The highly critically acclaimed Pakistani feature film, LAAL KABOOTAR won the Best Feature Film Award at the Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival 2019. Director Kamal Khan received the award on the Closing Night & Awards Ceremony held at Surrey City Hall in Surrey, British Columbia on 17th November 2019. Laal Kabootar is Nehr Ghar Films’ debut production.
The film, which is also the official submission of Pakistan for the 92nd Academy Awards in the ‘International Feature Film Award’ category, have also grabbed the Archana Soy Audience Award for ‘Best Feature Film’ at the Tasveer South Asian Film Festival 2019 in Seattle earlier this year.
Previously, Laal Kabootar was an official selection at the Singapore South Asian International Film Festival 2019 and also at the Washington DC South Asian Film Festival 2019. In Washington DC the lead actor of Laal Kabootar Ahmed Ali Akbar, won the ‘Best Actor Male’ Award for his performance.
Laal Kabootar was released in March 2019 in Pakistan and so far, critiques have credited it as the best Pakistani movie of this year.
The film is a rollercoaster ride featuring Ahmed Ali Akbar as Adeel Nawaz – a hustling taxi-driver, looking for a way out of Karachi. But with his back against the wall, Adeel has some hard choices to make. Aliya Malik, played by the alluring Mansha Pasha, is strong-headed to the point of being stubborn, however when her world turns upside down in a series of incidents, she chooses to put up a fight even though her life is on the line.
With its action-packed sequences and blinding pace, the flick also stars multi-talent actors such as Rashid Farooqui, Saleem Meraj, Ali Kazmi, Shamim Hilali, Akbar Islam, Syed Arsalan, Saad Fareedi, Hammad Siddiq, Ishtiaq Omar, Meesum Naqvi, Faiza Gillani, Mohammed Ahmed and Kaleem Ghour to name a few.
Laal Kabootar has been directed by the award-winning Kamal Khan with Harvard graduates Hania Chima and Kamil Chima as the Executive Producers.
So far no Pakistani film has ever made it to final nominations at Oscars, however with Laal Kabootar, Pakistani Cinema lovers are keeping their fingers crossed.
Touching Upon Ahmad Ali Butt’s Personal Transformation
It is always a delight talking to Ahmad Ali butt, but this time, the topic is not “comedy” that has always been associated with the star. We will be talking about his personal growth, the spiritual side of him, the 90s, some old and new projects, social media, mental health, and a lot more.
The actor reveals some untold stories in conversation with Daily Paperazzi.
Q) Initially when you started, how hard was it for you to survive in the industry?
I started from the theater in the mid-90s. Yes, it was hard in the beginning because nobody was casting anyone at that time and everyone was doing their own thing so, I had my own productions. In the 2000s, my luck started to change; I got into TV for our play Jutt and Bond. Zain Ahmad cast Fawad Khan, Vasay Chaudhry, and me. You can call it our humble beginning. There were no social media back then however saying that, we got lucky because the sitcom and battle of the bands happened at the same time. We did some excellent work in the TV and Music Industry. So, yes the popularity came in a way, and that gave us a boost among the youth.
Q) Can you share some mean comments that you heard from people around you in the industry, any particular incident?
In the corporate world, it does happen because I have hosted a lot of corporate shows. Like, what car you drive, what watch you are wearing etc., people notice such things. But no one has ever said anything mean to my face.
Q) When did you realize that Comedy is your genre?
I guess I never realized it. It was inherent. My parents had a great sense of humour. My father was known to be the man with the best sense of humour among his friends and he had a way of telling stories and he had a way with humour. So, I think I picked it up from them. The art of delivering jokes came from my father. I have always been overweight. So, when you see an overweight person, you will say “Oh he is the token comedy guy”. The same was the case with me. Comedy came to me naturally. It was a way of making fun of my own self before somebody else could. A lot of comedians do that. If you see any famous comedian, you will find him odd. They are not your typical “tall, dark and handsome” heroes. Comedy gave me sort of a shield and it also became one of my superpowers to make people laugh. The more I learned, the more I started to realize how much power it has. It made me comfortable in my own skin and it made me extremely aware of how to transform my flaws into my advantages.
Q) People have always seen you performing comedy, is there any other side to Ahmad Ali Butt?
