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Junoon makes an electrifying comeback

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The cool sea breeze teased my hair as I entered Karachi’s Moin Khan Academy to attend what was possibly one of the biggest events of this decade: the Sooper Junoon concert. Thousands of Pakistanis from across the world, including women and children, came together to witness the magic of one of Pakistan’s best music bands, once again. After several failed attempts to bring the band together, leading biscuit brand Peek Freans Sooper managed to get the music maestros on stage and let’s just the say the result was epic.

Though I have attended my fair share of concerts over the years, nothing quite matched up to the aura and electric energy that radiated through the crowds Tuesday night. From Khumariyan’s soulful opening to Salman Ahmed’s tribute to Junaid Jamshed, the entire event was a music lover’s dream come true.

The Sooper Junoon concert commenced with some brilliant performances by several bands including Lyaari Underground, Khumariyan, Tamasha and Sounds of Kolachi. However, Khumariyan’s performance, which mostly featured instrumental tunes truly, stole the show.

As the opening performances drew to a close, audiences waited with bated breaths for Junoon to finally take the stage and when Ali Azmat, Salman Ahmed and Brian O’ Connell, along with the rest of the band members, finally made an appearance, the cheer that emitted from the stadium could probably be heard for miles. Both the leads, Ali and Salman, were dressed in flamboyant and colourful outfits, staying true to their essence and personas.

Junoon opened their act with Azaadi, which perfectly complemented the date on the calendar i.e. 25th December, the birth date of the founder of the country, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. They then proceeded to perform their iconic numbers, including Khudi ko ker buland itna, Saiyonee, Ni Heerey enthralling the huge crowds which swayed and danced to the beat of the drums and guitar.

As the event entered its final stage, Salman took the mic and remembered his dear friend Junaid Jamshed, who passed away two years back in an airplane crash, sending waves of emotions across the crowd.

Salman shared with the audiences that the night before Jamshed travelled to Chitral, he called him up and the two spoke for almost two hours about “everything under the sun”.

In the conversation, Junaid expressed his desire, and was almost persistent, to see him [Salman] and Ali perform live on stage. Salman said that he told Junaid that they would talk about this when he would return from Chitral but unfortunately he never returned. Salman concluded that this event was a tribute to his friend, after which he went onto play Dil Dil Pakistan while pictures of Junaid and Salman were displayed on the large screens. The moment was nothing short of sentimental and some members of the audiences were seen shedding a few tears.

Salman also remembered the great Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and recalled an occasion when he and his band members were given the privilege to sit in the maestro’s company and learn from him. Taking a cue from this, Salman brought four young girls on stage, whom he had spotted at a local school’s event and trained them, and performed Dhoom Tana, alongside them.

The event concluded with a stellar display of fireworks as the band played Jazba Junoon, mesmerising the crowd whose eyes darted between the fireworks and the musicians.

This concert proved that these stars are truly in a league of their own and nothing can quite match up to their star power and crowd-pulling ability. Prominent members of the entertainment industry, including Ali Rehman Khan, Deepak Perwani, Zahid Ahmed, Nabeel Zuberi, Ayesha Omar, Hareem Farooq, Junaid Khan, Farhan Saeed and Zoheb Hassan were also part of the crowd as was Wasim Akram and Governor Sindh Imran Ismail.

And as a concluding remark, a shout out to the team behind the event who ensured that they left no stone unturned for smooth sailing. Their hard work shone through the entire event.

The Pakistani entertainment industry has definitely taken a turn for the better and here’s to hoping that more such events take place in the future.

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MTV Movie and TV Awards 2019 – The winners

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The MTV Movie & TV Awards celebrated the best on-screen work of the past year this past Monday night. Netflix had a whopping 14 nominations for its TV shows and films, including the award winning “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” – Noah Centineo & Lana Condor for “Best Kiss”

“It was a who’s who of Hollywood celebrities – stars like Daniel Levy, Dave Bautista, David Spade, Elisabeth Moss, Jameela Jamil, Kumail Nanjiani, Melissa McCarthy, and Tiffany Haddish were all there.

“Shazam” star Zachary Levi hosted the show. “The Rock” was awarded the Generation Award, and Jada Pinkett Smith was honored with the Trailblazer Award.

  1. Best Movie – “Avengers: Endgame”

2. Best TV Show – “Game of Thrones”

3. Best performance in a movie – Lady Gaga (Ally) – “A Star is Born”

4. Best performance in a show – Elisabeth Moss (June Osborne/Offred) – “The Handmaid’s Tale”

5. Best Hero – Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man) – “Avengers: Endgame”

6. Best Villain – Josh Brolin (Thanos) – “Avengers: Endgame”

7. Best Kiss – Noah Centineo & Lana Condor (Peter Kavinsky & Lara Jean) – “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before”

