallets out and grab yourselves some tickets.

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Face to face with International Chef and Co-Founder of SHOLA Karachi Kitchen – Aida Khan

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Aida Khan, the entrepreneur and chef behind Islamabad’s traditional cuisine destination, Karachi Kitchen, proudly extended her culinary prowess by introducing her establishment: SHOLA Karachi Kitchen, in the heart of West London, White City, positioned where the BBC used to be.

Aida Khan has already been serving her Karachi offerings in Supper Clubs in London and in March 2019, opened her first restaurant SHOLA Karachi Kitchen in West London. With her first restaurant in London, Khan aims to explore the real flavours of Pakistan laden in tradition. Aida Khan’s nostalgia for Karachi’s bustling food markets with authentic flavorful food was an inspiration for SHOLA’s first permanent residence in White City. Aida also hopes to shed light on how Pakistani food can be clean and healthy – appealing to vegans, vegetarians and meat eaters. With the menu comprising of 50% grilled food, SHOLA takes one back to the foundations of Pakistani cooking. 

With SHOLA Karachi Kitchen, Aida Khan aims to bring back the era of simple, clean cooking, the way it has been done in the sub-continent’s family kitchens for centuries. At SHOLA Karachi Kitchen, Khan and her team of expert chefs use only the highest quality ingredients and traditional cooking techniques.

In Pakistan, currently offering takeaway home-deliveries primarily in Islamabad, SHOLA embraces hearty, artisanal traditional soul food combining the traditional flavours, aromas and authentic spices of Karachi.

Aida comes from a family with a deep passion for food. From an early age, she learnt how to cook traditional family food from her mother, and inherited her love for food through her father’s passion to eat.  Her fondest childhood memories are of early morning drives to Karachi markets with her father, in search of the fluffiest poori or the sweetest halwa for breakfast. Since moving to London, traditional Pakistani family recipes play an integral part at home, whether its cooking with her boys, or feeding the tribes of friends and extended family who turn up to feast on her delicious meals. Bringing Pakistani food back into people’s lives, and through SHOLA, putting Pakistani cuisine on the London food map, Khan hopes to open more branches of SHOLA across the globe and more specifically, in Pakistan.

SHOLA Karachi Kitchen is located at Shop 9-12, Trade Centre, F-7, Jinnah Super in Islamabad for takeaway and delivery. In London, the restaurant is located at Unit 6, West Works, White City Place, Wood Lane. 

Aida Khan speaks exclusively to Daily Paperazzi about her passion project.

How did your journey begin to eventually become a seasoned chef? 

I moved to London about 9 years ago to do my MSc. at SOAS. My son was 2 years old then and I couldn’t help but notice a lack of authentic Pakistani restaurants we could eat at or order in from, when that desi food craving hit. I inevitably ended up cooking a lot more at home and hosting many evenings for friends looking for a taste of home and finally decided to take it on as full on task to bring our food to London. I started out by hosting supper clubs and eventually expanded to catering events and then the opportunity came up to open Shola so I finally took the plunge! 

What was your first big break?

I had done various caterings and private events but my first big break was when I hosted a Gourmet Karachi Supper Club at a private members’ club in London. It was sold out instantly with 60 people attending, I definitely had a lot of nerves that day but also realized that this is absolutely something I want to pursue. 

Did you go to culinary school? What credentials did you earn through your culinary studies?

I did an Essential Cookery Certification at Leith’s School of Food and Wine, which is a professional course aimed towards people who want to develop their cooking skills and learn the techniques and science behind how ingredients work. Each class was very hands-on and you had to produce a selection of dishes. Apart from cooking skills, the course also helped with time management and being able to plan and execute a well-rounded menu. We also learnt menu costing/pricing and essentially how to make the best of your budget and ingredients. It was a spectacular experience and despite my many years of cooking it has given me the right tools to feel more confident cooking in a professional environment. It also taught me how to handle large orders and get service right. 

SHOLA Karachi Kitchen has greatly added to the culinary map of London. Why did you choose to serve Pakistani cuisine over others? 

Because that’s what I feel I know best. I can bring authenticity to the food offering based on personal experiences. It’s also one of my favorite cuisines and I felt it was under represented in London. 

Currently, the Karachi Kitchen’s chapter in Islamabad is take-away & delivery only. Can we expect a dine-in restaurant in future?

For now, this works but never say never is something I learnt early on. 

What’s your biggest nightmare to date?

Sending food out that is below standard just because it was not tasted. 

What do you do to stay current on new trends? Describe two or three of the most interesting industry trends?

I follow various blogs and read up a lot on Chefs. I am fascinated with the science behind cooking and love looking at different techniques to ensure consistent flavors. As our food is really traditional I have actually found myself going back to using methods the way they were down in our grandparents’ kitchens. A pestle and mortar are incredibly essential in my kitchen just because there is an unparalleled depth of flavor that can be achieved with the masalas ground in one. I am also a huge advocate of low and slow cooking for even flavors. 

What inspires you in the kitchen?

Creating delicious food that is reminiscent of flavors from my childhood. When you get that nostalgic feeling as soon as you taste a dish – that to me is winning. 

What is your favorite meal to cook?

It really depends on the day. At the restaurant I love creating a Karahi or Biryani. Both have such interesting techniques. At home, I love trying out different marinades with grilled fish. Tahini and Harissa are a firm favorite in my repertoire these days.

Do you have a favorite ingredient?

I love using curry leaves. Maybe it’s my mother’s Hyderabadi influence but the scent of curry leaves frying literally takes me back home every time. 

If you could cook for anyone, who would it be?

My father – sadly he passed away many years ago, before I had ever even thought of taking this on as a career. He would be my toughest critic yet strongest advocate. He was a huge foodie so the feedback would have been genuine ☺ 

In your opinion, what are the biggest misconceptions about chefs in Pakistani context?

That it’s all one pot cooking and we have some sort of mother sauce that we throw everything in. Pakistani cooking is incredibly complex and we have so many steps and flavors involved, when done right.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Happy. Doing what I love to do with just a little more time for holidays.

Any advice you would give to someone wanting to become a chef?  

You really need to want to do this to make it work. It’s not something you can go into halfhearted. You also need to believe in yourself, there will always be criticism and there will always be praise. Learn how to filter both in such a way that it’s always productive. Trust yourself and your palate. 

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