In Pakistan, there is minimal film production. For the longest time, I have struggled with this image that he is overweight; he will be a great comedy guy. I think Jhooti gave me a very different platform to showcase my acting capabilities as a method actor. It gave me a completely different environment to work in. Yes, in theatre, I have done serious roles in different Urdu and English plays but on television, I didn’t get such a chance.
Q) Anything that you want people to know about this profession highlighting the mental grind an actor\comedian goes through according to your point of view especially?
Yes, acting is a very odd profession to be in. You will struggle in every field, no matter what you choose. But this is the field that puts you into the limelight especially when you get famous instantly and it goes to your head. There are incidents where people achieve so much and suddenly, they feel the ground slipping under their feet, which is a worse scenario. Acting demands a lot. It has odd hours. It has odd locations. It is not a fixed job. You are roaming around in different cities and you are only as good as your last project. You have to constantly prove yourself. This is the profession of vanity and it’s tougher for women because we judge on looks a lot. We need a fresh, beautiful face every time. For men, it is tough because there is an age when you are in demand, and then comes an age where you shift from lead to supporting roles. This is something that challenges your vanity, social life, and personal life. But I think people who are in the longer game focus on maintaining the quality because they know it’s not about the quantity but the quality of work they produce. And, I think only such people succeed.
Q) Your advice on accepting your mistakes/negligence and flaws and working on it
When you start, you make a lot of mistakes. Your failure is your biggest teacher. Don’t be afraid of mistakes and failures. You will have all kinds of projects but take this as a learning curve and only then you will survive. This will challenge you mentally, physically, and financially. But the biggest thing is to accept your mistake and learn from them.
Q) What has been your thought process about a healthy lifestyle and self-acceptance?
It has been a long journey because I have always struggled with that. It never really bothered me too much but obviously, there comes a time when your body stops favoring you and you have to make some changes in your lifestyle. This has been a tough journey but my wife was extremely helpful. You have to strengthen your thought process. These things will bring depression but you have to keep thinking positive. I pray. My wife and I have a very strong spiritual side that has helped me a lot. Set a routine and keep your priorities right. I cannot say for everyone but these things work for me.
Q) On one side, we all talk about “Self-love” and on the other hand, many brands (almost all brands) prefer fair skin, perfect sized-actors. What is your take on that and what is your advice/guide for someone who wants to start from scratch?
“Jo dikhta hai, wo bikta hai” – This is showbiz. I don’t have any issue with people improving their looks, this is self-grooming. But yes, in our industry, there is pressure. In films, we have stereotyped the looks, and this way, we promote many beauty brands because they are selling what is required in today’s time. So, I don’t have a say but at the end of the day, this is entirely your choice where you want to indulge yourself.
Q) People think “Ahmad Ali Butt is always laughing and cracking jokes. He is not a serious person” – Let’s break this myth about you.
People see you and smile they know he will crack a joke. But there is a serious side to me as well. I am very serious about my work. There should be a serious attitude because if you don’t take acting seriously, people are not going to take you seriously. Obviously, people register the image that they have seen of you but during work, you should be serious. In life, you shouldn’t be very somber. Already, there is a lot to worry about so take things lightly.
Q) How hard\easy was it to switch your humorous persona into a serious one that you played in “Jhooti”?
Jhooti came at the time when I just got done with the films. So, Abdullah told me about this role and I really liked that- a husband who loves his wife so much but she is a compulsive liar. I did my homework for this role and I studied Humayun Saeed. I took some time to work on this role, on dialogue delivery, on the look and it was a slow process to develop that character. But, it was an extremely important character for me.
Q) Social Media plays a major role in affecting someone’s mental health, your take?
When we started, there was no social media game. But for today’s generation, it is important. The brands need to understand that it is not just about the number of followers, it is about the work that someone has done. If you give more importance to your work, you will get what you aim for because such things as social media are just like a trend. Today, they have a presence, tomorrow they won’t. People, who take their work professionally and seriously, will have followers automatically. Social media is for those who are here for the quick stardom. Remember, today you are famous and tomorrow someone else will have that glare of publicity.
Q) We heard that you were initially a part of Maula Jutt and was removed from the cast after 3 months of shooting, would you like to comment on that?
While I was shooting for “Punjab Nahi Jaungi”, the prep work for Maula Jutt was going on. We just came to a point where we could not make it work anymore. Things would have been worse for me had I been a part of that project. It happens that some projects are not viable for you. But, Maula Jutt is an amazing production, Bilal has done a great job and you will see once the film is out.