8. Reality Royalty – “Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta”

9. Best Performance – Noah Centineo (Peter Kavinsky) – “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before”

10. Best Fight – “Captain Marvel” – Captain Marvel vs. Minn-Erva

11. Best real life Hero – Ruth Bader Ginsburg – “RBG” 

12. Most frightened performance – Sandra Bullock (Malorie) – “Bird Box”

13. Best Documentary – “Surviving R. Kelly” 

14. Best Host – Nick Cannon – “Wild ‘n Out”

15. Best Meme-able moment – “The Bachelor” – Colton Underwood jumps the fence 

16. Best Musical – A Star is Born – “Shallow”

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NOS4A2 – Bringing the Nosferatu back

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Vampires have long been depicted in media, from Max Shrek as Count Orlok in “Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens” to Luke Evans as Dracula in “Dracula Untold

Over the years it can be seen that vampires are no longer feared as the creatures of the night by moviegoers or people in general, the image associated with them via adaptations such as “Twilight” and “The Vampire Diaries” have made the vampire more of a creature that is to be envied and coveted after rather than dreaded. However NOS4A2 seeks to change that, this show takes us back to the old days when vampires were old, destitute and creepy, without touching much of their supernatural aspects and the show goes about their story in a different way; while we’re accustomed to view vampires as blood sucking creatures, NOS4A2 gives them a welcomed change.

Featuring the talented Zachary Quinto as Charlie Manx; a hundred year old vampire that feeds on the souls of children, and collects them at a place he calls Christmasland. He cruises around in his Rolls Royce Wraith on the hunt for pre-adolescents, on the opposite side of the spectrum is Victoria McQueen (Ashleigh Cummings) a working class aspiring art student who has the supernatural ability to find lost things, in a strange twist of fate Victoria’s path crosses with Manx’s and she becomes determined to put a stop to his reign of terror. The plot of this show is gripping, it keeps you on the edge of your seats, and concludes on a cliffhanger that’ll leave you wanting more.

So if you’re looking for a show that’s bloodcurdling, interesting, ominous and engaging, NOS4A2 is perfect for you; a wholesome plot complemented by an excellent cast, what more could one wish for.

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Music, Dance and Mehwish are Chhalawa only saving grace

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Rating: 2.5/5

Chhalawa is a story of a very traditional family. Chaudhary Rafaqat (Mehmood Aslam) has two daughters and a son. The elder one is Zoya (Mehwish Hayat) who went to city for higher studies and now wants to marry the love of her life Sameer (Azfar Rehman) whom she met during her studies. His second daughter Haya (Zara Noor Abbas) is a fired up girl, who usually lives in her own fantasy world of films, desperate to fall in love and loves to dance in her room on Lollywood songs. His son Haroon (Ashir Wajahat) is another character, blunt slightly manner less but loves his sisters.

From here, the age-old story begins that Chaudhary wants his daughter Zoya to marry his nephew, as it is a tradition to marry girls in the family, Zoya resists and conflict begins.

The first half of the movie is still bearable where at least some kind of story is developing, after interval; it nosedives and leaves the audience wondering what is happening. For example, first song makes sense but second was there because someone wants it to be. No effort was made to put some sense in it.

The story is simple, it is told several hundred times before, both in Bollywood and in Pakistani Cinema, and then extra level of creativity is required to make it interesting. Unfortunately, that is the biggest issue with Chhalawa. Scenes lasting for several minutes, borderline jokes and most of all, Zoya’s letters to her mother were a big question mark.

With a star like Mehwish Hayat, if the movie is still not able to pull the audience in, then to an extent it is a crime.

Wajahat Rauf’s Chhalawa is particularly disappointing for many, because people considered it a third time charm. Surprisingly, all the actors in the film performed very well despite having a weak script and practically limited room to perform.

The biggest surprise is by far the Zara Noor Abbas who played Haya, Mehwish’s younger sister. Zara turns out to be someone who handles her comic timings well, she is sharp and witty, and yet cute enough to keep the audience engaged. She danced quite well in couples of scenes. Ashir Wajahat also performed better than expected, although his character did not have much to do except for a scene or two.

Although, Azfar Rehman looks good on screen, however I am unable to understand his character, at one time he wants to commit suicide, then he plans to win Zoya’s father heart, then he just runs away when she asked him and without making a scene leaves her when she asked him to do so.

Mehmood Aslam in his role is picture perfect until the climax where he insisted on carrying out his daughter’s Nikah after he was shot.

Mehwish Hayat as usual shines bright even in this very limited role. She did well when she was playing a lover, arguing with her father, running away from home and coming back and again succumbing to her father pressure, but her biggest wins are two songs i.e. ‘Chhalawa’ and ‘Chiriya’ where she danced her heart out. Wahab Shah’s Choreography was engaging and full of fun, that is the only positive that you can come out with in the entire saga of over 2 hours.

Only thing that can save this film is music; Shiraz Uppal did very well giving not one but two already hit songs to Pakistani Cinema.

This is the weakest ever Mehwish Hayatfilm by any standard, with films like Na Maloom Afraad, Actor in Law, Punjab Nahi Jaungi the superstar stumbles at the last ball of the over.

You can opt to watch Chhalawa if you like song and dance numbers and that too from Mehwish Hayat and if you are ready to leave your brain outside the cinema hall.

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