Q) Supporting roles are as important as the main lead but in Pakistan, they are not given the limelight they deserve. Is this true or have you faced this yourself?
This is the issue of the whole world. Supporting roles are the backbone of the story. In some movies, supporting roles are more important than the lead role, and in some, the lead role is the only important role. In our industry, we don’t give much heed to the supporting role because we think it’s the “side” role. Sometimes supporting roles make a film hit. Alhamdulilah, I have worked with people who give importance to the supporting roles. I think directors, producers, and writers need to understand that team effort is everything. So, you are lucky if you get a good producer who understands the importance of each role.
Q) So, you are totally fine with the title “Fatman” of your upcoming movie, but there are people who get fat-shamed and it can trigger their insecurities, what would you say to them?
When it was introduced to me, I loved it. I do accept that obesity is a disease. The movie is actually about a father and a son where the situation of obesity is being discussed. It discusses the mental health and the problems like body-shaming a fat person goes through in his life. It is a very honest and brave movie if we make it because this discusses very delicate and important issues.
Zubab Rana is the Standout performer of the Drama Fitrat!
It is reasonable to call Zubab Rana, a newcomer in the entertainment industry because the youthful entertainer is finding her space in the business; however, notwithstanding that, she has prevailed with regards to winning the hearts of crowds with her splendid performances. Directly from her absolute first drama Naseebon Jali that aired on Hum TV, Zubab Rana has figured out how to harden her presence in the business as a marvel with the ability to take on any job that comes to her direction. She has constructed a collection for herself for taking the more unfamiliar way, treading new waters, and always surprising us with her charm. Today her name is incorporated among the rundown of entertainers who can stand their ground before the camera and convey what is anticipated from them.
In Fitrat, she assumes a somewhat unglamorized part of Rafia, one of the drama’s leading characters. There is no scene where Zubab Rana doesn’t look pretty, but in Rafia, there is an innocence that is a part of Rana’s charm that just can’t go unnoticed. Especially if you see her in her other ongoing drama ‘Bharaas’ where she has taken upon a completely different role and can’t help but think how can someone pull off both negative and positive characters so well.
Though, this isn’t just about pulling off a negative or positive role. Rafia is a multi-dimensional character – and Rana knows just what to do with the character to convey her special story to the audiences in the most heartwarming manner. She perfectly balances the scales between neither being too forceful nor too timid, which makes her the standout performer of the whole drama.
Rana has set up an enormous fan following over the past few years. She has gotten known for her incredible acting chops and a stunning hard-working attitude that has given her a distinct edge over her peers. With every last one of her undertakings, she has figured out how to convey what is anticipated from her and has gathered commendation from the audience.
Lux Style Awards Gone Digital This Year
The digit of 19 has been very critical in the year of 2020 as the entire world coped up with the pandemic of COVID 19. It was more coincidental specifically for the style world of Pakistan as the 19th edition of that most prestigious style awards of Pakistan ‘Lux Style Awards’ organized digitally in its entire history following of the SOPs of COVID 19.
A more than an hour program was composed of a red carpet, awards announcements, and few performances. All nominees did not attend the event but only winners, who had been announced a couple of weeks before the award giving ceremony. A few winners participated in the show via their already recorded video messages.
Frieha Altaf, director for the LUX Style Awards, ever since its initiation some 18 years ago, shared her views on the experience. “I’m happy and excited that Unilever Pakistan and the LUX brand team are making an all-out effort to appreciate and celebrate the artists who have worked the entire 2019 and showcased immense talent. The LSA this year is different and extra-ordinary and is expected to be out of the box so stay tuned for an exciting event.”
LSA 2020 awards were given for 28 categories in four genres of fashion, film, music and television. Virtual zoom sessions of juries at multiple times during the year collected to evaluate each portfolio and pick a final winner. In addition, two lifetime achievement awards, the Unilever Chairman’s Lifetime Achievement Award and a Lifetime Achievement in Fashion will also be awarded.
The historic event started with Hope Song, written and composed by Azaan Sami Khan, a singing and dance performance by Hadiqa Kiyani, new sensation Hadia Hashmi and Ali Tariq with the dance performance by Faith, choreographed by Wahab Shah.
Red carpet was hosted by emerging and talented model Mushk Kaleem while the main hosts of the event were none other than stunning Mehwish Hayat and witty Ahmed Ali Butt.
The show was webcast on https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0GrbQTwcFUs0llkV0SJ6DA on New Year Eve and telecast on Geo Entertainment two days later.
A congregation of stars also on the show to present/announce awards, like Sarwat Gilani and Mehar Bano from the critically acclaimed web series Churails, style icon Ayesha Omar, singers Ali Tariq and Natasha Baig, the stunning Mansha Pasha, beautiful Sohai Ali Abro, dashing Emmad Irfani, and the eclectic Abid Brohi.
An interesting comic skit on film segment was presented by Arsalan Naseer of CBA. The show was need with a Lux signature song by Jimmy Khan featuring Mehwish Hayat.
In fashion, Hasnain Lehri begged his fifth Lux Style Awards for male model of the year while female model of the year award was given to Zara Abid, who lost her life in tragic air crash last May.
Drama serial Ranjha Ranjha Kardi secured four awards in categories of best director, best playwright, best TV actor male – viewers’ choice, best TV actor female – critics’ choice from total eight awards in the genre of television.
Regardless of many commercial and successful feature films released in the year 2019, the most critically acclaimed film Laal Kabootar got four awards in film section; best film, best director, best actor viewer’s choice, and best actor critics.
The superstar of Pakistani entertainment industry Mahira Khan begged two awards in the categories of best actress viewers’ choice and critics’ choice for her performance in film Superstar.
On receiving the awards, Khan expressed her faith in the film – Superstar and how she enjoyed shooting for it. “When you actually do believe in something, stick through it”, the actress further sand and thanked her fans.
This is first time in the history of Lux Style Awards that two child stars became the recipient of awards in the categories of singer of the year and best emerging talent TV.
The Unilever Chairman’s Lifetime Achievement Award was conferred to Anwar Maqsood, revered compere, writer and host par-excellence. The Lifetime Achievement Award in Fashion was awarded to photojournalist and photographer Tapu Javeri.
The winners of 19th LUX Style Awards are as follows;
Model of the Year – Male, Hasnain Lehri
Model of the Year – Female, Zara Abid (posthumous)
Achievement in Fashion Design – Pret, Generation
Achievement in Fashion Design – Luxury Pret , Sana Safinaz
Achievement in Fashion Design – Bridal Couture, Sana Safinaz
Best Menswear Designer, Ismail Farid
Best Fashion Photographer, Shahbaz Shazi
Best Makeup and Hair Artist , Saima Bargfrede
Best Emerging Talent- Fashion , Sachal Afzal for Male Model
Best Song, Raavi by Sajjad Ali from Raavi
Singer of the Year, Hadia Hashmi – Bol Hu
Best Emerging Talent , Big Foot Music – Hamad Khan, Sohaib Lari
Best Playback Singer , Ali Tariq for Behka Na from Parey Hut Love
Best Original Sound Track, Ranjha Ranjha Kardi by JB Sisters/Rahma Ali Composed and Produced by Sami Khan
Best TV Play, Mere Paas Tum Ho
Best Play Director, Kashif Nisar for Ranjha Ranjha Kardi
Best Play Writer, Faiza Iftikhar for Ranjha Ranjha Kardi
Best TV Actor – Critics, Zahid Ahmed for Ishq Zah e Naseeb
Best TV Actress – Critics, Iqra Aziz for Ranjha Ranjha Kardi
Best TV Actor – Viewer’s Choice, Imran Ashraf for Ranjha Ranjha Kardi
Best TV Actress -Viewer’s Choice, Yumna Zaidi for Inkaar
Best Emerging Talent TV , Shees Gul for Meray Paas Tum Ho
Best Film, Laal Kabootar, Best Director Film, Kamal Khan for Laal Kabootar
Best Film Actor- Viewer’s Choice, Ahmed Ali Akbar for Laal Kabootar
Best Film Actress- Viewer’s Choice, Mahira Khan for Superstar
Best Film Actor Critics, Rashid Farooqui for Laal Kabootar
Best Film Actress Critics. Mahira Khan for Superstar
Unilever Chairman’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Anwar Maqsood
The Lifetime Achievement Award in Fashion, Tapu Javeri.